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REVIEW: Archangel’s Blade by Nalini Singh

Dear Ms. Singh,

Archangel’s Blade opens with a flashback in the vampire Dmitri’s POV, one that takes us back to Dmitri’s human life. In the flashback, dark, ruthless Dmitri is revealed to have once, a thousand years ago, been a loving and tender hearted man devoted to his two children and to his wife.

Smiling at his son’s joy, he looked up and saw her in the doorway. His wife. With their new daughter in her arms. His heart twisted into a knot that was almost painful.

Sometimes, he thought he should be ashamed to love his wife and children so much, until the days when he went away to the markets were a rare anguish…but he could not bring himself to believe it.

This picture of domestic bliss is almost shocking in contrast with the Dmitri we know from the three previous Guild Hunter books. As the Archangel Raphael’s second-in-command, Dmitri could not be more loyal – and ruthlessly cold. He is said to love no one, and to like his pleasure twined with pain.

Though she has never met Dmitri, Guild Hunter and ancient languages expert Honor St. Nicholas is well aware of his reputation. She has spent years observing him on television and from afar due to an inexplicable obsession, but the thought of a close encounter with him or any other vampire now terrifies her.

Ten months ago Honor was kidnapped by vampires and raped and tortured for eight weeks. While two of her attackers were killed during her rescue and two more captured alive, no information about the rest of her tormentors has been uncovered. Honor has been hiding in one of the Guild Academy buildings since the assault, so when Sara, the Guild director, calls her and informs her that she is needed to consult with Dmitri on a case, Honor feels shattered.

Nevertheless, she manages to scrape enough strength to pull herself together and meet with Dmitri at The Tower where he oversees Raphael’s empire. The encounter is anything but soothing – Dmitri presents Honor with a young vampire’s severed head whose tattoo he wants her to decipher.

Moreover, Dmitri is attracted to Honor, though she is far from his usual type. When he puts his hands on the back of her neck and she slices his face in instinctive self-defense, he promises her private, intimate retribution at his hands. But things begin to change when Dmitri learns what Honor suffered, and vows to bring all the remaining perpetrators to justice.

As he takes Honor along on his excursions to find her attackers and to mete out punishment to them, a bond develops between Honor, who slowly gains confidence and begins to trust this one vampire, and Dmitri, who persistently denies that he can have a lasting or meaningful relationship with any woman – but finds it difficult to deny Honor whatever she needs.

Archangel’s Blade is a melding of more than one genre, with elements of mystery, thriller, horror, urban fantasy and romance. From these disparate genres you craft a nearly seamless, powerful, riveting novel. I found myself wholly absorbed in Dmitri and Honor’s story as I watched both characters transform – Honor into a courageous survivor, Dmitri into a more human, tender, loving badass than he’d been before.

Archangel’s Blade reminded me of a bit of Time Without End by Linda Lael Miller, a book I remember loving back in the 1990s, and one that had a very similar premise. I thought Time Without End was pretty dark but Archangel’s Blade makes it look like a sweet and gentle story.

I appreciated that it was acknowledged multiple times how thin is the line that separates Dmitri from the villains he takes down. There’s a cruel streak in him at times (especially in the beginning of this book), and in the earlier books, I hated the way he forced his seductive scent on Elena.

One of the reasons I was able to love Dmitri despite this is that the vampire Dmitri was contrasted with the human he had once been, sweet, caring and loyal above all to his beloved wife and children. You do a great job of showing what a lovely person that human Dmitri had been, how much he had lost, and showing also, that some remnants of that man were still in Dmitri.

Honor is also haunted, not just by the events of her recent past and her foster home upbringing, but also by an inexplicable sense of loss she has always lived with. I felt that past and present weren’t quite as well-integrated in her as they had been in Dmitri’s character. Surprisingly, it was easier to see the human Dmitri in him than it was to see the woman she’d once been in Honor.

But despite this, Dmitri and Honor’s journey gripped my guts and my heart. Seeing these two lost souls find love and acceptance with one another wasn’t just compelling, but also deeply moving.

Each time I read one of your books, I’m of two minds about the prose style. On the one hand, it feels a little choppy and repetitive at times, but on the other hand it’s also vivid, powerful and distinctive, and when I enjoy a book this much, it is difficult to complain.

