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1. It's out today!
Well, if you live in an English-speaking country, it is! As always, translations take longer, and unfortunately, I don't have any info about availability in other countries. If you're impatient, you can order a signed American copy here.

2. It's NOT Young Adult.
I repeat, it's not young adult. That's not a bad thing by any means, but just be prepared for more adult plotlines and content.

3. Here's what it IS about:
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.

Mix mythology into a futuristic setting, and here's what you get! Gameboard was inspired by all the fantasy and sci-fi books I grew up with: detailed, complex worlds with tons of subplots and lots of terms and history you had to figure out along the way. If you've only ever read light urban fantasy, this might be a pretty different genre for you, but hang in there! Things do eventually get explained, and like all Richelle Mead books, I like to have cliffhangers and subplots continuing throughout the series!

4. You can try before you buy!
Yup, you can read an excerpt! Actually you can read THREE excerpts, as well as a ton of other background info on the book to help you learn all about the world and characters.
Gameboard of the Gods Description
Gameboard of the Gods History and Background
Gameboard of the Gods Character Posts 1, 2, and 3
Gameboard of the Gods Glossary
Gameboard of the Gods Excerpt 1
Gameboard of the Gods Excerpt 2
Gameboard of the Gods Excerpt 3

5. I'm touring for this book!
It's a small tour, but if you live in Seattle, Los Angeles, or San Diego, then you can meet me, get Gameboard or any of my other books signed, and ask questions about all my books! Check out my tour schedule here. And if you can't make it, remember you can always order signed books from my local store. Looking forward to meeting you!

If you still want to know more, check out what other reviewers are saying:
USA Today Review: "It's dark, it's fantastical, and the chemistry is just wow!"
RT Book Reviews: "Mead is a master storyteller."
WAMMIB Blog Review: "Be ready for THE SUBPLOTS! Because, let’s be honest this is Richelle Mead we’re talking about and there are bigger forces playing here!"

Signed copies of Gameboard of the Gods

Guess what? Gameboard of the Gods comes out one week from today! Are you excited? I am!

As you know, I recently did some charity auctions on eBay for early signed copies of Gameboard. Those have all ended, and thank you so much to those generous people who bought them for good causes. As of this post, I have no more auctions up, but you can absolutely still get signed copies of Gameboard! My local bookstore in Seattle, University Books, is selling autographed copies of Gameboard, just like with all my new releases. Place your order by June 2, I'll come in and sign your book to you, and they'll ship it out on release day June 4. And yes, they ship internationally!

Most importantly, there's no extra charge for this. I say this because Book Expo is this weekend, where I will be signing copies of Gameboard for attendees, and I'm sure some of them will try to sell their copies on eBay. That's totally their right, but I don't want you thinking you have to buy one of those if you want a signed copy, especially since those copies may be marked up in price. University Books will sell you a new one at cover price, and the autograph can even be made out to you personally. Just a heads up! (University Books also sells all my other titles signed if you want any of those too).

And if you happen to live in Seattle, Los Angeles, or San Diego, you can come see me and get a copy signed in person! You can also see me in New York later this week at the Union Square Barnes and Noble, though Gameboard won't be on sale yet. All the details for my signing schedule are here.

Finally, if you're still wondering what Gameboard of the Gods is all about, here are some handy links to help you out:

Gameboard of the Gods Description
Gameboard of the Gods History and Background
Gameboard of the Gods Character Posts 1, 2, and 3
Gameboard of the Gods Glossary
Gameboard of the Gods Excerpt 1
Gameboard of the Gods Excerpt 2
Gameboard of the Gods Excerpt 3

Gameboard of the Gods, Excerpt #3

Japanese Vampire Academy
Sorry for the leave of absence, guys! I've been busy, busy these last few weeks working on The Fiery Heart and doing some fun book signings in the Midwest. But guess what? We are now LESS THAN A MONTH from the release of Gameboard of the Gods on June 4! If you're still trying to find out what that adult series is about, then check out all these posts I've done about it.

And if you do know what it's about and are anxiously awaiting Chapter 3, then rejoice! Because that excerpt is now here. And alas, it's the last one you'll be getting before the book comes out! But don't worry--we'll try to pass the time until then with some other good stuff, including a mess o' reviews from people who are super excited about this book.


Gameboard of the Gods, Excerpt #2

Agnostic Cat
Well, hey, it's Monday! So let's do another excerpt from Gameboard of the Gods, shall we? Today we have Chapter 2, letting us look through the eyes of exile Justin March as he slogs his way through the more uncivilized parts of this world.

