REVIEW: Archangel’s Light by Nalini Singh
Dear Nalini Singh,
Illium—playful, loyal, kind, and powerful—has been a charismatic presence in the Guild Hunter series since the first book, Angels’ Blood. Aodhan hasn’t been quite as prominent a character but his light-refracting beauty, artistry, and remoteness give him an almost haunting quality. Their fast friendship was always intriguing and many readers have been waiting for years to see it blossom into romance. Archangel’s Light is that long-awaited novel.
Early in the book, Raphael tells Elena he is sending Illium to help out Suyin and Aodhan in China. Suyin has requested Raphael’s permission to ask Aodhan to remain her second. After all that Aodhan has survived, Raphael will never take his choices away from him, but he doesn’t want to lose him and that’s why he sends Illium.
Ever since the events of Archangel’s Heart, where Aodhan and Illium had a falling out, the two have not been communicating much. Now it’s been a year since the war in Archangel’s War, where Aodhan volunteered to serve as Suyin’s second. In that time their rift has worsened and Illium’s arrival in China raises tensions further since they are already on thin ice with each other.
Aodhan is angry; he feels that because he retreated from the world for so long, Illium no longer views him as someone who can stand on his own and that Illium’s overprotectiveness hobbles him. Illium feels rejected (he also assumes that Aodhan will take the position when Suyin offers it). As far as he’s concerned, he’s worn his heart on his sleeve for too long and if Aodhan doesn’t value his care anymore then fuck him.
So Illium pastes on a fake smile that Aodhan sees through in a heartbeat. Each decides to keep an emotional distance while having the other’s back when they team up–but of course, that’s easier said than done.
Survivors of the horrors that Lijuan unleashed on China during her reign straggle into Suyin’s home base and among the new arrivals is Kai, a descendent of Kaia, the mortal lover Illium once lost his feathers over. Kai bears an uncanny resemblance to her ancestor and at first glance Illium is smitten. Aodhan winces; he never thought Kaia was good for Bluebell but he’s also never said so and never will. Illium feels similarly about Suyin (she and Aodhan are rumored to be an item).
Aodhan wants to confront Illium about his fakeness and Illium is determined not to engage. There are also small misunderstandings and mishaps that wound them. For example, Aodhan retreats from a glancing touch as if burned.
Soon enough, though, Suyin takes her people on a journey to a new location where she plans to build a citadel that isn’t haunted by the memory of Lijuan. Before she leaves, she asks Aodhan and Illium to stay behind (along with a few kitchen staff, Kai among them) and investigate the disturbing disappearance of an entire village.
Their hurts come out under danger and slowly (very slowly) they take small steps back toward each other.
These chapters alternate with others set during their childhood and youth. We see them meet as small angels (so cute; they call each other “Spark” and “Blue”). One is shy and the other gregarious, and that makes each the perfect person to grow up with for the other. Illium brings Aodhan out of his shell and Aodhan settles Illium. They practice flying together, discover their dreams together. And when each one is shattered by an emotional blow, his best friend is there for him.
The mystery subplot is one of the spookiest and creepiest in the series, so I don’t even know why I loved it. Possibly because it’s also one of the tautest and most suspenseful.
This book is relatively isolated from the world politics of the Guild Hunter series. The present-day story here takes place almost entirely in China and none of the other protagonists are present for that section. The flashback storyline about Illium and Aodhan’s childhood and youth is set centuries in the past, so while we see some familiar faces there, these sections have even less to do with the series’ political plot.
This serves the story really well, especially once Aodhan and Illium are alone together to investigate the disappearances. The absence of other distractions (except for the investigation, and that brings them together) puts a close focus on their relationship—a friendship that’s a little screwed up and a lot wonderful.
It also makes the book a good entry point for readers who haven’t read the earlier books in the series—Archangel’s Light mostly stands on its own. Of course, reading the earlier books would enhance the reading experience, but if you’re curious about Illium and Aodhan and haven’t read any of those, I think you can read it first and then backtrack to catch up on the overarching larger-world political plot and the other characters afterward–the flashbacks will fill you in on a lot of Aodhan and Illium’s backstory.
The book is a good introduction to m/m romance for those Nalini Singh readers who aren’t familiar with LGBTQIA romances, too. The romance here is very subtle, a slow, slow-burn friends-to-lovers story that emphasizes friendship.
I know that some readers will be bummed by that pacing, but on reflection, I’ve decided that to not take it so slowly might have done an injustice to these characters and their backstory. This isn’t your typical friends-to-lovers romance where the characters have known each other since college. It’s a five-hundred-year friendship between two people who have known each other practically since infancy but haven’t consciously viewed each other in a romantic or sexual light before, so it can only evolve very slowly. Particularly since they have big issues to work out even just in terms of their friendship and what would feel right to both of them on that level.
The subtlety works in another way, too, and that ties to the way the author develops their characters through their formative experiences.
This is a book that says true love is always in large part about friendship, about being there for the other person when they need you, and that we should value that above youth or beauty. That it’s the devotion that is the heart of a romance, and that wholehearted commitment is worth a lot—and a lot of compromise and sacrifice.
I did want more sensuality and romance for them, but—more on that later.
The book also strikes a perfect balance between sweetness and painful emotions. Because there’s such a long, rare, and close friendship on the line, the stakes are sky-high. The flashbacks of the two children playing together, teaming up to get into trouble, and learning to fly side by side leaven the angst and add optimism when their adult relationship is at its most angry and broken. And later, as the adult Aodhan and Illium start to grow closer again, the traumas of their younger years rear their head in the flashbacks.
The flashbacks do a great job of dramatizing all the plot points that took place in their youth. I was surprised that these seminal moments packed such a powerful punch even though I already knew from the earlier books what was coming.
There were other things to appreciate in those sections, too. I loved Sharine in Archangel’s Sun, but I had some issues with her characterization there—it was difficult to reconcile the fragile Hummingbird of the past with the emotionally sturdier Sharine of the present and I wanted more flashbacks to help me piece that together. That she felt she had to be even-handed in her treatment of Illium and Aodhan bothered me too, and it was hard for me to absolve her of her emotional retreat from the world when her son needed her.
I understand these things much better now.
It was also great to see Raphael as a new archangel, and Naasir and Dmitri in their younger years. Raphael and Naasir were great with the kids and Dmitri’s role in one scene was very moving.
I can only think of a few criticisms.
The first is that I wanted to see how Aodhan went from courier to warrior angel. He couldn’t have attained a leadership position as a member of the Raphael’s Seven much less served as Suyin’s second for his great art alone, for his friendship with Illium, or even for his innate power, and his trauma-based retreat from the world surely interfered some with leadership training. With Illium’s past, we were shown more of that transformation and it went beyond his angelic power potential.
The second thing that bugged me is that Aodhan spots a big clue during the investigation of the village but later on, just when it would be handy to think of, he and Illium forget all about it.
The third is smaller. The chapters set during the heroes’ childhoods are dated “Yesterday,” and the present-day sections “Today.” That was lovely, except that the early scene where Raphael tells Elena about his decision is labeled “A month before today.” I spent the first few chapters puzzled by why a present-day discussion took place before Aodhan and Illium’s childhood and wondering if I was reading about some sort of time distortion (it isn’t that, just confusing labeling).
As I said before, the romance here is very, very subtle and slow burn; this is very much a book about a passionate investment in a tight, lifelong, and transcendent friendship. That wasn’t at all what I anticipated in terms of heat level and more. I have seen a few readers question if the author wanted to write Archangel’s Light because of that or if she felt pressured by her fans but I doubt it was the latter. This book read like her heart and soul were in it and kept me reading until six in the morning. Authors don’t achieve that when they are going through the motions.
There are many things I still want to know. Things like:
If I were sure Archangel’s Light is all we’ll get in the way of Illium and Aohdan books, I would still love the book but I’d also feel a little deprived. I’m not though, so I’m holding off on that feeling. There is absolutely no way that all the things I want to know and see could have been explored in one book, much less fit in with all the childhood/early adulthood backstory and the resolution of their more recent friendship conflict. So I think there’s some reason to think that we’ll get another book about these two. Archangel’s Light ends in a very romantic place that feels very much like a beginning, much as Angels’ Blood did.
Maybe my hopes are pure fantasy, wishful thinking, but I’ll close with this: I was happy to see Illium and Aodhan paired because there was so much buildup that anything else would have felt like a cheat, but I wasn’t a passionate Aodhan/Illium shipper before I read Archangel’s Light. Now I love them. If a sequel does come out, I will feel like I’ve died and gone to heaven. A-/A.
PS I’m reading the book for the second time (still loving it!) and I wanted to amend what I said earlier with regard to the book standing on its own. I still think it does for the most part, but the first 10% or so does refer to many events and other characters in the series. Some of the most important events are later explained by the flashbacks, and several of the characters are new or have been very minor until now (Nalini Singh’s books usually have large casts), so of you’re new to the series or have fallen behind, keep in mind that even veteran of the series may not know them. And remember that about 10% of the way in the book gets easier to follow.
NS’s newsletter just came today, announcing this book is out, and includes this paragraph – “Illium and Aodhan’s story has been five hundred years in the making to this point in time…their timelines are not ours. This book is only the beginning in many ways – there is so much more to come for our Sparkle and Bluebell.”
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@MaryK: Yay!!! Fingers crossed this means we will get a whole book about—
Buried Comment: Show
Will you be reading Archangel’s Light, MaryK?
I stopped following this series several books ago (as I kept thinking Ms. Singh needed a better editor to trim repetitive imagery and the series felt like it needed to end). Thank you for mentioning this story is fairly isolated from the ongoing politics and it can be read as a stand-alone. I have been reading m/m romances exclusively over the past year, and the minute I saw who were featured in this story I wondered whether it could be read without reading the previous novels.
@Amy: Yeah, there’s some stuff in the beginning bringing readers up to speed on the state of the world, yadda yadda, but once Illium arrives in China I think you can follow their relationship just fine. You’ll miss some of the recent buildup, and that was lovely, but I think you’ll still be able to get everything that goes on after that point. That said, if this is going where I think it is and she does write another book about them, you’ll probably have to backtrack and catch up at that point. I have a feeling they will be in the thick of the political stuff by then.
@Amy: BTW, I’ve felt that way too a couple of times, that the series might be petering out, but I think I was wrong. Book three (Elena and Raphael) was repetitive to my mind but after that things really picked up for a while. The Ashwini/Janvier and Venom/Holly books were letdowns to an extent (particularly the first) but then Archangel’s War was a game-changer. And if things are going where I think they’re going there’s another one coming. Overall I’m much more kindly disposed toward this series than toward the Psy/Changeling one (not that that one doesn’t show glimmers of freshness now and then). I like the visual imagery much better than you do, though.
If you read this I hope you’ll let me know what you think!
@Janine – I’d like to, but I’m way behind on the series. I loved the first book and never read any further because I was afraid book 2 would be a disappointment. This is a problem I frequently have with series. I see that in another comment, you said this one works relatively well as a stand alone. Maybe I will get it from the library and it will get me invested enough to go back and pick up where I originally left off.
@MaryK: That sounds like a good way to handle it. I actually feel that in many ways the series got better after the first book, albeit with a few missteps.