A bigger problem for me, especially with this series, is the violence. This book is not for the squeamish or the faint of heart. Still, although the violence disturbed me, it also worked better for me than it has in the previous Guild Hunter books. I was quickly plunged into the dark places Dmitri and Honor inhabited and from there, followed their struggle toward a ray of light.

It was brave of you to tackle this much darkness and emotional baggage in one book. I was so touched when, at the end of the book, Honor and Dmitri fully understood and embraced the love they had found in each other, and yet, they had both lived through so much heartbreak and pain that the book left me a bit melancholy despite the happy ending.

Nonetheless, for its intense emotional quality and its romantic and redemptive feel, this is my favorite installment of the Guild Hunter series so far. B+/A-.

~Janine

Goodreads | Amazon | BN | nook | Sony | Kobo

Janine Ballard loves well-paced, character-driven books. Examples include novels by Shana Abe, Loretta Chase, Patricia Gaffney, Cecilia Grant, Judith Ivory, Carolyn Jewel, Laura Kinsale, Julie Anne Long, Alison Richardson, Nalini Singh and Pam Rosenthal. Janine also writes fiction. Her critique partners are Sherry Thomas, Meredith Duran and Bettie Sharpe. Her erotic short story, "Kiss of Life", appears in the Berkley anthology AGONY/ECSTASY under the pen name Lily Daniels. You can email Janine at janineballard at gmail dot com. or find her on Twitter @janine_ballard.

37 Comments

  1. Dear Author Recommends for September - Dear Author
    Sep 07, 2011 @ 14:49:16

    [...] REVIEW: Archangel's Blade by Nalini Singh [...]

  2. joanne
    Sep 07, 2011 @ 16:42:42

    Great review Janine, thank you.

    I’ve loved this series from the first book. I’ve taken the gore Singh writes as a good way to balance all the advantages and privileges that the immortals and vamps have.

    I will defend Dmitri (yes, I know he’s fictional *g*) when he forces his seductive scents on Elena. It’s a weakness that could get her killed if used by another vamp and so he pushes her to be stronger. It seems to have worked somewhat since in this book she called it a weak attempt.

    I wasn’t crazy about the ending, it was all just a tad too wrapped up in pretty paper for me. Considering who the two main protagonists are I would have liked it not so cheery, but it was the author’s ending to write, and it will work well for most of her readers.

    I’ll be waiting for the next installment. So many angels and vamps, so little time!

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  3. Carolyn
    Sep 07, 2011 @ 17:06:13

    Great review for a great book. I think this is the best she’s written so far, and that’s saying a lot.

    I didn’t like Dmitri, until we got into his mind in this book, and then things became a lot clearer and I could forgive him much. Watching his defenses fall regarding Honor was a true pleasure.

    I don’t know who her next book will feature, but she’ll have to work real hard to top this one. A definite A for me, despite the ending, which, if you stop to think on it, could have ended no other way.

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  4. Nikki
    Sep 07, 2011 @ 17:35:45

    I have to agree on the rating leaning more towards the A- thought. I really liked the book. But I think mostly because it was all about Dmitri. Thought Honor was part of it, you really saw his backstory and thoughts and got an idea of him beyond what we had seen in the first few books. I think Honor was very interesting and I have to say, I completely respect her for going through what she did and not becoming a complete trainwreck. My issues with the book lay with Ingrede and the way the end wrapped up in a way that didn’t seem consistent. I felt like there were issues that still needed working out.

    As to the violence, I felt it was true to the world in a way that was truer than the other books. People did bad things and they got just punishment according to the world and environment. I feel like the ruthlessness came through quite clearly in a way it didn’t in the other books. I definitely look forward to the next book.

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  5. julieid
    Sep 07, 2011 @ 18:36:02

    For me it didn’t work quite that well. With all the flashbacks, the current day plot seemed disjointed. I thought it read like a series of episodes with no clear middle and end. I lean more toward B-/C+.

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  6. Jaclyn
    Sep 07, 2011 @ 19:15:30

    I just finished reading this two hours ago so I’m still processing. I think one of the reasons the choppiness of Honor / Ingrede worked was because Honor was a new a different person. The soul might be the same but Honor had lived her own life and troubled childhood before she gained awareness of her soul’s origin. She *wasn’t* the same person. She was more than just Ingrede. If her flashbacks had been as fully coherent as Dmitri’s I think the part of her that was Honor would have been diminished somehow.

    I think this is one that I’ll re-read a few times, to pick up detail I missed.

