Author: Richelle Mead
Narrator: Emily Shaffer
Published: May 29th 2014
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Lenght: 13 hrs and 54 mins
Source: Publisher for review
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.
For years now, Richelle Mead has been one of the most reliable authors on my list. Whether we’re talking about her Young Adult books or her adult fiction, we can always count on her to give us exactly what we need. And yet, with this series, she managed to surpass even such a stellar reputation. Her Age of X series is more than just what we need, it’s what we secretly wished for and a few things we never even knew we wanted. This combination of genres is a dream come true for fans of speculative fiction and I dare say it’s only going to get better.
Gameboard of the Gods was a huge step in the right direction for Mead, and she continues on this new, more mature path with The Immortal Crown. Somewhere along the line, she has become a very admirable writer who has perfect control over her work. Her experience is clear from the structure of this novel and its flawless pacing. Her crisis moments and moments of quiet introspection are timed perfectly.
This time, Justin and Mae take us to Arcadia, a North American country that separated from the RUNA because it refused to denounce its religion. To Gemman citizens who live a more technologically and culturally advanced lives, Arcadia is the epitome of primitivism and backwardness. RUNA’s neighboring country and especially its culture were portrayed in rich detail and Mead was able to include a strong and clever feminist commentary without turning her book into a pamphlet.
Even the romance, the will-they-won’t-they dance that I found frustrating in the previous book didn’t bother me as much here. There was simply no time to focus on such matters, and while Justin and Mae’s chemistry is off the charts, I found I didn’t mind being patient about it at all.
Emily Shaffer narrates both this and Mead’s Bloodlines series. She is very confident in her work, and it clearly shows. Her voice characterization is excellent, Tessa’s accent is done beautifully without being exaggerated, and she has a great sensibility for the story, a clear understanding of where Mead wanted to take it and how. Sometimes narrators don’t read the story before they start working on it, and it’s always pretty obvious to me. Shaffer is familiar with Mead’s writing which makes her own work far better than average.
As someone who’s been following Mead’s work from the start, I can say I am thrilled to have witnessed her growth as an author and will happily continue to do so in the future. There is no doubt in my mind that things will only get better from here, despite there being very little room for improvement left.
A copy of this book was kindly provided by the publisher for review purposes. No considerations, monetary or otherwise, have influenced the opinions expressed in this review.