I, like nearly every other YA reader, was over the moon excited to read this story. It screamed all things Grisha and gave the hope to bring the reader the feels of The Darkling and Alina. I’m sorry to say that I may be the black sheep (again) because I did not get those feelings from this book. There is so much hype around this book that I just did not feel it was necessary.
This is the story of Vika and Nikolai, two Enchanters competing for a place beside the Tsar. Holding the title of Enchanter to the Tsar is one of the most prestigious positions in the land. The battle between Vika and Nikolai will end with one killing the other as there can be only one and there is no way to not compete. When Vika was young, she was trained by her “father” for this competition without knowing she was going to be involved in this magic battle. Nikolai was just the opposite – he knew exactly what was going to happen when he became of age. Once the battle begins, they are both given turns to try to out magic and kill the other. At the same time, they are trying to impress Pasha, the Tsar. As the story and battle continues, Vika and Nikolai become attracted to each other. Their magic turns from trying to kill the other, to impressing the other. What is to happen now that they have feelings for each other?
This story left me feeling a little confused. I knew the premise of the story was to win the title of Enchanter but the focus changed about half way through. It soon became a love story and the main focus was lost. I don’t mind that at all, but it felt like it took the wind out of the sails. I wanted to read more about the magic and creativity, but instead it was how each other used magic to impress the other. Vika and Nikolai both had their talents and were only limited by their imagination. One question that stayed with me the entire book was how did their magic work? Vika was able to manipulate elemental while Nikolai could change mechanical. Why would’t the Tsar want both Enchanters then? Wouldn’t that be the smarter choice?
The character I found most interesting was Pasha, the one next in line to rule. He felt like such an honest character, but sadly he was the most naive character. He was best friends with Nikolai but had no idea that magic existed and was appalled to find out his best friend was an Enchanter. Seriously? How can someone within the royal family be so sheltered??
The one thing that really, really stood out to me about this story is that it just felt like a long book. I found myself not paying attention to what was going on because it just had too much fluff. I almost forgot what the overall purpose of the story was – these two Enchanters trying to kill the other to win the game. The story felt as if it really lost momentum towards the end of the story because it turned into a love story. That’s not really what I wanted to read when I picked up this book.
Overall, I liked this book but there is no way that I loved this book. It simply did not live up to the hype. I’m not upset that I read this book, not one bit. I’m glad I did, but it just did not really do it for me, that’s why I gave this book 3.5 stars.