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  7. Lindsey
    Sep 07, 2011 @ 19:22:16

    Absolutely wonderful book. I read it in one sitting, because I just couldn’t bear to put it down. I’m glad to see that I wasn’t the only one disappointed in the ending, though. Without getting into spoilers, I felt like it took something away from Honor as an individual, and as another commenter put, wraps up the ending much too neatly. I also felt it was unnecessary to ensure a HEA, and even slightly dulled this one for me.

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  8. Janine
    Sep 07, 2011 @ 19:37:06

    @Jaclyn:

    SPOILER
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    I didn’t go into this more thoroughly in the review because of spoilers, but to clarify, I wasn’t looking for more coherent flashbacks in Honor’s characterization. Rather, what I wanted to see was a more similar base personality to Ingrede’s.

    I agree that Honor was a new person, with a whole other set of memories and experiences, so I don’t think they should have been the same, either. But I wanted to see a glimmer of Ingrede in her, and I didn’t.

    Ingrede seemed to be a disparate entity, a voice Honor sometimes heard but didn’t recognize as part of herself. I would have liked for them to have some qualities (personality characteristics) in common, to be more like identical twins separated at birth and raised in completely different environments, if that makes sense.

    I think if there had been more of that, then maybe the integration of Ingrede’s memories into Honor would have been more convincing to those who found the ending a little shaky. But I could be wrong on that, and I hope they will correct me if I am.

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  9. Janine
    Sep 07, 2011 @ 19:51:07

    @joanne: You’re welcome!

    You have a good point about the violence but sometimes it’s very, very hard for me to read.

    Re. Dmitri and his scent. His motives for doing that to Elena were explained much better in this book than in the earlier ones. That was actually something I loved — that Singh let us first see Dmitri through Elena’s eyes, as this rather disturbing guy, and then when we see him through his own eyes it’s a completely different way of experiencing his character. That’s so true to life, and I love fiction that does that, that lets us see the same person very differently through the different perspectives of separate people.

    However, I must add, before we excuse Dmitri, that it’s mentioned here that he used his scent to seduce Guild Hunters in the past. So I think his moral ambiguity is still there, which is how I like it.

    Also, I read the “weak attempt” comment differently — my interpretation was not that Elena had built up a tolerance to his scent but rather that Dmitri was so focused on Honor that he couldn’t focus his energies on Elena in the same way anymore.

    Can you explain further what bothered you about the ending?

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    Was it the integration of Ingrede into Honor, the way Dmitri accepted that she had Ingrede’s soul, or something else?

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  10. Janine
    Sep 07, 2011 @ 20:10:17

    @Carolyn & @Nikki:

    Great review for a great book. I think this is the best she’s written so far, and that’s saying a lot.

    I have to agree on the rating leaning more towards the A- thought.

    You guys might have a point. This book has really stayed with me since I finished it. My other two favorites by this author are in the Psy/Chageling series, Branded by Fire, which I graded B+/A- as well, and Kiss of Snow which got an A- grade from me (I’m very fond of Caressed by Ice as well but it’s more of a B+). When I finished Archangel’s Blade I thought it wasn’t quite on par with Kiss of Snow for me, but I may change my mind on that by year’s end. It was certainly a darker and more disturbing book but a very powerful one, too. I will be really surprised if it doesn’t end up on my top ten of the year list.

    @Carolyn:

    Watching his defenses fall regarding Honor was a true pleasure.

    Yes. That was a huge aspect of what made the book so satisfying.

    @Nikki:

    My issues with the book lay with Ingrede and the way the end wrapped up in a way that didn’t seem consistent. I felt like there were issues that still needed working out.

    Can you elaborate on this? You can use a spoiler warning the way I did in my reply to Jaclyn.

    As to the violence, I felt it was true to the world in a way that was truer than the other books. People did bad things and they got just punishment according to the world and environment. I feel like the ruthlessness came through quite clearly in a way it didn’t in the other books.

    I think that may be another reason why the violence worked for me better in this book and I was able to deal with it more despite the high body count and the suffering of some innocent characters.

    @julieid: That’s really interesting about the flashbacks. I think I felt that way in the very beginning but then the book became cohesive for me very quickly. In any case, I’m sorry it didn’t work quite so well for you!