The link to the chapter is here, and it in turn includes a link to the glossary and background info if you need help, plus the first chapter if you missed it. And yeah...lots more swearing here because this is adult, not young adult. Hope you enjoy!

And if you missed the news about my updated tour schedule this year, you can take a look at it here.

Gameboard of the Gods, Excerpt #1

Yay! Here it is. As promised, I have the first excerpt from my next adult novel, Gameboard of the Gods, coming June 4. Two more excerpts will be coming out this month.

Before you dive in, let me give you three pieces of advice:

1. Remember, this is an adult novel, not YA. I say this because there's a lot of swearing in this first chapter. The characters are kind of upset, and people say bad things when they're upset.

2. This is told from Mae's POV, which will soon be obvious. If you want to read the background on her or the world, check out my series of Age of X posts.

3. Many terms will be explained in the context of the book, but if you want to know any now, remember that there's a glossary.

That's it! On to CHAPTER 1!

If you've been following along this week, you've been delving into all the Gameboard of the Gods background and character info that I've been doling out--and boy, is there a lot of it! I know it seems a little heavy compared to some of my other books, and I honestly think this comes from growing up with high fantasy and sci-fi novels. Those were what I read, and I always thought those were the kinds of books I'd be writing, so it was a surprise when I ended up with my lighter paranormals. But it's been a good surprise! I'm so happy I've got into the books I did because I love creating and writing them.

But Gameboard is a great project for me too because it lets me explore some new things. Because it does show echoes of that hardcore fantasy background I came from, there are a lot of terms that might be unfamiliar, so I whipped you up a handy online Gameboard of the Gods Glossary to give you a quick reference to what all these things mean. Now, of course, you're welcome to read through it now. But if it's daunting, hold off until you read the book or next week's excerpts!

And guess what else is coming next week? My tour dates for Gameboard of the Gods. I'll give you a heads-up that this is another small one, focused on the West Coast. But I will be visiting some areas I haven't been to in a while, so that'll be fun. We'll have info on that next week.

My last bit of news is that Vampire Academy: Blood Sisters has been greenlit! This is huge news, and I'm not sure how big people realized it is. Even when you cast a movie, until you get that green light (which is more than just a metaphor), things can still fall apart. But now we have the official go-ahead, and filming is scheduled to start at the end of May in the UK. This just got real, people! If you missed my post about the cast and script, check out this blog entry. It was written before the filming dates were confirmed, but the rest is pretty up-to-date.

Gameboard of the Gods: Characters, part 3

Charlie the Unicorn
Time for another Gameboard of the Gods character breakdown. Here’s a link to the other background stuff I’ve been doing in anticipation of the series, so you can catch up (which you should totally do if you haven't, since this post deals with some complex history and whatnot of the series). The last two characters we looked at, Justin and Mae, are very much the leads in this book. Today’s character, Tessa, is important too since she’s one of our POV people, but she’s a step back from the roles Justin and Mae play in the book’s main plot. She still has a critical role, as we’ll see.

Tessa, the nickname for Teresa Cruz, is sixteen and isn’t from the RUNA. She’s from the province of Panama, which is where Justin has spent his exile. If you recall the background post, I explained that the Mephistopheles virus wasn’t as lethal to those of mixed genetic backgrounds. So, Central America--which has a pretty diverse population--survived better than other places (sorry, Europe). Compared to the RUNA, it’s still pretty savage, though. It has rigid tiers of upper and lower classes and a weak, corrupt government influenced by gangs that vie for control of the city. That being said, they still have electricity and bars, so Justin decided it was the best he could do.

Tessa’s great-grandparents were actually refugees from the RUNA way back when. They fled the genetic mandates that controlled who you were supposed to have kids with. Despite settling in Panama, they were always homesick and passed on this worship of the RUNA to their descendants. So, when Justin is able to get Tessa admittance into the RUNA, it’s an offer her family can’t refuse. Her father helped Justin considerably in Panama, so Justin feels a sense of obligation. He also sees some of the same potential and intelligence he’s so proud of in himself in Tessa, and he thinks her life would go to waste being one of the upper class Panamanian women are educated at home and kept sequestered from dangerous elements outside.

So, Tessa becomes what’s called in literature “the innocent.” Most of the book takes place in the RUNA. Justin and Mae are from there, so they’re totally drinking its Kool-Aid. When we’re in their POVs, they think it’s the most amazing, wonderful, superior place in the whole world. Tessa, as an outsider, looks at it through a different lens. Certainly, she’s still dazzled. After all, the technology is leagues beyond what she grew up with, and the possibilities for a young woman are endless by comparison. Nonetheless, she doesn’t necessarily see the RUNA’s sense of superiority, control over religion and genes, and obsession with media as the awesome things everyone else does.

