The Immortal Crown by Richelle Mead

The Immortal Crown by Richelle Mead
Publisher: Dutton Adult
Genre: Action/Adventure, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Full Length (432 pgs)
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Cholla

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.

Religion and the practices associated with it are highly regulated in the RUNA. So what are praetorian Mae Koskinen and servitor Justin March to do when their jobs take them into a neighboring country whose government is completely based off religious practice? It’s safe to say that their adventure has only just begun.

In this second installment in the Age of X series, we see the return of Justin March, religious investigator for the RUNA’s government. I’ve loved Justin from the moment I first met him in the last novel. Although he hasn’t changed his wild and immature ways, he’s still the same, charming man determined to do whatever it takes to not pledge himself to Odin. However, he does have a great deal of personal growth throughout this novel, a lot of it due to the influence of Tessa, the Panamanian teen he brought home with him in the last novel. Her influence combined with that of Mae and Justin’s sister come together to make him a better, if not less flawed, man.

Mae undergoes a lot of challenges in this novel. Being brought into a country where women are devalued to the point of being worthless, she struggles with keeping her opinions in check and wanting to save every last woman in Arcadia. Her time in Arcadia was probably the most interesting storyline for me. To watch such a strong and independent woman play at being helpless was exciting and also a bit sad. However, seeing her and Justin connect on a more emotional level was worth it in the end.

Two characters introduced in the earlier novel also came back to play, Tessa Cruz and Lucian Darling. This made me very happy because Tessa is lovable and intriguing from the get-go. I enjoyed getting to know her better and watch her learn and grow in the RUNA. Lucian, on the other hand, fascinates me. He seems to teeter between being wonderful and amazing all while having the potential for not so great things. I’m still betting that he’s a good guy at heart, but there’s still that chance he might go to the dark side when we’re not looking.

The Immortal Crown ends leaving you with more questions than answers, but in a good way… if such a thing truly exists. I was shocked and surprised, but also very eager to see just how Justin and Mae are going to deal with all that was revealed at the end. If you have to leave the reader with a cliffhanger, this is exactly how you need to do it – leaving the reader both angry and obsessed with knowing how it’s all going to play out.

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