I’m so honoured to be a part of the Tsar’s Guard Parade! To celebrate The Crown’s Game, I have a compiled a fairly comprehensive infopost about the context of the book, which is set in Russia during the mid to late 1800s. I may have overemphasised on economy and societal reforms, but it’s educational and hopefully informative!
There is also a giveaway so stay tuned!
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.
Imperial Russia: Mid-late Nineteenth Century (an infodump)
• Russia’s population at the time was substantially larger than the other Western nations. The majority of people, however, lived in rural areas and were working in agriculture with outdated technology and techniques. Four-fifths of these people were either serfs or state peasants, who were later emancipated by the Tsar’s reforms.
• Compared to the other major powers such as the Ottoman Empire, British Indian Empire and Chinese empires, as well as other emerging powers such as Japan, Germany and the United States, Russia developed industrially significantly slower. As a result, Russia’s economy developed more slowly than countries in the West.
(It’s also important to note that around this time in Europe, nations were basically competing to control as many overseas empires as they could. You also should know that the British Empire is probably the largest of all time.)
• Following the defeat of Russia in the Crimean War in 1856, the Treaty of Paris demilitarised the Black Sea and land was also taken away. The regime revived its expansionist policies and moved to gain control over the Causaus region. The defeat in the Crimean War also led to revolt and general unrest.
Under Tsar Alexander II’s rule came many reforms in education, government, the judiciary and military.
• In 1861, he initiated the emancipation of serfs but it risked upsetting the entire social structure of Russia. The land-owning nobility was important to the monarchy, and to remove them of serfs, who were essentially tied to their land was to risk upsetting them. In the end, all personal serfdom was abolished, and the peasants were to receive land and pay the landowners for it. The state advanced money to the landlords and recovered it in 49 annual sums known as redemption payments.
• Tsar Alexander II’s ascension brought social restructuring that needed public discussion, especially after the emancipation of serfs. Censorship was lifted and reinstated after an attempted assassination attempt in 1866. The government also attempted to create and implement a national curriculum for elementary schools, which achieved mixed results. Elected city councils consisting of property owners and upperclassmen were succeeded former provincial and district representatives of all classes in 1870.
• Judicial reforms were imposed in 1864, with major towns establishing Western-style courts. It functioned pretty well, but the government lacked resources and money to spread it to all the villages, where the traditional peasant justice continued to operate with minimal interference from provincial officials.
• The State Bank was established in 1866 to strengthen the national currency.
• The Tsar also sought to reform the military. The importance of military reform and having a modern army was demonstrated by the Franco-Prussian war (1870-71). However, the army still remained backwards despite various reforms. Russia didn’t keep up with Western technological developments of rifles, machine guns, artillery, ships and naval ordnance.
• In 1881, Alexander II was assassinated by revolutionaries. He was succeeded by his son, Alexander III.
• The lifting of state censorship encouraged new ways of political and social thinking. Many liberal, nationalist and radical articles were published and helped changed public opinions that was opposed to tsarism, private property and the imperial state. Nikolay Chernshevskiy, the most important radical writer at the time, suggested that Russia could bypass captialism and move directly onto socialism. Another ideology that was born around this time was Marxism.
Prominent Russian artists of this period include:
○ Tchaikovsky (1840-1893): he composed ballets (three notable ones including Swan Lake, The Nutcracker and Sleeping beauty) amongst other symphonies, operas, concertos and cantatas. He is arguably one of the most famous composers of Russia.
○ Leo Tolstoy (1928-1910) wrote novels such as War and Peace, Anna Karenina and The Death of Ivan Ilyich.
I had so much fun putting this all together! I certainly learnt a lot fun in my internet endeavours, reading many articles and blog journals. (I didn’t use Wikipedia I swear). I’m also not too sure how credible some of my sources are, but nevertheless, if you want to find out more, I have posted my bibliography at the bottom of this post.
If you liked this, then you should check out the rest of the parade here! There will be a new feature post every day on a different blog, so be sure to check all those out too.
About the Author
Evelyn Skye was once offered a job by the C.I.A., she not-so-secretly wishes she was on “So You Think You Can Dance,” and if you challenge her to a pizza-eating contest, she guarantees she will win. When she isn’t writing, Evelyn can be found chasing her daughter on the playground or sitting on the couch, immersed in a good book and eating way too many cookies. THE CROWN’S GAME is her first novel. Evelyn can be found online at www.evelynskye.com and on Twitter @EvelynSkyeYA.
One lucky person will recieve an ARC of The Crown’s Game! This is open to people all across the globe.
Biography.com Editors. (Year unknown). Pytor Ilyich Tchaikovsky – Composer. <http://www.biography.com/people/pyotr-ilyich-tchaikovsky-9503375> Last accessed 19/1/16
Biography.com Editors. (Year unknown.) Leo Tolstoy Biography. <http://www.biography.com/people/leo-tolstoy-9508518> Last accessed 19/1/16
Frank E. Smitha. (2015). Russia, 1856-1900. <http://www.fsmitha.com/h3/h47-ru.htm> Last accessed 19/1/16
U.S. Library of Congress. (1996). Transformation of Russia in the Nineteenth Century. <http://countrystudies.us/russia/6.htm> Last accessed 19/1/16.
Anna Yudina. (2011). The Romanovs – Russiapedia. <http://russiapedia.rt.com/prominent-russians/the-romanov-dynasty/the-romanovs/> Last accessed 19/1/16
(Fact: I stayed up until 6am finishing this post because I was delirious and couldn’t sleep. The sun has also risen. At least I was productive though.)