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Archangel (Samaria, Book 1) by Sharon Shinn

Archangel (Samaria, Book 1) (original 1996; edition 1997)

by Sharon Shinn

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1,541444,765 (4.05)51
Title:Archangel (Samaria, Book 1)
Authors:Sharon Shinn
Info:Ace (1997), Paperback, 400 pages
Collections:Your library, To read
Tags:TBR, Fantasy

Work details

Archangel by Sharon Shinn (1996)

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Showing 1-5 of 44 (next | show all)
Both my wife and daughter recommended Archangel and spoke highly of the writing. They were right, I loved the world building in this book. Set in a country called Samaria, where angels co-exist with humans and they all pray to the god, Jovah for various interventions - weather, health and general well-being. All angels are born gifted with incredible musical ability and they pray by singing. Every twenty years, an Archangel is chosen to govern the whole country and every year, the Archangel leads the people in singing a mass, the Gloria, in praise of the god with his angelica by his or her side. Without the Gloria, it is believed God will bring down Lightning bolts from the heavens to destroy the world. But there's something wrong in Samaria , the outgoing Archangel, Raphael, doesn't want to give up his position of power... and there is something much worse besides which I won't divulge. I also loved Sharon Shinn's characters in this book. Both Rachel and Gabriel are solid characters. Rachel's strong-willed, stubborn as a mule and contrary, even though she knows it's a great honor to become the angelica (admittedly, there are some good reasons for her dislike for Angels that I won't go into). Gabriel's arrogant and self-assured, but he loves the land and the people and only wants what is best for them. The story's told from alternating third-person points of view of these two characters, so we get to see how things develop from both sides. Though mandated by god to be for each other, they still have to work for their relationship and both have to change. They are both strong personalities and set in their ways, so it's definitely not love at first sight, but they come to work past this love-hate relationship. This is certainly not your normal romance in this novel.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and I look forward to reading the other books in the Samaria series even though I'm told they are about different characters.
Jack Murphy ( )
  urph818 | Jul 16, 2016 |
Samaria Series

If all romance books were like these, I might consider myself to be a fan of romance novels in general.
The 'Samaria' series is primarily romance - but it's balanced with enough other plot elements that it doesn't get too tedious. They're even frequently... romantic!... in a way that doesn't (usually) make me want to strangle the characters! (They're never explicit/erotic, though.)
I did read all five books back-to-back, which meant that some of the elements did get a little repetitive. Obviously, to a certain degree, Shinn found a formula and stuck with it. It wouldn't have bothered me at all if I hadn't been doing a Samaria marathon, though.
They are undeniably wish-fulfillment-based books. These are designed for women who think that having a drop-dead-gorgeous, preternaturally strong, winged lover who can pick you up and fly you through the sky is a super-sexy idea.
In tone and feel, I thought these were actually very similar to Anne McCaffrey's Pern series. They've got the nominally sci-fi setting, the fantasy 'feel,' and the character-based plot elements, with a similar mix of action, politics and personal drama.
All of the books are fully stand-alone stories.

The angel Gabriel is set to become the next Archangel, as decreed by the voice of Jovah. However, before he ascends to his position of leadership, he must find the wife determined for him by his god - a woman named Rachel. Without an Angelica (the female counterpart to the Archangel), the complex acappella musical concert known as the Gloria cannot occur, and Jovah will rain destruction upon the land.
Being named Angelica is an honor that all girls dream of - so what could possibly go wrong? Plenty, if your destined bride belongs to a persecuted ethnic group, and has been sold into slavery - and bears no love toward angels.

Jovah's Angel
Set around 100 years after the first book. In a dramatic beginning, the well-respected Archangel Delilah is crippled in a storm, her consort killed, and Jovah names a most unlikely successor to replace her: a shy, studious angel named Alleluia (or, informally, Alleya). Like in the previous book, Alleya must find her predestined mate - but Jehovah does not know his name, identifying him only as "son of Jeremiah." Things are further complicated by Alleya's growing feelings for the inventor Caleb (who makes a bunch of steampunk-y stuff). But Caleb cannot be her destined mate... can he?
Meanwhile, Delila must deal with her feelings of resentment, and learn to live without flying. But of course, she'll find someone too - a man of the Edori (an ethnic group that resemble Jewish gypsies.)
Meanwhile - a big issue is going on. When the angels sing the songs that control the weather, often nothing happens. Climate change is leading to disaster.
I didn't like this one quite as much as the first in the series, mainly because I wasn't thrilled by the theme of industrialization going on in Samaria. Also, all the technological/sci-fi elements that were alluded to in the first book are made very clear in this story, and some of the mystery is lost. It won me over, after a while, though.