Just finished the book. Overall, it was a very good book. I do have some issues with it and some questions. One of the questions that bugged me is what happened to Aodhan’s parents? Are they sleeping, not sleeping? I might miss something in previous books regarding their situation, not sure. In terms of romance in the book, I think it was lacking a little bit for me. Yes, there was romance, and tension but she could have taken it a little bit further in my opinion. Based on previous books, the physical part of other couples in the series was never an issue for the author. So, I must ask why she did not go all the way in this book? Is that because it was M/M, I am not sure.
I loved the suspense and the overall story in the book. The little small issue that came up with me is that all of a sudden relatives have the same face (two people in this book alone), it bugged me a little. I hope she will write another book with the same couple, it will be interesting to read.
On the other note, since the author brings relatives with the same faces to the front, maybe she can bring Nadiel (cannot spell) and we will get to read the C/N story. I really want to read their story LOL.
@Nati: Re Aodhan’s parents–I wondered that too!
This didn’t even occur to me.
What did you think of the childhood flashbacks?
POSSIBLE SPOILERS FOR FUTURE BOOKS
Don’t you think it’s possible that this will still happen, just in a later book? It seems to me that with Aodhan’s past, they will need to take it slow.
Did you see what Nalini Singh said in her newsletter on Tuesday?
More and more I think Nadiel is coming! But I’m guessing that if he does, he won’t be a good guy. I am rereading Archangel’s Kiss (book two) and Raphael tells Elena that his father believed that angels should be worshipped as Gods by vampires and humans, and that Uram looked up to Nadiel for that reason. And in one of the more recent books (Archangel’s War maybe?) Raphael said that Nadiel was capricious and irresponsible but Caliane didn’t notice his flaws because she loved him so much.
Also, I think if he returns, he might be furious at Caliane for almost killing him and maybe even at Raphael for not avenging him. Or he might try to subvert or seduce Caliane to the dark side, which we know she is susceptible to. He could also put a spoke in the wheel and want someone else’s territory, Elijah’s, for example, or maybe even Illium’s if Illium has ascended by then.
Even if Nadiel doesn’t return, I predict Caliane will be getting a book!
What do you think about the possibility of llium’s ascension?
What did you think of the childhood flashbacks?
I actually liked them a lot. I do not always like the flashbacks in the books, but in this one, it made a lot of sense, it showed the bond the characters had that went beyond the bond of 7.
Don’t you think it’s possible that this will still happen, just in a later book? It seems to me that with Aodhan’s past, they will need to take it slow. Did you see what Nalini Singh said in her newsletter on Tuesday?
I did not read the newsletter yet, but I am hoping the physical part of their relationships will be more flashed out in the future books. As for Aodhans past, I think Hailey had a huge trauma in her and Venom’s book, Hammingberd had a huge trauma too, but the author had no problem writing their books with the physical relationships in them.
Regarding Nadiel and Caliane, I see your point and you might be right. I am just hoping you are wrong. I am a huge sucker for the reunited lover’s theme and would love their book together. Regardless, I think you are right and Caliane’s book is coming. The question is who is strong enough to deal with her. I hate beta heroes and alpha heroines so the hero for Caliane will have to be very strong in my opinion.
What do you think about the possibility of llium’s ascension?
I think that it is inevitable , just a matter of time, and it might be that next book for Aodhan and Illium.
POSSIBLE SPOILERS FOR FUTURE BOOKS
“I actually liked them a lot. I do not always like the flashbacks in the books, but in this one, it made a lot of sense, it showed the bond the characters had that went beyond the bond of 7.”
I loved the flashbacks and that’s part of why I say there wasn’t room for more romance and sex. Those flashbacks were needed and so was the stuff about the conflict in their friendship. Add in the mystery (that was needed too, or the book would not have had a plot) and where could she put in sex and more courtship? In another book, that’s where. She hints that there may be another in her newsletter. Here’s what she says there:
“As for Aodhans past, I think Hailey had a huge trauma in her and Venom’s book, Hammingberd had a huge trauma too, but the author had no problem writing their books with the physical relationships in them.”
Sharine’s trauma had nothing to do with sex or touch. I don’t think rape was part of Holly’s trauma either (I reread the first book last week and I’m already fuzzy on that, LOL—I know Uram raped some of his victims but I don’t remember if it was ever mentioned if Holly was one, so I think maybe he just experimented on her).
Aodhan’s trauma is closer to Honor’s; his body was sexually violated multiple times by multiple people and he was averse to touch afterward. Honor and Dmitri did have to deal with that some. I think she would grab her knife to defend herself without even noticing even after she wanted to be with Dmitri. But this is not exactly the same situation, there is a lot more trust between Aodhan and Illium than there was at first between Honor and Dmitri. So we’ll see.
“Regarding Nadiel and Caliane, I see your point and you might be right. I am just hoping you are wrong. I am a huge sucker for the reunited lover’s theme and would love their book together. Regardless, I think you are right and Caliane’s book is coming. The question is who is strong enough to deal with her. I hate beta heroes and alpha heroines so the hero for Caliane will have to be very strong in my opinion.”
Hmm, I love the reunited lovers trope too, but in this particular case I want to be right. Nadiel just doesn’t sound attractive to me and I think Caliane needs a fresh start. But what do I know? Nalini Singh will probably do something good with Caliane that I can’t envision.
BTW, my friend / critique partner, Sherry Thomas, has written a few angsty reunited lovers books—have you read any? I’m just thinking that if you like this trope they might work for you.
Re llium’s ascension:
”I think that it is inevitable, just a matter of time, and it might be that next book for Aodhan and Illium.”
I predict it’s going to happen very, very soon, in the next book or the one after, for two reasons:
1) Aodhan just finished serving as Suyin’s second. I think Nalini Singh wanted to give him some training in the role of second to a new archangel because he will be stepping into those shoes very soon.
2) Then there’s this bit from the last scene in the book:
IMO she wouldn’t put “Archangel and Second” last if they weren’t on the threshold of that. So I think it’s coming in the next book or the one right after it.
My guess: it’s going to happen late in the next book and Illium will either finish ascending in the last third of the book or it will be a cliffhanger that ends with him in anshara. Nalini Singh likes those comas, LOL.
I have lots of thoughts about all the ways things could get interesting after that. It could go at least a dozen different ways and it opens up the series to a lot of exciting possibilities and engaging relationship dynamics.
I forgot to respond to this part:
“The question is who is strong enough to deal with her. I hate beta heroes and alpha heroines so the hero for Caliane will have to be very strong in my opinion.”
I don’t see anyone appropriate on the current playing field so maybe it will be someone who is currently Sleeping. I kind of hope that it is someone tough and adventurous who can introduce her to things she hasn’t done before (not necessarily in bed although sure why not there too). I feel she’s a bit stuck in her ways and would benefit from looking at the world with new eyes, or learning things she never knew from someone who is even older than herself.
Also, I think the Legion will be back and I am hoping they return with sexier wings and not so creepy. So maybe the Primary? Just kidding. LOL! But I do want books about the Legion eventually.
I don’t want Caliane to be with another Archangel, though, since two Archangels can’t be in the vicinity of one another for very long. I agree Caliane needs someone strong but that doesn’t have to mean another Archangel. It could be someone strong enough to be one but who chooses not to step into that role (I don’t know if that’s possible, probably not, but maybe) or someone who can do things Caliane can’t do. I wouldn’t mind an f/f romance for her either, that could work as well.
I completely forgot about H/D and her issues. And I think this is exactly why the lack of sex bothered me in this book. Nalini managed the flashbacks (not as many) and a plot and physical relationship in their book, why not in this book? I think I feel somewhat cheated . I do like the book , but this bothers me. I am generally not a big fan of M/M books , but if she decided to write one, she should have gone all the way.
Interesting thought about F/F book , maybe ? Maybe Alexander but it is unlikely .
Thank you for recommendation, I will definitely check the author out, she is new to me.
@Nati: I might feel cheated if I thought there would only be one book but I’m very optimistic that there will be more, and maybe even more than two, in which case I’m all in favor of taking it slowly. If we read three or four more books and we never get an I/A book with sex and more romance in all that time then I might feel deprived but like I said in the review I’m holding off on that feeling.
I disagree with your comparison to the Honor/Dmitri flashbacks, those flashbacks were about 90% Dmitri; Ingrede wasn’t a big part of Honor as far as I could tell and so Honor wasn’t developed much through those flashbacks, or at least, not nearly as much as Dmitri was. Also, we “met” Honor at the beginning of Archangel’s Blade; she was a brand new character in the series so her thoughts and feelings when she was Ingrede didn’t matter that much.
And the flashbacks here had a lot more heavy lifting to do because not just because both characters are central to the series, but because the relationship is growing scene by scene in those flashbacks as well. Dmitri and Ingrede were already in love from page one of that book so we weren’t shown that relationship forming. Imagine if she’d done that with Illium and Aodhan. There would be no need for flashbacks at all if we weren’t going to see that friendship developing.
MaryK and Amy, I added a new postscript to the review. Since you’re behind on the series it might be helpful to you to read it.
@Janine – Thanks!
It took me a few days to get to this as I wanted to reread several previous books first, which I’m glad I did, as I went back to the original quarrel between Illium and Aodhan in Archangel’s Heart. I guess it was necessary to estrange them in order to develop their new relationship.
Which I thought was really well done, though I’m not terribly comfortable with m/m romance, which I normally avoid. However, I love most of Raphael’s Seven and would probably read any book in this series at least once. (Not crazy about Dmitri. Don’t reread his book.) I will read more about Illium (my favorite) and Aodhan. I normally skip sex scenes anyway, which will help, but I did enjoy the growth in their relationship and acknowledge that it does seem to be the right way to go. I can’t see either of our heroes falling in love with anyone else at this point, and it does seem inevitable that they would be together, especially since it appears that Illium will one day ascend and who else could be his Second?
The plot was interesting. The new character at the center of the mystery is incredibly tragic. I hate to imagine how much more evil Lijuan will cause even from the grave. I think Suyin handled the situation very well and will make a strong archangel.
And Illium has a cat! I believe Nalini is a cat lover and I’ve read at least one story she wrote in a Christmas Cat anthology. That was an adorable side plot in the book. (My two kitties liked that bit, too. Cats are always the most important characters in any book, they think.) The care packages were also adorable.
The most moving element in the book was Aodhan’s realization that Illium has been so deeply affected by loss. It must have been very hard for him to go through the months when no one knew when (and if?) Elena and Raphael would wake up after Archangel’s Prophecy. Especially since, in every important way, Raphael served as Illium’s father. Though normally I don’t care for huge numbers of flashbacks, these were important and necessary, and brought out the relationship between Raphael and Illium. Plus the little kids’ episodes weren’t too cutesy, which I dislike.
Last but not least, I did reread Archangel’s Sun, which I enjoyed again. Am I the only fan out there who pictures a young and virile James Earl Jones whenever Titus appears? Especially the voice.
SPOILERS FOR ARCHANGEL’S LIGHT
Are you open to discussing future possibilities that could turn out to be spoilers? I am rereading the book (I’m at 49%) and noticing all kinds of things that could be clues to future developments. I don’t know if they’ll actually happen but am dying to discuss them with someone. I won’t bring them up if you’d rather I didn’t, though.
