Genres: Adult, Science Fiction, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy
Series Name: Age of X
Previous Reviews: Gameboard of the Gods (Age of X #1)
Release Date: May 29, 2014
Publisher: Dutton Adult
Number of pages: 432
Sources: ARC from Edelweiss
Check out on GOODREADS
Pre-Order on AMAZON / THE BOOK DEPOSITORY
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.
I already said this before, but I’ll gladly say it again: I was not a fan of Richelle Mead at all, but I am now because of this series. When I first
(tried to) read Vampire Academy, I was hardly impressed. I remember going through the first ten to twenty pages and saying to myself with a scowl, “Mmm, juvenile writing. Too young. Meh. DNF.” Honestly, between me and that series, we’re pretty much done. Nada. But then I read Gameboard of the Gods and I fell for it hard. I instantly loved not only the writing, but also the world-building, the flawed characters, the setting, and the plot. It had everything I wanted in a good, perfect story and more. You can really see that Mead has matured very much in her writing with this highly ambitious story.
The Immortal Crown took everything in Gameboard of the Gods and increased its epicness tenfold. We join the ever-so flawed characters, Justin and Mae, venture outside the RUNA in search of illegal worship of gods. Not known to his bosses, there is more to it than politics that are at play here, as he is also there for a “divine” reason. You see, for many, many years, gods have been driven out by society. They were shunned away, and since then, civilization has progressed to greater heights, and nobody believed in them ever again. Until now. Especially when the same gods are playing a game, or rather a war, amongst each other, and in order to strengthen themselves, they need believers. And that’s what the Elects are for – to bring more followers to their gods. And that is also what Justin is trying not to become, but his lovely raven sidekicks are only too happy to keep reminding him of Odin’s request.
And this is what I freaking love about this book.
Section 1: The Setting
I don’t know about you folks, but it’s kind of hard to efficiently and effortlessly put gods and different kinds of mythology in a futuristic world that reeks of “Science Fiction” all over, but the author was able to do it not only in the first book but here as well with her intricate storytelling and ways of revealing the grander scheme of things. It’s supposed to feel unnatural, as “religion” and “science fiction” are pretty much the exact opposites of each other, but Mead was able to weave both concepts in a single story in a brilliant manner. It just makes sense, you know? It also gives that feeling of excitement and trepidation, that feeling of humility, that in this fictional world, people go about their daily lives without even knowing there are darker, greater forces at play. In this book, our world-building expands as Justin and Mae enter Arcadia, the south-eastern part of the USA that became its own country after an event in the past. They’re not as technologically-advanced as the RUNA, but unlike their western counterpart, they believe in a god, and that god pretty much rules their politics and lifestyles.
I loved how Mead was able to create a whole new atmosphere in this book. Arcadia is as backwards as backwards can get. Women are seen as inferiors and are not given voices not only in the government but in homes as well. Men are allowed to marry more than one woman, but women cannot. Since there is a shortage of women to marry in this country, they are often kidnapped to be sold to the highest bidder once they reach of age. It was so fascinating to me how Mead can create a technologically-advanced country on one side, and a shithole in the gutter on the other. Women are abused left and right, the men get a kick out of it, and you can’t help but feel angry at them. As our cast of characters are there for a “political tour”, it makes the tension between the two parties even more spectacular and exciting. It kept me on my toes at all times, making me guess if something explosive or controversial will come out of this or that. If anything she makes each setting more and more interesting, and I can’t wait to see what other parts of this fictional world have in store for us.Section 2: The Gods
This is no doubt one of the most interesting and intriguing aspect of the book: the fact that in a supposedly godless world, gods and goddesses from various origins are coming back to take their righteous places amongst men. There’s just something so fascinating about them. They know they’re superior, they know they can do things beyond our wildest imagination, and yet they don’t meddle as much… if they do meddle, they let their Elects do it for them, and these are oftentimes done in the shadows. I loved how you get the gist of the greater and grander scheme of things involving these gods, but there is still an air of mystery around and about them, a mystery that I relish with each and every gradual revelation. How many gods are there? What are their long-term goals? Who are these gods? Can they assume human forms? I have so many questions in my head, but surprisingly, I am in no hurry to know all about it instantly. I just want to savor each moment as I continue to learn more about them and their roles in a continuously evolving society.
So far, from what I’ve noted, we have these gods so far: Odin, Osiris, Morrigan, Freya, and… and… LOKI! Yes, folks. We get Loki, and I’m really excited about this. I’m sure some of you are rolling your eyes and are thinking he’s not the same Loki as Tom Hiddleston BUT ME DO NOT CARE. I can’t help but imagine him that way and it makes the reading experience so much funner. Will there be Thor? Will Thor make an appearance? I sure hope so, because in that case I will be rooting for him in this divine war!
Age of X has a lot of characters and uses multiple POVs, but that didn’t deteriorate my experience even though I’m usually not fond of that. Justin and Mae are as flawed as always, but they’ve grown a lot since the first book. Before they would always banter and argue with each other, trying to assert their own dominance in their own ways, but now they compliment each other a lot. They watch each other’s backs and pretty much care for one another. I mean, yes, they still have their own episodes where their bad sides show. Justin can be too selfish and rude. Mae can also be too proud to ask for anybody’s help. But they always try to compromise if the situation calls for it and that’s what I love about them so much. They’re flawed, yes; they’re selfish, yes; they have a lot of bad traits, yes; but they know when to man up when it’s needed.
Also, gosh, the tension in the air between these two. It just sizzles like whoa.
Mae? She’s a freaking bad-ass chick. I’ve never seen or read a stronger or more independent woman in fiction who’s such in control of her feelings and actions. I love her so much.
Tessa, on the other hand… she was kind of meh in the first book, but I did like her a lot here. Granted, there were times I felt she was too innocent and naive for her own good (and in a bad way, too), but I love how she eventually realizes what’s important to her. I also enjoy learning the world with her. As someone who came from the province with little to no experience of how the rest of the world works, she still has a lot of learning to do, and every time we see things in her POV, we also discover more about the world as well through her eyes.
Now, the plot here is very special. What I like about the plot is that we know there is a bigger story behind the scenes, but we get there through the smaller subplots. It particularly follows Justin’s adventures as he goes from one place to another dissolving supposedly “illegal” religions, which is pretty much his job as an investigator of the government. While Gameboard of the Gods laid out the foundation of the series, this installment jumpstarts the action and the real intrigue. Both are good, but The Immortal Crown gives more excitement as more revelations are revealed. It’s more fast-paced, more engaging, and pretty much more everything.
The Immortal Crown is an amazing installment, and if you loved the first book, it’s a guarantee that you will love this one, too. There is enough science fiction and mythological gods for everyone to share, as well as some delicious character development and relationship dynamics to look forward to. Also, did I mention Loki? Yes – LOKI LOKI LOKI LOKI LOKI LOKI LOKIIIII. Please read this series, even if for that one god alone. You know you can’t get enough of him. But seriously now, this series is utter amazeballs. I really do recommend this one as I hold it close to my heart. Here’s to hoping book 3 is as brilliant!
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