The Crown’s Fate, released in Canada on May 16, 2017, is the gorgeous and darkly compelling sequel to The Crown’s Game by Evelyn Skye. Filled to the brim with romance, betrayal and, of course, magic, The Crown’s Fate is sure to please fans of the first book, while also potentially winning over some skeptics!
Magic is growing, shadows are rising, and the throne is at stake… Russia is on the brink of great change. Pasha’s coronation approaches, and Vika is now the Imperial Enchanter, but the role she once coveted may be more difficult—and dangerous—than she ever expected. Pasha is grappling with his own problems—his legitimacy is in doubt, the girl he loves loathes him, and he believes his best friend is dead. When a challenger to the throne emerges—and with the magic in Russia growing rapidly—Pasha must do whatever it takes to keep his position and protect his kingdom. For Nikolai, the ending of the Crown’s Game stung deeply. Although he just managed to escape death, Nikolai remains alone, a shadow hidden in a not-quite-real world of his own creation. But when he’s given a second chance at life—tied to a dark price—Nikolai must decide just how far he’s willing to go to return to the world. With revolution on the rise, dangerous new magic rearing up, and a tsardom up for the taking, Vika, Nikolai, and Pasha must fight—or face the destruction of not only their world but also themselves.
I won’t lie – I wasn’t a huge fan of The Crown’s Game – I enjoyed it, but as I’ve said many times before, it simply fell flat for me. All the right things were there, but they simply never came together, and the ending simply felt like a cheap cop-out (you can find my full review of The Crown’s Game here). I was hesitant to read The Crown’s Fate, given my disappointment with its predecessor, but I was willing to give Skye one more try, to see if she could fix some of the major problems I had with The Crown’s Game. So I went into The Crown’s Fate with lower than normal expectations – and I was blown away by how much more I enjoyed the sequel.
One of my biggest complaints against The Crown’s Game was Skye’s cheating the system – by not having Vika or Nikolai actually fully die – resulting in the book feeling like a cheap cop-out. Skye overcame this problem by further developing her magic system, presenting the reader with a plausible and acceptable explanation to how both enchanters could have survived the final duel, despite the rules of the game stating otherwise. I don’t want to spoil too much here, but I will say that in this case, while it was a risky move, further convolution of the magic system worked out for Skye.
“Wishes, I’d imagine, are a bit like magic” – Vika, The Crown’s Fate (Evelyn Skye, p. 15)
Speaking of the magic system – while readers still didn’t get a clear picture of how the magic system works in Skye’s world, the limitations and general function of magic became much more clear, making the book much easier to understand. I’m a huge fan of well-developed magic systems, so this also greatly improved my opinion of The Crown’s Fate, since the Enchanters’ powers no longer felt quite so wild and unpredictable – Skye enforced limitations and (mostly) stuck with types of magic we had already seen, leading the reader towards a better understanding of how the magic system functions.
I had also disliked the love-triangle between Pasha, Nikolai and Vika in The Crown’s Game – it felt forced, somewhat unnecessary, and had The Crown’s Game falling into a predictable YA Fantasy archetype that I just don’t enjoy. I’ve found that these love-triangles actually detract from the story, often becoming the sole focus of the story, rather than working in tandem with the over-arching plot. And when the promised plot is as interesting as Enchanters dueling to the death, this can be somewhat disappointing. Actually, it was be really disappointing. So while the love-triangle is still present in The Crown’s Fate, it is no longer so central to the plot – it is no longer the main focus which pushes the story forward. Instead, it is the vendetta between the two brothers – at the core of which is Nikolai’s rage against Pasha for essentially ordering his death – which pushes the plot of The Crown’s Fate forward. I much preferred this story line, not only because it made the book feel less childish, but also because it created a real, complex and deep-rooted conflict – the Decemberists Revolution. Brother versus brother, fighting for a title and a crown only one of them really wants, for the sake of hurting the other – for revenge. But when the two brother’s in question are in line to bet he next tsar, this conflict is hardly a domestic one – as expected, the conflict quickly escalates to a full-blown battle, which Vika finds herself trapped in the middle of, unsure of which side she should take.
Overall, Evelyn Skye delivered on the promised danger and destruction, weaving a complex and engaging story as she continued to explore Vika, Nikolai and Pasha’s stories. Interweaving this magical world with bits of reality, such as the Decemberists revolution, made for an interesting tale of love, betrayal and magic. Combine that with a high-quality of writing, and The Crown’s Fate is definitely worth the read! (4/5)