Dmitri is my least favorite character among the Seven and Honor isn’t a favorite either but their book is one of my faves anyway, The reincarnation trope is one that I love and I almost never see it used anymore. I also loved that Nalini Singh made me *cry* for Dmitri even though I loathed him before I read it. I enjoy seeing him laid low by love every time I read that scene where he gets on his knees to ask Honor’s forgiveness. I can’t think of anyone I’d rather see that happen to. ;-) Also, I love how well the darkness of the GH world and the darkness of the storyline meld in that book—I don’t think she’s ever done that better.
That’s my pitch to you to give Archangel’s Blade a second chance, even though Dmitri is such an asshole I can see why you wouldn’t. I like him better now, after reading that book, but he will always be my least favorite.
Re Illium and Aodhan—yes, I agree, so well done.
It’s interesting—I have favorite characters, favorite couples, and favorite books, but (as you can see from the previous paragraph) these aren’t necessarily the same. A favorite character is someone I want more of and am always engaged reading about (and they don’t necessarily have to be likable or someone I’d want to befriend, although they certainly can be). A favorite couple has more to do with chemistry on the page and/or how well I see them fitting together like puzzle pieces. A favorite book is one where all the elements come together in such a satisfying way that I am enthralled by reading it and can imagine it holding up to multiple readings.
So, for example, Archangel’s Blade is a favorite book even though I’m not into either one of them as a character. I can see Honor and Dmitri fitting together really well but actually they don’t have amazing chemistry except in the past storyline when Dmitri was human. Honor is exactly what Dmitri needs but I’m not sure that’s true vice versa (seriously, what woman needs a Dmitri?). But the book is terrific; it comes together really well, and it’s one that slices you in two and then puts you back together. They do fit together like two halves of a whole because of the way they heal each other’s broken places.
I was fascinated by Raphael and liked Elena from book one, but I wasn’t particularly sold on them as a couple until Archangel’s Legion. I was getting bored with them before I read it and wished we weren’t getting another R/E book. Now I think they’re an amazing couple and I love them as characters. I still don’t know that I’ve felt both of these things while reading a R/E book that was also terrific in terms of how all the elements came together. Archangel’s Legion was close, though.
Naasir is not at all my cuppa but I love Andromeda and I think they have great chemistry. I thought Venom and Holly might too but they didn’t fully gel for me.
Anyhow—Archangel’s Light was the only book in this series where I got all three in one book (Caressed by Ice being the other Nalini Singh books I feel that way about). The relationship dynamic is great; they fit together so well and make so much sense together. Their chemistry was terrific too although more so in the flashbacks. The book gelled really well because the balance of sweetness and angst was so good. The darkness of the mystery plot was just the right amount too, IMO. And—this will probably sound weird, but while I liked Illium fine before this book, now he’s my absolute favorite. I’m ready for more Illium/Aodhan angst and ascension.
Re the new character with the tragic backstory—I noticed something in this reread and have a theory, but it falls into the “quite possibly a spoiler” area. Happy to discuss it (with spoiler warnings) or not, whichever you prefer.
Smoke! I loved her.
Yes, I loved the Raphael/Illium relationship. It was touching. And I loved seeing who Raphael was when he was young—not as young as he’d been when Isis held him; powerful, an archangel, but younger and softer.
And Sharine—that was great too. What a turd Aegaeon is.
Re Aodhan’s realization about Illium’s losses—that actually rang a bit false to me at first, that they’ve been best friends for five hundred years and he wouldn’t have known it already. But then I realized that part of the point was that Aodhan had turned inward after his capture not just in terms of curling away but also in the sense that for a while there his trauma blotted out all else. That helped me get a better handle on him because he was a little too self-focused as an adult. But he needed to tend to himself to grow and I don’t think that will be as much of an issue in future books.
I just hope that after Illium ascends Nalini Singh keeps developing Aodhan too. I want him to be more than just a quiet supporter, to be fully his own person. And I also want to see him exert more authority on the page. I know he’ll be a Second in his own way and not in Dmitri’s, but the same time, he’ll need to be a strong bulwark to do that job, more than he was with Suyin. Nobody wants China but he and Illium need to be prepared to take Naasir’s advice and be scary.
Re Titus—I don’t picture characters as actors (it just takes me out of the story) but I can understand why you’d make that comparison, especially in regard to the voice. JEJ has an amazing voice.
Yes, I love spoilers! No problem discussing the possibles. I’d be very interested in doing that. What are you thinking?
I don’t normally picture actors either, but JEJ is a favorite and he simply is Titus in my brain.
Got to go to work! Tell me what you’re thinking.
@Kari S.: Okay, I’ll start with my thoughts about Jinhai/Quon and then I’ll come back later and post other stuff when I have time. This comment is going to be long. I’ll write a separate reply to the rest.
I’m rereading the book and recently I reread the scene where Aodhan enters and explores the house in the village and finds all that stuff—the shrine to the woman, the child’s bed with all the dried blood under it, and the note on the mirror, written three times, “Why doesn’t it work, mother?” And Aodhan thinks the murderer came to that house because he had lived there.
You know how Jinhai gets upset when he meets Suyin and she says she’s the Archangel? He says, “I am her only skin! I am her! I am her skin!”? Well, about a third of the way through the book, Aodhan postulates that Lijuan left behind more than the fog, and Illium says she was crazy and finishes with “ My opinion? Her Evilness didn’t have a backup plan.” So possibly a seed is being planted by Nalini Singh then.
And later, when they are exploring the cave and communicating mind-to-mind, Illium says to Aodhan (with regard to the bioluminescence), “We survive this, the scientists can run tests. Or, you know, Lijuan figured out how to lock her energy into external things. Maybe she did a Uram and left behind a batshit part of herself.“
After I read the book the first time, I thought maybe the reason Jinhai said “I am her skin! I am her!” was because Lijuan created a teenager out of her own body/energy to serve as her heir, an extension of her, and that’s why there is that split personality of Jinhai/Quon. But after rereading the scene in the village house a couple of days ago I’ve revised my theory. I think it’s a lot more sick than that. I think she took Jinhai from there, that he was the kid from the house, and his mother was killed protecting him. Remember, Aodhan and Illium theorize that this could be what happened when Aodhan finds the blood under the bed. The kid was also very neat and orderly (put his electronic device carefully back in the box), like Jinhai.
Then Lijuan brought Jinhai back to the cave, where she had the other child or being that was an extension of her, with her energy or her personality or the twistedness she planted inside him with abuse, who knows, or maybe it was even a piece of herself. And then–like the sick vampire who spliced Naasir together with the leopard, she spliced that being or energy that contained her—Quon—with Jinhai.
(The furniture in the cave was archaic so this project has probably been going on for a long time. Archaic goes beyond the century or two of an angelic child’s growth. We know that Lijuan had the power to animate the dead with her energy, so maybe her energy could survive in a body of her own child without decay for centuries, enough to revive by merging with the body of a village child. Illium says that she was evil long before the centuries that Aodhan theorizes, so maybe she started the project millennia earlier. When they saw that Jinhai was related to Lijuan, Aodhan and Illium were stunned because there had been no children in the Zhou family for three thousand years.)
After escaping, one of them, Quon or Jinhai, killed the villagers. The obsession with skin probably has to do with Jinhai being Lijuan/Quon’s skin. Jinhai could also have been trying to create a villager’s skin that he could wear so he could go back to being human (“Why doesn’t it work, mother?”). Afterward, Jinhai created the shrine as a memorial to his mother, the only person in the village who tried to protect him.
I wouldn’t be surprised if the names are reversed, too, since Jinhai is the name of Lijuan’s father. Maybe Lijuan is in the Jinhai part, the one in control, and pinning everything on Quon, the boy from the village.
These are just theories. The only piece I’m pretty confident of here is that part of Jinhai/Quon came from the village and the other part from Lijuan’s energy.
And so when Suyin said she was the Archangel, Jinhai/Quon got really upset because why did he have to endure all that pain, physical and emotional, why was his human mother’s life taken, if he isn’t Lijuan, isn’t her skin, her chrysalis, from which she (to his mind, a goddess) is meant to reemerge to rule the world?
(I also wonder if that’s why the deadly fog followed them.)
If I had to guess, Raphael, Suyin, and/or the Cadre will exorcise Lijuan before she can resurrect, or maybe kill her as she is doing it or shortly afterward, when she still is weak from having done it. It will be a while yet, I think, because Jinhai’s wings will probably regrow before that point. That may be in Suyin’s book, who knows. And if I’m right with this theory then Naasir may also show up in that book.
I’m hoping we get several books before that with another big villain before that because I’m tired of Lijuan and want a break from her.
Boy I hear you about being tired of Lijuan! I was tired of her by Archangel’s Legion! I would like to be done with her. Surely we could have a new villain. One of the Ancients who sleeps under the Refuge would be a challenge, for example. Somebody fresh.
I don’t have the time tonight to comment on all of your interesting thoughts because I really need to get some sleep! I will say wow, what an imagination. Nothing as interesting occurred to me. I will go through it all again and get back to you soon. Plus I really want to hear the rest!
It is interesting to read other people opinions on the books and the couples. My favorite couple and the book was Dimitri and Honor. Could not finish Nasir and A(?) book and Venom and Holly just did not mesh well in my opinion. I obviously like R/E as a couple , but some books are better than others. As for your theory , it is an interesting one . I am too tired of Lijuan and would like a different villian. It is interesting but now we have 3 kids from different Archangels running around. And in one of the books it was mentioned that Naha is trying for another kid. I wonder why so many kids all of a sudden?
I’ll make time to post more in this thread tomorrow, I promise! Briefly, Nati, despite what I said about Dmitri, his book and Honor’s is probably my second favorite after this latest one. I love Dmitri’s darkness and how he helps Honor bring her abusers to brutal justice. I just think he’s also a colossal asshole. Raphael should have fired him for using his scent ability on Elena IMO.
Well, this morning I indulged myself and reread Archangel’s Light. I can only say wow, it really is a wild ride. I agree, one of her best. The evolution of Aodhan and Illium’s relationship is so loving and carefully drawn and I think it shows Nalini’s love for her characters. I also love that it’s more of a relationship/character study than a dramatic “big picture” storyline like Archangel’s War. (Which I loved, don’t get me wrong! But so many bodies and endless tragedy can be hard to read.)
Janine, you have an incredible imagination. The mystery of Quon and Jinhai – which I find really intriguing – is obviously far more complicated than the idea that Lijuan’s heir was conceived normally and born as a normal angelic child. For one thing, who was the father? The only significant supporter of Her Evilness is Xi. I can’t think of any other character that was even named on Team Lijuan who appeared more than once. Lijuan doesn’t care about her minions, one reason she’s able to sacrifice them so easily.
I love Naasir, and remember how sad he was to be a “one being.” (Can he even sire children? Most hybrids can’t.) If you’re right about some kind of union between a human child and angel DNA, maybe because Lijuan is so evil that she couldn’t bear a child, that’s a really intriguing but sick possibility. I await further developments. But I hate that we have to wait a year. (This is the only series I read by Nalini. Years ago, encouraged by a friend, I read the first six Psy/changeling books. Too much the same, and I didn’t really care for the dynamics. So I stick with the Guild Hunter series.)
