Saturday, April 3

Archangel - Sharon Shinn

From the time he was fifteen, the angel Gabriel knew he’d been chosen by Jovah to be the next Archangel. But, although he knew that this meant he had to lead the Gloria that year, with his bride by his side singing her part, he waited until he had only six months left before seeing Josiah to find out who Jovah intended for his wife. Though Gabriel knew she needed strengths to complement his weaknesses, that she had to be human and not angel, he was shocked to learn that he was meant to woo and marry the daughter of farmers.
Rachel has never entertained thoughts of being the angelica – when her village was destroyed she was only six, and the life she had after the Edori adopted her was nomadic and unaffiliated with the angels. And these last few years as a slave in Lord Jethro’s home left precious little time for singing, let alone fantasies of a different life. And though she heard stories growing up of how Jovah indicated the presence of one’s true love by heating the Kiss, implanted in the arms of all infants dedicated to Jovah, even the light and heat of her Kiss does not incline her toward the arrogant angelo before her.
populace. Legend has it that if the Archangel and his angelica, together with representatives of all the people of Samaria, do not sing the Gloria every year, Jovah will first smite the mountain and, if Gloria is not sung within three days, will wreak increasing destruction. The angels have trouble believing that Rachel, an untutored former slave of farming stock, could possibly do the Gloria justice and Rachel, stubborn and proud, refuses to let any of them hear her.
Though pivotal, this and their larger romance play second fiddle to a larger plot revolving around corruption, power, wealthy and blasphemy, on a world where god is a present being. That is just one thread of Archangel's plot, which also includes political machinations, slavery, inequality, and a tapestry of cultures. I find myself unable to do justice to the rich, textured and beautifully crafted world created by Shinn in Archangel, the first in a fantasy series set on the colonised planet Samaria. Equal parts romance and adventure, Archangel has strongly developed characters, a beautifully imagined and wholly unique world, and a thoroughly engaging storyline. I'm forcing myself not to devour the series as a whole, but suspect this will be of limited success. - Alex

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