Review: The Immortal Crown by Richelle Mead

Posted May 11, 2014 by Jessica in Jessica, Reviews, Science Fiction, Urban Fantasy / 88 Comments

Review: The Immortal Crown by Richelle Mead
The Immortal Crown by Richelle Mead
Series: Age of X #2
Published by Dutton Adult
Published on: May 29 2014
Genres: Science Fiction, Urban Fantasy
Pages: 432
Format: ARC
Source: NetGalley
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Gameboard of the Gods introduced religious investigator Justin March and Mae Koskinen, the beautiful supersoldier assigned to protect him. Together they have been charged with investigating reports of the supernatural and the return of the gods, both inside the Republic of United North America and out. With this highly classified knowledge comes a shocking revelation: Not only are the gods vying for human control, but the elect—special humans marked by the divine—are turning against one another in bloody fashion.

Their mission takes a new twist when they are assigned to a diplomatic delegation headed by Lucian Darling, Justin’s old friend and rival, going into Arcadia, the RUNA’s dangerous neighboring country. Here, in a society where women are commodities and religion is intertwined with government, Justin discovers powerful forces at work, even as he struggles to come to terms with his own reluctantly acquired deity.

Meanwhile, Mae—grudgingly posing as Justin’s concubine—has a secret mission of her own: finding the illegitimate niece her family smuggled away years ago. But with Justin and Mae resisting the resurgence of the gods in Arcadia, a reporter’s connection with someone close to Justin back home threatens to expose their mission—and with it the divine forces the government is determined to keep secret.


After reading the first two books in this series back-to-back, I was reminded of something that often happens while I’m reading a book by Richelle Mead. I’ve already admitted to loving her, and I do, but oftentimes something, normally just a single thing, keeps me from love, LOVE, L-O-V-I-N-G whatever it is that I’m reading.

In Vampire Academy, the books were YA Urban Fantasy, and that brought inevitably adolescent issues. In Georgina Kincaid, it was the whole, “I’m a succubus, and I can’t EVER turn it off,” thing, in Dark Swan it was Eugenie’s last Big Decision that made me see nothing but tears and recriminations in her and Dorian’s future when what she did inevitably came to light, and in Age of X . . . well, in Age of X, I can’t quite put my finger on the problem. Maybe it was the drastic turn the religious observations took from general to specific. Maybe it was the dissatisfaction I felt at the state of Mae and Justin’s relationship when the book ended.

I just don’t know.

And it’s weird, b/c I REALLY liked this book. A lot. Like couldn’t put it down.

The Immortal Crown opens with Mae and Justin checking out an alleged Voodoo priestess in the Bahamas. The priestess is in fact the real deal, recognizes Mae as a fellow Elect, and spouts nebulous and vaguely threatening warnings about a War of the Elect. Mae and Justin head back to their hotel room where they’re attacked by BUGS. Not just any bugs either—SCARAB BEETLES.


They return to where the priestess is holed-up, thinking her responsible for the attack, only to discover that she is moments from death, having suffered an attack herself. She spouts more warnings about Elect attacking Elect and future wars among the gods, and then dies.

Cue ominous music . . .

Mae and Justin return to RUNA only to almost immediately depart again for Arcardia, having been maneuvered into the trip by the politicking Lucien, who’s convinced that a successful peacemongering trip there will seal his election win.

And once again, EVERYTHING is connected.

This is where Mead excels. She flawlessly weaves together a story in which seemingly isolated incidents, casual interactions, and what appear to be coincidences are anything but. And again, she’s subtle. So the most you can come up with on your own, is that something is not right, there’s more to that person then what appears on the surface . . .

But you have no clue what’s actually coming.

I love that, incidentally.

As far as the world-building goes, the most development takes place in Arcardia. We learned in Gameboard of the Gods that Arcardia is RUNA’s neighbor with whom they hold a merely tentative peace. There are constant border skirmishes, and the threat of war looms heavily in the background.

