Saturday, September 21, 2013

Gameboard of the Gods (Age of X, #1) by Richelle Mead

    Title: Gameboard of the Gods (Age of X)
    Series: Age of X
    Classification: Adult Fiction
    Genre: Dystopia, Fantasy
    Format: Hardcover; 464 pages
    Publisher: Dutton Adult; 1St Edition edition (June 4, 2013)
    ISBN-10: 052595368X
    ISBN-13: 978-0525953685
    Author's Website:
    Notes: Library Loan. 

The world is not as it once was. Half the the population was wiped out by the Mephistopheles virus when it hit. It caused death in many and sterility and disfigurement in others. During the period of time it took to find a cure (approximately 50 years) governments fell and the RUNA (Republic of United North America) was born out of the ashes. It encompasses the area formerly known as Canada and a portion of the former US.

Mae 'Finn' Koskiene is a Praetorian; one of the RUNA's elite super soldiers. She has been assigned to help retrieve an exiled servitor, Justin March. Justin is a expert on religions and cults and his job is usually to do inspections of all groups who wish to remain active. While typically a fairly uneventful job, occasionally things escalate and become volatile when a servitor declines to renew a group's license and law enforcement must be called in to intervene. The RUNA believes that belief in fictitious entities, such as gods, is a threat to the fabric of society and must be assessed and regulated for the well-being of all citizens. It believes gods of any sort are fictitious and that beliefs associated with religions can be at odds with that of the government's which can lead to conflict which can lead to violence.

A recent string of unsolved murders has prompted the RUNA to offer Justin March his old job back with the possibility of restoring his citizenship. It is believed a cult or some other religious faction may be responsible for the deaths, but no one has been able to prove one way or another. A video recording, however, taken at the scene of one of the crimes suggests something supernatural in nature is going on, and Justin's expertise will be utilized to find out the who and what of it all. As Mae is assigned to be his body guard, the two will face danger, attraction, and an unknown enemy that may just encapsulate the RUNA's greatest fear.


This was an interesting story. The world building was fairly strong, but the beginning of the book was a little confusing. A lot of things went unexplained until halfway through the book or later. For example, the beginning of the book starts off with Mae attending the funeral of a former lover. She gets into a fight with another soldier who claims it's her fault the guy died. We get no real background on the relationship until midway through the book. Because the books starts off with the funeral, you know there has to be something significant about his death or the man who died, yet it's not immediately explained. Also, we get a lot of new terms thrown at us, some of which weren't clearly defined until farther in--making it a little difficult to figure out what-was-what right away. You had to valiantly read on with the faith that Ms. Mead would at some point clarify things, which she eventually did, but it made it difficult to get into the story. I can understand that doing a full fledged info dump right at the beginning of a book is undesirable, but I wish she could have included a tad bit more background at the beginning.

One of the things I liked about this new series is Mead's mixing of old gods and goddesses with new. Let's face it, if gods such as those in ancient Greek mythology truly existed wouldn't some of those gods and goddesses have produced offspring by now? Wouldn't new ones at some point have been created? I thought this was an interesting twist on an old genre and one that I'm looking forward to seeing fully developed. I believe it could prove to be very interesting.

The book is written in third person and follows the thoughts and events surrounding Mae, Justin, and Justin's ward Tessa. While some books seem jumpy when they attempt to devote different chapters to different characters, Ms. Mead did it in a way that gave us more insight into what was going on and made things more interesting. I liked knowing what was happening with each and it made me feel like I was involved in what was going on.

I loved Mae. She doesn't sweat the small stuff and doesn't let her emotions get the better of her. She's been taught to school them, but every so often they burst to the surface. Since she's good looking, and from a higher ranked castal family, I wondered what had caused her to enter the military? She's strong, secure in herself, and. at times. acts a tad masculine in the way she handles relationships. I'm not sure if this has to do with her chip implant which gives her her super strength, reduces her pain receptors, prevents her from sleeping while increases her sexual cravings, but I am curious. Perhaps the chip increases the amount of testosterone a person produces?

Justin March, well, what can I say? He's the male version of a slut. He's got a big ego and before a person gets to know him properly, he can use his charm and good looks to his advantage to get what he wants.  He has the uncanny ability to read people which allows him to know what buttons to push to put a person at ease and knows how to compliment and sympathize with  them so that they'll spill their secrets without being aware they are doing so. It's a skill he utilizes well to determine which groups are dangerous and should be refused a renewal of their license. I personally wasn't sure if I liked him or not, but I liked how Mae handled him. I'm not certain, however, if I'd want him and Mae to end up together. Unfortunately, I have a feeling that a couple of books down the road they will.

Tessa is a fun character. She's young and Mead uses her as a device to show us or, perhaps, introduce us to the world she's created. She's from the outer province of Panama City (yes, that Panama City) and sees the RUNA fairly much as we would. She's also Justin's protégé as she has a knack for weeding out information as well and putting two and two together. Justin required in his negotiations with RUNA that if he was to work for them then again, Tessa must be granted a student visa to study in the  RUNA. He owes her family for his survival when he was exiled years ago and access to the RUNA, the most technologically advance country in the world,  is a person's best way to assure themselves of a secure and profitable future. It's his hope she'll eventually gain citizenship and be able to bring over the rest of her family.

Why is the book called 'Gameboard of the Gods'? Well, this passage pretty much sums it up in a nutshell:
“We're pieces on a gameboard, Dr. March, and some of us are more powerful than others. You. Me. Her. We're the ones the gods want. We're the ones they're fighting over.”

Overall, I gave this one 4 out of 5 roses. I liked what Ms. Mead started and look forward to seeing where she'll go with this series. While I feel we've only skimmed the surface of the world Mead has created, I look forward to seeing more in the next book. By the end of the book you could tell Ms. Mead had a game plan of her own being set in place for the next book. One that will either make or break the series with the next book.

Notes to keep you in the know: 
If you haven't read this one yet and feel you'll go totally nuts if you don't know what the terms used mean when they're used, Richelle Mead has created a glossary of terms on her website for 'Gameboard of the Gods' that you can access:

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