Shelves: belovedbookshelf , scifi , fantasy Five years ago I discovered the most awesome of awesome Sharon Shinn. Will I ever mend my cover snobbery ways?? I remember it was a recommendation by a very trusted Readerville friend that finally pushed me over the edge into buying a copy and giving it a shot. The angel Five years ago I discovered the most awesome of awesome Sharon Shinn. The angel Gabriel went to the oracle on Mount Sinai, looking for a wife. The world.
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Her newest novel, Angel-Seeker, is the fifth book set in Samaria, a world populated with refugees from a destroyed Earth. Sounds like an old SF chestnut? Well, Samaria has a rather interesting twist: a small portion of the population consists of gorgeous winged beings called angels, whose jobs are to fly into the stratosphere to sing prayers to a God named Jovah who provides whatever help is needed, from medicines for a plague outbreak to intercessions for inclement weather.
Feeling intrigued? Just a quick warning: Angel-Seeker is not for the uninitiated. At the very least, read its prequel, Archangel first. So anyway, on to the review. Shinn weaves together two most excellent stories of two different sets of people falling in love. The book starts a year and six months after the cataclysmic events that ended Archangel. She currently lives with a cousin on his farm, essentially working as an unpaid servant.
When presented with an opportunity to run off to Cedar Hills, a new angel stronghold, she decides to try her luck being an angel-seeker in the hopes she can regain her life of luxury.
Angel-seekers are essentially groupies. These women do their best to establish sexual relationships with angels, not just because angels are powerful, gorgeous and exotic in their own right, but in the hopes of becoming pregnant.
If the pregnancy results in an angelic child, their future and status are assured because angel babies are so rare. Soon after moving to Cedar Hills, Elizabeth strikes up a relationship with the handsome but rather feckless angel David.
She also meets an Edori man named Rufus who works as a construction worker. Rufus was a slave until the archangel Gabriel outlawed the practice. Quite the dilemma, eh? The second love story is a lot more compelling.
The angel Obadiah is assigned a new job by the archangel Gabriel: to pacify and negotiate with the Jansai. However, one of his wings is seriously injured on his way back from his first talk with the Jansai leader and he crash-lands in the middle of the desert.
Jansai women are required to keep all of themselves including their faces completely covered when not in the presence of immediate family, and are not allowed to go out in public unaccompanied by male relatives. How the two of them achieve their happily-ever-after is quite the suspenseful ride, but the resolution is very, very satisfying, if occasionally heart-stopping.
I really enjoyed this book. It is mostly character-driven, and Shinn does a good job with the people who populate the novel. I loved Obadiah when I first encountered him in Archangel, and I loved the opportunity to finally get into his head and see things from his point view.
On the other hand, I found Rebekah and her wishy-washiness regarding Obadiah a little annoying at times, but then I realized that growing up as she did, her feelings about what she was doing and who she was doing it with could hardly be unequivocal.
Elizabeth, however, was the character who grew and changed the most, and the transformation was very satisfying to see. She starts out as an unhappy, rather petulant woman who longs most of all for a life of luxurious idleness, and by the end of the book she has matured tremendously and manages to build true happiness from her circumstances.
Shinn also manages to present the angel-seekers with a lot of depth and sympathy. The seekers are generally treated with contempt by both people and angels, but Shinn convincingly shows us why many of these women are driven to do what they do, especially Elizabeth and her circle of friends.
What the fuck? Anyway, if you enjoyed the previous Samaria novels, what are you waiting for? Go get it; this is one of the best so far. Notes: The Samaria novels, in the order in which they were published: Archangel.
Angel-Seeker by Sharon Shinn