    @Lindsey: I’m glad you enjoyed it so much. Please feel welcome to explain in more detail about the ending using a spoiler warning. I wonder if everyone who found it problematic is talking about the same issue or issues, or if you guys are pinpointing different aspects of the ending.

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  11. Angela
    Sep 07, 2011 @ 20:25:00

    I’m really curious as to what other’s thoughts were regarding the ending.

    SPOILER
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    I do think there were some things similar in Honor and Ingrede – though I’d probably have to read again in order to ferret them out. I seem to remember some gestures, things said that distinctly reminded Dmitri of Ingrede.

    Though I also recall, when Dmitri said one specific line towards the end, I was disappointed. More because I wanted it to be about falling in love with Honor herself, not as Ingrede’s reincarnation. Upon further reflection I see I’ve kind of gotten it both ways.
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    This is a book that’s stuck with me. I’ve read it 3 times since I got it, and I get something new and more from it each time.

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  12. Nikki
    Sep 07, 2011 @ 20:45:40

    Hi Janine! I suck at the whole @ blah tag thing :).

    Spoiler
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    So, basically, Ingrede sounds like she could have been an interesting person. Clearly, she attracted her husband and he kept her in his memory for a thousand years. However, I feel like I only saw her through him and not enough of her until the end when you can a glimpse of her thoughts. Ingrede and Honor are really 2 different people and you don’t see much coherence beyond Dmitri and the memories. Recognizing that they also have different backgrounds and lived a thousand years apart they perforce have to be different people. That’s always been one of my issues with reincarnation, many writers try to make it sound like the same exact person, but you can’t be because experiences and thoughts are different. In the end, I feel like Honor had the memories, but she wasn’t Ingrede enough if that even makes sense. I need to think about this more though.

    My biggest issue with the end and what really dropped this from an A read is the choice that Honor makes. I have a really hard time believing someone who went through what she did would agree to go through the process and take the risk of becoming like the things (can’t dignify them with people) who tortured her. I can believe the love between them defying the fact that Dmitri is a vamp, but I can’t believe that she would agree so easily. I could see her agreeing after as the distance and healing from her torment increases, and as she learns more. But that quickly? Absolutely not.

    I still love Kiss of Snow more but this is up there.

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  13. Debra D.
    Sep 07, 2011 @ 21:32:10

    I love me some Nalini Singh. I really want to read this book, it sounds so great, but to do that I would have to read the first 3 books. I tried to get into this series but could not get my head in the first book. I also don’t really care for the fact that the first 3 books are about the same couple. It has been a while so maybe I will try again, or maybe I will just read this one and ask my mom about the stuff I don’t understand, since she read them a while ago lol.

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  14. joanne
    Sep 07, 2011 @ 21:34:13

    @Janine: I can’t say the ending really bothered me, it was what it was. A good HEA for both of them. It’s on my keeper shelf along with the rest of this authors’ books.
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    But given my ‘druthers’ I would have liked Dmitri to have finally been able to put his wife and family to rest in his mind and heart in order to get on with his good fortune at finding love again.

    It’s not that I don’t believe in the possibility of reincarnation. I guess that in this instance it, for me, diminished both women a bit to think of them as interchangeable. Alike, yes. Similar in strengths and comparable to each other in their willingness to forgive and to love, yes. But not the same soul.

    And really the thought that his children were out there somewhere being someone else? Dunno, it left me feeling a little uneasy. Or: Maybe I’m being a drama queen!

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  15. Mandi
    Sep 07, 2011 @ 21:42:11

    I love this book so much. Dmitri is so nasty – but she still makes him a wonderful hero.

    I kind of love that she didn’t hold back on the violence. She integrates it so well – it just feels like it belongs in this world.

    I still don’t know if I loved the end when we find out ALL about Honor….it felt a little too perfectly wrapped up. So A- for me feels good. Still one of my favorite reads of this year.

    @Angela: I agree about wanting it to feel like Dmitri falls in love with Honor and not the other person. I totally believed in his love for Honor – but I think my little problem with the end is the other person’s interference.

