Gameboard of the Gods by Richelle Mead

Gameboard of the Gods by Richelle Mead
Publisher: Penguin/Dutton
Genre: Action/Adventure Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Full Length (448 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Cholla

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.

It is the Age of X and the world has been nearly destroyed by religious extremists. This is a world where you have religious investigators and superhuman praetorian guards protecting the innocent from the evils of overzealous religious factions. The populations have been segregated once again, the haves and the have nots clearly defined for all to see. It is this last point that makes it so difficult for Mae Koskinen, an aristocratic Nordic, and Justin March, a common man, to meet in the middle and defeat the terror that is threatening all the world has worked so hard to achieve. Can they put aside their differences – and their intense attraction – to work towards a common goal?

I immediately liked Justin March. He’s one of those characters that is so flawed even he knows it. In a lot of cases, this would make him an unlikable character, but you can see through that rough exterior and see the good man at the core. His love of his sister and his dedication to his friend’s daughter really show that he’s not nearly as bad as he comes across as.

Mae Koskinen is another surprising character. Raised in an aristocratic caste, she left it all behind to be free – free from society’s restraints, from a forced marriage, just free. This alone made me love her, but the sheer force of will she exhibits sometimes and her dedication to her job prove she’s a solid, reliable person to have on your team. She had her moments when I wasn’t sure if I was going to like her much, but she always managed to change my mind.

Gameboard of the Gods is packed to the brim with action, suspense, and hidden secrets that sneak out one by one, drawing you farther into the story with every page. I’ve long enjoyed Ms. Mead’s work, but I think this is one of the most intricate and enjoyable novels I’ve read in years. This series has a permanent place on my must read list.

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