I think I’ve said this before but I’m always wary about starting new series even from author’s whose works I’ve adored. Will I like the new characters as much? Can the author repeat the same magic? I honestly don’t know why I worry. I mean, really.
Set in the future where the planet was nearly destroyed by the Mephistopheles virus unleashed by religious zealots, it’s no surprise that what has become the Republic of United North America takes a very dim view of all things to do with religion and has strict licencing laws administered that one of the protagonists; Justin March used to work for. Before he was exiled for submitted an alarming report.
It is whilst he is living in exile in Panama that he meets Mae Koskinen, the other protagonist. She is one of RUNAs elite soldiers and there are none more feared and deadlier with their implants to aid them. She’s actually in Panama along with his old boss and his old boss’ boss to bring him back from ‘the provinces’ to civilisation to solve murders that have no logical explanation.
And so we have the start of a sci-fi/dystopian/urban fantasy/romance novel. I don’t normally like dystopian novels but then this can hardly be counted as one because whilst there was clearly a disaster, north America at least has recovered and advanced further than where we are now.
Doctor Justin March reminded me a lot of an older version of Adrian Ivashkov from Richelle Mead’s Vampire Acadamy and Bloodlines series. This is not a bad thing because Adrian is also a gifted, intelligent character and I like him. Justin perhaps has a little too much arrogance about him to start with but that’s somewhat offset by the fact that although he is brilliant, he’s clearly out of his depth when it comes to his ‘travelling companions’; two ravens.
Those two can be a little confusing at first because other than their names and what they are, it’s not until later in the book as he explains to Mae that we find out what they are and even then, we’re not given all of it.
Whilst I’m comparing, Mae did remind me of Rose Hathaway but only because they are both fighters. But that’s where the similarity ends. Where Rose has no self control when we first meet her, Mae has an abundance of it, so much so that she is sometimes known as a Nordic ice maiden. I connected with Mae almost straightaway whereas it took a little while to understand where Justin was coming from.
Now, of course, being a Richelle Mead book there is, of course, going to be a romance between the two leads but also in typical Mead style, it’s not going to be an easy path by any means. Whilst it doesn’t actually take Justin and Mae long to get together after they first meet, it’s not exactly done under honest circumstances which leads to the inevitable fall out. This actually sets a barometer for their relationship and I do feel bad for Mae because she’s the one that keeps being hurt although Justin is trying to do what he thinks is right.
Does it work out for them in the end? Fans of other series by RIchelle Mead will know the answer to that one!
One final thing to note; unlike Richelle Mead’s other series Gameboard of the Gods is told in third person perspective which works well for this series. After all, Justin has his own and two other voices in his head and had it been told from Mae’s perspective, we’d have lost that.
So, whilst it was a bit of a slow and confusing at the start, it doesn’t take long before Gameboard of the Gods finds its stride and you find yourself rushing towards the end just find out what happens next. Unfortunately, doing that just means that it’s a longer wait until the next book in this new Age of X series.