Title: The Immortal Crown
Author: Richelle Mead
Series: Age of X, book 2
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Utopian, Futuristic
Publisher: Dutton Adult
Source: Review copy from publisher
"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."
This installment starts with Justin and Mae investigating a voodoo priestess. During the investigation the Priestess is a victim of an attack… a bug attack… before she dies she gives them warnings about a war to come between the gods Elects.
Back in RUNA, Lucian asks Justin for help, he’s planning to go to Arcadia on a diplomatic mission and needs Justin expertise. The last thing Justin wants is to go to Arcadia, but after Mae asks him to accept Lucian’s offer, Justin begrudgingly accepts. Mae has an ulterior motive, her niece is supposed to be in Arcadia and in danger. Mae wants to rescue her and what better way to infiltrate the backward country than on a diplomatic mission.
In a place where women are seen as commodities and evil temptresses, Justin and Mae will have to walk on a thin line to leave the country alive. What none of them were expecting to find in Arcadia was more proof of the power of the gods at play.
I liked the character growth we see in this installment. Justin is not the selfish, man whore of previous book. Thanks to Mae he has changed in a good way, but he’s afraid of what being with Mae means for him, so day after day he fights his feelings towards her.
Mae has also come a long way. Now, she knows she doesn’t need to be the strong super soldier all the time and she can count on others. She is still as kick ass as she was in first book, but now she is learning to express her feelings. Talking about feelings she’s having trouble understanding Justin and the attraction they seem to feel for each other. She wants him, but she doesn’t want the complications or heartbreak that could entail, especially when he is trying to reject and ignore her at every turn.
I can’t talk much about their relationship without giving spoilers away; let’s just say I really hope we have less angst and more happy moments in books to come.
In this installment we also see Tessa’s point of view. It was nice to see how she is dealing with her new life in RUNA. I Suffered a little bit with some of her choices in this book, especially on the first two thirds of it, but was gladly surprised by her maturity by the end of it.
The world building is further developed with the inclusion of Arcadia, a country with strong Protestant and Islamic influences, where men rule without opposition and women don’t have any rights, they are simply commodities for men’s pleasure and service.
I hated so much Arcadia and its people, that I can only congratulate Mead for a well-done job, because of the strong emotions she made me feel while visiting Arcadia. That’s what a talented author can accomplish with her words and she did it again and again in this in installment.
Mead is a master at weaving plots and subplots with almost invisible threads. Some of them you will only realized they where all the time there, when they are almost staring at you on your face.
Mead also masterfully intermingles science fiction, utopian and - with the introduction of different pantheons - very rich mythology. This unique and original mix makes of The Immortal Crown (and this series) a highly entertaining and difficult to put down book.
Humans are pawns in the bigger scheme of the gods and the game has just begun… and I can’t wait to see what is coming next. *grabs popcorn*
The Immortal Crown was a good second installment, one that ended in a little cliffy, leaving me dying to get my hands on next book in this series, but for that one I have to wait another year.
My Verdict: 4 Paws
Other books in the series
The Immortal Crown
Other reviews Goodreads