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Thursday, May 29, 2014

“The Immortal Crown” by Richelle Mead (Reviewed by Casey Blair)

Order “The Immortal CrownHERE
Read An Excerpt HERE
Read FBC’s Review of “Gameboard of the Gods

The Immortal Crown is the second volume in Richelle Mead's Age of X series, which is a post-apocalyptic (not dystopian) blend of science fiction and fantasy. If you're new to the series, you can actually pick this book up first and not be lost: Mead does perhaps the best job I've ever seen of getting you caught up in the first chapters without boring returning readers. You'll get more out of The Immortal Crown if you read Gameboard of the Gods first, and I highly recommend it, but the author gives you the critical information that you need to make sense of the story.

In short, I think the sequel is even stronger than the first book. The story is told from the perspectives of the same three protagonists: Mae Koskinen, a powerful upper caste warrior whose abilities are desired by everyone with power, be they man or god; Dr. Justin March, a Sherlock Holmes-esque investigator who has been saddled with Odin's ravens; and Tessa, a student from Panama studying abroad in the Republic of United America.

All of these characters grow in ways I didn't expect them to. My favorite part is that each protagonist is working first and foremost toward their own plot. There isn't a final showdown that everyone contributes to: although all of their plots intersect, and one character might help another, they are each the protagonists of their own equally-weighted plot arcs. I also love how active all of these characters are, how complicated their choices are, and how invested they are in the freedom to make choices for themselves.

In this book we get more glimpses of what the gods are about, what that means for the characters and the world. We explore the politics and technology of the RUNA more deeply with Tessa's media project, while Mae and Justin have to work in what's become of the former southern states of the USA, a place that went a very different direction after the apocalypse.

On a purely prose level, this book is very tight. And Mead doesn't shy away from serious issues raised in her world design, be it abuses of technology, systemic racism, or the dangers of misogyny.

In the end, The Age of X series is coming along beautifully, and once again Richelle Mead has ended the book with some very troubling circumstances to lead us into the third installment.

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