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  16. Jaclyn
    Sep 07, 2011 @ 21:47:34

    @Debra D.: I wasn’t too keen to start a new series from Ms. Singh because I love the psy-changlings so much–I know that sounds counter-intuitive–that I wanted her to write more about the cats and wolves and nothing else. However, when I started reading book one I was totally sucked in. Elena is just a fabulous character, haunted and strong, and this world with the angels is so intriguing. If you like the psy-changling books for the world-building and complex characters, well, this series offers both of these in spades. :)

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  17. Renee Quattromani
    Sep 07, 2011 @ 22:19:21

    This sounds like a keeper. I’d like to just read this book rather than start three books earlier. Is that too much of a disservice to the whole series?
    Thanks

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  18. Janine
    Sep 07, 2011 @ 23:56:26

    @Angela:

    SPOILERS
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    I do think there were some things similar in Honor and Ingrede – though I’d probably have to read again in order to ferret them out. I seem to remember some gestures, things said that distinctly reminded Dmitri of Ingrede.

    Yes, but those are not personality characteristics so those little touches felt superficial to me — almost as if Honor was possessed by Ingrede’s ghost, rather than that she had the same soul. I would have liked for the similarities to be deeper.

    Though I also recall, when Dmitri said one specific line towards the end, I was disappointed. More because I wanted it to be about falling in love with Honor herself, not as Ingrede’s reincarnation.

    I felt that way too when he said he had sensed Ingrede in Honor from the beginning.
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    END OF SPOILER

    This is a book that’s stuck with me. I’ve read it 3 times since I got it, and I get something new and more from it each time.

    Wow, you must have really loved it. I have had the urge to reread it myself, but I haven’t done so yet.

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  19. Janine
    Sep 08, 2011 @ 00:12:26

    @Nikki:

    Hi Janine! I suck at the whole @ blah tag thing :).

    No need to do it then, but just in case it helps, the easy way is to hover your cursor over the bottom right corner of the post you’re replying to. The word “Reply” will appear there and if you click on that word, the @Whoever will pop into the comment box.

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    So, basically, Ingrede sounds like she could have been an interesting person. Clearly, she attracted her husband and he kept her in his memory for a thousand years. However, I feel like I only saw her through him and not enough of her until the end when you can a glimpse of her thoughts. Ingrede and Honor are really 2 different people and you don’t see much coherence beyond Dmitri and the memories. Recognizing that they also have different backgrounds and lived a thousand years apart they perforce have to be different people. That’s always been one of my issues with reincarnation, many writers try to make it sound like the same exact person, but you can’t be because experiences and thoughts are different. In the end, I feel like Honor had the memories, but she wasn’t Ingrede enough if that even makes sense. I need to think about this more though.

    Yes, that is what I felt too. I would have liked for both of them to have a sense of humor, or both to be stubborn, or both to be unforgiving. Obviously, they aren’t and can’t be the exact same person but a personality trait or two in common would have gone a long way toward convincing me that Honor was truly the reincarnation of Ingrede. Nonetheless, that was only a minor problem, mainly because the Honor/Dmitri romance was so compelling.

    And actually I think that if Singh had gone the other route and made Honor a totally new person in Dmitri’s life, the story might not have had the same poignancy and the same level of suspense. I was on the metaphorical edge of my seat, waiting for Dmitri and Honor to realize their past connection.

    My biggest issue with the end and what really dropped this from an A read is the choice that Honor makes. I have a really hard time believing someone who went through what she did would agree to go through the process and take the risk of becoming like the things (can’t dignify them with people) who tortured her. I can believe the love between them defying the fact that Dmitri is a vamp, but I can’t believe that she would agree so easily. I could see her agreeing after as the distance and healing from her torment increases, and as she learns more. But that quickly? Absolutely not.

    You have a good point there. Still I’m not sure the ending could have been satisfying if this issue had been left hanging. Dmitri had already lost so much the first time around that I don’t know how happy he could have allowed himself to be had Honor chosen to remain mortal. So putting it off might have marred the HEA, even though I agree that Honor’s decision seemed abrupt.
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    END OF SPOILERS

    I still love Kiss of Snow more but this is up there.

    I think this is still the case for me too. But I feel Singh has really knocked it out of the park by putting two such great books out in the same year.

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  20. Janine
    Sep 08, 2011 @ 01:13:08

    @Debra D.: If you couldn’t get into the first book in the series, I recommend you try starting with this one. I have only read them in order so I can’t be sure how much difference reading them out of order would make. But you can always get it from the library if you want to give it a try risk-free.

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  21. Ane pham
    Sep 08, 2011 @ 07:03:06

    I love your review Janine! I’ve been reading some other reviews and I’ve been feeling kind of bad about Archangel’s Blade. Some of the reviews were really picky, but I’m easily swayed, especially when people say bad things about the book. But your review made me feel stupid for doubting Nalini Singh and her skill in writing. Thanks!