I agree, the “why doesn’t it work, Mother?” is a really good clue. Is that the clue you mentioned that our heroes seem to forget about? Skin, blood, and human meat are a sinister combination and I really wonder if it’s possible to rehabilitate Jinhai. Poor Suyin may have to execute her only living relative.
Now you’ve got me wanting to go back and reread the entire series. Maybe I’ll skim Archangel’s Blade, and I agree, Dmitri is way out of line in his treatment of Elena. My least favorite element of this series (and Nalini is not alone in using this trope) is the frequent return of our characters to the traumatic incidents in their pasts. All the drip drips and high heels for Elena, and Dimitri’s tragic non-choice to kill Misha, and so on, are a bit wearing to read about. Like Raphael remembering what his mother did to him, over and over again. It depresses me. We all have some kind of trauma in our past (some much greater than others) and hate revisiting it unless it’s our choice.
Awaiting the next installment of your theories, Janine!
@Kari S.: Re the Guild Hunter series vs. the Psy/Changeling books (because it’s a topic I can’t resist), I think the Guild Hunter series is sooooo much better, especially nowadays, but from the beginning, it had much better worldbuilding and visuals, a greater variety of plots, and some of the characters were more complex, too (Raphael and Caliane maybe most of all, but look, even Sharine reinvented herself).
The downside is that it’s a much darker and more violent world. I am not a fan of the gore, although I acknowledge it is often necessary to the story. Elena’s past is too disturbing for words. At the same time, the world is so breathtaking that sometimes I want to stay there forever. That coexistence of beauty and darkness, modernity and the old, as well as the ancient, is a big part of what makes that world work so well. The element of aging working differently for different characters, and angels Sleeping and being able to wake at any time are additional complexities.
The Psy/Changeling series has some things going for it–there’s more sex and it was something really fresh and different when it came out in terms of the world and having a long-term political arc in a romance series. There was a lot of cultural diversity even long before that was a thing in mainstream romances big publishers put out. A few of the couples had amazing chemistry even if the gender dynamics could be really irritating (if that’s one of your main concerns, you might like the newer books better since that has changed a lot).
Having said that, it is SO repetitive. I am so tired of terminal illnesses that cast a long shadow (I think that’s a big part of why Archangel’s Shadows isn’t a favorite with me; I felt like it was more or less a Psy/Changeling book!)
I like the mysteries in the GH series too, they usually add an interesting plot element. Basically, even though I sometimes get bored or frustrated with Guild Hunter books, I always feel like the world is right open and anything could happen. For example, Illium ascending! Who saw that coming early in the series? I certainly didn’t. Now I can’t wait. It has the potential to be a huge game-changer. And there have been a few of those–the Cascade, Caliane’s waking, the events of Archangel’s War. If the world gets stale, she can always upend it.
With the Psy/Changeling books, I feel there’s not anywhere fresh to go except maybe with the undersea changelings or with a big time gash that moves everything ten or fifteen years forward in time. And I don’t think the latter is that likely to happen. I keep wanting her to do something really different with that series, but the world is just less expansive.
I’ll reply to the rest in my next comment.
SPOILERS FOR ARCHANGEL’S LIGHT
Me too. It’s been a long time since we’ve had one like that.
And the characters, Illium especially. What an amazing person from childhood to adulthood. Loved loved loved, and I was not an Illium fangirl before this book like half the readers of the series. Here he was great in almost every scene. He’s so lovable when you get to see the fathoms depth of his loyalty. I also adored the angry stew. And Illium being so jealous of Suyin. The romantic stuff was very, very subtle, so on my second read I was able to notice more of it.
I really liked Aodhan as a kid– a bit less as an adult, he’s a little too defined by his trauma, and I hope we see more facets of his adult self in the future. But the adult Aodhan had great moments here too like putting the cat to sleep, stressing about Jinhai, sighing about admin, and I liked seeing him run things at the caravan in Suyin’s absence. And that moment when he thinks about how he rarely notices it, but Illium is gorgeous. To say nothing of the care package and the reunion at the end. “I’m not scared. I’m never scared with you.” That is massive trust.
Don’t even get me started on the little angel flashbacks because I could be here squeeing all day.
There were some really, really nice character moments with other regulars in this series. Raphael especially! I loved how, when he tells Elena he is going to fight dirty to hold onto Aodhan in the first chapter, he says “I have told Suyin I am sending her more help. I am a kind fellow archangel.” That little bit of dry irony was marvelous. It’s such a great moment and encapsulates so much of Raphael’s character. He’s a good guy but not 100%. Every time you think he’s human, he reminds you that he isn’t quite–that he’s not above flexing his power overhanded-ly or underhandedly. What it takes to bring about what’s needed. And that he has a lot of power to flex.
Nalini Singh also does a terrific job of contrasting present-day Raphael with past Raphael, who was simpler, sweeter, softer, but still steel at the core. You can see the seeds of who he’ll become, even who he’ll be at his worst (book 1). It’s all there, and yet, he’s so much different, younger, less harsh. I loved his scenes with Illium when he was training him and when Illium thanked him for caring for Sharine, and his talk with Aodhan about what Illium needed after Agaeon abandoned him and Sharine. Around the time Aodhan is rescued he reflects that even though he’s known Aodhan since he was a child he sees him as a warrior, but he’ll never be able to look at Illium and not see the boy he was– that says so much. The extent of the surrogate father/surrogate son aspect of Raphael and Illium’s relationship was revealed so wonderfully. I hadn’t realized before how deep that went. And I loved the moment in the present-day storyline when Elena sees through to Raphael’s fear of madness and comforts him. You can see how she is his anchor, even though he can crush her like a bug if he ever wants to. All that was awesome.
I liked Dmitri’s Misha moment in this book. Precisely because of what Dmitri is like in his normal mode, I love every moment where he’s vulnerable/humanized.
Elena’s “Gotta keep my hand in,” was good to see too, I was starting to feel that the hunter in her was being sublimated in the last few books, so that was important. She’s a great consort but she needs to be more than that.
I don’t want to lose all this text so I’ll post. Predictions coming, though!
Edited to add: No, the clue I mentioned in the review was the bloody handprint on the mirror. Aodhan could tell it was either a woman or a youth, and then when they go inside the cave and see the clothes that fit a woman or a teen they never connect the two.
SPOILERS FOR ARCHANGEL’S LIGHT AND POSSIBLY FUTURE BOOKS
Now for predictions (besides the Jinhai/Lijuan stuff, which we already talked about):
1. Ascension is coming soon:
This past year has been nothing if not Aodhan gaining the experience of being the second of a new Archangel, so I think he’s ready for the role. Why is Suyin trying so hard to recruit Aodhan if he’s not ready? Why is he ready now? Really, why now, if not because he’ll have to step into those shoes very soon?
Also, when Suyin makes him the offer, there’s this:
One of my favorite lines in the book. It’s not just that it’s romantic, though it’s certainly that. He’s waiting for Illium’s ascension–that means he’s known it is coming, it’s a given to him. Not a “maybe” or an “I hope not.” His gut is saying it and we also know now that he is very attuned to unseen forces, right? And the fact that he doesn’t want to look too deep and see that it’s Illium speaks to how deep a place that knowing is coming from. It’s not about Illium being his friend, or even Illium being a future archangel. It’s about the archangel being Illium. That’s not quite the same if you think about it.
Then there’s this, in Illium’s POV:
They had always been each other’s North Star.
Adi and Blue.
Sparkle and Bluebell.
Illium and Aodhan.
Archangel and Second.
That’s almost a neon sign. Most of all because it’s the last way their connection is framed here, but also because it’s Illium thinking this, and Illium is the last person who wants to admit he’s destined for ascension. So I think it will happen in the next 1-3 books. I’m hoping I don’t have to wait three whole years for it because if I do, I will expire from sheer anticipation.
Okay, so, if we take it as a given that Illium will ascend soon, that has the potential to flip a lot of the game pieces on this board. Depending on what Nalini Singh does with it, of course. I’m just going to list some of my raw thoughts.
A. Illium and Aodhan will leave New York
Obviously, they’ll have to, because two archangels can’t be near each other for long (and I’m guessing we’ll learn more about why that is). But what are the ramifications of leaving New York for them? Let’s see…..
i. Acquiring a new territory: This is obvious too until you stop to think: Which territory? Who has it now? Who had it in the past? How will the angels and vampires in this territory feel about getting a new Archangel? Where are their loyalties going to lie?
ii. Setting up a new citadel/fortress/Tower-equivalent: What will this building look like? How long will it take to erect? (Good thing they just got some practice in doing that, too.) Once the place is up, who will help them run it? I for one would love to see them staff it and what it’s like to set up operations. We saw a bit of it with Suyin but I don’t have nearly as much stake in her territory as I will in Illium’s and I’d also like to see the staffing process from the ground up. Do they recruit people? How do they train together? How do they decide who fits what role when they have a lot of spots to fill all at once? Etc.
iii. Holding on to the new territory: Will anyone else covet this territory? I find it hard to believe it will all slide into place easily and smoothly, that never happens in this geopolitical landscape. Taking over a new territory is complicated and a lot of plot conflicts could result from it. Say for example that one of the other archangels wants it. They just got done telling Suyin that her citadel needs to be intimidating, and their territory has to be better than China. Which means that it’s all the more necessary to defend.
B. Illium will join the Cadre
Again, stating the obvious, but what are the ramifications of that? Illium has so many connections within the Cadre. Let’s take them one by one.
i. Raphael and Illium: They won’t be able to have the same kind of mentor/protege relationship they’ve had until now because if Illium is going to hold his own with the Cadre he’ll have to stand on his own two feet. So–to what extent will Illium be able to lean on Raphael or turn to him to support? Some, I think, but not that much. If Illium turns to Raphael in every difficult situation, he won’t quite be an Archangel. So he’ll have to figure some things out on his own. How hard will that be on Illium? And how hard will that be on Raphael, who we now know loves Illium as if he were his flesh-and-blood child? And then there’s the unvarnished fact that they won’t be able to spend as much time together because two Archangels can’t. When they do see each other, there will be the archangelic energy which will also make things less relaxing. This may impact Elena too; she’ll need to be there for Raphael since this probably won’t be the easiest time for him.
ii. Illium and Titus. This relationship will be impacted too, though of course not as much. Titus will have to start seeing and treating Illium as an equal but I don’t see how Sharine will make that easy, with all her “my boy” stuff, LOL. Still, he’ll have to contend with Illium’s power. I don’t mean just political power (though there’s that), but also archangelic power. I get the feeling Illium will have more of it than Suyin does, for example. Also, if Sharine wants to spend a lot of time with each of them she’ll have to do some flying back and forth.
iii. Illium and Agaeon: I anticipate our local neighborhood asshole will be proud of Illium in his overweeningly egocentric way. Which will piss Illium and Aodhan off more. Beyond this, I don’t know what may happen except that I think if Illium and Agaeon oppose each other on the Cadre and Raphael and Titus side with Illium it will be delicious to see.
iv. Illium and Caliane: This connection is more tenuous but Caliane *is* Sharine’s best friend and I think some big stuff is going to unfold with her and that the Cadre will come into it. If so, I think Sharine may come to Illium with a request to step in and take care of Caliane in some way. Of course, Raphael will also be involved but there are things he may be too close to the situation (emotionally speaking) to be able to help with.
v. Illium and Suyin: This is even more tenuous than Illium/Caliane except that Suyin and Illium have a bond of sorts through Aodhan. Illium will be privy to some insights into and thoughts about Suyin that Aodhan will have shared with him and that others in the Cadre may not have.
vi. Illium and Jason. Jason is not Cadre but he is Raphael’s spymaster. We’ve been told more than once that all Archangels spy on each other. So I wonder if the ascension will have any ripple effects on Aodhan and Illium’s relationships with Jason. Probably not, but maybe.
