The second instalment in Richelle Mead's future/fantasy Age of X series gets off to a slow start, before each of our three leads find themselves on surprising but life-changing adventures. While book one introduced us to the characters and the futuristic world of the Republic of United North America (Canada and parts of the US,) which is technologically advanced, once ravaged by disease and intolerant of all religion, book two expands on that world and the discoveries made at the end of book one about Gods and religions.
For Justin, it's a trip to dangerous neighbouring country, Arcadia, where he will work as a 'diplomat' while Mae is appointed his bodyguard but will be posing as his concubine during their trip to the backward and sexist nation. (All of this is intended to help the scheming Lucian score political points, as he hopes to win the next election.) Young Tessa, meanwhile, has found herself an appointment as an intern to scheming journalist Daphne.
Both Mae and Justin have some surprising religious experiences whilst in Arcadia, which help both gain a sense of self ... particularly Mae who is still grappling with the understanding that she is one of the elect, or chosen ones, and her connection to Freya, though her journey plays out in a wonderful way. Justin, meanwhile, begins to bind himself more and more to Odin in some surprising ways. The once innocent Tessa, meanwhile, learns how to play the system and people to get what she wants, before making some important realisations about loyalty.
Parts of the novel felt very confused and disjointed, though Mead does a brilliant job of connecting the three separate stories together toward the end. The novel ends on quite a cliffhanger, with a new relationship severed and the introduction of another God ... and in keeping with the themes of Nordic and Germanic mythology, this God is none other than Loki, who I imagine will play a big part in the next book in the series.
The Immortal Crown is an intriguing read, a little slow and a little disjointed in places, though it ties together beautifully. Readers will definitely need to pick up a copy of Gameboard of the Gods (book one in the series,) before reading this one for the complex, futuristic worlds make sense, though this one is definitely a winner.