And this is where I begin to have problems.

Mead states very clearly in the early part of the book, that present-Arcadia bares no similarities with past-southeastern US. That Arcardia is purely the result of a land area turning to religion rather than science in the aftermath of the disease that killed-off half the world’s population, but this simply isn’t true. Arcadia is a horrifically exaggerated version of the pre-Civil War south with some puritanical principles tossed in for fun. And just so there’s no confusion:

Pre-Civil War South + Puritan value system = NEGATIVE fun.

And of course with Mead there’s no smooth path to romantic euphoria. NOPE. We need to appreciate what we’re given, and by golly, nothing that comes easily is worth having.


I’m just hoping Mae and Justin work out their stupidity BEFORE the last book in the series.

Please, Richelle Mead? Please, PLEASE, can we have a happy couple before the very end? You can even throw all kinds of crap in their happy, little path. As long as it, for the love of the gods, gets RESOLVED, I don’t care. Just let them be TOGETHER.


The Immortal Crown is this year’s follow-up to the brilliant debut Gameboard of the Gods in Richelle Mead’s Age of X series. There was more of everything—more gods trying to gain a toe-hold, more places to explore, more secondary characters to love, more sinister villains, more kick-assery from Mae, more brilliant manipulations from Justin, just MORE.

And I don’t see it winding-down anytime soon.

I still highly recommend this series to anyone interested in mythology-based and futuristic Urban Fantasy. This is one of the good ones. And with so many UF series wrapping-up recently, or in the near future, we all need to be aware of the good ones!

Jessica Signature

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My name is Jessica and I live in Chattanooga, Tennessee. I’m trying my hand at writing, but mostly I read. My favorite genres are Fantasy, Paranormal Romance, Science Fiction, Urban Fantasy, and the YA versions of those genres, but if there is a book of a different color getting lots of buzz, I’ll read it too, just to be informed. If I’m not reading or writing, I’m probably on Goodreads or Pinterest or baking blueberry pies because I love them.


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88 responses to “Review: The Immortal Crown by Richelle Mead

  1. Ah you’re right but we spoke about it, I always have a problem with the main characters in the Mead series, they always act in a way that it annoys me sooooo much! And at the end even if the book is really book we can’t actually love it because of the character. But well I loved this one, for now I’m not really upset even if the end kinf if upsets me. But at it’s the the end it didn’t bother me because it was like a cliffy but I’ll see with the next book because it’s usually where my problems stends the most. We’ll see. But it’s true that they act without really thinking here too.

    • I know, Melliane! I was dying when you said that the last time we talked about Richelle Mead b/c I had just finished writing this review, but I knew it wouldn’t be posting for like a month. And I think the reason this one bothered me so much was b/c I’m from the South, and like I said, Arcadia is a very ugly, exaggerated version of the South, so it was impossible for me to be unbiased. But I do still really like this series, and I can’t wait to see what Mae and Justin do next!

  2. Happy you enjoyed it! It sounds like a good read and I’m always tempted to try some Richelle Mead, but in the end there’s something holding me back, lol.
    This one sounded good except for the whole religious-like stuff happening. I don’t like that as a part of my reads unless it’s in a very non-religious way, like Stacia Kane’s Downside Ghosts series where there’s no real religious anything going on despite the Church being a great part of the story. I mean it’s a Church by name, but more of a supernatural kickass HQ in the story, lol. Is it the case here, or are there really whatever religion related things happening?

    The cover looks real pretty too, and if it wouldn’t strike me as such a Christic-like image with the crown of thorns vibe, paranormal chick version thing… Anything too religion related in fiction gives me a general yuckytude feel, sigh.

