Reviewed by: Amy
Rating (out of 5): 3 stars
Note: While this review will be spoiler-free, it will reference events from the first book in the series, Gameboard of the Gods (VBC review).
Servitor Justin March and Praetorian solider Mae Koskinen have been traveling to the Provinces outside of RUNA checking out possible illegal religious actions. While undercover one of the targets sees Mae as a fellow Elect (those that have a connection to a god). Mae and Justin receive an ominous warning about a coming war between the Elect and the gods they serve. The gods are getting their “game pieces” into action.
After returning home, Mae and Justin are almost immediately sent back out into the field. This time they are going to Arcadia, RUNA’s border neighbor located in what used to be the southeastern United States. Justin’s friend and consul frontrunner Lucien Darling manipulated Justin’s presence (and therefore Mae’s) on this mission as a way to help secure more votes in the upcoming election. What they find is a culture that relies on the belief of one god in particular and where the men are the dominant sex with the women in a very subservient role. What could possibly go wrong with this mission?
I found The Immortal Crown to be a little clearer on the overall religious aspect of the story than it’s predecessor. The theme of religion—the differing gods, the illegality of it, and the behind-closed-doors practice of it—drives this series. I think in the long run every other story thread will converge with the religion and the whole “battle” between gods. Right now, I just didn’t find some of those other story threads interesting enough, or maybe it’s just that I don’t understand where a lot of them are going yet. The main focus is on Mae and Justin, and when the POV shifts between them is when I found myself engrossed in the book. It was when things shifted to the POV of Justin’s charge Tessa where the story fell away for me.
Justin and Mae’s relationship in Gameboard of the Gods was tense, to put it mildly. After sleeping together one night, the ravens inside of Justin’s head inform him that when he swears a fealty, of sorts, to Mae is when Odin will be able to claim him. In order to keep that from happening, Justin pushes Mae away using any hurtful or crude remark he can come up with and it works, but they still have to work together.
In The Immortal Crown there is an ease between them, and I really liked it. I liked how comfortable they’ve become with each other, and when Mae herself gets tangled up with a god, she is able to go to Justin for help. It’s clear where their relationship is headed. Their interactions were the driving force of the story.
Let us not forget that this is a Richelle Mead book we are reading though. Her typical M.O. is to throw wrenches into the best of relationships and The Immortal Crown does not get off easy. There is a definite ‘no don’t do that’ moment (of course at the end), but it did leave an impression, and even when I finished reading I kept thinking about it.
Overall, I’d say The Immortal Crown is definitely an improvement on the first book. I think this is a series that will get better with each book; it just may be a little slower getting there.
Sexual content: Sex