The Alleluia Files
A few hundred years have passed... The Archangel at this time, Bael, is cruel and harsh. He rules with a strong hand, and is secretly committing genocide against the Jacobites, claiming their heresies threaten the land. But - does he secretly know that their heretical stances regarding the god Jovah are true?
Far more than the other books, this one has a clear villain (Bael). However, the clear hero, the upstanding and just Jared, will make things right, if he can ever stop being too lazy to bother. He'll be helped out by the angel Lucinda, who has grown up on an isolated island, far from the politics of the angel's Aerie, and the strong-willed Tamar, a member of the heretic Jacobites.

The Archangel Gaaron has his life mate picked out for him by Jovah. Never before has an Edori woman been picked to be Angelica - but although Susannah has the implant that allows Jovah to track the people of Samaria, unlike the Edori, she has been raised by the Edori and identifies with them. She's also only just broken up with her long term lover. (He was a big jerk though, so the reader is sure she will get over him.) She's not at all sure she wants to be Angelica. (Sound familiar? Yeah.) This one is set far before all the other books. Like in the other books, there's also a social problem to address while the romance is given time to develop: mysterious, disappearing invaders are attacking and burning the caravans of both Edori and Jansai, as well as isolated villages.
The day will be saved, and love will triumph.

After finishing the previous book in the series, I was thinking: "Hey, are we ever going to get to see the point of view of one of the oppressed Jansai women? Pretty much all the other ethnic groups in Samaria have been covcered by POV characters." And, ta-da, here we are. Rebekah's charcter is very well done, actually. She's a rebellious girl in a repressive culture, but even after she falls in love with an angel, her ties to family and tradition hold her in a frighteningly realistic way. She also horribly underestimates her fate, if she's caught...
Meanwhile, the title character, Elizabeth, becomes an angel-seeker - a woman who desires more than anything, to bear an angel child, and will do pretty much anything to further that goal. Again, the motivations here were really well portrayed.
Both women grow as individuals over the course of the book - and, of course, find love.
( )
  AltheaAnn | Feb 9, 2016 |
I really really did not like this book. I went into this novel pretty damn excited since I had read a short story by Sharon Shinn and loved it. She has a very lovely writing style and the world she had built was intriguing. Both of which were pretty true for this book, however its the elements she's inserted into this book's plot that I absolutely detested. This review gets a little rant-y, so you've been warned.

Shinn's Samaria series is set in an alternate reality where angels and humans co-exist. Everyone across the realm is ruled by one Archangel who is divinely chosen every 20 years. Before said angel can become archangel he must first find his angela, which is basically his predestined mate. This happens via the archangel-to-be consulting the oracle and the oracle basically giving him a name and address. Unfortunately, for future archangel Gabriel his angela is Rachel, a farmer's daughter who is currently MIA. Thus, Gabriel begins a tedious search for his would-be wife only to discover that Rachel has been a slave for five years. His reaction to finding out that Rachel is someone who had been forced into slavery? Annoyance that his angela is even lower on the social totem pole than he originally thought. This is quickly followed by embarrassment that his peers will know what his wife was.

Seriously. Gabriel is a dick-head. He doesn't get any better as the book progresses either. His character is over-bearing, contradicting, and just all around unlikable. Everyone tells Rachel to give him a chance and that he's a nice guy, but honestly you never really see that in the story. Its like he's constantly thinking/spouting things because its the "correct" answer but his actions consistently contradict his words. However, despite my instant dislike of Gabriel, I was prepared to see him redeemed to the reader. But then page 57 happened....

Up until this point in the story Rachel had made it pretty clear to Gabriel that she has a severe phobia of heights. So, upon arriving at an angel stronghold, she practically begs him to let her find an alternative method of getting to the top that doesn't consist of being flown up there by him. So what does Gabriel do? He flings her over his shoulder and zooms on up to the very top, then is embarrassed when she cries and has a panic attack. His reaction to the panic attack is this:

"He had never seen anyone in the grip of hysteria before, but instinct and anger supplied him with the antidote. Transferring both her wrists to one of his hands, he slapped her full across the face."

