Publisher: Dutton Adult
Publication date: May 29th 2014
My rating: 4.5 Stars
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The #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Vampire Academy and Bloodline series returns with the second installment in her acclaimed Age of X series.
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.
The Immortal Crown was an impressive sequel, and even better than Gameboard of the Gods (my review), in my opinion. I refreshed my memory (thank you Recaptains) I got right back into this story, and enjoyed the ride even more this time around.
Be warned, my review contains some spoilers if you haven’t read Gameboard of the Gods.
Justin and Mae are up to their usual, investigating “religious groups and supernatural claims” making sure they’re not a threat to the RUNA, Republic of United North America. Justin is still riding a fine line with the god Odin after barely escaping servitude in the last book. Sleeping with Mae almost sealed the deal, as she is his perfect match, and his taking her meant Justin agreed to Odin’s offer. He barely got off on a technicality. There’s always a price to tying yourself to a god and Justin is trying desperately to avoid it. Justin and Mae are “elect”, “someone marked as special who have the potential to be strong servants for the gods” and that’s especially helpful to those gods who are trying to reestablish power and dominance. Needless to say both Justin and Mae capture the attention of many deities out there.
When Lucian Darling, Justin’s college friend and candidate for consul, invites him on a goodwill delegation to Arcadia, a country in opposition to the RUNA, and Justin wants no part of it. That is, until Mae asks that they agree to go.
Mae, a Praetorian guard is an elite, super soldier, who never had any belief in gods or the supernatural until meeting Justin and after the events of the last book. Now, however, she’s been having visions about the niece her sister discarded like garbage, and the location shown gives her the chills. If they’re correct, her little eight-year old niece is in Arcadia where woman are considered second class or worse. Mae has no idea how to go about getting her niece back until Lucian Darling’s offer.
This story had me on edge and gritting my teeth in many parts. The customs of Arcadia infuriated and disgusted me! This is a society where woman are treated as property, sold either as concubines or if they’re “lucky” as wives (as in multiple for a man) to the highest bidder as early as the age of thirteen or whenever they hit puberty!! The women slave over preparing meals and cleaning the home, often deprived of modern technology to assist, not because they don’t possess inventions like plumbing, dishwashers or vacuum cleaners, but because doing it the manual way builds character and instills humility. Ugh!! Women must keep every part of their body covered so that they don’t tempt men, and if they are caught making any infraction, they can expect beatings or other forms of punishment as far as even death. To say I was OUTRAGED would be putting it mildly!!
Mae’s desperate worry over her niece is understandable, and so is her reliance any means of help, even if it comes from supernatural sources. However, her relationship with gods in this installment is a rocky one. I’m troubled by the newest god to reveal himself to Mae at the end. I looked up some of the gods mentioned in this series, and one of the abilities ascribed to this newest god is troubling. Does he have anything to do with something traumatic that happens to Mae at the end? I guess we’ll see.
Justin has his own troubles in Arcadia with Odin’s warning of a supernatural threat to his power and to the RUNA. It becomes apparent early in their trip exactly what/who this threat is, but Justin masterfully maneuvers things to his county and Odin’s (reluctantly, albeit) benefit.
Mae is still somewhat icy in the beginning towards Justin after their one-night stand, and his harsh words meant to keep her away. But they work together well, naturally in sync, and having a connection where they trust each other implicitly. They reminded of a futuristic Mulder and Scully from the X-Files. They have the same amazing chemistry and underlying attraction neither wants to admit. This becomes more evident when Mae is posing as Justin’s concubine in Aracadia, where they must rely heavily on each other. Justin surprised me with his courageous behavior when it came to Mae, because he didn’t really step up like this in the last book. I was heartened with the progress of Mae and Justin’s relationship at points, but then upset by others. It’s foolish to think all will be settled happily seeing as there are more books to come, but a girl can dream! I will give you this lovely quote that made me swoon from Justin:
“All those other flings I’ve had are just ashes in the wind, shattered and forgotten. But you…you’re the real thing. The fire that keeps burning in my life. You’re the one. There’s no one else I feel this connected to.”
The Immortal Crown was an amazing sequel, and I have a feeling the series will continue to get better with each installment. This was somewhat of a cliffhanger, and I was torn up by the concluding events and how things were left. It’s going to be a long wait for the next book!
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