Author: Sharon Shinn
Category: Science Fiction
Series: Samaria, Book 1
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 of the people of Samaria in great musical chorale to honor the god, Jovah. But Gabriel, the Archangel elect, finds himself constantly feuding with Rachael, 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.
I am a fan of Shinn's writing. I find it to be colorful and enticing. Her words are quite lively and can keep me engaged in the story even when I dislike one of her characters. This is what happened with Archangel. I really loved the storytelling, the prose was effortless to read, but at the same time Rachel made me want to fling the book across the room. Had it not been for the writing, I would have given up.
Rachel is not an agreeable woman and she does not even attempt to be. She's highly judgemental, very rude, and just plain contrary. She is not eager to become Angelica to Gabriel and fights him at every turn. I tried to give her the benefit of the doubt since she had been in slavery for five years and as soon as she was released it was into the world of the Angels, who she despised. But Rachel's attitude made it hard for me to sympathise with her. Archangel is very much her story, her journey, but I didn't feel like she grew much through it. Even up to the last few chapters she was placing the blame for her actions on Gabriel. I hoped that I would eventually warm to her, but unfortunately, I didn't.
Gabriel is a bit secondary in this story. He is preparing to take the position of Archangel and has a lot of trouble facing him in the form of merchants that don't want him to become Archangel because they are pleased with the current Archangel's reign. Raphael has convinced many of them that Jovah, the god of Samaria does not exist and if they want to keep money in their pockets then they need to follow him. Gabriel spends most of his time dealing with this aspect of the story. The moments spent with Rachel are often filled with uneasy tension and quarreling. Gabriel never knows what will set Rachel off so he often is on eggshells around her. trying to gauge her mood. This is often in vain since Rachel always finds a reason to become upset with him. Still, for some strange reason, Gabriel loves Rachel.
The highlights of the book were the passages where the singing was described.
The female voice fell away, and Gabriel sang on in a luxurious, exultant tenor. He reached the top of his vocal range as the song exploded in a joyous trill. His voice was liquid fire, and each note burned against Rachael as it fell. She shut her eyes; her body tightened in a brief moment of transport as if the music physically yanked on the thin cord running up her spine.
These passages and the overall storytelling kept me engaged in the story. Had it not been for Rachel being so disagreeable then I'm sure I would have loved this book. I found the world of Samaria to be very interesting and look forward to reading more about it in the second book in this series, Jovah's Angel. For Archangel, Grade B-.