Gameboard of the Gods

Richelle Mead
Gameboard of the Gods Cover

Gameboard of the Gods


This is the first book by Richelle Mead I have read, picked up off the "New Science Fiction/Fantasy" shelf at the library. "Vampire Academy" did not come up on my radar until I searched for other books by Mead over at the Fantastic Fiction website.

As other reviewers point out, the story begun in Gameboard of the Gods involves three main characters and the backstory of at least two of them slowly unfolds along with the current action. Many books introduce characters via some sort of initial narrative or allow someone to tell their personal story to some other character, close to the beginning. The framework of Gameboard of the Gods develops slowly, laying out an initial mystery: what is going on here and why? We learn slowly the details of this post-downfall world and its future issues and ordering of human interaction. This slow revealing of the context sustains us until the quest element of the plot takes root and progresses.

Two of the main protagonists, Justin and Mae, are well-drawn and have individual subplot development to keep the novel from being a strict linear story. There is the usual romantic tension. The third main character, Tessa, a teen "ward" carried along by Justin, has a role to play in the main mystery of the book but has a subplot that, quite frankly, clashes with the rest of the action. Other than making me ask if high school teen angst is a universal trial that will survive dystopic world events I have a hard time integrating these sections into the overall picture. Seeing the other works by this author gave me perspective as to why Tessa is developed as a character by means of typical YA storylines. Perhaps the author wants to help her YA audience from "Vampire Academy" to better relate to this new book series but the teen treatment is superfluous for me.

The mythology angle of Gameboard of the Gods is fun but very obvious to me. Granted, my deep reading background (Gaiman's American Gods, anyone?) helps me connect the dots about those ravens very quickly. I enjoy the 'cult police' interactions greatly. The minor characters encountered in the course of the main mystery plotline were exceptional: I wanted to meet up with Geraki and listen to what pristess Clarissa (hope I remember her name right) had to say. And how were those murders really accomplished.....?