Lastly, Tessa truly is an innocent, not just in the literary sense. She’s young, and no matter how intelligent she is, she’s been sheltered. This makes for an interesting contrast to jaded and worldly Justin and Mae, not to mention creating a few “fish out of water” situations.

That wraps up our principle characters. Tomorrow, I’ll sum things up with a glossary of all these crazy terms, and next week…first excerpt!

Gameboard of the Gods: Characters, part 2

Spice Cat
Time for another Gameboard of the Gods character breakdown. Here’s a link to the other background stuff I’ve been doing in anticipation of the series, so you can catch up. Last time, we talked about my male lead, Justin March. Today we go to the first of my two female principles: Mae Koskinen.

Mae is in the RUNA’s military. Specifically, she is a praetorian, which is me showing off with my college classes on Latin and Roman history again. I mentioned in Justin’s post that the RUNA has adopted a loose Greco-Roman culture. In the Roman Empire, praetorians were the emperor’s elite guards. They were well-trained and often instrumental in overthrowing the emperors they were supposed to protect. This is because the later Roman Empire was diverting so much of its regular military into conquering new lands that the praetorians were pretty much the only soldiers left in the city. So, if you wanted to stage a coup and become emperor, “all” you had to do was get the praetorians on your side to turn against their leader.

Anyway, back to the future. The RUNA has a senate, not an emperor, so that’s who the praetorians protect. They also fight on the RUNA’s behalf in the dangerous areas outside the country. Why? Because the praetorians are badass. The RUNA doesn’t like genetic manipulation--not after that virus that took out half the world--but they’re totally cool using technology to make super soldiers. Praetorians have tiny implants in their arms that amp up whatever neurotransmitter or hormone happens to be going strong. So, if you’re in a fight and high on adrenaline, the implant picks up on that and helps you increase your adrenaline to crazy levels that make you faster, stronger, etc. A fun(?) side effect is that the implant will also “helpfully” increase the chemicals of lust churning through you when you’re turned on. Don’t mess with praetorian sex lives.

The other thing to know about Mae is that this tough soldier girl actually comes from a posh, aristocratic background. In the RUNA’s formation, certain ethnic groups wanting to protect the purity of their genes were exempted from forced breeding. Mae is the descendent of one of these groups (which slang calls “castes”), a Finnish one, so she’s a rare blonde in the dark-haired RUNA. The castes, still hardcore about their genetic purity, like to keep their women pampered and at home having kids. So, the fact that a prime specimen like Mae ran off to the military is something of an oddity.

So Mae is a contradiction, a once-fashionable young woman trained in music and grand parties who now fights and kills for her country without hesitation. She keeps her emotions locked down, to the extent that she has sex with the lights off, lest her lovers see what she’s feeling. This impenetrable exterior drives Justin crazy because he’s made a habit (and career) of getting into people’s heads. He drives her crazy because her carefully controlled personality sees his vices as a sign of weakness. What could possibly go wrong with these two hanging out together?

One more character tomorrow!

Gameboard of the Gods: Characters, part 1

Arrested Development Quote
If you tuned in yesterday, I set up the background for Gameboard of the Gods in anticipation of the excerpts I'll be posting later this month. If you still want to follow along and get some backstory, I'm going to go forward today with the first of three principle characters. The book is told in third person POV, and each chapter follows the perspective of one of our leads. So let's meet these crazy kids.

The first is Justin March, who's not really a kid. Fun fact: when I conceived this story years ago, his name was Justin Drew. Justin, however, is a doctor of the academic sort, and Dr. Drew is a no-go these days. So he got a name makeover in homage to Louisa May Alcott's Little Women. Justin in no way resembles the moral March girls, though. He doesn't even resemble Laurie on a bad day. But we'll get to his vices in a minute.

Remember when I said religion was strictly regulated in the RUNA? The people who do this are called servitors, from servitor veritatis, which is Latin for "servant of the truth." In trying to stamp out separatism, the RUNA has tried to adopt a loosely Greco-Roman cultural style, so they like Latin phrases. I like Latin phrases because it makes me feel like my college days didn't go to waste. These servitors do regular inspections of religious groups and determine whether they're dangerous or can be licensed to worship. A lot of the job is paperwork, but if they find a particularly crazed cult, servitors can call in military backing to disband them.