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  22. Angela
    Sep 08, 2011 @ 07:43:07

    @Debra D.: I agree that you can probably read this book as a stand-alone. You’ll, obviously, get spoilers for the first three (though nothing major you’d not know from looking at the cover of the 2nd and 3rd). And you’ll miss out of some aspects of Dmitri’s character, but overall not much.

    @Janine: I did really love this book! It’s absolutely one of my favorites of Nalini Singh’s. I’m doing a re-read of the Psy/Changeling books now, and I’ve always had a hard time comparing these two series to each other, but I have to agree that Nalini rocked with the two awesome books this year.

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    Yes, but those are not personality characteristics so those little touches felt superficial to me — almost as if Honor was possessed by Ingrede’s ghost, rather than that she had the same soul. I would have liked for the similarities to be deeper.

    I agree. I don’t think the integration was there as much – which I actually think I would have been fine with, had there not been that one sentence at the end from Dmitri. This seems to be one of those rare cases where it wasn’t enough one way or the other for me.

    I actually don’t really believe that he sense Ingrede in Honor from the beginning. And I think that’s my problem with the ending. Though you said it perfectly here:

    Nonetheless, that was only a minor problem, mainly because the Honor/Dmitri romance was so compelling.

    @Nikki:

    My biggest issue with the end and what really dropped this from an A read is the choice that Honor makes. I have a really hard time believing someone who went through what she did would agree to go through the process and take the risk of becoming like the things (can’t dignify them with people) who tortured her. I can believe the love between them defying the fact that Dmitri is a vamp, but I can’t believe that she would agree so easily. I could see her agreeing after as the distance and healing from her torment increases, and as she learns more. But that quickly? Absolutely not.

    I agree with Janine that leaving this hanging would have lessened the HEA for me. One of the most poignant lines in the book for me was when Dmitri was ruminating on following Honor when she died, that he couldn’t survive the loss of a love like that twice (I swear I cried here, though I don’t often in books).

    And the choice itself I was okay with. Honor had never been one to believe that they were all the same. And even when she was out hunting those that had hurt her with Dmitri she felt enough compassion for vampires. Her pain and hatred wasn’t directed at all of them. Plus there was the cathartic business of finding all those that hurt her, ensuring it couldn’t happen to another. I think that went a long ways towards healing her – not completely mind you, but a long ways.
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  23. tori
    Sep 08, 2011 @ 08:55:07

    I really enjoyed this story. I liked that Dmitri stayed true to his character. There were some truly heart wrenching moments in here and I agree that this one seemed much darker and more violent then the others in the series.

    I too hated him when he would taunt Elena with his scent.

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  24. Carolyn
    Sep 08, 2011 @ 09:18:25

    @Angela: Regarding the ending – you said everything I wanted to say. That quintessential moment in Dmitri’s thoughts had tears in my eyes too.

    I knew then, that whatever decision was made, they would be together forever. *sigh*

    Also, don’t know if this is a spoiler or not but …

    SPOILER

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    Dmitri never wavered in his love for his wife. Centuries have passed and he still wants her and misses her. In this, the present day, he’s still in love with her. Totally. However much of her is or isn’t in Honor, I can’t see him loving her completely without the realization that his love has returned to him. Sorry, not very articulate, but I hope you get what I mean.
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  25. Lindsey
    Sep 08, 2011 @ 11:06:54

    It seems that the other comments have already accurately detailed some of the reasons why I also didn’t like the ending.

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  26. Janine
    Sep 08, 2011 @ 11:36:19

    @joanne: As you can see from my earlier comment, I agree with your main point.

    @Mandi:

    I love this book so much. Dmitri is so nasty – but she still makes him a wonderful hero.

    That is one of my favorite things about it.

    I kind of love that she didn’t hold back on the violence. She integrates it so well – it just feels like it belongs in this world.

    It was very well integrated in this book, I agree.

    I’m glad you enjoyed the book so much!

    @Renee Quattromani: Hmm. I liked the first book in the series a whole lot. I didn’t love books #2 and #3 but I wasn’t sorry I read them, and a lot of other people did love them (esp. book #2). So I would suggest you try the first one (Angels’ Blood) first and see if it works for you. Even if you end up skipping #2 and #3, you’ll get a picture of what Dmitri seems like to Elena at first, before he meets Honor. I think that would make the changes in him more satisfying to read about.