    • No, I hear you. I typically avoid religious-y books like the plague. I didn’t bat an eye at starting this series, b/c it was supposed to be Norse mythology-based. In this second book though . . . the Arcadian belief system has too many similarities with zealot branches of Christianity for me to maintain the same level of detachment (from religion) that I had in the previous book. I kind of feel tricked. I still like the series enough to read the next book, but if this is the trend going forward . . . I’m not sure I’ll continue indefinitely.

  3. bookwormbrandee  

    Yay! I’m so excited to read this series now, Jessica! After reading some less than stellar reviews of Gameboard, I was really nervous. But I, too, LOVE Mead, so I knew I’d get to it eventually. Anyway, I am excited now. I’ll agree with you about there always being something that keeps you from love, loving her books…I almost gave up on Bloodlines…but Mead is quite talented at weaving a good story that keeps you guessing, and including interesting mythology. Excellent review, girl!!

    • Thank you, Brandee! I really do too, I LOVE her, and it makes me sad that there is always that something that prevents her series from joining the ranks of Kate Daniels, etc. on my absolute favorites lists, but you’re right, b/c even with whatever issues I have, I’ll never stop reading her. She’s great. I hope you do read this one, when you get a chance, and I hope you love it 😉

  4. I’ve been looking forward to The Immortal Crown. I couldn’t put down Gameboard of the Gods, but there was something there that had me scratching my head…and I couldn’t figure out why even though I really enjoyed it I just didn’t connect 100%. I’ve been hoping #2 would shed some light…or cement my love for the world.

    • I felt a lot more connected to Mae especially in this installment, and were I not from the South and therefore resentful of the similarities between back-in-the-day South and Arcadia, the book would have been perfect. I hope book 2 does cement your love for this world b/c even with my issues, I’m not giving up this series any time soon 😉

  5. I haven’t forgotten about this, you know 😉

    I’ve actually put a hold in at the library for the audiobook of the first book. Did it a couple weeks ago but it’s a pretty long waiting list so even then it probably won’t become available before this one comes out, but I will get to it for sure!

  6. Don’t hate me, but I haven’t read any Richelle Mead yet. I know, I know…I’m such a bad person! But your review has made me want to get my hands on a copy of her books ASAP! Thanks so much for sharing and getting me interested in this Jessica, and, as always, BRILLIANT review! <3

  7. Don’t get me started on Dark Swan. It was one of my favorites up until the very end. I was so frustrated. I won’t be reading this one because I didn’t like the first book, but I’m glad you’re still enjoying the series! Hope you’ve had a great weekend.

    • THANK YOU! How awful was that ending?! I mean really . . . how could that turn out well for anyone? *gnashes teeth* SO glad to finally have someone to rant with over that! And I’m sorry you didn’t like book 1, but I definitely see that this series isn’t for everyone. It’s very different from her usual style. I hope your weekend was great too 🙂

    • If you liked the first book in the series, then you’ll almost certainly like this one as well. There’s loads of character development and world-building that answers most of the questions left over from book 1, and it’s as action-packed as ever 😉

  8. Braine  

    I’ve read the first 3 books of VA then my ya ban hit so I never got to finish it. There are some elements here that piqued my interest like the voodoo and the work building but is like to see how it all turns out before I read it.

    Happy Mother’s Day!

    • Thanks, Braine! Happy Mother’s Day to you too! And while I admit to liking everything I’ve read by Mead, VA is my least favorite. I thought it was good for what it was, but high school(ish) YA is never at the top of my list (I save that for SFF 😉 ). I might have already mentioned—my memory is crap—but her other two adult UF series (Dark Swan and Georgina Kincaid) are both finished, so if you’re bored and looking for something to read, you could check those out. They are both UF series chock-full of sexy times.

  9. I know what you mean on her writing, I loved both Vampire Academy and Georgian Kincaid but I couldn’t get pass book two with the other series of hers, for some reason Eugiene started rubbing me the wrong way.

    I do have book one and I know I will read it regardless because I do like her writing and characters even when something bug me about them at the same time.