Justin is a servitor. Or, well, he was. As the book opens, we find he's been both fired and exiled for reasons unknown to us. So, Justin passes his time in the provinces with women, drugs, and alcohol. Actually, this is how he passed a lot of his time back when he was in the RUNA, but it's a little worse now since he's miserable living in what he considers an uncivilized place. Part of what we'll discover about Justin is that he's smart. Really smart. Smarter than me, which makes him hard to write. He observes everything, and his brain is always in overdrive, which is why he indulges in so many substances: he wants a break from thinking sometimes. His cunning is what got him out of humble beginnings and up to a government position and affluent part of society. As for going through women, this comes from the fact that he's a handsome devil with commitment issues. Also, he likes solving puzzles, and each new conquest is a puzzle to crack. He knows how to work his charm, and his ability to read people keeps him busy with female company and is what made him so good at busting cults when he was a servitor.

If you hear me talking about a hard-drinking, womanizing character, it's probably easy to think, "Oh, Adrian 2.0." Not so. First, Adrian doesn't abuse stuff nearly this bad. Second, Adrian is young, and a lot of his vices are ways of coping as he figures out his place in the world. He's still learning who he is. Justin, at thirty-five, knows who he is. He's established his life and found a way to fit in these bad behaviors while still functioning as a productive member of society. I think this is a dangerous thing. We have a tendency to think, "Well, if he still gets up for work and pays the bills, I guess it's okay that he does these things." It's really not. All it does is rationalize addictions, which always eventually come back with a cost.

Writing a character with so many vices is difficult. I want him to be flawed, but at the same time, I need my readers to like him and root for him. So I always have to keep his behaviors in check, lest people get too turned off. So, don't worry. No character is two-dimensionally bad. Justin, despite being seemingly selfish, has a fierce loyalty to his loved ones, particularly the sister he left behind when he was exiled. He also has a soft spot for hard-luck cases, as we'll see in my third character post.

The final thing you should know about Justin is that he has two wise-cracking invisible ravens that talk to him inside his head. Why? Come on, guys, I can't tell you everything. I'm just giving you background here, not the book's plot! :)

More characters to come!

Diversity Kittens
As promised, it's time to get cracking on Gameboard of the Gods. Being set in a future world, it's one of the most complex books I've written as far as setting goes. So, for those interested in knowing what you're walking into with this book, I thought I'd get you up to speed on its history and background.

Gameboard of the Gods takes place a hundred years in the future. Around our current day, religious extremists unleashed a virus called Mephistopheles (they saw it as a demon punishing the world) that took out half the world's population. Countries and infrastructure crumbled as a result, causing many places to descend into chaos and even regress. Different regions coped in different ways. Some weren't very effective at all and went totally Mad Max. This part of history is referred to as the Decline.

The majority of the former US and Canada banded together to create a new country called the Republic of North America. It's usually referred to as the RUNA in the book, pronounced roo-na. Its capital is Vancouver (shout-out to British Columbia!). Noticing that those of mixed genetic backgrounds had greater resistance to the virus, the RUNA instituted a harsh policy where large parts of its population were forcibly swapped with those of another emerging country formed from parts of China and Russia. As the two countries began breeding heterogeneous populations with greater survival rates, they were able to better weather the virus until a vaccine was created.

Fast-forward a century later, to the book's setting. The RUNA's policies have made it the leading country in the world. It's regained the technology it lost in the Decline and has started to advance past where we are today. It's a bright, shiny country with compulsory education, efficient energy, birth control laws, a mighty military, smart phone-esque devices that manage every part of your life, public transportation everywhere, and all sorts of other good stuff. Citizens have small chips in their hands that facilitate what parts of the country they can move through. The RUNA has a very high opinion of itself and looks down on all other parts of the world--many of which are still totally a mess--which it calls "the provinces."

Genetic mixing is no longer mandatory, but those who still reproduce with "genetically optimal" partners get stipends from the government. In addition to this, the RUNA has one other big policy that it used in its recovery. In its eyes, religion was responsible for the Decline. The RUNA sees religion as a source of unrest, creating separatist attitudes and irrational behaviors. Consequently, it has a very strong stance against religion and belief in the supernatural. Most religions were stamped out, though some remained--including many new ones that were revivals of older gods from around the world. Those groups that are allowed to exist must be licensed and deemed not a threat. Any group that seems unstable or is growing too large is disbanded. Stay tuned because this particular policy forms a large part of the book's plot.

And that's a lot of stuff, so I'll close and let your minds boggle over that. Next time, we'll delve into our principle characters.

PLEASE! Mark all spoilers in your comments.

*If you have questions about books, release dates, tour dates, or anything else, please check my website instead of leaving the question in comments or using LJ mail. You're more likely to find an answer!.*

I have red hair and subsist entirely on Kona coffee.

Other crucial information--such as my books, background, and appearances--can be found by clicking the links below.

Please note: I am HOPELESSLY behind in responding to e-mails and LJ comments right now. Be patient as I catch up!



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