C. Will being an Archangel impact Illium’s personal character?
I am really fascinated by this one. Illium is a good guy and I think he’ll remain one. But of all the Seven, Illium is the most human, the most connected to mortals, the one who values his humanity the most. I would say even more than Raphael. Raphael fights hard to hold on to his humanity but that is Elena’s influence. With Illium it has always come from within, and not lightly or casually. It’s a deep-seated need in him. But… how easy is that for an Archangel? Archangels have to flex their power so he may not be able to sit in a mortal friend’s kitchen sharing cookies anymore and he really values that.
One thing I noticed when I read the book the second time was this conversation between Aodhan and Illium about how Raphael and Dmitri and their relationship changed:
The first time I read this I thought it was there to echo some of Aodhan and Illium’s fear that even a friendship and tight and long-lasting as their own could break down given enough years. The second time I read it, though, I noticed that it ends up being framed not just in terms of age but even more in terms of power, which I read to mean power as in energy potential, not just power as in dominion over others. And then it pivots fully to connecting that to Archangels and “those powerful enough to be their seconds.” So this could be about more than just Aodhan and Illium’s fear of a permanent break with each other–it could also be some kind of foreshadowing. If that’s the case then it’s possible that Illium will face a difficult internal battle.
I have more to say about Aodhan and Illium’s relationship and about Caliane, and some things I’d love to see but that I’m not at all confident we’ll get (wishful thinking, basically). But I’ve worn myself out. Maybe tomorrow or the day after!
Janine, I’ve been reading and pondering every word you’ve written. I’ve also been rereading the entire series in order, starting with the first book and not skipping any. (Not even Archangel’s Blade. I don’t love it like you do, but I did find some interesting stuff in it.) I’m on Archangel’s Shadows. (I’m a really fast reader, but also have to do unimportant stuff like going to work and keeping my house livable.) While Ashwini and Janvier aren’t my favorite couple, there’s a lot in their book about other, preferred characters like Elena, Raphael and Illium. Plus it’s a good lead-in to Archangel’s Enigma, the next book, which I do love. I think Naasir is adorable, partly because I’m such a cat person.
One of the things I’m finding in my reread is a lot of little clues leading to Archangel’s Light. I haven’t yet reached the episode where Illium begins to ascend, and I can’t remember which book it’s in. What I do remember, however, is that it nearly kills him because he’s not strong enough (yet) to handle the power, and he’s also not ready emotionally to leave Raphael. That makes me wonder if she won’t push it back for a few years because not that much time has elapsed – four or five years, at most? In other words, maybe she’s going to jump forward in the timeline before Illium ascends. At least that’s what feels right to me, and I could be wrong.
It’s possible that the bond he has with Aodhan will get him through that, however. That would be one way to make it work. But if I remember correctly Raphael ascended when he was only about 1000, which meant that an old fogey like Alexander had a hard time accepting him as an equal when he woke up. Illium is half that age. How much harder would it be for him to gain acceptance from all the Cadre members? Including his estranged dad, and Titus his “stepfather.” We know that Raphael will support him, but what about the rest? That would be the problem with him ascending in the current era. He doesn’t have the years behind him. I’m not talking about decision making, but acceptance as an equal. But on the other hand, jumping forward in time even 50 or 100 years might mean most of the mortals we now know would be dead, except perhaps children like Maggie, Zoe and Eve.
Someone else commented about children being born to archangels. Michaela is the obvious one, and now we have this new Angel who might or might not have been born to Lijuan, whose age at death was about 9000-10,000. Neha may have wanted to have another child before the death of her consort, but I don’t think there’s much chance of it happening now. Apparently she’s pretty tired and would really like to Sleep, but the Cadre can’t spare her. If there’s another high-powered Angel with a recent child, I don’t remember it.
If the story does move forward some years, that might be a good time for Raphael and Elena to have a child! I’m pulling for that, personally. I know, very scary, but I do suspect that it will happen eventually, especially since Elena’s recent rejuvenation has strengthened and matured her.
I’d vote against the return of Nadiel and hope Nalini doesn’t go there. Someone new if there’s going to be a love story for Caliane. She could make an intriguing heroine, but probably needs a younger man. Somebody suggested the Primary, but I don’t think of them as sexual beings, because they’re a unit, not individuals. Something would have to change for that to happen. Maybe Alexander. Speaking of Alexander, his grandson Xander is a cutie and might make a good future hero, with a warrior maiden since Elena seems to be his type. Tasha?
Does anyone know how long she intends to continue the series? When I’ve visited her website she doesn’t have an end date, but several times I’ve seen the statement that she’s contracted to write two or three more after the current book, naming it. So she must still be signing those contracts.
A few more of my thoughts, Janine.
Found Illium’s near-ascension at the very end of Archangel’s Enigma. (Yay, Veteran’s Day! Time to read for a public employee!) I have to say, Nalini will have a hard time pulling off Illium’s transition at the age of 500 if that’s what she has planned. It nearly killed him last time. He’s just not ready.
She would have to be really sneaky and find some way to get around the impossible. Or she has to shift forward in time. If Raphael could barely handle it at 1000, how could Illium manage? Some kind of shared power with Aodhan? Is that even possible? That’s the only solution I can come up with, but when it comes to archangels only one can hold ultimate power. Of course, she may have some other way to get around it, but I’m hoping it won’t happen for at least a few more books.
Plus, super sad for Raphael and the rest of the Seven. Who could possibly take their places? He’d need another pair of really talented angels, because vampires can’t do everything an Angel helper can. Raphael needs his strongest angels to look after the rest of his territory, so it would have to be new or previously minor characters. Maybe Isabel… but she’s described as an ascetic, and might have a hard time fitting in with Raphael’s rowdy gang. (But heck, girl power. Raphael needs a woman in the mix.) Maybe Xander? Part of his training in another archangel’s “court”? But Alexander probably wouldn’t want to lose him. He is adorable, however. I’d support his candidacy.
Another thing I noticed in Archangel’s Enigma is the fact that Caliane indicated that there were seven archangels Sleeping (that she knows of), including Alexander. I did a count, but can only come up with five more names: Zanaya, Cassandra, Qin, Antonicus, and Aegaeon all showed up in Archangel’s War. Who’s number seven? Might that seventh archangel show up soon to make trouble? Can’t include Nadiel, because he’s supposed to be dead, and I hope he stays dead because things are already complicated enough.
I still think it would be interesting for one of the Ancestors to show up, the ones supposedly Sleeping under the Refuge. They’re supposed to be different enough from modern angels as to be almost a separate species, which sounds pretty intriguing to me. And if Nalini is as sneaky as I think she is, that reference has significance. Really good authors don’t throw out random hints about past and present; eventually those references show up in the storyline in some kind of aha! moment for careful readers. I’ve been turned off by other authors not planning carefully enough, though I can accept some changes to previous storylines if the author is good enough to suspend my disbelief. (Christine Feehan failed the test, but don’t get me started on my ultimate disappointment with the Carpathian series.)
Kari, had surgery yesterday but I really want to reply and I will eventually. Subscribe to this thread and you will get an email notification when new comments (mine included) come in.
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Janine, I hope your surgery went well! I’ve been there. Reply when you feel up to it.
A couple more things turned up. In Archangel’s Heart another archangel who Slept was named, Tarquin. Apparently he was an artist and went to Sleep 50,000 years ago. (Hannah mentions him while in the gallery with Elena and Aodhan.) That makes seven.
In that same conversation Aodhan mentions his sister and parents in the present tense, so that answers the question about whether or not his parents are Sleeping right now. (Pages 166-67 in the paperback edition.)
Rereading Archangel’s Viper now! Not my favorite, but I don’t want to miss any further details. I’ve checked the box for follow-up comments. Get well and rest.
@Janine, sending good thoughts for a speedy recovery from your surgery.
@Kari S. and @Kareni: Thank you both. I’m doing a bit better today than I was yesterday.
@Kari! I am finally able to reply at length. I agree that Archangel’s Shadows has some things going for it (I love the dinner party at Raphael and Elena’s enclave house). It’s still one of my least favorites, though (I am not a fan of Archangel’s Prophecy either).
I actually think the fact that Illium wasn’t emotionally ready to leave in Archangel’s Enigma is a good thing from a narrative perspective. First, we know he feels better about the possibility of ascension at the end of Archangel’s Light, knowing Aodhan will be there to support him, than he did before. He still doesn’t want it, but it’s not terrifying anymore. He won’t want to leave and no one at the Tower will want him to either (he’s so beloved of everyone) but he’ll be (emotionally) able to. That means the books about it will be emotional and moving but not depressing. I’m all for that.
I don’t think there is going to be a big jump forward in time. In some ways, I would enjoy it (it would be an interesting reset) but I doubt she’ll go there because of the aging issue that you mention. She doesn’t kill off minor supporting characters even in situations that call for it (Archangel’s Legion, Archangel’s War, or Kiss of Snow in the Psy/Changeling series) and where I think it would add a valuable touch of realism, so I doubt she’ll want to take us to a future where Sara and Beth are in their eighties and Zoe and Maggie in their fifties. I just don’t see it happening.
I agree that it will be hard for Illium to get the respect and clout he’ll need as an archangel! Even Raphael may be overprotective, given what we learned about their dynamic in Archangel’s Light. But that could also add a little bit of tension to the Cadre meetings for him that would enhance the books. He’ll have to prove himself to them.
Re kids–I don’t know who the third archangel Nati was thinking of is either. I agree Neha isn’t in any state to have a child and I don’t think she will. Plus the way angel biology is, it’s not like you can just decide to have a child, go off the pill, and (most of the time) get pregnant within two years. Angelic births are rare because a species of immortals doesn’t need to populate fast so I take it you can wait centuries and it still may never happen.
I agree that Raphael and Elena will have a child eventually. I’m on the fence about it though–mainly because it will take forever to see the child grow up and I will get bored with seeing them visit a toddler God knows how many times. On the other hand, the illium and Aodhan toddlerhood flashbacks were so good that I may be wrong about that. I do get sick of Sascha and Lucas and their daughter in the Psy/Changeling books (it gets too syrupy for me) but Raphael is a more interesting character and with him, it may be more interesting than I give it credit for. I do wonder though if it will bring back his overprotective mode and I feel like I’ve had too much of that already in the first few books. On the other hand, I would love to see him teaching his baby to fly–pushing the child off a precipice as he did with Elena (because that’s the only way to teach flight). That would be terrifying and heartwarming at the same time. I can just imagine Elena’s reaction(s).
