Welcome to the forty-fourth episode of the Tea in the Treetops podcast hosted by Philippa and Angelya.
Podcast: Play in new window | Download
In this very spoilery episode, we discuss our first book for the Two Little Birds book club: The Crown’s Game by Evelyn Skye. Please leave a comment letting us know what you thought!
We also discuss season 6 of Game of Thrones, the Warcraft movie, plus a bit about what we’ve been reading and listening to. This episode was recorded on June 29th, 2016.
We hope you enjoy listening and we would love to hear your feedback. Is there anything you would like us to talk about in particular? Just let us know!
You can listen to past episodes of the podcast, as well as the various ways to subscribe on the main podcast page. You can now also record a voice message for us via the Speakpipe widget there!
Our title music is titled Sea of Dreams and has been used with the kind permission of the composer, Bart Stoop. You can hear more of Bart’s beautiful music at facebook.com/BartStoop.
Time details for spoiler prevention:
- [2:45] The Crown’s Game
- [26:10] Game of Thrones series 6
- [43:35] What we’ve been reading (no spoilers!)
- [53:00] Warcraft movie
Two Little Birds Book Club – June 2016
Welcome to Two Little Birds Book Club! Each month, we’ll be reading mostly YA Fantasy and Sci-fi, aiming for books that are fairly new and easy to get a copy of around the world. Everyone is welcome to join us! Find out more at our Two Little Birds page.
The Crown’s Game by Evelyn Skye
Published by HarperCollins AU in June / Balzer & Bray in May 2016
Vika Andreyeva can summon the snow and turn ash into gold. Nikolai Karimov can see through walls and conjure bridges out of thin air. They are enchanters—the only two in Russia—and with the Ottoman Empire and the Kazakhs threatening, the Tsar needs a powerful enchanter by his side.
And so he initiates the Crown’s Game, an ancient duel of magical skill—the greatest test an enchanter will ever know. The victor becomes the Imperial Enchanter and the Tsar’s most respected adviser. The defeated is sentenced to death.
Raised on tiny Ovchinin Island her whole life, Vika is eager for the chance to show off her talent in the grand capital of Saint Petersburg. But can she kill another enchanter—even when his magic calls to her like nothing else ever has?
For Nikolai, an orphan, the Crown’s Game is the chance of a lifetime. But his deadly opponent is a force to be reckoned with—beautiful, whip smart, imaginative—and he can’t stop thinking about her.
And when Pasha, Nikolai’s best friend and heir to the throne, also starts to fall for the mysterious enchantress, Nikolai must defeat the girl they both love… or be killed himself.
As long-buried secrets emerge, threatening the future of the empire, it becomes dangerously clear… the Crown’s Game is not one to lose.
We enjoyed this book, even though it is quite similar to The Night Circus. The love triangle was quite well done, and the pacing was excellent. A very promising debut – we’re looking forward to the next book!
Questions for Book Clubbers:
How did you find the pacing?
Love triangle: Yes or No way Jose?
What did you think of Vika? Nikolai? Or Pasha?
What was your favourite enchantment in the Crown’s Game?
July Book Giveaway!
Our July/August book will be A Darker Shade of Magic by VE Schwab! We are giving away a copy of this book. If you already have a copy, you can win another book of your choice. You can enter using the Rafflecopter form below. Good luck!
If the winner is in Australia, they will receive a copy of the book from an Aussie retailer. An overseas winner will receive a copy from Wordery.
Other books mentioned
I loved this book – it moved along at a great pace! And yes Philippa – I agree – I thought it was going to be a combination of the two enchanters that was going to work at the end of the game!! I wanted Vika to choose Pasha not Nikolai 🙂 – I loved the water enchantment – but I don’t think you could go past the benches where you could enter into the different worlds!! I am looking forward to the next bookclub!
Yay! Thanks Susan, I’m glad you enjoyed it! Pasha eh? Controversial! But he was a sweetheart so I might have been alright with that 🙂
Sorry I am so late to the game on joining in on this! Was still reading the book when you published the podcast and then life happened. But I’m here now!!!
I agree with many of the things that you gals voiced. The pace was really good and I too had a different idea of how it would all end (thought that Nikolai and Vika would work together) once the story concluded. I also thought the competition would be much different. Darker and with much more tension. Not decorating and improving the aesthetics of Saint Petersburg. I ended up giving this book 3 stars on Goodreads. I enjoyed it enough to finish it but it didn’t super do it for me. I think maybe because it was advertised differently than how it actually read.