    • I know! It’s really remarkable how there are specific things that I can point to in her books that rub me the wrong way, and yet, I never stop reading them. Dark Swan was actually my favorite of Mead’s series, right up until the very end of the last book. Maybe you saw what Eugenie was capable of before I did 😉 I hope you have more luck with Age of X.

  10. I haven’t read anything by this author, I’m not a huge YA reader so I never read VA but this sounds interesting. It’s never fun when you’re not 100% invested in the characters but I’m glad it turned around for you. I still have to catch up on my old series before I start a new one but I’m definitely adding it to my list. Great review Jessica!

    • Thanks, Lori! And I get you—I’ll be catching up on my old series for the rest of my life (it feels likes, LOL). Here’s looking forward to that distant day when we are both caught up and free to read whatever we feel like 😉

  11. I don’t know if Mead CAN write a pre-final-book HEA! It’d be nice to see in this series, though. And I totally get what you mean about her. I do LOVE her books but…there’s just something, you know? I highly enjoyed the first book in this series and haven’t yet read this particular one but I WILL. SOON.

  12. Lol Jessica, you sure are a very passionate reader and reviewer, and I love to read them. I still have not read any of her books, but someday I will dust them of.

  13. I love knowing the author has that ability to get everything to interconnect and hey scarab beetles cooool. Did I tell you, no I didn’t why would I – that I used to have a bug collection from 4H camp and I had the COOLEST freaking Rhino beetle that was my prize bug I swear he was so freaking awesome…

    Anways yeah the book – I’m buying the first one today now – woot.

    • Hey, hey! Can’t wait to hear what you think! And no, I didn’t know about the bug collection, but I’ll have to take your word for it. I friggin’ hate bugs, LOL. I had a rock collection . . . are Rhino beetles those honkin’ black ones with the hella scary pincers?

  14. What can I say that hasn’t been said before about your reviews…but it’s a STUNNING REVIEW.

    You know, when I read the Vampire Academy I totally enjoyed it and overall, it was a 4 star read for me. However, there were moments throughout the story where I wasn’t IN LOVE with it but I still couldn’t put it down. So I completely understand where you are coming from. 😉

    I love futuristic UF and oddly enough I love a couple that struggles to be together but I’m totally weird like that. :/ I take your recommendations very seriously Jessica! 😉 ♥♥

    • Cristina, you’re a PEACH 😉

      And yeah, it sounds like we’re on the same page. It’s always something . . . it drives me nuts b/c otherwise her books would be perfect IMO, but . . . near miss every, single time.

      If you love romantic struggles, then this series will leave you blissfully happy, LOL. I take your recommendations seriously too! I only wish I could stop everything and read whatever new books you toss my way (I’ve got literally 20+ arcs I’m weeding through right now . . . ) But eventually! Especially the Amber Lynn Natusch—I’ve already read most of her Caged series, and I LOVED it!

  15. I am reading this book this week and I am eager to get back in. I know what you mean about Mead she excels at weaving together her storylines and I love watching them come together, but the problem for me is they always take so darn long to click, and yes on the romances as well. Why do they all have to be so dang difficult?

    • Oh, good! I can wait to see what you think about it. And I know what you mean about it sometimes taking a long time to click, but I think she does better with that in this series . . . now if only we could get her to let our MCs catch a break romantically, we’d be set 😉

  16. lucky lucky girl!! I cannot wait to read this book <3 It does suck a little.. ok a lot that Mead really drags out the romance or gives us just 'not enough'. I hope I get to read this one soon!! I'll let you know what I think when I get there 😉

    Great review as always 🙂

    Chanzie @ Mean Who You Are.

    • Thanks, Chanzies! I hope you get to read this one soon too, and I can’t wait to hear you thoughts 😉 And yeah . . . the drawn-out romance isn’t my favorite, but I’ll keep suffering through it, LOL.

