Publisher: Dutton Adult
Publication date: June 4th 2013
My rating: 4 stars
In a futuristic world nearly destroyed by religious extremists, Justin March lives in exile after failing in his job as an investigator of religious groups and supernatural claims. But Justin is given a second chance when Mae Koskinen comes to bring him back to the Republic of United North America (RUNA). Raised in an aristocratic caste, Mae is now a member of the military’s most elite and terrifying tier, a soldier with enhanced reflexes and skills.
When Justin and Mae are assigned to work together to solve a string of ritualistic murders, they soon realize that their discoveries have exposed them to terrible danger. As their investigation races forward, unknown enemies and powers greater than they can imagine are gathering in the shadows, ready to reclaim the world in which humans are merely game pieces on their board.
Gameboard of the Gods, the first installment of Richelle Mead’s Age of X series, will have all the elements that have made her YA Vampire Academy and Bloodlines series such megasuccesses: sexy, irresistible characters; romantic and mythological intrigue; and relentless action and suspense.
Being a long time fan of Richelle Mead’s I was eager to get my hands on a copy of Gameboard of the Gods. While it was slow for me in the beginning, I did eventually settle in and from there on out I didn’t want to put it down. Had it not been for work I would’ve burned right through the near 500 pages of this book.
We are introduced to a futuristic world where the Republic of United North America, the RUNA, is in power, put in place after the Decline. In this shining, new, wonderful world the three things the RUNA hold responsible for the Decline: biological manipulation, religion, and cultural separatism, are mostly against the law. Justin March used to be at the center of this world when he was the much revered servitor, an investigator of “religious groups and supernatural claims” with brilliant deductive skills, and enough charm to seduce the truth out of anyone. Justin was exiled from the RUNA four years ago, but when a chance comes up to get back into the fold, and back into his beloved country, Justin jumps at it. He’s brought in after a series of troubling murders hint at supernatural and religious involvement, his area of expertise.
Mae was born into the privileged castes, but is now a member of the elite Praetorian Guard known for their lethal skills and enhanced abilities. When a loss of control lands her in hot water, part of her punishment is to retrieve Justin from his exile in the provinces and bring him back for duty. Mae is a staunch believer the RUNA’s ideals. She doesn’t believe in gods or anything supernatural. But as the investigation goes on Mae makes discoveries about the world and even herself, that shake up everything she’s was raised to believe.
Beginning Gameboard of the Gods was something that required patience. I spent some time getting acquainted with the world and its dynamics, and had some trouble keeping everything straight at first. There was no tutorial explaining A or B, and as a reader you’re sort of dumped into the middle of things having to piece it together as you go. Slowly things started to come together and I felt the suspense and intrigue amp up little by little.
I loved Mae from the beginning. I connected with her character, and felt like I fully understood her motivations. She was hard working, loyal, fierce, and everything to admire. Of course there’s a romance between Mae and Justin but it is fraught with trouble. However, none of it is her fault, AT ALL! (I kind of sound like a scorned woman, right?)
Justin, oh Justin…..*sigh* I have conflicted feelings about him. He has a mind reminiscent of a modern day Sherlock Holms, complete with vices. He’s extremely observant, ferreting out crucial information through scant details, and coming to conclusions that never fail to impress everyone around. He’s charming, and that combined with his good looks is a potent combination for the opposite sex, something he takes full advantage of. Mae is different to him, but there are problems. Richelle Mead never makes romances easy, does she? Think back on Dimitri and Rose and their history. Justin and Mae have some heated connections that keep us hoping. Some samples:
"I tie an excellent knot. And then I'll drag things out as long as I want, do whatever I want. You don't beg much, do you? But you will...you will, and you'll love it."*
“You know, the first time I saw you—before the alley—my whole world came to a stop. Everything else in that room faded to nothing, and there was only you, with your beautiful neck and your winter sunlight hair and eyes that commanded the room.” *
Still, Justin is nothing like noble Dimitri. His womanizing grated on my nerves, and while I understood the issues with Mae, it still bugged me. In the end it seemed like all the fighting against the inevitable was pointless, but I guess we’ll see in the next book.
The mystery of the Patrician Murders is solved and so that part of the story is wrapped up nicely, but we are left with unanswered questions and a whole new world for both Mae and Justin as far as their beliefs and assignments. I can’t wait to see how things progress between these two as well. For my part, if I were Mae a nice frying pan over his head would’ve made me happy!
I will be meeting up with Richelle Mead today (Wednesday) at an author event. I have some questions for her about this series and the Bloodlines series, so I’m really excited to see her again. I’ll be reporting back to you lovely readers on Saturday!
*Quotes taken from an uncorrected proof and may change in the final copy.