Monday, September 30, 2019
Review - - Archangel's War
by Nalini Singh
Publisher: Berkley Jove
Release Date: September 24, 2016
Reviewed by Nancy
Archangel’s War is the latest installment of Singh’s Guild Hunter series. As promised by the blurb and by the prior book, Archangel’s Prophecy, the story builds to a showdown with Lijuan, the rogue Archangel of China. It’s a difficult book to review without spoiling it because almost everything in it is important. So bear with me if this review seems a little vague. I don’t want to risk ruining the book for anyone.
Let’s get one thing out of the way up front—Raphael and Elena are alive. Most of us probably assumed that, given that the Guild Hunter series is named for her and this is a romance series. At the end of Archangel’s Prophecy, Elena was dying. Raphael tore out part of his heart and gave it to her. He fell onto the bed beside her, and a chrysalis gradually formed around her. The chaotic force known as the Cascade intends to turn her into a power reservoir for Raphael, obliterating her own personality.
Archangel’s War picks up there, shortly before they awaken. When they do awaken, they’re dramatically changed by the experience. Bits of Elena’s mortal heart circulate in Raphael’s blood, and his archangelic power is linked to her.
The first part of the book focuses on Elena and Raphael dealing with the changes they experienced in hibernation. This includes their many friends and allies’ reactions to these changes and to their awakening. Not all the changes are easy to interpret, and the mystery there keeps the pages turning through the scenes of happy reunions, which are so based on the characters involved that they’re not at all repetitive.
Eventually, however, darkness creeps into the joy. Those keeping watch on China while Lijuan sleeps after the last battle report disturbing changes. The rest of the archangel Cadre have kept watch while Raphael was unavailable, but he needs to take a turn now to meet his responsibilities. He also needs to show that he’s still capable to protect his territory. Even though Lijuan sleeps, healing, she has found new ways to use the people in her territory to build her strength.
As though that weren’t enough for the Cadre to deal with, Ancient archangels are awakening, complicating the lives of Raphael’s friends and the power dynamic of the Cadre. Elena and Raphael continue experiencing change in their powers as the story builds to Lijuan’s return and a showdown in the streets of New York.
All the characters we love are there, Raphael’s Seven and his Tower and household staff, the Guild Hunters, the Legion, the Cadre, and Elena’s family. We learn more about some of them and their personal struggles in ways that also serve the larger plot. The Legion fulfills its purpose at last, leaving Elena and Raphael with a cryptic clue they must figure out if they’re to succeed against the supremely powerful monster Lijuan has become. I rarely cry over books or movies, but the scene where the Legion reveal their mission to Elena and Raphael and then conclude it had tears running down my face.
The events of this book change the Cadre even as they change Raphael and Elena. Every series regular has a moment to shine, though some who seemed about to redeem themselves instead betray their allies’ trust. Some characters remain in their regular roles while others move on. Still others don’t make it through the crisis.
One of the joys of this series is the detailed worldbuilding. Every character has layers and depth, and so does the world. As the story rolls toward its climax, seeds planted in earlier books come to fruition. Raphael’s and Elena’s changing powers also become important in unexpected ways. Archangel’s War is a powerfully emotional and action-packed story. It’s a superb conclusion to
this arc, but it isn’t a good book for jumping into the series. It’s really of a piece with Archangel’s Prophecy and will make more sense to those who’ve read that book first. With that caveat, I highly recommend it.