Aparna (inspirethoughts) wrote,

Book Critique – #335: Archangel's Heart (#9)

For review of all books in the Guild Hunter series: Go here.

Stars: 3.5 / 5
Recommendation: Definitely a pick if you like fantasy fiction involving vampires, archangels, angels, super humans and humans.

Archangel's Heart is the ninth book in the Guild Hunter series by Nalini Singh published in November of 2016. This time around the plot again revolves around Raphael - Archangel of New York - and Elena Deveraux - Guild hunter turned angel and consort to Raphael.

Brief Intro about the Series in general: The stories in this series are set in a world where it is ruled by Archangels with Vampires, Angels and Humans with extra-ordinary powers as their team serving them. One of the powerful Archangels is Archangel Raphael who rules North America from The Tower in Manhattan, New York along-side his consort – Elena and his Seven. There are nine other Archangels who rule the different regions of the world. They are immortals who have lived thousands and thousands of centuries and rule the world filled with Angels, Vampires, Guild Hunters and Humans The plots in the series primarily revolve around Archangel Raphael, his consort and his Seven.

The plot in this book starts two years after where the eighth book Archangel's Enigma (My review of that book can be found here) ends. Lijuan had completely disappeared from the face of the earth and no one knows where she is. Has she been really killed by Raphael in the battle or had she chosen to sleep? That is what construes the plot in this book where Raphael and Elena work closely with their Seven while the mysterious and ancient order of angels called the Luminata calls the entire Cadre to discuss the fate and security of Lijuan's territory. But all doesn’t seem as luminescent about The Luminata. Once in Lumia – The Luminata’s territory – Elena and Raphael delve into secrets not just hidden recently but that are distant past and some eons away; secrets that would change everything for them. The secrets that they unearth are far from imagination and all the more closer to danger. Is it for the better? Or for worse?

Elena is portrayed as a restless character in this book as opposed to the composed ones in the earlier ones. However, she is still the perfect complement to Archangel Raphael. We get to see more about Aodhan - one of Raphael's Seven and a 500 year old Angel - who always intrigued me. The little we learn is not enough to quench the thirst readers have about getting to know Aodhan. Finally I get to see Dmitri and Honor again in this book. My favorite of Raphael’s Seven always intrigued me and want to find more depths in his  hidden layers.

On another author’s book I would have skipped the detailed descriptions and scenarios some of which Nalini put in her books. But with Nalini’s way of writing, every detailed description or scenario comes with a hidden plot material that if you miss you might find it disconnected. I would suggest that if you take her books, don’t skim through them. Read through their entirety, it is worth it for you will get more out of the plot.

Another well-written plot with a few flaws yet thoroughly enjoyable.

Spoiler Alerts:

1) Plot reveals:
a. At the Lumia, Elena and Raphael find a painting of Nadiel - Raphael's father - bursting into flame moments before his death. According to one of the Luminata, Ibrahim, it is painted by an artist named "Laric" who goes by "Stillness" now who has been silent since centuries ago he had come to Lumia and always paints the same thing over and over and over. Another little thread of information into Raphael's past that keeps readers intrigued and gripped.
b. The plot covers more of Elena’s past, in particular about her mother Marguerite Deveraux from when she was a child. Marguerite was left with Constance as a child of five years old with a letter and photograph of her and her mother promising to return in a week. Instead Marguerite grows up as an orphan. Will Elena also find the blood-relative in her mother’s side who is a vampire?
c. Luminata almost sounds like Illuminati – a word I had first heard of when I read Angels and Demons by Dan Brown. Could Nalini have based her word on this? More about Illuminati here.

