Acting Archangel Alleluia and her companion Caleb discovered the truth about their god, carefully documented and hidden - Jovah is the spaceship that brought their forebears to Samaria, the angelic praying to him for rain, medicine and other favour is in truth as logarithmic way of communicating with Jovah's data banks, and everything is unfurls according to his programming, including who is named Archangel and who is selected as the Archangel's angelico or angelica (spouse). Alleluia became an oracle once her duty to Jovah was complete - she communicated with Jovah directly, and ensured that the secret was handed down to each new generation of oracles but not shared with the general populace.
A century later, division is rife. The wandering Edori have their own home on the far off island of Zion, and religion has become fundamentalist in nature. The Jacobites, named after their martyred founder Jacob, seek the truth about Jovah's nature, postulate that he is not divine, and believe that the truth about his nature is hidden somewhere. Their legends say Jovah is not a god who hears and answers their prayers but a ship, programmed by their forebears, designed to orbit their planet, protecting and advising them. They are reviled and persecuted by the people of Samaria. As the populace becomes more fearful, spurred on by the Archangel Bael, Jacobite Tamar hopes she will be the one to once again discover the truth. And unlike Alleluia and Caleb, Tamar intends to reveal it to the people of Samaria and free them. The orphaned daughter of martyred Jacobites, Tamar has always known her life would be short but dedicated, with the possibility of betrayal or discovery around every corner.
The Samaria novels can be read alone, but the experience is richer if read sequentially, more for the sheer pleasure of Shinn's work than through flaws in the world building. This sort-of sequel to Jovah's Angel is as beautifully crafted as her other work, and the plot I've described is only a small part of the complicated but lucid novel. There are romantic elements, an exploration of the natures of theology, non-explicit observation of blind faith (theological and otherwise), reflections on the corrupting effects of power, and the ever-present and always engaging tapestry of cultural interplay. I yearn for my next Shinn experience. - Alex