I would very much like to see Honor and Dmitri adopt a (human) child. It would help heal them and I think they’d be good parents. They were before. It would bring out a different side of Dmitri and one that’s much needed. And I remember that in Archangel’s Blade, it was mentioned that they looked at Holly/Sorrow almost as their adopted child. Now that she’s adult and happy, I think it would be good for them to have someone else to look after.
All that being said, I don’t want more than one child among Raphael and the Seven anytime soon. I would hate to see the Tower turn into a daycare. It works for the Psy/Changeling books (kind of) but I don’t think it suits this series, which is a lot darker and starker. It would undercut some of the necessary tension in the books.
Odds are good that Nadiel will turn out to be alive IMO. I’d put it at maybe 40%. Since you’ve just reread the series, what is the recent book where Raphael tells Elena how his father was immature and flawed but his mother could never see it because she was so in love with him? Archangel’s War?
One of the other recent books–maybe Archangel’s Light even, I know Aodhan had some thoughts about Caliane there–mentioned that Caliane’s emotional state might make her vulnerable to manipulation, or something like that. Maybe I read that in, though, and that’s not what was said. But if I’m remembering correctly, that is clear foreshadowing that Caliane will be manipulated by someone at some point in the future, and given what Raphael said about how Caliane was never able to see Nadiel clearly, that indicates to me that if someone is going to manipulate Caliane then the odds are good that it could be Nadiel.
Also, I noticed that there were mentions in Archangel’s Light of (A) what happened between Caliane and Nadiel and how it hurt a young Raphael (in Sharine’s POV early on) and (B) Raphael’s haunting fear of madness / mental degradation with aging, because of his parents. I don’t think the latter had been mentioned in quite a while prior to that. As an author, NS is quite good at planting subtle hints and reminding readers of things they will soon need to know because they’ll become a lot more relevant to the story. Look at how long she’s been seeding the Illium/Aodhan relationship, or how long she did that with Hawke/Sienna and with Caleb/the Ghost in the Psy/Changeling books. She writes in long arcs. So I think it could happen.
Regardless, if Nadiel does show up, I don’t think he’ll be Caliane’s hero. I think he’ll be a villain.
Re. a romance for Caliane, I really hope she gets one! She is one of the most complex characters in the series, with a lot of dimensions, and she has a lot of trauma to process. That could make a book about her really interesting. I think I said before that if NS puts her in an f/f relationship, that could work very well too. I don’t think she will, though, or at least not soon. It took her decades to write one same-sex couple and some of her readership was vocal in being angry about it. If she does ever do something like that, she’ll take her time IMO.
Who is Tasha? Remind me.
I’m guessing she’s planning to write the series indefinitely, for as long as there’s a market for the books.
Well, you know I wasn’t thrilled about the Aodhan/Illium pairing initially. But it works. I’m concerned about more explicit love scenes in future books, but as I said, I skim sex scenes these days. They tend to be very repetitious. Is there a vocal group of fans complaining? I don’t follow Goodreads or many other fan sites, mainly AAR and DA and Tor.com, though I haven’t been going there much lately. They did a reread of the Vorkosigan series that was really fun but got contentious at times. (Have you tried Lois McMaster Bujold? She’s brilliant. Very character-driven Sci Fi and fantasy.)
Tasha is Caliane’s PA (so to speak), who tried to rekindle the romance she had with Raphael, formerly her playmate. Elena calls her Tasha McHotpants and cordially dislikes her. She’s one of Caliane’s companions in Archangel’s Heart.
My main concern about Illium ascending now is that his body can’t handle the power. Nalini has said it repeatedly. I don’t know how she’ll get around that unless his bond with Aodhan could somehow share the power between them. I think that something has to change in order for him to have the strength necessary. He demonstrates a lot of physical strength in Archangel’s Light, but is it enough?
Yes, Raphael’s description of Nadiel’s faults is in Archangel’s War, after they visit Caliane on their way home from overseeing China. I hope you’re wrong about his resurrection. Mega trauma for Caliane, who’s been through enough already.
You made a minor criticism of the fact that Nalini rarely kills off even minor supporting characters. It may not be realistic, but I like it. I know in my own writing it’s really hard to kill characters, especially when I’ve grown attached to them. After rereading the Heartstone trilogy by Elle Katharine White this week – just as a change from angels – I was glad I already knew which supporting characters were going to die during the final conflict. It was a shock the first time, particularly with one character that I didn’t suspect would be killed. (Have you read the trilogy? It’s very good. Pride and Prejudice with dragons! It sounds crazy but it works for me. It got good reviews on AAR, but apparently none of the DA reviewers read it. Extremely creative portrayal of the myriad of supernatural characters.) Another good trilogy with creative supernaturals is the Greta Helsing series by Vivian Shaw. Greta is a physician to the supernatural world. Strange Practice is the first title.
Ahem. Sorry for the digression. I love to share favorite books!
Raphael is definitely still concerned about the possibility of going insane in Archangel’s War, and Elena has to assure him that she won’t let it happen. But when she does get pregnant, I think Raphael’s protective instincts are going to drive HER insane. For sure she may have to refrain from solo Guild work for the duration.
Honor and Dmitri adopting a child is an interesting idea, particularly since Dmitri is too old to actually sire one. Heaven knows there must be enough war orphans out there.
It’s possible that the extreme losses of life in the war may act as a trigger for angelic pregnancies. It would be an interesting twist, in my opinion. Think about the post-WWII baby boom. I’d love to see Sharine and Titus have a child, especially since it’s now unlikely that Illium will ever have children. I hope we catch occasional glimpses of Michaela’s son, and I’d really like to know who sired him. I like kids in books as long as they aren’t portrayed as too precious or cutesy, and Nalini did a good job with the Illium and Aodhan flashbacks.
Btw, I didn’t get any alerts about new posts in this thread, either, so thanks for emailing me. Looking forward to future posts!
@Kari S.: Great comment! I *love* your idea of Illium and Aodhan sharing power. It would certainly be a departure from anything we’ve seen but so is a made angel and we have one. I don’t know if Nalini Singh will do it, but I think she could pull it off if she wants to. Between (A) the bond they’ve had since they’ve been babies, and how we’ve been told it transcends friendship and (B) the fact that they are nearly equal in age and power, I could see it working. If they’re each five hundred then their combined years equal the age Raphael was when he ascended. Not only could their bond make a power transfer possible, I think it could even make it possible for both to ascend together and the be able to stay in the same territory harmoniously. And in some ways, it would make the personal relationship more equally balanced.
What I don’t know is how they could make leadership decisions together as a pair if this happens. Yes, they’ve been doing that for centuries so obviously it’s possible as two members of the Seven. But they don’t *rule* together and I have the impression that if they lead squadrons now they each have their own. When we’re talking about ruling or leading a group of people, someone has to be at the top, to make the final decision. So I don’t know.
(However, I do know that I don’t want Aodhan in an Elena-type consort role. It doesn’t seem right for him.)
Yes, I agree, it will be tough on Raphael and the rest of the Seven. On Elena too! But I think it’s inevitable. Now that ascension has been foreshadowed as much as it has, I don’t think she can keep it static.
I would love for Xander to join the Tower for training. I think Alexander might be persuaded to let him go so that he’ll be better prepared to serve as his Second someday. But maybe I’m fantasizing! The bigger issue with that would seem to me to be one of the loyalties, given all the spying archangels do on each other (even Suyin and Raphael are spying on each other!). Xander, Alexander, and Raphael are all good people and may not take advantage of such an arrangement to do that to each other, but I think it could still be a matter of protocol (who does Xander swear loyalty to?) and an unusual leap of faith. Raphael is capable of it, though (with Elena’s influence especially) so I wouldn’t rule it out at all.
Who is Isabel? I am completely blanking.
Yes, it’s about time that there was a female character among the Seven! I remember that when I started reading the series I felt it was sexist that they were all men.
(I had a similar problem with the Psy/Changeling books. There were two women close to the changeling leadership from the outset–a female lieutenant in the wolf pack and a female sentinel in the leopard pack since the beginning but it felt like tokenism to me since it was only one of each. Now Nalini Singh is rectifying that and there are two female alphas. We’ve already had a book for Selenka and I am very eager for Miane’s.)
This won’t happen, but I think it would be interesting for Andromeda to join the Tower. I love her and it would be nice to see more of her. She’s not really a warrior, though, right?
Before you made your point about angels vs. vampires, I was thinking it would be cool if Elena’s grandfather (I forgot his name) joined the Seven. But he is a vampire and not an angel so that won’t work. I would love to see more of him and of Magda, though. I love them.
Agreed. Nalini Singh is unusually consistent. I did notice on a recent reread of the first couple of books though that Illium had a slight British accent and Aodhan an (it was implied) Irish lilt. I have no idea where those came from or what happened to them!
I have never read the Carpathian series.
@ Janine: Brief answers to a couple of your questions.
Isabel has only made a couple of brief appearances so I’m not surprised you don’t remember her; it’s only my reread that brought her to my attention.
In Archangel’s Legion Raphael and Elena visit Amanat for Caliane’s ball. Isabel is Naasir’s partner, one of Raphael’s angels loaned to Caliane to help her out in the new era. Then in Archangel’s Enigma she reappears when Andromeda (and later Naasir) flee to Amanat after leaving China. Andromeda wonders what I would be like to live the life of an ascetic “asexual and serene” for so long. Isabel’s considered a skilled warrior. I have the feeling she would relax that lifestyle if Nalini decided to make a heroine out of her…
Andromeda isn’t a warrior but her natural father, Dahariel, taught her to fight. She was considered part of Alexander’s court in order to keep her out of her grandfather’s hands, but seeing as her grandfather met his end thanks to Titus, presumably she could change courts now. But I’m not sure she could ever be Seven material.
@Kari S.: Yes, there are a bunch of people on Goodreads that one-starred the book as soon as the cover and blurb were posted and they saw that it would be about Illium and Aodhan. They have all but torn their hair out and wailed about how awful it is that the author is doing this, without giving the book a chance.
On the page for Guild Hunter #15 (next year’s book), a few people posted that they hope that one will be about Illium and Aodhan too, and a few others got mad. One even posted this (one-star, naturally, though it’s not even known yet who that book will be about) “review” of it:
I understand having a preference (we all have ours) and being disappointed, but at the point where readers are seething over the author’s choices and breaking into two factions hurling insults at each other, there’s something wrong. Just don’t read it if you don’t want to, but don’t take it out on other readers or on a book that isn’t even written yet.
I had another thought re. replacing Illium and Aodhan–that maybe Raphael could send one of the vampires (not Dmitri, obviously) to the Refuge and recall Galen to New York. Of course, that could be an issue with Jessamy. It would be fun to see her learn to fly, though. And Galen make her work out, LOL. That could be romantic.
Ah yes, I remember Tasha now. She was more memorable than Isabel.
It is interesting how some Archangels have Seconds and some do not, don’t you think? But then, it’s hard to picture Caliane with a Second or Suyin without one, for example.
What you said about good authors not throwing out random hints is actually why I think there’s a decent chance that Nadiel isn’t dead. But I hope I am wrong about Nadiel’s resurrection also. It seems like it could turn into a soap opera. Also, Aegaeon has returned and that’s plenty. But even if it doesn’t happen I do think something hard on Raphael and on Caliane herself is going to happen with her. Potentially something major.
