Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Archangel's Kiss - Nalini Singh (Guild Hunter 2)

Archangel's Kiss picks up pretty much where Angel's Blood left off and for that reason this book is really not a good place to start with the series. This is definitely a case where you need to read Book 1 first. And if you haven't read Book 1 then you should probably stop reading this review now because it's probably going to contain spoilers.

In book 1 Guild Hunter Elena Deveraux achieved the impossible - she tracked down a rogue archangel. She tracked down a rogue archangel and fell in love with another, with the archangel Raphael. But in the process she was irrevocably changed. And in doing so she steps into a world more dangerous, more callous and more beautiful than any she could have previously known. Raphael and Elena are perhaps seeing their relationship from different perspectives.
'"Do you think you have the right to give me orders now?" "Of course. You are mine." "I don't think you've quite got the hang of this true love thing."'
Raphael is used to being obeyed without question. But Elena is not used to obeying without question. So their relationship still has a few rough patches to iron out.

For the most part Elena is a great UF heroine, tough but vulnerable. But she makes one stupid comment.
"Fighting is not sexual."
That's okay. She can say that, she can have that opinion. But then to immediately say on the next page...
"A blade this sweet is as good as sex."
Just makes her first comment look inane.

I love how Nalini Singh has managed to make the angels alien and the archangels completely alien. And she doesn't take the easy way out and soften that or humanise it. Except with Raphael where there's a reason for him to behave in that way.

I like the Guild Hunter series. I like the world-building, I like the characters that inhabit it and the way they interact with each other. But I haven't quite reached the point of loving it. I think perhaps it feels a little discordant, somehow not quite hanging together. The plot feels a little all over the place. Maybe this is intentional, maybe in a couple more books I will have settled into it, or maybe it will all start to weave together and it will give the books greater re-readability as you go back to find out what happened when and where.

But at this point it's not quite working for me, or maybe it would be more correct to say that some parts are working more than others. I feel like I can see that there is a major arc to the story which carries over between books, but it's the minor arcs in each book I'm struggling to sort out. In a way this feels like an in-between (bridging book) but it's only book 2, so that feels too soon in the series.

I think maybe there is too much happening - Lijuan's ball, the angel attempting to become an archangel, Elena's training, Elena regaining her memories, Elena and Raphael's relationship. Other little things are also snuck in there - Raphael offering to rescue the 'boy' vampire for Jason. Little things that I'd actually like to know more about. I wish either that it had taken place over more books or perhaps better that this book had had another 200 pages. Even so I find I am looking forward to finding out what happens in book 3. And I hope that the little hints I'm intrigued by will be developed further.

* And to the list of amusing typos we can now add this one. On p.51 of the UK copy is the line:-
His own hunger had turned his face acetic...
I don't think vinegar face is what we were quite aiming for here, maybe ascetic?

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