I have mixed feelings about The Immortal Crown by Richelle Mead, which is the second novel in her Age of X series. I still love her writing (mainly because she has such a way that is very easy to read) and I do enjoy the storyline of The Age of X series, but I felt I just couldn’t connect as well with Mae and Justin in The Immortal Crown the way I did in Gameboard of the Gods.
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.
To me, The Immortal Crown felt like it got off to a very slow start. Now, that could totally just be me because 2013 was a huge pile of slump when it came to reading; and since I’d read Gameboard of the Gods early in 2013, I was very rusty on the plot and characters. So, it did take a couple chapters for those cobwebs to shake themselves out and I remembered what in the world is going on. To that end, I probably should have re-read Gameboard of the Gods. While that may have helped, I still feel like the first 25% of The Immortal Crown was sloooow. This is very unlike Mead’s prior novels/series. Usually, once she establishes her world and the world building is complete, she doesn’t spend a lot of time re-hashing things and action starts pretty quickly. I don’t think The Immortal Crown really went back over things that happened in Gameboard of the Gods, but rather it wasn’t clear where things (plot-wise) were heading in The Immortal Crown for a bit. But, once things started to move, I couldn’t put my e-reader down and The Immortal Crown finally gave me the writing style I’m used to from Mead–action and things within the plot building up–all while furthering the series arc and giving certain information and developments that will no doubt play a huge role in the series finale.
One of my favorite things about The Immortal Crown, and really the Age of X series, is the mythology. Mead takes a futuristic (what I would call a mashup of dystopian and post-acopalyptic) version of our current world and throws in various mythologies. So far I’ve seen Norse, Viking and it wouldn’t surprise me if we get some Greek going, with reference to religion (I’m also sure there’s at least 1 God/Goddess I can’t place re: mythos wise). I love mythology and am really loving Mead’s twist and addition into a “modern” world. I’m very intrigued at how book 3 will start/what it will give us. At the end of The Immortal Crown, there is the appearance of a god and I’m screaming at my e-reader “NOOOOOO, Mae, do NOT make agreements with them”….and no, I’m not saying who. I will say I would much rather see her make a deal with the god/goddess (hey I’m not spilling the beans on gender!) who was helping her throughout The Immortal Crown.
All in all, once I got through that first really slow part of The Immortal Crown, I really really enjoyed it. If you love mythology and/or futuristic type novels, I def recommend The Immortal Crown. That said, if you haven’t read Gameboard of the Gods yet, you will need to do so. Mead, a long time ago, became an “auto-buy” author for me, and it’s a decision I’ve never regretted.