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  27. knstrick
    Sep 08, 2011 @ 11:42:49

    @ Janine (sorry, I also can’t figure out the tag thing)

    Great review, I think you really captured the good parts of the book without revealing spoilers.
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    I personally loved the ending of the book, though I don’t believe in reincarnation and I feel like if it was used too often it would be cheapened and a cop-out (in this case it was used perfectly, imo). Dmitri made it so clear throughout the story how he felt about his wife then and now, how no other woman could take her place in his heart, that I was relieved when Honor turned out to be Ingrede. I’m a soul mate believer and ‘one true love’ kind of person, so for him to just forget about his wife and kids and fall in love with someone else would’ve been a little disappointing and not as touching.

    I do agree with others that it would’ve been nicer if there were more apparent or subtle elements of Ingrede in Honor from the beginning, but I guess that might take away some of the emotional suspense of the ending? I think it probably could’ve been done without spoiling the ‘surprise’ though, and would be the only reason why I would give this book a A-.

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  28. Janine
    Sep 08, 2011 @ 11:49:57

    @Ane pham: You’re welcome. I have to say I’m surprised to hear this about other reviews because for me it’s one of this author’s best books. I hope you enjoy it!

    @Angela:
    SPOILER
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    I actually don’t really believe that he sense Ingrede in Honor from the beginning.

    Yes, agreed. I think that line was there to resolve our expectation for Dmitri to disbelieve Honor and perhaps even be angry and hurt that she would claim to be Ingrede’s reincarnation. And on that level the line worked for me, but when it’s problematic because we didn’t really see him seeing Ingrede in Honor when they first met.

    Still, like you, I wasn’t bothered a lot by it because the rest of the book was so great.

    @tori: Great comments. I especially agree that it was great that Dmitri stayed true to his character.

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  29. Janine
    Sep 08, 2011 @ 11:58:46

    @knstrick: I’m glad you enjoyed the review. That is so nice to hear.

    Spoiler
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    I personally loved the ending of the book, though I don’t believe in reincarnation and I feel like if it was used too often it would be cheapened and a cop-out (in this case it was used perfectly, imo). Dmitri made it so clear throughout the story how he felt about his wife then and now, how no other woman could take her place in his heart, that I was relieved when Honor turned out to be Ingrede. I’m a soul mate believer and ‘one true love’ kind of person, so for him to just forget about his wife and kids and fall in love with someone else would’ve been a little disappointing and not as touching.

    Yes, and also, to not have the reincarnation there would have taken a lot away from the story. We would not have gotten all those flashbacks then and I think we’d have less insight into Dmitri and less knowledge of the sweet and loving man he had been at one time.

    I do agree with others that it would’ve been nicer if there were more apparent or subtle elements of Ingrede in Honor from the beginning, but I guess that might take away some of the emotional suspense of the ending? I think it probably could’ve been done without spoiling the ‘surprise’ though, and would be the only reason why I would give this book a A-.

    I’m not sure it would have spoiled the suspense at the end, but you’ve given me something to think about.

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  30. JessP
    Sep 08, 2011 @ 19:23:54

    @Janine: Hi. I haven’t finished the book yet, but I never mind spoilers.

    SPOILERS
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    My thought is why couldn’t Dmitri have sensed *something* from the beginning? He notes early on that, while he never stopped loving Ingrede and his children, he hadn’t thought about them in a very long time. Not the kind of memories that started to occur to him once he met Honor. Also, he’s a very old soul. He’s seen civilizations rise and fall. He very well could have encountered other souls who were present in a different life. I’m not surprised this is the direction the book is going – there are already hints of it in Honor’s behavior and thoughts (I’m at the point where Honor and Dmitri are at Evert’s ex-mistress’s home). Where she thinks she wants to dance on Isis’s grave, but doesn’t have any idea why she would think that? I have to skip back a bit, but I think that’s who she referring to in that. Thanks for the great review.

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  31. Janine
    Sep 08, 2011 @ 23:10:43

    @JessP:

    SPOILER
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    All that’s true so maybe the reason I feel the way I do is that I didn’t see much of Ingrede in Honor in terms of their personality traits. They were separate people in my imagination, and I think that made all those little moments when Dmitri told Honor he couldn’t love her reinforce that until pretty close to the end, he saw Honor as a different person from Ingrede.

