Angel-Seeker by Sharon Shinn

Retro Friday is a weekly meme hosted by Angie over at Angieville and focuses on reviewing books from the past. This can be an old favorite, an under-the-radar book you think deserves more attention, something woefully out of print, etc.

Angel-Seeker by Sharon Shinn is the last book to be published in the Samaria series. It occurs a few months after Archangel so you can read this right after that one. They are the only two books set in the same time period, all of the others are set centuries before or after. Archangel is one of my favorite reads in 2010 and I thoroughly enjoyed reading Jovah’s Angela and The Alleluia Files so I had high hopes for this one.

Here’s the summary from Goodreads:

Elizabeth was born to wealth, but circumstances forced her to live as a servant in her cousin’s household. Determined to change her life for the better, she makes the journey to the town of Cedar Hills, hoping that an angel will take notice of her, and take her as his own.

Rebekah is a daughter of the Jansai tribe, raised to hate the angels – and to marry whichever man her father chooses for her. But in her heart, she longs for a different life. And when she finds an injured angel near her village, she defies her upbringing to care for him.

In time, these two women, whose paths will cross, will both find what they desire, in surprising – and dangerous – ways.

I love the world that Sharon Shinn created with her Samaria books. I know there are a lot of series about angels out there but this one is really my favorite. I’m glad that Obadiah got his own story because he’s a character that I really liked in Archangel. He is sent by the Archangel Gabriel to go to Breven and deal with the Jansai. The Jansai are merchants who have no love for angels, especially since Gabriel outlawed their main source of income – the slavery of the Edori. Obadiah is the perfect choice for this mission because of his charming personality. He has a way with words and people can’t help but like him. Obadiah knew that the task wouldn’t be easy but he never expected he’d be suddenly injured in the middle of the desert with resources. Thankfully, a young Jansai girl named Rebekah offers help even though it’s forbidden for women of their race to even talk to men outside of their family, let alone an angel. Interwoven with their story is Elizabeth’s tale as she wishes to obtain a pampered life by being an angel-seeker, a woman willing to have relations with an angel for a chance to become a mother to a precious angel baby.

I couldn’t figure out how Elizabeth’s story intersects with Obadiah and Rebekah’s and was even afraid that there was a love triangle in this book. Have no fear, that doesn’t happen in this book (sorry if that piece of information is spoiler-ish). The narrative changes from Obadiah, Rebekah and Elizabeth’s points of view so we understand better what the characters are going through. Both Rebekah and Elizabeth encounter big changes in their lives throughout the books. They both show how strong and resilient they are in the face of danger and unfamiliar situations. I enjoyed reading both of their stories and I don’t prefer one over the other. Sweet Jovah singing, you can’t help but root for both of these girls! I thought the romance between Obadiah and Rebekah was very sweet, which is a good thing because they both deserve to be happy. Elizabeth also achieves inner peace as she makes better choices in life. I was thrilled by the glimpses of Gabriel, Rachel and even Nathan and Magdalena in this one because they’re characters that I loved in Archangel. All in all, a very satisfying installment in what has become one of my favorite series. I highly recommend this book and the whole series to fans of romantic fantasy or fans of books about angels. I hope I get to read Angelica soon, the only remaining Samaria book that I haven’t read because I want to start on Sharon Shinn’s Twelve Houses series. Also, I think I’d love to read a book set during the time when the settlers first came to Samaria. I think Angel-Seeker is a fitting Retro Friday choice this weekend because it is a love story at its core and we all know that Valentine’s Day is coming up.

Other reviews: (manually generated)
Book Harbinger
Smart Bitches, Trashy Books

16 thoughts on “Angel-Seeker by Sharon Shinn

    • Michelle, I really liked your Retro Friday review too! Archangel is still my favorite in the Samaria series but all of the books are really good and I think they deserve more attention.

  1. You know, at first I wasn’t as taken with Elizabeth’s storyline. But on each subsequent reread, I’ve identified with it more. Of course, I always love Obadiah. And this one includes one of my favorite passages from the entire series in a late conversation between Rachel and Obadiah.

    • Yep, Obadiah is one angel that’s very easy to like. Is your favorite passage in the conversation where Rachel says, “Gabriel can do anything.” because I loved that part. I was so happy for Nathan and Magdalena too even though I was hoping that it was Rachel and Gabriel who’d have a baby in this one.

  2. You liked it! I love Obadiah and Rebecca. I found the life and death drama of their relationship very compelling. On the other hand I was never disappointed when I came to an Elizabeth chapter, because they were always interesting too.

    You remind me that I still need to try the Twelve Houses series. I want to read the rest of the Samaria books but I’m not sure if I’ll make myself finish before I start Mystic and Rider. πŸ™‚

    • Was there any doubt that I’d like this one? πŸ˜› You’re absolutely right, Obadiah and Rebekah’s story was very compelling. I was eager to find out how their story would unfold.

