Pros: Vivid and fascinating
Rating: 5 out of 5
Nalini Singh’s Archangel’s Heart (A Guild Hunter Novel)–Book 9–continues the over-arching plot of the series rather than tackling a new romantic pairing. I like the fact that the series has enough plot going on to be able to do this. And the fact that Elena and Raphael’s romance has been consummated in no way prevents them from acting as excellent main characters with plenty of ongoing chemistry. Not all erotic romance series can boast the same. The ongoing plot and worldbuilding are complex enough that you should make sure you’ve read the series so far, but you don’t have to worry about being lost if it’s been a few months since you read book 8. (Hell, I ended up reading the two novels out of order and I’m keeping up pretty well.) In this volume Lijuan’s territory is starting to go to Hell in her absence. Vampiric bloodlust is cropping up, resulting in entire wiped-out villages of people. An unaligned group of isolated angels called the Luminata calls the Cadre of archangels and Ancients together to decide whether it’s time to divide Lijuan’s territory between the remaining Cadre members, and if so, how. (This is apparently pretty much the only function of the Luminata in the outside world–otherwise they seek individual enlightenment.) However, it doesn’t take long for Elena to realize that something weird is up with their leader, Gian, and it might be connected to her own mysterious family background.
We get to see all of the Cadre (except Lijuan) in one place, and it’s fairly fascinating. There’s plenty of angelic politicking going on. The big problem, of course, is that no one really knows how ‘alive’ Lijuan might or might not be, or whether she’s going into Sleep, or simply regaining her power from being torn apart by Raphael before she shows her face again. She displayed such immense power during the war that no one wants to risk pissing her off by entering her territory, yet without archangelic oversight the vampires will continue to fall into bloodlust. There’s little to indicate the best course of action.
Elena’s family plot becomes quite interesting. The Lumia (the home of the Luminati) is in Morocco, where Elena’s grandmother came from. Elena visits a nearby village only to find it strangely free of vampires and angels, and the mortals terrified of angels. No one wants to talk to her about anything, but it’s obvious that some of them find her strange coloration, with her white hair, familiar. She wants to ask Gian about the mystery, but can’t shake the feeling that he’s lying to her and could be dangerous. In fact, he’s hardly the only member of the brotherhood who raises her hackles.
As usual Nalini Singh’s work is vivid, lush, and enticing. The characters have depth and chemistry, including friendships and more tenuous ties, not just the romantic. The landscapes are vividly drawn and enjoyable, while the plot intrigues and captures the imagination.