ARC Review: The Immortal Crown by Richelle Mead – LOKI LOKI LOKI LOKI

16156357Genres: 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
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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.

REVIEW

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.

WORLD-BUILDING

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!

CHARACTERS

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.

PLOT

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.

OVERALL…

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!

Rating Report
Plot
Characters
Writing
Pacing
World-building
Overall: 4.7
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Faye

Faye

A 21 years old Filipina who loves books, games, languages, and most especially, food. Secretly wishes to be an astronaut so she can explore the stars. Has a love-hate relationship with Philippine politics. To get in her good graces, offer her Foie Gras, Or shrimp. Or a JRPG. A YA sci-fi book works, too. You can follow her on twitter here: @kawaiileena

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  1. says

    Gahhhh the romance!!!! You say it has Loki in this? *goes to pre-order* srsly, Tom Hiddleston has forever ruined any chance of Loki not being completely out of this world hot-as-fuck and deliciously devious. Ok, back to the romance. I LOVE the flawness of these two and I cannot wait for the feels. Also, also, also, Tessa? Um. I was a bit meh about her as well in the first book, but yes to character growth:) So there will be three books? O.o I thoght that there will be only 2 since no info on the third book whatsoever and GR doesn’t have the third book listed as well. I thought since the sales weren’t that good then they dropped the three book deal or idk. It had 3 books up on GR originally but last time I checked there were only 2 and that was like.. 2 weeks ago O.o If there are three then hells yeah!!!!
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    • FayeFaye says

      It definitely has Loki in this! Granted, he was only introduced at the end of the bok, but still! Haha. I have no idea if there will be three, but I’m pretty certain that’s the case given the world is too big to fit into two books and we don’t have any answers yet. It’ll probably be added later on :D

  2. says

    I don’t know much of this series and honestly I cannot wait to read it. Basically I have heard that there is Loki in there and well Tom Hiddleston ruined me forever when it comes to that god. I’m so glad you loved this one and I’ll have to read it soon. Great review, Faye :)
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    • FayeFaye says

      I know what you mean. I cannot read about Loki and cannot think of Tom Hiddleston acting in its place. We fangirls will unite forever ;_;

  3. says

    A) Did the series get a cover re-design? Because this one is absolutely gorgeous and the Gameboard of the Gods one was kind of….meh.
    B) LOKI!
    C) Everything else! I loved the world-building and the slightly older feel to Mead’s writing in Gameboard. I can’t wait to jump back in this world to explore even more!
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    • FayeFaye says

      I think there was a re design, but I still only see the first cover of GotG. Mae here looks so pretty, and the crown on her head even prettier. She’s everything that I visualized in this cover.

      I can’t want for you to read it! I have a feeling you’ll love it just as much as I did :)

    • FayeFaye says

      If you liked her writing in Vampire Academy you’ll love this one then. Her writing has greatly matured and improved since then. I think I tried VA more than three times. It just couldn’t do for me, sadly.

    • FayeFaye says

      Well, you won’t see Loki until in book 2, but I hope you love and stick around until then! This series is so underappreciated, it pains me to see it’s not getting a lot of love :(

    • FayeFaye says

      What, Thor doesn’t get some love?? He’s pretty awesome, too! Too bad he hasn’t made his appearance yet, but I am desperately hoping he will. This one actually seams both polarizing concepts with ease, so I hope you enjoy it Eileen!

    • FayeFaye says

      You definitely do need this book. It’s adult, but it’s the kind of story where young adults can find themselves enjoying it without thinking it’s way too complicated and shit like that. haha. I’m glad I’m not alone in my disdain for Vampire Academy. That one just really sucked for me >.>

  4. says

    I am SO incredibly relieved! Gameboard was one of my favorite books last year, and I’ve been dying to get my hands on this installment, but when I finally did, I was afraid to even start it.
    I am less afraid now, and I’m glad Mead built upon the excellent foundation she laid in the first book. I adore these characters already, and I’m very happy to hear about Tessa’s growth.
    Excellent review!

    • FayeFaye says

      I know what you mean, Maja. It took me like a few weeks before I even got started on this one. I loved Gameboard of the Gods. IT was just absolutely perfect and I didn’t want to tarnish my perspective of it. Thankfully this delivered.

  5. says

    Skimming, skimming, skimming b/c I haven’t read Gameboard of the Gods yet, but I’m gonna. Unlike you, I do love Richelle Mead (although admittedly it’s NOT for her VA series). Her adult series ROCK (IMO). Anyway, this is on my list. I just have to get to it before this one comes out, and I’ll be happy ;)
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    • FayeFaye says

      Okay, because of your comment, I am SO going to read her adult series. You’re convincing me of trying so many things lately HMMMMM

  6. says

    We are the opposite lol I loved the VA series, but Gameboard of the Gods was a DNF for me. I typically like books like this, but something about it turned me off from the story. The cover is awesome though :) I love the detail on the crown. Great review! One day I might give gameboard of the gods another go.
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    • FayeFaye says

      I really hope you do! Things started getting really interested near the end… that’s where things really fall into place. I love the detail on the crown too! I’m so glad they gave this one more effort cover-wise

  7. says

    I’m afraid I’m having a bit of trouble concentrating on your review – the name Loki keeps disctracting me. Ahem.

