Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Book 67: Archangel

Sharon Shinn has an interesting entry in the fantasy genre with Archangel. The book jacket gives away a little bit more than the novel does (though there are hints at something else going on behind the scenes), but some six hundred years ago God/Jovah brought humans to Samaria along with the angels which can pray to God for intercession. Since then the Archangel rules over all the angels and over all of Samaria. This year Gabriel will sing the Gloria, a yearly event which must take place or Jovah will smite the world, but he must sing it with his wife, the angelica. There are perhaps six months until the Gloria and Gabriel has not taken the time to learn the identity of who Jovah selected for his wife and when he finally locates her he learns that she has been a slave for the past five years and before that was part of a tribe which isn't known for orthodox beliefs regarding God and the angels. Her name is Rachel. She wants nothing of Gabriel, the angels, or Jovah. She is an angry woman, and understandably so.

Readers of Archangel who are familiar with the Bible will see plenty of names which have Old Testament meaning and importance. Nearly all of the important angels during the past six hundred years and the humans who worked with the angels are biblically based and some of their actions reflect those of their Old Testament counterparts, but this is not a biblical retelling in a fantasy setting. How Sharon Shinn mixes the biblical into a believable fantasy setting is impressive. She builds a real story for Gabriel and Rachel and their relationship. It is something of a love story, but it is completely dysfunctional and it is very well written. Shinn's descriptions of the angels and their lives and how they pray for intercession from Jovah is more than overt Christianity. It fits into the context of the world and is more storytelling than preaching. This isn't a Christian novel and I do not believe it is intended to be. It's a well told story. Period.

Since this is the first volume in a series of five books, it does an excellent job at setting up the nature of the world as well as hinting at other aspects of the world which are yet to be officially revealed. This is a self contained story and I do not know which characters future volumes focus on and so it may not be the continuation of this story. Then again, it may. Regardless, this is a world and an author I will revisit next with Jovah's Angel.

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