Review for Richelle Mead’s The Immortal Crown and Gameboard of the Gods
Let us get one bias thing out of the way, Richelle Mead is my favorite contemporary author. I was introduced to her novels through her acclaim young adult series Vampire Academy and its spin off series Bloodlines. One of my favorite novels is her standalone novel Soundless. Now that I have stated how much I love Mead’s work, let us move on to her newest adult series An Age of X.
I was introduced to Richelle Mead through her young adult books, but apparently these novels are a return to form for Mead. This surprised me, and I was shocked on how much sex was in the first novel, Gameboard of the Gods. However, this is simply because I was not use to reading sex in her work. I will only talk briefly about the first novel since it has been some time since I have read it. However, this novel is a great introduction to the series. Mae and Justin have great chemistry and sexual tension. Of course I love that Mead always has her heroines save the male protagonist showing some role reversal. I like that they brought a Latino transfer student, Tessa, into RUNA (the future United States and Canada), and displayed her culture shock. Yet, a part of me feels like this section is even stronger because of all the immigration issues we are currently having in the United States, even though this was published three years before the Trump era began. As someone who has Mexican heritage it was nice to not read an all-white cast of character, and I believe Justin is part Chinese. Mead also does a wonderful job of combining science fiction and fantasy, and I love it when authors step out of their comfort zones.
I honestly cannot find many issues with the first novel. Mead is a great world builder, and her introduction novels are always very well written and organized. There is an action packed climax that is made for the big screen. The only issue I can see occurring with this series is that I am surprised Christian groups have not boycotted this novel because it maintains the theme of anti-religion.
The second novel The Immortal Crown I have some issues with, and this is mostly within Tessa’s chapters. In the first novel Tessa’s character is interesting because she deals with a new culture, her adjustment to society and finally being comfortable within it is boring. At first her I thought her section might become interesting because she might receive a love story, but this is quickly pushed aside for her to deal with the most annoying stereotypical reporter ever. Tessa does discover a major plot that will probably unfold in other novels, but she does something that makes this utterly pointless. (Sorry for the vagueness I am trying to remain spoiler free). Also the climax is not as action packed as the first novel, but still very good.
However, what Tessa’s story lacks is made up for in Mae and Justin’s side of the story. They travel to a country Arcadia (the south in the United States) where women are treated as second class citizens, sex slaves, and maids. Mae being a strong willed soldier has to adapt to this culture, and Mead plays it out in a fun but very feminist way. This country also worships a God that supposedly allows their women to be treated this way. Honestly, these sections where hard to read. They literally treated “their” women like punching bags. Yet, it is still educational because there was a time when women were regarded this way, and are still in certain cultures.
Finally, the final aspect of the novel I liked is Mae’s and Justin’s relationship. I cannot give too much away because this is in spoiler territory. It was nice to see an adult relationship play out and not have the “will they won’t they?” last more than two novels like it does in a young adult series.