I agree re getting attached to characters. I write too and once I had to kill off a pretty major character. I felt like I’d lost someone I knew personally and it was a struggle to go back to the project. I decided afterward that I wouldn’t try to write a project that requires it in the future.
However, I’m not talking about a major character in this case. Someone more minor, but that has appeared in at least a few books. With the same prominence as Izzy (but not so sweet or young as Izzy, that would hurt too much) or DeMarco or maybe even Ransom. Someone the characters care about but that readers aren’t fully invested in.
Yes, it would hurt but some books need it. Not every book obviously but in one like Archangel’s Legion or Archangel’s War, it feels like the characters are cocooned when that happened, protected and cosseted. The danger stops feeling dangerous when you know that they’re all safe. I do roll my eyes a bit, personally.
I have not read the Heartstone books. P&P retellings are tricky for me, it seems it’s hard for authors to get the Austen-ish voice right. I might try it though, or Strange Brew.
Have you read Ilona Andrews’ Hidden Legacy series? They are the most successful recommendation I’ve been able to make to fans of the Guild Hunter series. The heroine is also strong, warm, and determined, the heart of her family (where a lot of her relatives have interesting powers and/or skills). The hero is scary at first, incredibly powerful, and totally committed to her once he falls in love with her. There’s more humor and action than in the Guild Hunter series. The world is fresh and interesting. It’s important to start at the beginning, with Burn for Me.
Same here. You don’t ever have to apologize for that.
I agree, when Elena and Raphael have a child Raphel will regress to his formerly overprotective self. I’m not eager for that. I’d actually enjoy more of a role reversal, Elena being a touch overprotective of the baby and Raphael reminding her that the child needs to find their wings.
It is not clear to me whether if both biological parents of a child are vampires the child is born human. Has that ever been answered?
I am not in favor of Sharine having a child. I know it’s biologically possible but I think of her as an older adult. With her fuzzy memory and being out of touch with technology, she reads like one and I love her that way. Also, her bond with Illium is so great that–for lack of a better way to put it–I don’t want anything else to clutter it for me as a reader. And I think she needs time to absorb what happened there, too. I do think Titus would be a great dad.
I don’t want an angel baby boom but I would like to see Michaela’s child.
Some other wants:
I really, really, really want Elena’s sister Eve to come into the forefront more and possibly get a book of her own. I would love to see Elena and Eve bond more and for Eve to get an idea of what Jeffrey was like before she was born, and I also want to learn more about what her relationship with her parents is like. I’m rereading Archangel’s Consort now and I’m taken with Eve’s mom (I forgot her name). I think that relationship (Eve and her mom) could be interesting as well. And I plain like Eve from the little I’ve seen of her.
I want to see the Legion return and differentiate. I agree with you that from what we’ve seen up until now they are a unit and don’t seem sexual and that therefore they would not make good heroes. *But* (unless I imagined it), wasn’t there a mention or two at one point that they might begin to develop independent personalities and appearances?
If so, that would be fascinating to follow. And then I would really enjoy getting to know a couple of them, especially the Primary, and seeing his thoughts about the modern world juxtaposed with his fuzzy memories of another time. It would be interesting to see a character (or a few) like that adjust to modern life, find a new role, etc. I would enjoy that.
I also want lots more about Illium and Aodhan, at least another full-length book. I want to see how their personal relationship develops from here out.
I know Andromeda isn’t Seven material but I just want to see more of her. She is such a great character so I hope Nalini comes up with a reason for her to turn up in New York more often, at least.
Though it would be sad, I would still like to see the human characters like Sara and Deacon aging relative to Elena. Sara get her first gray hair or a laugh line while Elena remains forever young. Zoe and Maggie must be growing up by leaps and bounds over the years as well, and I’d love to see more of that. It’s a fascinating element of the world that has been under-explored in recent books. I don’t want the humans killed off but I do want to see a bit more of this kind of thing.
With regard to what you say about Isabel being an ascetic asexual, I think that could actually be interesting. Not all asexual people are aromantic, though that is a common misconception. Some fall in love and have very romantic and loving relationships, just without sex. That could be interesting to explore but it would take a special kind of hero. You are right though that she could evolve, particularly since she is an angel and we’ve been told their sexual orientations can fluctuate or evolve over time, or not.
(By the way, I like that way of conceptualizing the meeting place of sexuality and immortality; it makes a lot of sense in context, and I also like how accepting angel society is because of it.)
Like you, I desperately want a new villain other than Lijuan. I’m more than over-satiated when it comes to her. A Sleeping ancient would be much more interesting.
@Janine (replying to a couple of posts). Yes, I ran across Aodhan’s slight Irish accent in yet another reread of Archangel’s Heart, which is one of my favorites in the series. I love the intro and rescue of Elena’s grandparents. Making Jean-Baptiste one of the Seven is a good idea, and I like him too, but I think it will have to be angels since there are already three vampires in the mix and Janvier is almost an honorary member, making four. (Even though Naasir isn’t exactly a normal vampire.) Galen doesn’t spend much time in New York because of Jessamy, and Jason is frequently absent as well because of his duties. More angelic power will be needed if Raphael loses both Illium and Aodhan to ascension. Only if Jessamy heals would Galen move to New York, and I can’t see him and Jessamy staying long. Her duties are at the Refuge.
Anyway, Aodhan’s slight Irish accent is explained as being the result of studying art as a youth in Ireland (pp. 51-52 in the paperback edition of Archangel’s Heart). I also noticed the mention of Illium’s slightly British accent in an earlier book, but no explanation for it that I can recall. Don’t ask me which book, however. That was days ago!
Now that I’ve reread the book that featured a lot of Xander I’d really like to see him spend some time in New York. Should we start campaigning for it? I don’t think he could join the Seven because of the loyalty/fealty issue, however. Not unless something bad happened to Alexander, and we don’t want that! He’s one of the most reasonable archangels and more likable than some of the others. Both Alexander and Xander have potential as heroes, but Xander is probably too young to have a serious romance (in Angel years) at this time.
I don’t think Nalini would treat Aodhan as a consort. It seems pretty clear that he will be Illium’s second on an official basis, and possibly also sharing the power in the way Elena assists Raphael but more so. That they are also mated will be a separate issue. I’m pretty sure that the two of them will get at least one more book together, and I will read it.
That’s too bad about the group who is so anti-Illium and Aodhan. Even though I wasn’t completely happy at the prospect I was willing to give it a chance. It does work as a relationship. But I have to be honest, M/M sex scenes will not be within my comfort zone, and the lack of them in this book was a bit of a relief. One reviewer made the remark that she thought Nalini was wise to tone it down in order to work up to things for the sake of her non- M/M readers. Pre-judging a book that hasn’t even been described is just silly.
Regarding vampires with children, I thought it was pretty clear that baby vampires couldn’t survive. That’s why Dmitri had to mercy-kill his little son. I’m pretty sure that any children born to vampires would be normal humans, like Maggie. Speaking of children, Naasir seems pretty sure that he and Andromeda will eventually have “cubs,” but in my opinion they will have to adopt unless Keir is able to somehow pull off a miracle. Naasir is human crossed with a tiger, with vampire tendencies added by his creator, Osiris (for longevity, I think). I’m not aware that any Angel has ever successfully bred with another species. Elena has Angel DNA now, which is why she could have a child with Raphael. I think that Raphael will be ultra-protective when she’s pregnant. It will drive Elena crazy.
Regarding other books, yes I’ve read Ilona Andrews. I like Kate Daniels and the related books about Julie/Aurelia and Hugh. I liked several of the Edge books but did not finish the last one. I really like the Hidden Legacy series and it’s an easier series to reread. I’m glad that they have finally finished the third book about Catalina, but apparently they had a really hard time with it. It will be released in about a year. It doesn’t sound like the books about the third sister (and various relatives) will ever be written, according to their blog. For one thing, they can make more money if they self-publish, and for another, they don’t have a contract for another trilogy.
Heartstone is only vaguely Pride and Prejudice in most ways. The first book has a similar plot regarding the Darcy/Daired and Lizzy/Aliza relationship. I think she really succeeds in capturing Darcy’s character. There is a Wickham character who is even worse than the original. The series has a pretty high body count. It has a Jane and Bingley side plot and I think Jane/Anjey is ultimately more interesting than the original. The largely social ramifications of the plot become life and death situations. The second and third novels have all new plots. The characters based on Lady Catherine, Charlotte and Mr. Collins all have unexpected depths throughout the series. (Lady Catriona’s dragon is the one who has an angry scene near the end of the first book with Aliza, not Lady Catriona herself. Aliza comes close to being roasted!) Really it’s simply a great, creative trilogy with P&P inspirations. I really hope the author returns to the world she created and writes sequels featuring the sisters of the two main characters.
I have read many P&P sequels and they’re a mixed bag. I have favorites that I’ve kept and many that I’ve discarded for poor writing, bad characterization, or high improbability. (Jane’s daughter becomes a ninja?) Carrie Bebris is one of the most successful sequel writers in my opinion. She’s written a series featuring Mr. and Mrs. Darcy solving mysteries based on each of Austen’s novels, including Sandition. I like her characterizations. Unfortunately she seems to have stalled now that she’s run out of Austen books.
Strange Brew? I’m not familiar with that.
Back to Guild Hunters, what a good idea to have Eve as a heroine! I agree that Nalini seems to be expanding the character, but she’d have to jump about eight-ten years in the timeline because I think Eve’s maybe 16-18 now, too young for a mature heroine, which seems to be Nalini’s usual. (Hey, Xander and Eve! What a star-crossed match that would be! Just kidding… mostly.) Yes, it will be hard on Elena to watch her friends age. If Eve serves as a heroine I suspect she will be Made. Otherwise, no long-term relationship (in immortal terms).
It may not be realistic, but I’m glad she hasn’t yet killed off any of Elena’s friends… with the exception of the Legion. Maybe that will change in the next big war. Maybe the Legion will be reborn with individual personalities. I’d love to see one of them as a main character, but they will need to learn to explain things, or no self-respecting heroine will put up with them.
I don’t think there will be a non-sexual romance in the series. Sex is too much a part of the stories. I may skim the scenes, but I’m glad it’s there. I think if Isabel becomes a heroine, she will probably change. But that’s just my opinion. I didn’t get the impression that being asexual is her way of being. I think it’s a choice, for part of her life. But who knows? Only Nalini! (I met her once, btw. She’s very nice.)
@Kari S.: Sorry for the delayed response.
I agree that it will have to be angels who are added to the Seven and you’re almost certainly right about Jessamy, too. I was just musing earlier. I wish I knew more about Galen, he’s something of a cipher. I feel that way even though I’ve read his and Jessamy’s novella.
Illium’s British accent is mentioned in each of the first three books in the series (I haven’t reread further than those this year so it may be in others as well) and in Archangel’s Kiss it is even described as an “aristocratic” English accent. It makes me wonder if Illium’s territory will be in western Europe and if he’ll make London his base. Do you remember whose territory that is right now?
How old is Xander? I’ve forgotten. I don’t find Alexander attractive and don’t care if he gets a book but Xander is a different story.
