This is the fourth book in Shinn’s “Samaria” series, where almost-honest-to-God angels live among the humans on a distant world:
This one was a step backwards in time for the series, taking place a few generations before the first book, Archangel. Again, there is the regular plot line about the difficult relationship between the archangel and his angelica, and there was also an somewhat twisty plot line about the archangel’s human sister trying to find her place in the world. Against this backdrop, the people face the onslaught of invaders with mysterious powers and an equally mysterious origin.
I liked it, but I don’t think it was as good as the previous ones. I put a lot of that on the romance plot line, which really lacked passion in this book. Admittedly, much of the difficulty they had was coming to terms with them both being quite level-headed and not particularly passionate, so it’s not like the author merely failed to reveal their passion. Rather, she made it clear it wasn’t there to begin with. So, I’ll give her a B+ for realism in that respect, but a C- for invoking the romance. About the only thing that really saved that plot line was just how smart and practical each member of the couple was. It’s rare to see protagonists that don’t plunge deep into that one stupid thing we all know is going to be a disaster.
The plotline with the sister was a lot more interesting to me, because it takes someone who starts off emotionally damaged and leads us through her dark times and trials as she reinvents herself into a better person. I wish I saw more of that kind of story line in my SF/F.
But more than anything, I was disappointed by this step backwards in time. Each of the previous three books revealed something about the world of Samaria and the god who ruled over them. By the end of those three, we know a lot about that god, and I must say that the third one left me wondering, “Well shit… what’s going to happen now?” But the fourth book did not pick that up. Instead, it went back.
I’m not sure what’s going on in the fifth book. I don’t know if it’s merely the fifth or if it’s the final one, but I’m hoping it either goes all the way back to the beginning to the founding of Samaria or picks up where the third book left off. As it is, this one added very little to the world’s canon. Instead, it was more of a filler book, telling us some inconsequential tale. Maybe something happens in book five that will change my mind about this, but I doubt it.
So the bottom line is that I enjoyed reading it, but I was disappointed in what it did for the series.
(And yes, I’m switching my various book links over to Amazon Associate links, so that funky URL means I’m whoring myself out. Whether Amazon is the savior of books or the destroyer of mankind I leave to the reader.)