They say that the next trend after vampires will be angels but I don’t think there are a lot of good books about angels out there. Archangel seems to be the exception and it has been recommended a couple of times, I don’t even remember where’s the first time that I saw it. I saw a copy when I picked up A Conspiracy of Kings and decided to get it as well. I know that Angie mentioned that this is one of her favorite angel books so I knew I was in for a treat.
Here’s the summary from Sharon Shinn’s website:
Angels and men exist in harmony on the world of Samaria. Every twenty years, a new Archangel is chosen to govern the land and lead all the people of Samaria in a great musical chorale to honor the god Jovah. But Gabriel, the Archangel-elect, finds himself constantly feuding with Rachel, the bride who has been chosen for him by Jovah—and he is slowly coming to realize that the aging Archangel Raphael has no intention of giving up his power, even if it means all of Samaria could be destroyed.
Oooh and Ms. Shinn also posted her favorite scene from the book. I think that’s my favorite too! I don’t think it’s spoilery so I’ll post it here as well:
My favorite scene: The one where Rachel wakes up under Gabriel’s wing. That’s actually the scene I had in my head most clearly before I started writing the book, so it’s the scene that I worked backward and forward from as I came up with t e rest of the story.
Before I write anything else, I just want to ask what’s up with the cover? I’m going to go ahead and assume that that’s Rachel but what is she holding in her hands, a feather and a glowing ball of some sort? It’s not part of the story at all. I’m glad I’ve heard so many good things about this book because otherwise, I wouldn’t have picked it up based on the strength of its cover alone. I’ve only read one other Sharon Shinn novel and that’s Summers at Castle Auburn. I enjoyed reading that book but it’s YA and Archangel isn’t so I knew that the writing would be somewhat different.
I loved the worldbuilding in this book. The setting is a fictional country called Samaria, where angels co-exist with humans and they pray to the god, Jovah for all kinds of intervention – weather, health and general well-being. All angels are born gifted with incredible musical ability and they pray by singing. Every twenty years, an Archangel is chosen to govern the whole country and every year, the Archangel leads the people in singing a mass, the Gloria, in praise of the god. His angelica (or her angelico if the Archangel is female), the god’s chosen wife (or husband) must sing by the Archangel’s side. If they don’t, the god will strike down lightning from the heavens and destroy the world. Isn’t that interesting? There’s a lot of theology thrown in this book but it’s not preachy and it isn’t too much that you’ll be overloaded with information. I think it’s just enough to show the religion in that world and the strength of the characters’ beliefs.
I also loved the characters in this book. Both Rachel and Gabriel are solid characters. Rachel is strong-willed and very stubborn and even though she knows it’s a great honor, she’s reluctant to become the angelica. Gabriel is arrogant and self-assured but he loves the land and the people and only want what’s the best for them. The story is told from alternating third-person points of view of these two so we get to see how things develop from both sides. I love that even though they’re meant for each other by the god’s mandate, they still have to work for it. It’s definitely not love at first sight and they keep rubbing each other the wrong way. Love-hate relationships for the win! ♥
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and I look forward to reading the other books in the Samaria series. I have a feeling they’re going to be great! I also have copies of the first two Twelve Houses and I hope those books are just as good. If you’ve read Ms. Shinn’s work, please leave a comment to tell me what you think of them. Also, what are other angel books that you’ll recommend?