The blurb for the book says things like: “an ancient duel of magical skill” “As long-buried secrets emerge, threatening the future of the empire” “with the Ottoman Empire and the Kazakhs threatening, the Tsar needs a powerful enchanter by his side.” But I didn’t feel any of that urgency or awe or threat. I’m thinking this should be like an intense magical duel like in the late Harry Potter books or something. And that we readers are feeling that it all hangs on the line, the importance of this test as well as the role they play and I didn’t really feel any of that.
Some of the world building seemed good but other bits fell flat. Most of which I’ve already referenced above. I didn’t feel any kind of attachment to the fate of the city/world if they didn’t get this enchanter business sorted out. There was no impending doom (as it seems there was meant to be?) to get me emotionally invested. Maybe others felt differently?
As you mentioned in the podcast, the author did a good job avoiding the insta-love thing and did a love triangle bit fairly well. However, while these relationships played out slowly through the book, I didn’t understand how they actually fell in love. Pasha seemed to fall in love with a fair amount of obsession with the idea of Vika, after seeing her just one time for a brief moment. Maybe I just prefer more actual interaction? A bit more to go on at least.
There are things about this book that I didn’t like but couldn’t quite put my finger on. I think it came from the writing style. The way certain things were described I felt could have been a bit more natural and that I was being beat over the head with it. After about the 5th mention of how Pasha runs his hands through his hair and musses it when he is fill-in-the-blank emotion I couldn’t help but roll my eyes. The character traits seemed a bit forced onto the reader. I don’t know if I’m explaining that well, but perhaps you know what I’m getting at? I think there is a good way to convey those things without it feeling like the author is intentionally reminding me of it so that I remember what the character is like instead of getting a good sense of the characters mannerisms and attitudes and behaviors from the beginning of the story and then just letting it play out throughout the story.
For example: Celaena is a fiery, short-tempered, assassin who’s mouth can get her into trouble. Here are two examples of how the same bit of a scene could be written. In the first one A) it feels like the author is telling me about the character through every step. In the second one B) it feels like the character is telling you about herself through every step. I feel like the reader develops a more emotional attachment when it feels like the character is unpeeling the layers of their personality for you on their own and the author disappears. Example 2 reads much better to me.
A – “Go ahead and see yourself out. I hope you can fit your ego through the door.” said Celaena. Sam turned and walked away in a huff. Celaena just couldn’t keep her mouth shut. Even when she was wrong. She went and sat down at the table and drank her tea with pretend calm and picked the fallen dagger up from the floor.
B – As Sam turned and walked away from Celaena in a huff, she called out “Go ahead and see yourself out. I hope you can fit your ego through the door!” Seriously? Ugh. She wanted to bang her head on the wall repeatedly. Maybe that’d finally knock some sense into her brain. Why couldn’t she just keep her big mouth shut and stop while she was ahead? She lifted the teacup to her lips with a well practiced calm, like she would ever let on that he had rattled her, as she scooped her fallen dagger off the floor and then gracefully sat down at the table.
Maybe it is just me but that is the essence of what bugs me about this book. Sorry for the random example above but that was the only way I could think of to describe it. The writing style in The Crown’s Game stands out to me so much that it distracts me from the story. We’ve all read lines in books that make your heart melt and your brain go all happy dancing. A perfect turn of phrase or well written dialogue is book magic. When something is said the perfect way and you get a real sense of a character’s personality through their voices and thoughts and actions.
I thought this book was good. But I thought this book could have been WAY better.
Wow, thanks Tracy, excellent points. I think that perhaps the telling rather than showing aspect seems to be common in lots of debut authors, and in subsequent books they tend to improve on that. Would you agree?
(Love your ToG example, by the way)
Just wondering, have you read The Night Circus? I can’t help wondering whether Philly’s and my opinions were influenced by having read it first.
I do think that debut authors can have a bit of a rough start, as you say. Just like a TV show pilot. The story and telling of it can take some time to get its feet wet. I don’t know that I have noticed the showing vs. telling aspect to blatantly be a part of that new author thing. This is the first book where it really stood out to me so significantly.
But maybe that is because there was enough good stuff in the book (plot, action, ambition to not bail on first 2LB book club read…) that I actually finished it despite the things that I didn’t love. Life is too short for bad books! 🙂 Plus, when you read some really fantastic books that are amazingly written, it is hard to suffer through something that doesn’t spark any emotion in you. For me it is, at least. If I don’t care about the characters or what is happening then I’m not invested.
I figured the Throne of Glass example would be the best example I could throw your way. Especially when you already know the characters. 🙂
I did read The Night Circus! Quite a few years ago and I honestly remember nothing about it. Well, hardly anything. I remember the super elaborate clock the most but everything else is fuzzy.
I would be willing to pick up the 2nd installment of The Crown’s Game to see if the things I didn’t like improve some. Plus I do want to see where the story goes because it ended in such a weird way regarding Nikolai’s character.