Gameboard of the Gods – Book Review
Adult Urban Fantasy
Age of X Book #1
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 realise 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.
I’ve been a big of fan of Richelle Mead, both her adult and YA titles, for many years. Therefore I was intrigued by the concept of this futuristic fantasy and while I felt it got off to a slow and slightly confusing start, after a few chapters, I found myself hooked.
The story is written in third person, but follows the lives of two main characters. Mae, who is a praetorian - an elite, military solider with enhanced speed and strength gifted to her via a special implant. And Justin, a servitor charged with finding the truth behind fantastical and outlandish religious claims.
Both have their own pasts and histories – not to mention their own problems. Like the darkness that lives within Mae, urging her to kill and gain power. And Justin, who has two wise (and very chatty) ravens living inside his head. But when these two characters are brought together to help solve a series of mysterious murders, they soon learn that the Gods society has forgotten, may just be real after all. And they are picking their champions, but for what dark purpose… Mae and Justin have yet to discover…
This story crosses a lot of genres, a little dystopian, a little fantasy, with plenty of mythology and action thrown in. It makes for an intriguing read, and if you can persevere through the first hundred pages – it is a book many of you would ultimately enjoy.
My main issue with the opening chapters was all the new ideas and terms that were thrown about. As a reader you are suddenly thrust into this futuristic world with no explanation as to how and why it was formed. Of course this is all slowly revealed over time through dialogues and actions, but without the back story I was a little confused so it took awhile to ease into the flow of the story. However once I understood what was happening, I was captivated.
The plot is weaving, making it impossible to see which direction it’s taking you so there are plenty of twists and surprises. Fast paced, the story itself is action packed and held my interest throughout – and I like the way the romance is slow burning and filled with complications that the reader (but not the characters) get to understand.
In regards to the characters, each one is individually unique. And as Richelle Mead is known for her strong female protagonists, it’s safe to say Mae certainly holds her own with the rest of them. I particularly liked how her past was revealed piece by piece, and she is a character I really came to care about.
As for Justin, he complimented Mae’s character well. He is strong where she is weak and vise-versa. This made their romance a delight to read and I couldn’t help but love the comedy Justin’s ravens add to the story – along with his sarcastic wit and humour. I look forward to seeing how things develop for them in the next book.
So overall a great, action packed story that is choc full mystery, romance and mayhem. Set in a post apocalyptic world, with a dash of fantasy and a little myth and legend, this is an intriguing book. A one of a kind read, I would recommend it to all Richelle Mead fans and for anyone who is looking across the genres for something just a little different. 4 stars!