“She might be a dragon on a leash, but she was still a dragon. She would stall. She’d find a way to fix this, bracelet or not.
Or, like witches, she and Nikolai would both burn.”
Man, I really do love these covers. They are so pretty and the duology makes such a nice little pair. Well! I finally got around to reading the sequel to The Crown’s Game and it was pretty good. It certainly has its flaws, but like its predecessor, The Crown’s Fate was an enjoyable, very light read. It was a nice continuation of the story, with a decent, if a bit rushed, conclusion. A solid 2.5 stars, I say.
The sequel picks up about two weeks after the events of The Crown’s Game, so we see Vika taking on her role of Imperial Enchantress, Pasha trying to convince everyone (and himself) that he can be Tsar, and Nikolai is still stuck in the dream realm, a mere shadow of his former self. The book doesn’t leave things like that for long though, and events quickly start taking shape.
I did feel that the pacing here was kind of off. The beginning of the book was pretty fast, jumping back into the action without much of a pause. I feel like Nikolai was barely trapped in the dream world before he was breaking free of it (like with the idiotic egg prison) and it really never had much of an impact on me as a reader. They kept making his imprisonment in the Steppe dream sound so awful, but it never came across as much time at all. And just overall, the events in the book seem to take place over what? Like a week? That’s what it feels like when you are reading, but that would make no sense at all within the world that Skye set up. For her magical and political events to happen the way she wrote them, I feel like much more time would have to be taken to realistically set them up. That being said, the middle of the book felt like it dragged on for quite some time. Events happened just one after the other and everyone was angsty, but I was kind of bored. I felt like this one was too long in some places. And then the ending was rushed! What the heck! So yeah, the pacing as a whole was off for me.
As I mentioned, it is pretty hard to believe the events happening in the book, both character’s actions and reactions much of the time. There is a lot of suspension of disbelief required to fully appreciate and enjoy this book, even for a fantasy novel! It is definitely a YA story targeted for perhaps a not very critical reader. And yet, I still like the duology, which is kind of surprising for me. I found that I can just sit back and read the story as it is, a light, fluffy, magical book about Russia. I can enjoy light book sometimes! I do think that the first book in the series is a bit stronger than this one, though. It was more exciting and less predictable.
There is no real threat here, which is something I mentioned about the previous book, as well. You get no sense of danger and you never actually fear for the lives of the main characters. Even when Skye was trying to set up a dark ending, I was like yeah ok 🙄. And lo and behold, the ending was suuuuper “all tied up with a pink ribbon.” I actually wish the ending had been drawn out some more and that there was a bigger threat to the characters. As it was, it was pretty rushed and predictable. That’s maybe my main gripe with the book, is that it is all very predictable. The characters were tropey from the beginning of book one and they generally continue to fulfill those tropes. The writing is nice, but very simple and you can see what is coming from the first few chapters. The plot is, overall, quite predictable. The writing, also, is very “on the nose.” You kind of know exactly what every character is thinking and feeling and reacting and planning at all times. Probably a tad too much telling in the narrative.
And yet! I liked this duology 🤷♀️. I think the author’s descriptions of food, dress, settings, and Russia in general are fantastic. That is definitely the strength of the novels, the Russian atmosphere and backdrop. I appreciate her attention to detail and her accurate use of language. She clearly loves the rich history of the country and lets that come across in her work. There were some nice scenes set up. Overall, everything is very low stakes, so it is easy to enjoy it on the surface without reallyyyy being invested. Like, I didn’t much care who Vika was going to be with at the end; one, because it was so obvious who she would choose, and two, I just wanted to read the story. It’s a great book to get out of a reading slump. It’s quick, easy and won’t take too much out of you. I would definitely recommend this duology for someone looking for a light, fun read that still maintains its quality. Maybe I’m just a sucker for magical Russia, who knows??