Genres: Alternative History, Science Fiction
Published by Dutton Adult on May 29, 2014
Source: the library
Also by this author: Silver Shadows
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.
Second in the Age of X sci-fi alternate history series for YA and revolving around Justin March and Mae Koskinen.
That first book, Gameboard of the Gods, 1, was perfectly titled as the series is all about gods who lost their powers and adherents centuries ago and are now scheming to regain that power.
The Immortal Crown seems to be split between Justin and Mae, but I think Mae has a slight edge. There’s not a lot of tension in most of the story until about halfway through and even that is only in a few scenes. Well, few compared to the majority of the story.
This will make anyone who believes in the equality of the sexes gag. It’s bad enough when the orientation explains how women are perceived, treated in Arcadia, but when we actually get there and see how they’re treated. All I can say is “thank you, feminists!” Such men in so many cultures blame their lack of control on a woman’s beauty or movement or…horrors…exposing part of their body, eek! Seems to me it’s the man who’s the weak element in this. If they are so weak that they can’t restrain themselves, well…
“I guess it takes quite a barrier to protect these people from the evil powers of lust.”
The actual slavery these women are reduced to. Then there’s those jerk males — they do NOT deserve the title of men! — their reasons for forcing the women to use primitive means to cook and clean!!! WTF? I think the real problem is that males like this are bullies. They’re too immature to take responsibility for their own emotions. For having the strength of will *eye roll* to police their emotions. Gimme a break, are they toddlers? I am not even going to touch on the huge difference in lifestyles between the religious and the average Arcadian.
Poor Daphne. She keeps expecting people to recognize her, lol. Only what she deserves. There’s all that college-taught fluff that speaks of facts, being dispassionate, presenting both sides, you know, ethical reporting. A concept most of us don’t believe in. And Daphne is holding up her lack of ethics quite well.
Tessa is on a steep learning curve in this initial visit to the RUNA. It’s bad enough that she’s treated as a second-class citizen, but she also learns how many people want to make use of her proximity to people in power.
Interesting that Mandarin is the universal language in the RUNA while English is the EA’s universal choice.
Excuse me, but since when are guests required to help cook the meals and clean? Harriet ticked me off with that comment of hers about how much work it is to feed so many extra people. Well, maybe she should have a chat with her husband about not inviting furriners to stay if it’s a problem. Oh, wait, she’d probably be beaten…
Okay, yeah, that’s one of those stupid tropes I hate. The one where a character can’t be bothered to learn to use all the skills available to them. And then Justin gets to fly! How cool would that be? One thing that Mead does well in this story is the slow development of Justin’s awareness of how he feels about Mae. It’s subtle, made even more so by the heavy-handed interactions between Mae and Justing. Sure the reasons for backing off were practical, but a touch more finesse would have been nice. Justin and Mae are also individually whiny about their particular problems.
That whole B-&-E at Holy Lake? Wow, that was so easy.
What I was not expecting was that twist at the end.
It’s Mama Orane who warns Justin and Mae about the other electi, and when Tessa is attacked, Justin goes into protect mode.
Clarissa has a brilliant idea for Tessa’s media analysis project while Mae, Val, and Dagsson have their own brilliant ideas for Tess. With luck they’ll get some action, and maybe some exotic travel.
Then Justin learns about Lucian’s delegation to their greatest enemy. A trip that, while a tour of a disgusting culture, may allow Mae to rescue a loved one. And Lucian must walk away from this trip with something important.
Mae “Finn” Koskinen is one of the elect and a Praetorian Guard assigned as Dr. March’s bodyguard. She had been promised to the Morrigan in Gameboard of the Gods. Valeria Jardin and Linus Dagsson are two of her best friends in the Praetorian Guard. Claudia is Mae’s sister and Ava’s mother. Amata is Ava’s new stepmother. General Gan is Mae’s boss.
Dr. Justin March is an investigator, a servitor, for the Sect and Cult Investigation (SCI), a sub department of Internal Security. Magnus and Horatio are ravens, representatives of the god who wants Justin’s allegiance: Odin the All-Father. Cynthia is his sister. Quentin is Cynthia’s eight-year-old son.
Teresa “Tessa” Cruz is the daughter of a man in Panama Justin owes. She’s in the RUNA under Justin’s guardianship pursuing an education at her third school, the Institute for Creative Minds and Experiential Thinking.
