Sunday, November 04, 2007


Archangel, Sharon Shinn, Ace Books, 1996, 390 pp

A writer friend of mine, who is currently shopping her first sci fi novel, recommended this author to me and as Anne McCaffrey says in the blurb, "I was truly deeply delighted." The planet Samaria has a perfect society with strict laws swiftly punished if disobeyed but a way of life that includes diverse peoples who respect each other. Angels guard the mortals and mystics guard forbidden knowledge. Jehovah is their God but is actually an armed starship programmed to unleash terrible destruction if peace is not maintained.

The head angel, the archangel, is corrupt and self-serving. He is to be replaced by Gabriel who must find his predestined mortal wife. She is Rachel, a girl with a tragic past and a rebellious prickly personality. Part of the story is about how Gabriel and Rachel work out their destiny. To do so involves defeating the evil plans of the current archangel.

What I liked best was the background of music and singing. The angels help maintain peace through harmonious singing. There is a tradition of arias which only angels can sing. But the whole book and the world of Samaria are created with such a rich imagination that I was pleased throughout. Rachel is a complex and vibrant character. Quite an unusual read.

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