  17. This series sounds so good! I feel like I’m missing out! I have yet to read Mead’s Bloodlines series and NOW I find out she has a series about a succubus… Gah. Must.Read.Faster.
    Great review! 🙂

  18. Aha, this issue you pinponted, Jessica, made me laugh! I’ve read most of Mead’s books although I gave up on Dark Swan before the end and still hasn’t started this series, but I remember the frustration because the main couple would go back and forward between being together and breaking up all the bloody time! 🙂 Brilliant review, darling!

    • Thank you! And YES! Why you no let them be happy, Richelle Mead? LOL. The back and the forth . . . and the back and the forth . . . GAH. It’s too late for me this time, but maybe the next time she has a new series, I’ll be smart enough to WAIT. I didn’t start Dark Swan until it was already finished (which is probably why I did finish it), but I can’t imagine suffering through the Kiyo/Dorian shenanigans without having the next book handy. *shudders*

  19. nereyda1003  

    I looooooove the Georgina Kincaid series. I’m kind of obsessed with it and I’ve read it over and over, and heard it on audio a few months ago. I can’t bring myself to read the last book in the Dark Swan series because I lost all respect for Eugene in book 3. (I do love Dorian though) I want to read this series, but it doesn’t really catch my attention for some reason. Glad to see you liked it though. I love the pretty cover.

    • I love the Georgina Kincaid series too! I’ve read all the way through it at least twice. As for Dark Swan, if you were fed up with Eugenie in book 3, I definitely wouldn’t recommend reading book 4—what she did was inexcusable. BOO. But yes, Dorian . . . LOVE him. One of my Top 5 book boyfriends, for sure. With this series, the jury is still out. I see it has the potential to be my favorite of all of her series, but it could go the other way as well . . . I’m just going to have to wait this one out 😉

  20. I have read everything but the Dark Swan series by this author and loved them but I just didn’t connect with the characters or the theme in the first book of this series so I had pretty much decided not to read this one but you now have me intrigued so I might end up giving it a go.

    A wonderful review Jessica.

    • Thanks, Sharon! And I do know what you mean. I really liked Mae and Justin in book 1 (which is why I kept reading the series), but I didn’t feel completely invested in them. To be completely honest, I still don’t, but I am more invested than I previously was, and I’m interested enough in the plotline to keep reading 😉

  21. Thanks for the review Jessica, I’m glad this book sounds like it was an improvement from the first. I vowed not to continue this series after reading the first book and getting a bit overwhelmed and annoyed at the two unlikable protagonists, but Mead is one of my favourite authors and sometimes she takes a while to get off the ground.

    • Yeah, she definitely does. I’m pretty sure I’ll keep reading this series no matter what, but depending on how the next book goes, I may take a break until the it concludes, so I can binge-read and suffer all of the agony at once 😉

  22. Funny, I swear I read your review of this on Goodreads already! Haha. In any case, I’m glad to see that you enjoyed this overall even with its problems here and there. The backwardness of Arcadia didn’t really bother me all that much, but that’s probably because I’m not American, and past-southern stereotypes feel too far from me. I do agree that Mae and Justin need to sort out their differences ASAP. It’s so frustrating to see them banter like this – left and right, left and right – when their feelings for each other are clearly there! Aaaaah. I’m still excited for the next one, though. Do we have to wait for a year before that happens? *cue tears*

    Faye at The Social Potato Reviews

    • I’m crying right along with you, dollface. And yeah, if I wasn’t from the South, I doubt it would bother me either . . . but I am. Lexxie was bothered by book 1 for similar reasons—she didn’t appreciate the portrayal of Scandinavian women. It doesn’t matter how far in the future, or how unrelated an area is supposed to be in a work of fiction, if it’s our home, we can’t be totally unbiased. Especially when it’s presented in such an unflattering light. BUT I’m hoping that’s it’s purely situational, and that future books will focus of other areas. *crosses fingers*