    This is really funny to see, because for me it was the other way around. I loved her Vampire Academy series, but Gameboard of the Gods left me unimpressed. I have to agree with you that Mae is a complete badass, though :D

    Lovely review!
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    • FayeFaye says

      HAHAHAHA I am sorry (but I’m really not… I’d gladly give you a hundred Lokis if I could!)

      I’m sorry that GotG was unimpressive for you. I hope you’ll give this one a try if you have time? Perhaps Loki would convince you if its awesomeness? I dare hope!

  8. says

    Ah Faye! Your raving reviews are always so convincing. They make me want to drop all my books and get to whatever you’re reviewing immediately.
    I haven’t read this book yet, but it sounds phenomenal. I love the sound of the characters and the plot. I also love the idea of Gods and Goddesses coming back again. It sounds like a lot of fun!
    Fantastic review! :)
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    • FayeFaye says

      Thank you so much, Nick. I’m glad that my enthusiasm influences you :p Although I really do hope you drop all your books to get to this one! It’s well worth it. The concept itself really is phenomenal, and the execution even more so. I just love it to bits.

    • FayeFaye says

      thank you Brandi! We still don’t know much about Loki yet as he appeared in the last few pages but I expect great things from him!

  9. says

    I’ve been meaning to try Richelle Mead’s work because she’s so popular but for some reason, VA would not interest enough. I mean, I will think about reading it then I’ll end up changing my mind. Plus there’s already so many books in the series, I’d end up pressuring myself to catch up lol. This is good, its only book 2, I LOVE mythology and a thumbs up from you! Lovely review, as always, Faye! :)
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    • FayeFaye says

      don’t worry you are definitely not alone. I tried VA and just couldn’t get into it. No matter how much I tried my eyes would just glaze over. Thankfully this one did the trick. Thanks Amir!

  10. says

    I just saw Loki at the top of your review and immediately thought of Tom Hiddlestone <333. Anyway before I start digressing, like you I've not had the best of luck with Mead's previous books either. I've read the first two books in VA and don't know if I will be going back for more, I thought that I was the only black sheep with this series, but I'm glad that this is not the case! However, you have now convinced me to give this series a go instead! I like how Mead has managed to pack so much into this book and make it work and Justin and Mae sound amazing!! Gorgeous review as always! :)
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    • FayeFaye says

      TOM HIDDLESTON FANS UNITE!!!

      Yay, a kindred spirit! I’m glad to know I am not alone. I am actually very surprised there are so many of us here who didn’t get into VA. I was thinking I was a black sheep or something ;^;

      YES! Gameboard of the Gods is NOTHING like VA. Absolutely absolutely absolutely nothing. It is pure amazeballs in and out. Thanks darling ^^

    • FayeFaye says

      Yup yup. I hope you give this one a try! It’s really amazing IMO. Try it out if you want something different with perfect execution.

  11. says

    DID YOU SAY LOKI?!?!?!?! *grabs books* I’ve had Gameboard of the Gods on my kindle for WAY too long and I don’t know why I always look at it and say ‘maybe next time’. The premise is everything I love in a book – give me fantasy and mythology any day! And omg, just look at that gorgeous cover. Not sure if I’m a Mead fan (have yet to start VA), but you have definitely convinced me that I need to start on this ASAP! Wonderful review Faye xx
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    • FayeFaye says

      Oh, I definitely did say Loki my darling ;)

      OH MAN. DUDE. DUUUDE. What are you waiting for?? You definitely need to pick up the slack girl :P I’d be super super happy if you could read it as soon as you can. I want to know if I’ll have another person to fangirl with :P

    • FayeFaye says

      Awww, I know what you mean. As much as Justin and Mae are awesome, I can’t deny they were so insufferable in the first book. They really grew here, though. They’re so much better now than before so I hope you give it another try!

    • FayeFaye says

      I’m glad you decided to give it another go! This one is really top-notch. It’s much better than the first book so I’m certain you’ll find yourself highly engrossed and entertained

  12. says

    I’m so excited to read this now Faye, awesome review! I found GOTG quite difficult to get into, the world was so unique and there was so much to learn and remember that at times it dragged for me but the final third hooked me in and made me care for the characters so I’m looking forward to seeing what they get up to in this book!
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