Gameboard of the Gods introduced religious investigator Justin March and Mae Koskinen, the beautiful supersoldier assigned to protect him. Together they have been charged with investigating reports of the supernatural and the return of the gods, both inside the Republic of United North America and out. With this highly classified knowledge comes a shocking revelation: Not only are the gods vying for human control, but the elect—special humans marked by the divine—are turning against one another in bloody fashion.
Their mission takes a new twist when they are assigned to a diplomatic delegation headed by Lucian Darling, Justin’s old friend and rival, going into Arcadia, the RUNA’s dangerous neighboring country. Here, in a society where women are commodities and religion is intertwined with government, Justin discovers powerful forces at work, even as he struggles to come to terms with his own reluctantly acquired deity.
Meanwhile, Mae—grudgingly posing as Justin’s concubine—has a secret mission of her own: finding the illegitimate niece her family smuggled away years ago. But with Justin and Mae resisting the resurgence of the gods in Arcadia, a reporter’s connection with someone close to Justin back home threatens to expose their mission—and with it the divine forces the government is determined to keep secret. (Goodreads)
I loved this book! I struggled with Gameboard of the Gods, the first book in the series, so I didn’t read this one for a long time. Then I randomly decided to download the audiobook, and I couldn’t stop listening! I think the reason I had problems with the first book is also one of the series’s strenghts: you’re thrown into this very detailed world you know nothing about, but once you get into it, it’s AMAZING. I love how well thought out Richelle’s worlds always are – it’s everything I miss in books like Divergent. I feel like she’s aware of every aspect of her world, its power dynamics and how different events influence each other.
The Age of X series is technically sci-fi (and fantasy, I guess?), but it’s in the near future, so while they have some things we don’t have (serialized self-driving cars, a Media Stream that sounds like the Internet 2.0,…) it’s all still fairly recognizable. One of the other reasons I didn’t get into the series right away is that the characters weren’t too likeable – they’re deeply flawed, which is AWESOME, but somehow I couldn’t connect with them in book one. Now they’ve developed enough for me to like them, and they’re working together as a kick-ass team. The romance was cool at times and slightly too mushy and star-crossed at others, but overall I liked it.
A huge part of The Immortal Crown is set in Arcadia, a country with a government based on religion that oppresses women and has extreme wealth discrepancies. It’s a bit stereotypical, but it was interesting and well-used. I’ve read the authors other series as well, and I’m always a fan of how she uses religion and mythology in her stories. In the world of Gameboard of the Gods, gods are actually real and vying for power, so people who would be religious zealots in our world …are still religious zealots in Age of X, but they at least have a leg to stand on. Generally, I’ve perceived the gods in Age of X more as Percy Jackson like characters, who are interesting in their own right, but we haven’t seen that much of them so far. Although I will say that one of them makes an appearance towards the end, and I WAS THRILLED. Read the book and you’ll understand why.
There were some things I didn’t LOVE, but they didn’t take away much from my enjoyment of the book. One of our narrators is Tessa, a girl from the provinces that we already know from book one, and to be quite honest, I thought her chapters were a little bit boring. I know she’s supposed to act as that character who doesn’t know much about the world, so the readers get to find out about it with her, but I didn’t think her storyline was that interesting. She interns with a reporter, who is the stereotype of every sensationalist reporter ever, and finds out some things that I felt didn’t need to take up that much space in the narrative. She’s quite smart, but then at other times she’s also very naive. And I get it – she grew up very sheltered, so she’s supposed to be naive, but sometimes the contrast was a bit too much for me.
Overall, a VERY enjoyable book that has stayed with me for the last couple of days. Definitely one of my favorite Richelle Mead books, and I can’t wait for the next book in the series! I’m actually enjoying her adult books more than her YA books at the moment. If anyone knows someone who knows someone who can get me an ARC, I will be forever in your service. Well, not actually, but I’ll send you a picture of a cookie or something.
Must read! I gave it four stars on Goodreads, because of the miiinor issues, but I really did enjoy it a lot, so I’ll up it to 4.5 cupcakes here. I can also recommend the audiobook: the narrator does a great job! If you liked the first one, you should DEFINITELY continue the series. And maybe even if you didn’t.