...... I'm sorry that shit is not acceptable. First off, hitting someone is never the antidote. I don't give a shit if Rachel was writhing around on the floor as if possessed by a demon and vomiting pea soup, there is no excuse for hitting her. Also, smacking her under the justification of snapping her out of a fit, but mostly because you're angry and embarrassed of her, is so very very wrong. What made this scene even more disturbing is what happens afterwards... which is nothing. Nothing. Gabriel just freakin' smacked a woman in front of witnesses and what is everyone's reaction? Anger, outrage, fear, hurt, sympathy? Nope. Nothing. Everyone just basically moves on as if he had just offered her tea. Rachel's reaction to being hit? Just a confirmation that, yep, he hit her and then she moves on. Does Gabriel express any sort of personal conflict, remorse, or regret over hitting her? Nope. He apologizes but its made pretty damn clear he isn't sorry at all and says it almost like some sort of politeness reflex so he can walk away from her.

I'm sorry, but this condoning of violence against women is just so fucking wrong. It condones violence through the normalization of a woman being slapped "for her own good" and that such violence has no bigger of an impact than someone sneezing. This scene happens and is quickly brushed off without displaying any of the emotional, psychological, and physical impacts it has on Rachel, the people who witnessed it, or even Gabriel. At this point I'll admit I completely gave up on enjoying the novel. However, for whatever reason, I was still determined to finish it.

I continued with the book, constantly annoyed with the imbalance of power between Rachel and Gabriel. All the power rests in Gabriel's hands and he's not afraid to make it clear to Rachel that he hold the power, but this wasn't the only thing that annoyed me. Rachel was treated by all the characters as a hysterical potential disaster to the point where it became the main part of her character. People are constantly telling her she's over-reacting, physically restraining her because of said over-reactions, and generally just patronizing the hell out of her. And when she's not being patronized, Rachel is being kidnapped or assaulted.

After one such kidnapping, Rachel determines that the only way to save Gabriel and (basically) the world is to jump off a cliff. It was at this point that I thought wait... I've read something like this before:

This conclusion immediately lead me to start picturing Gabriel like this:

Its sad that I was actually able to find a picture of Edward Cullen as an angel. Anyway, in summary, I hated this book. The heroine was annoying and treated like she was completely incompetent for 99% of the book. The hero was an abuser and tyrant. Who, with very little lead-up, did a 180 and turned into a "nice" guy at the very end. The romance wasn't believable as Rachel and Gabriel's page time was primarily separate from each other and moments when they did spend time together were mostly off-page where the reader was basically told, "In the following two weeks Gabriel and Rachel spent oodles of time together". And lastly, the villain and conniving woman were cartoonishly evil and dealt with in a rather absurd and anti-climatic manner.

However, in Shinn's defense I did enjoy her writing voice and the world she has built here is pretty interesting. But I won't be picking up another book in this series. ( )
1 vote Book_Minx | Jan 24, 2015 |
Intriguing mention of spaceship as the god of this planet. I wonder where that will go in subsequent books ( )
  Kali.Lightfoot | Jan 10, 2014 |
I liked this book, a lot more than I thought I would. The world of Samaria was fully imagined and the characters were dynamic. Although there is a religious element/biblical references in it, I find that it doesn't take away from the book at all and I usually very much mind biblical references. I loved the music elements. All in all a solid read.

Unless you hate fantasy. ( )
  newskepticx | Dec 18, 2013 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Sharon Shinnprimary authorall editionscalculated
Palencar, John JudeCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For my aunt, Mary Krewson
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The angel Gabriel went to the oracle on Mount Sinai, looking for a wife.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0441004326, Mass Market Paperback)

Set in a society founded as an egalitarian utopia but now tainted with vices and inequity, Sharon Shinn's love story is plotty and calamitous. Rachel and Gabriel have nothing in common beyond wishing that the god Jovah had ordained they wed other people, yet they must cooperate in singing a mass to the god on the occasion of Gabriel's elevation to Archangel. Upright Gabriel has enemies among both mortal and angelic peoples who prefer to risk world destruction over his restoration of the old order.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:42 -0400)

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Story about love, magic and honor.

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