2) Small Sub-Plots: Like any author Nalini also has sub-plots and minor characters in her books. Of course not every character evolves or has their own story, but there are some that intrigue me and wonder if they would grow into plots of their own. Some sub-plots have been carried over from previous books or relate to the plots completed.
a. Marcia Blue – if you remember her from Archangel’s Legion (My review of this book here) – a 100 year old vampire with whom Elena has one of her businesses, is shown to be interested in another vampire named Jonas – Elena’s financial manager. Will Nalini evolve them is what one has to wait and see.
b. Illium - the blue-winged angel and one of Raphael's Seven - is growing fast in his power due to The Cascade and no one knows what it would mean - for good or for worse. What is happening with Illium? Is he ascending to archangel faster than his body can take? I am curious to see where will his character land. Illium although has no more power surges but he often gets every vein and nerve in his body glowing. Another effect of The Cascade.
c. There is still mystery surrounding what happened to Aodhan. We get see more of Aodhan’s past along with more about his family in this plot giving me a feeling that he would be the focus of Nalini’s next book. I wish the author's next book would be Aodhan's story.
d. We also get to see for the first time Illium and Aodhan having a fight almost make the immortals more human. This also makes me wonder if Illium and Aodhan will become partners eventually. One has to just wait and see how Nalini spins them out since she left it open-ended here.
e. Lijuan's Forbidden City was  gift from one of the ancient architects, Suyin. However it has been recorded in history that she had committed suicide in a sad and mysterious manner. Yet, Andromeda finds her in Lijuan's citadel, frequently coming out of her sleep - which is what she had chosen - to see if her aunt had survived or evolved or been destroyed, for her aunt is none other than Lijuan. Will there be a story for Suyin herself in future? I wonder.
f. Michaela - Archangel of Central Europe - could be pregnant. Could Dahariel indeed have been capable of it? Or is Michaela playing out a different identity to hide her real evolving due to The Cascade? Or whatever Uram - the Archangel of Russia who had gone mad and eventually was killed by Raphael - had done to her had left something of his in her that is surfacing now? We have to wait and see as the series proceeds.
g. Montogomery – Raphael’s butler – is shown to be married to Sivya – Angel in charge of Raphael’s kitchen. A brief search revealed that they were first introduced in Archangel’s Legion (My review of the book here). I don’t remember reading any romance between them. Have to go back and read once again.
h. Can an angel turn to god? Is that what happened to Lijaun - Archangel of China.
i. Holly Chang continues to be mentioned in this plot as well, whom we first meet in Archangel's Blade story (My review of this book here). She goes by Sorrow now. After being traumatized by Uram no one knows to how much extent her powers will be or how destructive they would be. I wonder whose partner she would become.
j. I am curious to see how Nalini Singh will evolve Mahiya Geet - wife of Jason - since she left with an open-ended statement that nobody knows how much powers are enhanced. My review of the book showing the story of Mahiya can be read here.

3) When two Archangels are part of the same territory it is fun to read how they deal with it. In this case, the territory of Persia is split because the reigning Archangel Favashi has less power and influence than Archangel Alexander who had recently risen – plot told in the book Archangel’s Engima (My review of the book is here). Can’t wait to read how the fate of these two characters will turn out.

4) Elena’s Guard: We get the first glimpse of a major portion of Elena’s Guard in this plot.
a. Izak – “Izzy”, a fledgling angel who was hurt badly when The Falling.
b. Janvier – a 245 year old free-vampire and loyal to Raphael.
c. Ashwini Taj – Guild Hunter born turned Vampire, Elena’s friend and mate to Janvier
d. Vivek Kapur – Former Computer genius and eyes and ears of The Guild though paralyzed from shoulders and below, turned vampire by Aodhan - one of the angels in Raphael's Seven. Now as a vampire he had regained some of his mobility in his arms and upper body.
e. Sameon "Sam" - a very young angel who was a constant companion to Elena in The Refuge, wants to be Elena’s Guard. Will he be one? He is the only one that isn’t mentioned yet as part of Elena’s Guard.

5) Raphael is undergoing a lot of changes as a result of The Cascade – a period during which all the Archangels acquire more powers, some gravitating towards more sinister ones while others taking on the brighter side of the powers. And as a result of being Raphael's consort, Elena also has a few changes. Will this mean Raphael will eventually become a mortal Archangel? How will author Nalini evolve his character is something for readers to watch out for
a. He develops a unique ability to fly like a bullet with his wings on fire that gives him the much needed speed to reach far distances in seconds.
b. He gets a Legion mark – in the shape of a dragon – on his right temple.
c. He develops healing powers - witchfire - increasing at higher speed.
d. He also becomes a bit mortal due to alliance with Elena.
e. In this plot he develops a power to give life to dead plants.
f. He gains ability to fly in pure silence.
g. The white fire that reappears on his wings - on and off - tastes a bit of both Elena and Raphael. Will it be a shield for him in battle?
h. A part of witchfire that Raphael has settles in Elena as well.

6) Cadre - For an Archangel to be part of Cadre means being an absolute ruler over a portion of the globe. They rule their territories and those beings within them with iron control. The only being strong enough to stop an archangel is another archangel,  and when they clash, the fate of mankind hang in the balance.
7) Raphael goes into The Quiet - a state of mind that he has only gone once before that pushes him to do the justice without reason, meaning he may be right in passing the judgment but he has less tolerance to reason on the method or think about consequences.
8) I am also curious to see what are the new powers all the Archangels acquiring as a result of the Ancient rising from here sleep.
9) Grammatical / Factual / Location / Historical / Character Errors:
a. On Pg. 60, para 2 last line – It should be “plants” not “plans”.
b. On Pg 285, second para from bottom, the third line - "the" is not required in the line "In the over a thousand…"
Tags: books, critique by amateur, guild hunter, reviews

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