      I really want to read Mystic and Rider soon! I’ve heard so many good things about that series but I want to finish the Samaria books first. I’m just not sure when I’ll be able to read Angelica though.

  3. Sharon Shinn! Another of my comfort reads (and of course I buy them for the John Jude Palencar cover art), though I only started on her in college. I’m still looking for a trade paperback edition of Archangel, and still kicking myself over not getting the ARC copy I saw in Booksale because it was a bit battered and literally didn’t have a formatted cover.

    I always seem to connect Sharon Shinn’s Samaria books with two other series by female authors that start with the same premise of settlers from earth colonizing another planet – Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Darkover books and Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern. But when it comes to the, ahem, sweetness of the romance, Sharon Shinn definitely trumps the other two authors (although Bradley’s Margaret and Mikhail have a lovely ongoing romance, they weren’t the focus – the rest of their book/s were just too mired in Darkovan/Terranan politics and shows of telepathic power).

    I think Angel Seeker is tied with Archangel for my favorite Samaria book. And it has the unique distinction of being the *only* Samaria book that doesn’t have an “OMG the world is in peril we must do something to save it!!!” plot. In that sense it’s a much slower, more introspective read compared to the other books in the series.

    As for the Twelve Houses series, well, they’re sweet romances (of course, I’d expect nothing less from Sharon Shinn), but as fantasy they’re a bit derivative. Not that it matters, as long as the character development is well done.

    At last check, the most mainstream bookstores here (ergo Natio and Powerbooks) stocked Mystic and Rider and Angel-Seekerback in 2005-2006, and Safe-Keeper’s Secret and Tuth Teller’s Tale, but they haven’t stocked any of her newer releases since then.

    Have you read The Shape-Changer’s Wife and Summers at Castle Auburn? They’re stand-alone novels and a lot more fairy-tale like (reminds me of Robin McKinley’s work) compared to her series novels.

    Heart of Gold is a sci-fi take on Romeo and Juliet, it’s an enjoyable read but nothing really special/innovative. I’d say the same for Jenna Starborn, which is her sci-fi take on Jane Eyre.

    • I don’t even know the artist for these covers but thanks for letting me know! I hope you can get a trade paperback copy of Archangel soon.

      I haven’t read Bradley or McCaffrey but I don’t have the first two books in the Dragonriders of Pern series. I just don’t know when I’ll have time to read them.

      Really? I haven’t seen Sharon Shinn’s books in either NBS or Powerbooks but they are available in Fully Booked. LOL good to know that you love her Samaria books as well because I don’t think they’re very well-known. Not a lot of people read these books, especially here in the Philippines. So yay for more Sharon Shinn readers! πŸ™‚

      I’ve read Summers at Castle Auburn but I didn’t love it. I don’t even remember it vividly. Maybe I should do a reread, I might have a better reaction this time around.

      I have a copy of Jenna Starborn but again, haven’t read it yet.

    • LOL. I’m one of those people who buy books because of the covers. And I pay attention to the cover artists of genre fiction that I like. That might explain why have a huge collection of Signet regency romances which I haven’t even managed to make a dent in. I buy them whenever I see a copy that has a cover by Alan Kass in it.

      My taste in fantasy seems to run more towards the lyrical/poetic/fairy/folk tale inspired, although I do read urban fantasy (a la most of Neil Gaiman, Charles de Lint and Emma Bull) and epic fantasy as well. John Jude Palencar also does a lot of covers for Charles de Lint. I think he has a website/gallery where you can see his work.

      Anyway, other cover artists that I like are Jodi Lee (who does a lot of cover work for publisher DAW books, including the covers for most of Mercedes Lackey’s novels), Alan Lee (LOTR. ‘Nuff said), John Howe (also LOTR, but a lot of British editions of fantasy books as well), and Daniel Dos Santos (who did the Mercy Thompson covers).

      You haven’t read McCaffrey’s Harper Hall trilogy? They’re considered YA classics I think. National stocked all three books a few years back, and then they went on the bargain tables about two years later.

      The problem with Natio and Powerbooks is that their stocking is cylical. I’ve noticed that sometimes they’d stock an author’s entire backlist (particularly in the romance section), but once those stocks run out, they won’t replenish (unless it happens to be a popular author like, say, Judith McNaught). At other times, they might stock only the latest new release by an author, and nothing else (this is what they did for the Sharon Shinn books).

      I enjoyed The Shape-Changer’s Wife more than Summers at Castle Auburn myself. Auburn was rather simplistic (very much a coming-of-age tale), but it kept hinting at deeper, darker secrets that were never really revealed. Maybe in a future sequel?

