Review of Gameboard of the Gods by Richelle Mead

SFFaudio Review

Gameboard of the GodsGameboard of the Gods (Age of X #1)
By Richelle Mead; Read by Emily Shaffer
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Publication Date: June 2013
[UNABRIDGED] – 16 hours

Themes: / urban fantasy / ritualistic murder / military /

Publisher summary:

In a futuristic world nearly destroyed by religious extremists, Justin March lives in exile after failing in his job as an investigator of religious groups and supernatural claims. But Justin is given a second chance when Mae Koskinen comes to bring him back to the Republic of United North America (RUNA). Raised in an aristocratic caste, Mae is now a member of the military’s most elite and terrifying tier, a soldier with enhanced reflexes and skills.

When Justin and Mae are assigned to work together to solve a string of ritualistic murders, they soon realize that their discoveries have exposed them to terrible danger. As their investigation races forward, unknown enemies and powers greater than they can imagine are gathering in the shadows, ready to reclaim the world in which humans are merely game pieces on their board.

I listened to Gameboard of the Gods on audio and to me it feels more like science fiction than urban fantasy. The book is a bit hard to review because it kind of evolves as you go a long and I would not want to spoil it for anyone.

The story takes place in the RUNA (Republic of North America) think a future country that is a unified Canada and USA. Dr. Justin March was a servitor who has been exiled to Panama, his citizenship has been taken from him and emotionally he is barely surviving life. Back in the RUNA there is a serial killer who likes to kill on the full moon. Other servitors have been unsuccessful in solving the crimes. Out of desperation Justin’s old employers have come to Panama with Mae and elite soldier with the RUNA to find and bring Justin back to the RUNA with the hope of getting the murders solved. Justin is dying to come home but he decides to get as much out of the deal as possible and he ends up bringing his friends daughter home with him so she can have the chance at a better education. But things don’t go as planned and Justin and Mae find themselves in an almost hopeless situation.

The story is told from three points of view, Justin, Mae and Tessa. Justin and Tessa make total sense you get a feel for two very different sides of the world and you also find out how similar they actually are to one another. I liked both Justin and Mae. Mae is a beautiful killer yet she is still a sensitive soul despite her upbringing – Justin on the other hand is crazy smart, his mind is continuously working so he uses drugs and alcohol to cope and to relax. I did not care for his comfort in using people to meet his ends especially with women and sex. Tessa on the other hand feels like an afterthought – I did like her character but she did not add much to the plot but perhaps in future books she will do something.

A major challenge with this book is you really do not know what is going on until you are about halfway in. Like it took me forever to figure out what the is a servitor?? It took a bit longer to figure out Horatio and Magnus. SO while it works because it made me curious it was also annoying because I never found answers to some questions like what happened to cause the government to sanction religion?? While I would classify this book as sci-fi the world is clearly challenged with technology – so we have a car that can drive itself and a tablet that does it all but other than that it feels kind of like life here in the old USA which rather sucks for sci-fi. Last but not least I would have liked a bit more mythology – we get a glimpse of them with various cults but I think it could have made for an even better story.

As I mentioned I listened to this book on audio, for me a narrator can make or break a book. Emily Shaffer was not a terrible narrator but I do not think she was the best person for this book. Reading a book with so many POV’s means she should have sounded different but to me she always sounds the same. Justin and Mae are rather hardened people they hide who they are from everyone all the time but Emily made them sound so chipper and curious which for me was the opposite of how they were described. My issues with the narration and the lack of world building information made this a slow going audio book.

The book totally has challenges but in the end I still enjoyed the story and I am looking forward to the next one in the series.

Posted by Dawn V.



The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #221 – Jesse and Jenny talk about audiobook NEW RELEASES and RECENT ARRIVALS.

