I don't know if you've heard of this little duology called The Crown's Game... but you should be reading it. I'm currently reading The Crown's Fate, and I forgot how much I really enjoyed the first one. The Crown's Game really builds an intricate world, and The Crown's Fate really dives into it to build on it. Also, because of the building in the first, the characters feel more comfortable and grounded so the scenes play out really well and vividly.
The Crown's Game follow Pasha, heir to the throne; Nikolai, an orphaned enchanter being mentored by hard woman; and Vika, another enchanter being raised and mentored by her loving father. The Crown's Game (literally, a game) is about to begin to determine the new Imperial Enchanter. The Imperial Enchanter will serve the Crown and have more access to the world's magic - or rather, all of it, because the loser of the Crown's Game will also loose their life. And things get tricky because Nikolai and Pasha are best friends, and Vika starts to have feelings for the both of them, as they do for her... it's complicated. Usually I stay far, far, away from love triangles, but this one isn't horrible. It's more of like the love triangle in The Infernal Devices than Twilight, ya know?
Anyways, I'm running into the reasons here, so let's get on with it - here's why you should be reading The Crown's Game duology:
It takes place in 1825 Russia!
Look, Evelyn Skye has a degree in Russian literature and history, so she knows what she's doing. The descriptions are incredibly vivid, and the geography is so well laid out. But Emily, you're probably thinking, I thought this was a fantasy duology. To that, I say, yes. Yes it is. But it's an urban-type fantasy. It takes place in 1825 Magic-filled Russia. How could you say no to that?
Vika is a strong, independent woman who don't need no man!
Sorta. I mean, she's really in The Crown's Game for herself and her father. She's not anticipating to love Pasha and Nikolai the way she does. When she does develop feelings for them, she doesn't let it get in the way of herself. Vika is an awesome representation that you can care and love people and still be independent and a badass enchanter. We need more unselfish but badass, nevertheless, girls in YA. Put that on record.
A good love triangle? Is that possible?
Yes, yes it is. As I said above, this love triangle is more like the one Cassandra Clare builds in The Infernal Devices series. It's more of, I would say, a true love triangle, where each person in the love triangle as feelings towards the other two. Pasha and Nikolai have been friends their whole life and both form a friendship with Vika during the Crown's Game that turns into something more (for mostly one of them, no spoilers, though).These kind of love triangles are really powerful and really affective. Your emotions run so high when your reading and you don't want anyone to be disappointed, now that's the love triangle I love.
Friends that don't let their love interest get in the way or their friendship!
That's right, y'all! Pasha and Nikolai both have feelings for Vika and never let it get in the way of their friendship. They're vulnerable and honest with each other, and they have their own healthy friendship. I feel like intimacy with two male characters in a platonic relationship is rare, and I love seeing that with Pasha and Nikolai. Healthy female friendships are obviously important, and this book has them, but doesn't exactly showcase them. However, if you read this, you'll see in The Crown's Fate that Skye is extremely aware of friendships and Vika forms a friendship with another girl character that's healthy despite a conflict of interest.
A magic system that works!
With all the fantasy books that are coming out, this one has a really well-thought-out magic system. It really builds in the second book, but the first provides a great base to build on top of. Everything is connected. There's a source and it makes sense the way magic can become stronger or weaker, and how much it's being used. That's the thing when you decide to use magic in your world, your characters may not fully understand how it works, but it's obvious if the other doesn't know how it works either, but this one was so well done *insert ok hand sign emoji here*.
So you're not going to know for sure until you actually read it, but that's why you should be reading this duology. I actually read The Crown's Game initially because I was co-running a teen book club at the store I work at. That was about a year ago and we're not doing it anymore, but I'm glad I got to find an awesome duology out of it.