      My copy of Jenna Starborn was a 15 peso Booksale find. Very battered of course, but still a good reading copy nonetheless. Do you have Heart of Gold? I think I saw a copy in the Booksale branch I bought Fire and Hemlock from, if you’d like me to pick it up for you (assuming it’s still there).

      • I’m not familiar with the cover artists that you mentioned! I think I’m only familiar with Charles Vess’ work and I don’t pay much attention to the rest. LOL I go with the inside and the content of the book.

        Oh I also have copies of the Harper Hall trilogy. I think they’re still available in some NBS branches. My copies are already yellowed with age but I still haven’t read them yet. 😦

        Yep, I don’t buy a lot of books from NBS or Powerbooks because stocks aren’t that reliable. If a newly-released book becomes available in NBS, I’m usually tempted to buy a copy right away because I know it won’t be available later on. But now that there’s Fully Booked and online bookstores that have free worldwide shipping, I try to keep myself from buying books. I still have a lot in my TBR pile.

        My copy of Jenna Starborn was a Book Sale find too! Oooh thanks for the offer to buy Heart of Gold but I’m good for now. πŸ™‚ I’m not much of a sci-fi reader. I still haven’t read Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan books and I have copies of all of those.

        Hey, you might want to join the Filipino Book Bloggers Facebook group so you can connect with other readers. You don’t have to be a book blogger to join the group.

      • I make a habit of haunting Natio and Powerbooks just to see what they get (or don’t get) in. Unfortunately, the best FB branch is still the High Street one, and that’s too far from both my home and office to be accessible.

        If I like the cover art, sometimes I’ll still buy a book even though I know I won’t like the story. Haha. I’m a frustrated artist, so I guess that’s why I also pay a lot of attention to book covers. I forgot to mention Thomas Canty. He seems to be one of TOR’s staple cover artists. His style is very distinctive and very pre-Rapahelite inspired. He did the cover art for most of Ellen Kushner’s Riverside books, which I love to bits (I was sooooo tempted to vote Alec and Richard in your favorite book couples post haha).

        Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan books are hilarious. Even though they’re sci-fi and I’m not normally a sci-fi reader, I still love them. And I loved the fact that Miles was a beta hero rather than an alpha! I’m missing the book where he met his wife though, so I’m still hunting Booksale branches for that one.

        Thanks for the link to the FB group. I don’t access my FB account very often, but I’ll join anyway. LOL. I’m talkative enough to do a book blog, but I’ve gotten lazy about blogging these past five years. I’ve got an LJ that’s been pretty much reduced to one post a quarter… ^^;;

      • You can always have books transferred from the High Street branch to the Fully Booked branch nearest your place. That’s what I always do when there’s a book that I want.

        I read one Riverside book but I haven’t been tempted to read more in the series. I feel like it’s not something that I’d love. πŸ˜›

        I plan to read the Vorkosigan books but I just don’t know when I’ll have the time for it. I’ve only read Young Miles so far. I’ll probably pick up the ones about Cordelia when I have time.

        It would be great if you had your own book blog because you can join the actual site. We have meet ups every other month, in case you want to join us. The next one is on March 12 at Libreria bookstore in Cubao X.

      • I’ve never tried to have stocks transferred from one branch to another. Maybe because I’m OC about books that I buy new. And the problem with transfers is that I have no idea about the actual condition of the book until it gets to the branch, so unless they have an option where you can refuse to buy the transferred stock… ^^;;

        I think I clicked with the Riverside books because they remind me of Georgette Heyer’s regency romances, which I find much more accessible compared to Jane Austen because they’re written from a 20th century viewpoint, and therefore explain the little things that Austen would have taken for granted that her 19th century readers would have been familiar with. But yeah, the Riverside books seem to be one of those “you either love them or feel meh about them” series. If you started with Fall of the Kings though, then I think I understand you reaction. I feel that it’s the weakest link in the series, and that’s counting the short stories and the novella as well.

        I’ve been meaning to visit Libreria one of these days. I’ll see if I can drop by on the 12th then. It’d be nice to meet some fellow book lovers, even if I don’t blog about my reading experiences.

      • You can ask them about the quality of the book over the phone and even ask them to cover it in plastic so it doesn’t get damaged it transit. I’ve also refused to buy books that I had transferred because the quality wasn’t that good.

        I read The Privilege of the Sword because I got the recommendation from somewhere. Like I said, I wasn’t that big of a fan of the book though.

        It would be great if you could drop by on March 12, we haven’t set a time for the meet up but it’ll probably start at around 3pm or so.

  4. Pingback: Dark Moon Defender by Sharon Shinn « Chachic's Book Nook

Comments are like chocolate. :) Maraming salamat / thank you!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.