Talked about on today’s podcast:
“Spaaaaaaaaace and Military Sci-Fi and Aliens”, Humans by Matt Haig, Mark Meadows, Simon & Schuster Audio, Publisher’s Weekly, Jenny is a librarian, Douglas Adams, The Radleys, Boo Radley’s family?, The Simpsons Futurama Crossover Crisis, Marvel Comics, DC Comics, Red Dwarf, Atticus Finch, To Kill A Mockingbird, a whole pile of stereotypes, Space Magic by David D. Levine, Tk’tk’tk, Escape Pod, aliens, Ancient China, Rewind, The Tale Of The Golden Eagle, are author collections more rare these days?, Charley The Purple Giraffe Was Acting Strangely, Twitter authority, Jenny’s stereotypical powers, “Classic/Epic/Traditional Fantasy (swords! magic! etc!)”, unclothed unicorns, A Discourse In Steel by Paul S. Kemp, Nick Podehl, Angry Robot, Brilliance Audio, Bryce L., Jenny’s fault!, Elisha Barber by E.C. Ambrose, James Clamp, terpkristin, historical epic fantasy, a biblical name, the Fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons = Doctor -> to Mr., Ms., or Mrs., The Coming Of The Ice by G. Peyton Wertenbaker, urban fantasy, Cast In Shadow by Michelle Sagara, Khristine Hvam, “something is stirring again”, “vaunted”, Gameboard Of The Gods by Richelle Mead, Emily Shaffer, Penguin Audio, Dawn V., Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace, ONAN, The United States of North America, H20 (TV miniseries), a crime novel set in the future, steampunk, Romulus Buckle & the City of the Founders by Richard Ellis Preston, Jr., Luke Daniels, Springheeld Jack, fun names, do we have aliens in steampunk?, high-octane steampunk?, Rose Davis, cyberpunk, post-humans, robots, iD (Machine Dynasty #2) by Madeline Ashby, Luke Daniels, self-replicating human robots must have rights too!, The Year’s Top Ten Tales of Science Fiction 5 edited by Allan Kaster, Tom Dheere, Nancy Linari, Dara Rosenberg, Infinivox, Invisible Men by Christopher Barzak, Close Encounters by Andy Duncan, Bricks, Sticks, Straw by Gwyneth Jones, Arbeitskraft by Nick Mamatas, The Man by Paul McAuley, Nahiku West by Linda Nagata, Tyche And The Ants by Hannu Rajaniemi, Katabasis by Robert Reed, The Contrary Gardener by Christopher Rowe, Scout by Bud Sparhawk, katabasis as a trip to the underworld, Carniepunk by Rachel Caine, Rob Thurman, Kevin Hearne, Seanan McGuire, Jennifer Estep, Allison Pang, Kelly Gay, Delilah S. Dawson, Kelly Meding, Candace Thaxton, Kirby Heyborne, Simon & Schuster, Sweeney Todd, carnival themed, Joyland by Stephen King, Like Water For Elephants, The Night Circus, The Boys In The Boat: Nine Americans And Their Epic Quest For Gold At The 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown, Edward Herrman (the grandpa on Gilmore Girls), At The Mountains Of Madness by H.P. Lovecraft, Charlie Chan At The Olympics, Mary Lou Retton, Doctor Jekyll And Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson, Wayne June, Algernon Blackwood, William Hope Hodgson, Jesse thinks Wayne June is awesome, not scary but chilling, Neonomicon by Alan Moore and Jacen Burrows, Jenny hates censorship!, a horrifying book, Mike Bennett’s narration of The Shadow Over Innsmouth, this horrible wonderful book, necessary but not shown, From Hell, Johnny Depp, Jack The Ripper, Watchmen, what would that do to our world?, The Fall (TV miniseries), Gillian Anderson, Dexter, Breaking the Fourth Panel: Neonomicon and the Comic Book Frame, don’t look under the bed, angry reviews, Alan Moore is working on a new comic book series set in Providence and with H.P. Lovecraft as the main character, The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories by H.P. Lovecraft (edited by S.T. Joshi), A Good Story Is Hard To Find, The Dunwich Horror, ragged end paper?, Classic Tales Of Vampires And Shapeshifters,, The Horla by Guy de Maupassant, The Weird: A Compendium of Strange and Dark Stories edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer, Ghosted, Image Comics, WWW: Watch by Robert J. Sawyer, Luke Burrage’s Science Fiction Book Review Podcast, inaudible audioboks from Audible!, podcasts have had this problem, the cost of not proof listening an audiobook or podcast is multiplied by its number of listeners, how many new audiobooks have been published through Audible Frontiers, unnecessary info-dumping, The Ocean At The End Of The Lane by Neil Gaiman, self-identity, Among Others by Jo Walton, statue wedding, performing as a living statue, Viking Boy, Mike Vendetti, new short audiobooks, Science Fiction: A Very Short Introduction by David Seed, Brian Holsopple, “Lit Crit Punk”, how we got Rabkin, The Great Courses are now on,, the popularity of MOOCs, Eric loves fairy tales, no homework!, Heartburn by Nora Ephron, Meryl Streep, thanks Eric!


Posted by Jesse Willis