    I think this is where differences in how different readers read the same book will come into play. I saw all those same things you mention, and yet when Dmitri told Honor that part of him recognized her all along, I didn’t completely buy it. It was still a terrific book to me, though.

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  32. DM
    Sep 10, 2011 @ 20:30:31

    I’ve been loving this series and I totally enjoyed the read, but agreed with Lindsey’s comment about the end:

    Without getting into spoilers, I felt like it took something away from Honor as an individual, and as another commenter put, wraps up the ending much too neatly. I also felt it was unnecessary to ensure a HEA, and even slightly dulled this one for me.

    But this book is still a keeper for me. I love Sing’s spare prose style, and the visceral way she writes about attraction. Intellectually I’m not sure I like a re-incarnation love story–because it does take something away from the contemporary character–makes them less of an independent individual–but Sing really sold this couple to me and I abandoned my objections and went with it. Now I’m impatient for the next one.

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  33. Praxidike
    Sep 12, 2011 @ 14:55:13

    I don’t know if anyone’s commented on this, but I absolutely cannot stand Singh’s habit of writing “the [blankest] of [blank's]“. I’ve read all of the Guild Hunter series, and all of the Psy-Changeling series, and she does it in every single book. It’s gotten to the point now where it literally pulls me out of the book, which is a very bad thing because it’s everywhere.

    I don’t know if this is something Singh likes, or if she lacks an editor, or what. First, it’s simply bad writing. I know I’m a lawyer so I write differently than many fiction authors, but whenever I see that I want to correct it. Second, it’s constantly superlative: the most erotic of kisses – orly? So, that one kiss, it is the most superlative kiss that Honor ever experienced? Give me a break.

    I know I’m ranty about this, but it’s gotten to the point where it irritates me so much that I don’t think I’m going to buy any more of these books. And that’s a shame because I want to know where the stories are going.

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  34. Janine
    Sep 12, 2011 @ 16:10:23

    @DM & @Praxidike:

    I love [...] the visceral way she writes about attraction.

    It’s gotten to the point now where [Singh’s habit of writing “the {blankest} of {blank's}"] literally pulls me out of the book

    Oddly, I found myself nodding along with both these comments. Singh does write about attraction in a potent and visceral way, and when I’m caught up in one of her books, as I was with Archangel’s Blade, I find it very compelling.

    When I’m less than fully absorbed though, as I was with Archangel’s Consort, I find some of the idiosyncratic phrases that she uses repeatedly (such as “the [blankest] of [blank]” thing that Praxidike mentions) distracting.

    So like I said in the review, I’m of two minds about her prose style.

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  35. Nifty
    Sep 12, 2011 @ 19:05:28

    @julieid:

    I’d grade this one a B-/C+ as well. I didn’t have a good sense of Honor’s identity. Singh tried to present her as both vulnerable and tough, and for me the characterization was erratic. Another issue I had was with the dual suspense plots. They were intended to be distinct, and yet because of the way they were written, they seemed very intertwined. Made the whole thing kind of muddy for me. It was hard for me to remember that the person making the baby vamps had nothing to do with Honor’s abduction. And the sex…. I’ve noticed in a few books that Singh puts off sex — the actual penetration part of sex — until near the end, and then once the couple has sex, they have A LOT of sex, which dilutes the non-sex plot and makes the climax of the story rather anticlimactic. Another issue I have is with Singh’s writing: sometimes it’s rather purple and florid. I like her writing better when she’s not trying to make everything so lush and visceral and emphatic and italicized.

    I missed Raphael and Elena — would have liked to have seen more of them.

    And as a post script, I must say that this cover is absolutely atrocious.

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  36. What Jaclyn Is Reading, September 2011 - Dear Author
    Oct 08, 2011 @ 07:48:38

    [...] Blade by Nalini Singh. Janine has already reviewed this for Dear Author. I bring it up only because the more time passes since I’ve read this book the [...]

  37. Archangel’s Blade by Nalini Singh | Literary Escapism
    Oct 13, 2012 @ 19:17:48

    [...] Blade Angel’s Flight (March 2012)Also reviewed by: Smexy Books, Wicked Little Pixie, Dear Author, Fiction Vixen and Hanging with Bells Share !tweet !function(d,s,id){var [...]

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