  23. I haven’t started this series yet but it’s on my list. I have read her other series and like you I devour them but have that little something that keeps me from falling head over heels but I can’t stop reading them b/c I really really like them. Ugh…we are such complicated people. This does sound like a great series and the fact that you are enjoying it tells me that I will like it too. Moving it up on my list…. (Oh…P.S. Message me if you want to be my friend at UtopYA…I need a friend!) 😉

    • Seriously . . . complicated creatures, indeed. But it’s clear that I’m not the only one 😉 And yes, despite the inevitable flaws, Mead IS an excellent story teller, so I’ll keep on reading them, and crossing my fingers that the next one won’t be as big of a roller coaster as this one was. ALSO–will message you shortly! YAY!

  24. OMG I’m just now realizing this is the sequel to Gameboard of the Gods!! D’Oh! I read 70% of that one and put it down to go to BEA and never finished it. I wasn’t loving it though and seeing how it gets a bit more religious-ish makes me wary, but I remember really liking the world itself. It was just slow paced I think. it’s been a while >.<

    • Yeah, it was slow paced in the beginning, but (for me, at least) it picked up towards the end, and this one was action-packed from start to finish. And there are definitely religious aspects, but not not the preachy kind . . . it’s just part of the world-building, and it covers ALL types of religion: pagan, egyptian, orthodox, etc. I don’t like preachy religion in my books, and these didn’t bother me 😉

    • Yeah, as much as I like this series, it’s not really representative or Mead’s writing. It’d suggest either of her adult UF series, if you’re in the mood to try her out—Dark Swan or Georgina Kincaid 😉

  25. Michele

    I feel like I’m the only reader on earth who has yet to read a Richelle Mead book! I have to remedy this as soon as possible. Aside from the bugs (because HOLY SHUDDERS) and Arcadia (just… no), this sounds good! Broken record time — this is going on the list. Really enjoyed this review, Jessica!

    • Thanks, Michele! And you are FAR from the only reader to have not read Mead yet, but she really is fantastic, so I hope you try her out some time 😉 *whispers* those bugs were straight out The Mummy. *shudder*

  26. Richelle Mead is another of those authors of been meaning to get to and just haven’t! Darn it, why do you have to make her sound so good? Even with the hiccups, I seriously want to read this series now!

  27. jenniferbielman  

    A mytho based futuristic UF sounds really cool to me. I still need to read the first book, and even though this wasn’t perfect, I can’t resist these books. They just sound awesome.

  28. Alise (Readers in Wonderland)

    Haha, so true about the romance always being resolved in the last book. There is so much more you can do with a series rather than dragging it out solely for the relationship. I do love her books though, there is just something about them that just sucks you in!

    • I know, right? At least Mead isn’t one of those though—the dragging out the romance to prolong the series . . . at least not here. Definitely lots of non-romantic plot left, but still . . . why the drama? Why the angst? And oh, the iiiirrroooooonnnyyyyy if that’s the real reason we get sucked in, LOL.

  29. I’m glad you liked this, Jessica–I haven’t seen many reactions yet! I have to say, GAMEBOARD was the very first Richelle Mead book I absolutely didn’t like, though, and I’ve read everything else she’s written. (I soooo agree with the rage-inducing Dark Swan finale issues, as well as the frustration of the Succubus series set-up.) And while I enjoy the sexual chemistry in her books, she often seems to feel the need to throw in monkey wrenches to complicate things in the most convoluted way sometimes, so…I think I’m okay with not continuing this series, hah. But why, Richelle, why? We want conflict, but we don’t need angst ALL the time.

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

    • Fortunately the few reactions I’ve seen have been better than those to the first book (I know it wasn’t your favorite), but yeah, this one gave me issues. Of course I’m incapable of being unbiased when the South is represented so horrifically, and then there was—you called it—the ANGST. The cliffy at the end of this one might just be her worst yet.<——angst cliffy. No bueno.