Institute for Creative Minds and Experiential Thinking
Clarissa is one of the instructors with an idea. Darius Sandberg was part of the action in Gameboard of the Gods and is now a student here as well with a favor to ask of Tessa. Daphne Lang is the freelance journalist who wants Tessa as her intern. Daphne sells most of her work to North Prime, a sensationalist television station.
Senator Lucian Darling is an old friend of Justin’s and his roommate from college. He’s also a candidate for leader of the RUNA and needs a “win”. Atticus Marley is in charge of the trip and is “the closest the RUNA had to an ambassador in Arcadia”. Phil Ramirez is technology and trade; George Yi is a military analyst spying on illicit doings while pretending to be a professor of comparative cultures. Olivia is the costumer.
Cornelia Kimora is head of SCI and Justin’s boss. Director Francis Kyle is Cornelia’s boss.
The Citizens’ Party
Dr. Nico Cassidy is a wellness counselor for Senator Darling’s political party, the Citizens’ Party. Magnus Mercado is the chair. Acacia is one of the organizers for the Young Citizens’ Council (YCC), a youth group for the party. Adora Zimmer is CEO of Garnet Industries, and she has a background similar to Tessa’s.
…is composed of the southeastern part of the former United States and is the RUNA’s enemy. Divinia is its capital city; in pre-Cain days, it was known as Montgomery. It’s a religious government which worships Nehitimar and believes in polygamy with wives and concubines. Women are something of a rarity there, and it doesn’t prevent the more powerful from collecting a harem. It refers to the Cain virus as Nehitimar’s justice.
Carl Carter, director of the Committee of Foreign Affairs and special assistant to the president, will be the host for the delegation. The Venerable Jeremiah is the local priest. Walter is Carter’s oldest son. Jasper is the second-oldest son and an absolute shit. Matthias is one of the presidential secretaries. Hannah is the concubine who had the cheek to break the strap on her shoe. The slut. Harriet is the head wife.
The Grand Disciple is the head of Arcadia’s church and an elect. Deacon Timothy Hansen is His Piousness’ assistant; his loved concubine, Elaina, must be shared with His Piousness. Enoch Campbell is the president. Cowlitz is a tech defector from the RUNA.
Gideon is one of the dissatisfied. Pittsfield is the pimp. The girls Mae rescues include Ava, Monica, Cecile, Clara, and Pittsfield’s servant, Dawn.
Mama Orane is the medium in Nassau who has three people who speak through her: Josephine, Reynard, and El Diable; she’s also an elect. Antonio Song is a devotee of Mithras who attacked Tessa. Mr. and Mrs. Lin
are the parents of a sixteen-year-old girl, Helene, whose compulsory birth control failed. Leo Chan is a friend of Justin’s who works at a contraceptive factory. Drusilla Kavi is a disabled Praetorian from Gameboard of the Gods. I suspect this is supposed to be a scary scene, except I can’t remember the details.
RUNA stands for the Republic of United North America, a territory that encompasses Canada and the rest of the United States; it polices carefully for religious groups that might be getting too excited. Gemmans is the term used to refer to the citizens of the RUNA. Patricians are Gemmans whose ancestors did not participate in the “RUNA’s early forced genetic mixing program” and faced health issues; plebeians are people whose ancestors did participate and their mixed ancestry shows.
The Praetorian Guard are the elite of the elite enhanced with arm implants that stimulate “natural endorphins to increase speed and strength”. Rufus Callaway is a retired military man who knows what’s important on a security detail.
An elect has the potential to be a powerful servant for the gods. Geraki, a.k.a., Demetrius Devereaux, is a prophet of a religious group who serves Odin and has managed to elude the RUNA. Danique is an expert in Egyptian religion. Donna is a follower of Tezcatlipoca.
EA is Eastern Alliance, Europe.
An ego is a “small device that handled both telecommunications and daily activities for Gemmans”. A smartphone. Cain is a virus that can be inherited which causes skin and hair damage, infertility, and asthma.
Being Cloistered is similar to wearing a burkha but with lots more layers and more binding of a woman’s ability to move. Arcadians refer to the RUNA as the Lost Lands.
The cover is dreamy, completely not what this story is like. In a pensive mood while wearing a black tank top, Mae’s blonde hair is floating about her head while a wreath of fairy lights and gossamer ribbons appears to encircle her head. The background blends from a city skyline at the base into a tangle of dream up around Mae’s head.
The title is what the gods seem to be striving for, The Immortal Crown.