I phrased it poorly, but what I meant was that I don’t want a significant power gap between them. A power differential like the one between Raphael and Dmitri where one is subordinate to the other doesn’t work well for Sparkle and Bluebell in my imagination. Aodhan and Illium have always been near-equal (the point was made over and over in Archangel’s Light), almost the same in age and angelic power, and Illium’s ascension could alter that if something out of the ordinary doesn’t happen to Aodhan in the process. Illium already has other advantages, such as the fact that he’s got so many more friends and contacts than Aodhan does. Illium has generally speaking gotten more attention in the books than most of the Seven, including Aodhan, and Raphael views him almost as a son. Maybe what I’m saying is that I’m protective of Aodhan, and I don’t know how it would work if Illium is also Aodhan’s boss. Of course, Nalini could prove me wrong! She has before.
I understand your feelings re m/m sex scenes. I’m a firm believer that we don’t choose our turn-ons and I don’t blame people when something doesn’t work for them on that level. I’m not personally turned on by anal whether it’s m/m or m/f. I have a friend who recoils at any kind of sex where someone is tied up, even if it’s very light bondage, whereas many readers think it is sexy. Someone else I know is asexual and would enjoy romance more if the books had no sex or lust at all.
I am not sure that Nalini Singh’s reason for not having a sex scene in Archangel’s Light has anything to do with easing her readership into it. It’s possible but the book would not have lent itself to sex scenes either way IMO. The relationship had to develop very slowly both for narrative reasons and for structural reasons and I don’t think it would have been as good a book if she had shoehorned a sex scene into it.
I know that children can’t be made into vampires. I didn’t express myself well but what I meant was that while we’ve seen Maggie, her mother is human. What’s hard for me to visualize is two vampires producing a human child. I don’t recall seeing that before so I wonder if it happens in this world. Has that ever been specifically addressed?
Regarding Naasir’s certainty that he and Andromeda will have cubs, that could easily be a metaphor for adopted children. Naasir applies the word “cubs” to young Aodhan and Illium in Archangel’s Light as well:
There are a couple of other mentions like that, one where Naasir accepts that Raphael is the one who will punish the kidnappers, “They’re your cubs,” and another when Naasir talks about having adjusted to dealing with Illium and Aodhan as adults because “Cubs grow.”
Nalini Singh has written leopard/psy and leopard/wolf mixed children in the Psy/Changeling series, so even the possibility of Naasir and Andromeda having a mixed biological child isn’t completely out of the realm of possibility. For me it would be a stretch to believe, though, since angel/vampire and angel/human mixed offspring have not been mentioned in the past despite multiple angel/vampire and angel/human sexual encounters.
Yes, I know that we won’t be getting Arabella’s book in the Hidden Legacy series. It’s too bad, I was so looking forward to it.
Thanks for the recommendation. I’ll look into Heartstone and perhaps into the Bebis books as well, though I’m not a big reader of mysteries.
Sorry, I meant Strange Practice, not Strange Brew. I’m not sure where that came from! I’ll look into Strange Practice too.
I thought of another good recommendation for you–Sharon Shinn’s Samaria series, which begins with Archangel. It is technically speaking not urban fantasy since it takes place in another world but it’s very accessible to readers who don’t read fantasy. It was one of the books that converted me to reading in that genre because everything was so easy to grasp and relatable. Shinn’s series predates the Guild Hunter books and has a much different tone, less action-oriented, but it’s still captivating. There are some things in common, mainly gorgeous descriptions of flight and the angel characters being all too fallible. The books are romantic and I think you will like them. The first of them is Archangel, although if you were to read them in order of the chronology of events you might start with Angelica. You can’t go wrong with either one.
Yes, Eve is a great character and would make a strong heroine. I don’t think her age is that big an issue. I could be wrong, but I think she was seventeen in Archangel’s War. Singh had a nineteen-year-old heroine in the psy/changeling series, Sienna in Kiss of Snow (one of the best books in the series IMO, even though the hero was thirty-six–there was a hotly debated controversy about whether the author would go there, just as there was with Archangel’s Light), and Brenna in Caressed by Ice was twenty-three I believe, though most of the heroines in that series are older than that. I don’t think she will write a book for Eve when she is as young as nineteen but twenty-three or so is not unlikely, and time sometimes moves fast in the Guild Hunter series, for example, a year has passed between Archangel’s War and Archangel’s Light. And yes, I agree, if that happens then Eve will be Made.
I didn’t mean that it should be one of Elena’s friends who died, I was just using them to illustrate the level of prominence a character who dies in a war should have–that I would like it to be a recurring, established but still minor character. I think it would be more meaningful if the character was someone we know from the Tower, but I couldn’t think of a Tower member with that level of prominence when I tried.
I am 100% sure that the Legion will return. Whether they will be the same or different at that point, that I can’t say.
LOL! Agreed of course.
You’re probably right re. Isabel. I noticed when I reread Archangel’s Consort that Elena had this thought about Vivek:
That suggests that when NS uses the word “asexual” to describe a character, she may not mean someone who is literally asexual and that it could also be someone who is choosing to abstain.
I haven’t met Nalini but I have interacted with her some on Twitter and I agree that she’s very nice. I’m hoping to interview her here when the next Guild Hunter book comes out.
Oh, I hope you do get to interview Nalini! I met her at a RWA literacy signing in San Francisco many years ago. Met Nora Roberts and Christine Feehan, too. I was hooked on the Carpathian series years ago, but gave up eventually because of plot holes and the sameness of each book. Plus some really annoying supporting characters and an insistence upon nearly every heroine having horribly tragic pasts. (Especially rapes.) Yes, Nalini does that too, but not as egregiously.
I hope your recovery is still going well. Surgery can be tough. Also hope that you had a good Thanksgiving, if you celebrate it. My week (on vacation!) was pretty relaxing and I got in a lot of reading. Every time you post a comment I end up going back and rereading something. This time it was the last third of Archangel’s War, trying to find something but getting caught up in whatever is going on. Even when I’m in the middle of a different book! And I just reread Archangel’s Light. All of your ideas had me looking at the story of Jinhai with interest and suspicion.
You mentioned Vivek, and I wanted to comment that I suspect he will end up being a hero in a future book. Probably not until he’s out of the wheelchair, which means not for a few years (timeline wise). Though it is said that he’s recovering faster than Keir predicted! Who knows what might happen? He may have been asexual because of his body being uncooperative but in a later book he mentions having a virtual sexy encounter with a woman, so I think he’s definitely interested in the eventual possibility of sex.
Eve is 16 in Archangel’s War, which would make her 17/18 since at least a year and a half has passed by the end of Archangel’s Light. I’d guess you’re right that she will probably be at least 23 before she makes heroine status. It’s possible that Zoe and Maggie will get their own stories, too. Zoe is already a little warrior and her “toy” weapons have been passed on to Maggie. I have one mild grumble. Could Maggie, in pink everything, be any more of a girly girl? Hopefully she’ll grow out of that! But Beth is the same way…
Nothing has been said recently about an archangel in Western Europe to my knowledge. The only European archangel in recent books has been Michaela and her base is in Eastern Europe, but I suspect she supervises the entire region. Theoretically the boundaries could change. (Uram may have been in Europe, but I can’t remember right now. Have to go back to Angel’s Blood to refresh my memory.) It seems feasible for Illium to end up there, and since Aodhan has a history in Ireland it would make sense. Didn’t Aegaeon end up with Michaela’s territory? On a temporary basis since he says he wants to go back to Sleep, of course. Maybe Illium will take over when that happens.
I think Illium and Aodhan will be able to work out an appropriate balance when they get to the point of being archangel and Second. Possibly they will know each other and their strengths so well that orders between them won’t be necessary, but we certainly know that they have disagreements! So do Elena and Raphael.
I don’t remember a vampire-with-vampire pairing with human children but I don’t think it’s impossible. I know that (for example) Dmitri is too old to have children with Honor because I do remember some mention of only about 200 years of fertility for either sex after a conversion to vampirism. That’s the only restriction that I remember Nalini coming out and stating in a novel. In the Nimra/Noel story, Noel does tell Nimra that he can’t give her a child to replace the one she lost years earlier, but she tells him that there are always children who need homes so she’s okay with that. Plus, kittens! That sealed the deal.
Trace (supporting character in several novels) is out there as a possible hero. Xander is 200 years old as of Archangel’s Heart. Probably a bit young for a romantic hero at this point, but not impossible. (Isn’t Izzy even younger?) Alexander I’m neutral about. Like you, I do think Caliane will get her own book.
It’s even possible that Michaela, made newly humble by near-death, could wind up a heroine in the distant future. She’s not irredeemable, something she proved in Archangel’s War. There are several interesting characters out there who could wind up as heroes or heroines but only if the timeline was to shift forward, for instance Michaela’s son.
Killing off characters for me, personally, is very difficult unless the story was always structured that way. It could be that Nalini had to invent a new character (like Gadriel in Archangel’s War) in order to bring herself to kill him off. Elena mourned him. Nalini may be reluctant to kill a character she’s already attached to. That’s a good question to ask in an interview, actually. Make a note of it for next year!
There aren’t very many Tower inhabitants that we know of by name outside of the Seven (and mates) except for pretty minor characters; Trace, Nisia and Lucius (lab tech) are most prominent, along with Montgomery and his wife (although she never seems to appear, people just talk about her).
I did notice that all of the airport personnel made it through Archangel’s War, even though one of them (Andreja) was hit with the Lijuan ray of Black Death and had to be healed. (She was hitting on Laric in that scene, which was cute. Another possible hero and heroine? I don’t know which book it was in, but Andreja was described as being “on vacation” this century serving as an air traffic controller because she likes watching planes. We need another mature female Angel as a heroine.)
I think Suyin will be one! She will have to deal with Jinhai, but with the help of healers. Maybe she and Keir? Just a thought.
I can’t imagine how, but I’m also pretty sure that the Legion will come back. When I try to come up with a possible scenario I blank out, so it’s a good thing I’m not writing the series! I do agree that bat wings don’t sound terribly sexy, which somebody in this thread said earlier. But with the Cascade finished, what power could possibly revive them? Will they remember Elena and Raphael, who loved them?
In other books…
I’m familiar with Sharon Shinn and the Samaria books are on my keeper shelves. I think I’d call them science fiction, not fantasy, because by the end of the series it’s been proven that there’s a scientific explanation for what was previously regarded as being the result of direct action from their god. I agree that you can’t go wrong with either Archangel or Angelica, but boy do I want to strangle both Rachel and Miriam at various points in the stories! I also love Shinn’s stand-alone fantasy Summers at Castle Auburn. I haven’t been as captivated by her more recent books. I didn’t really enjoy the series that began with (I think) Mystic and Rider. I liked the Elemental Blessings first novel but haven’t reread it or read the later books, though I have them. I will get to them eventually. I have corresponded with her by email. She is a really nice person and I haven’t given up on her, but she seems sort of stuck as a mid list author and has had a hard time recently finding a publisher, which is a real shame.
I tend to read across multiple genres, including historical (mostly) mysteries, sci fi, fantasy/urban fantasy and romance. Also the odd children’s or YA novel. I work in an elementary school library and also have a large personal picture book collection of both fiction and nonfiction, and particularly love really well illustrated fairy tales. Plus history, as I was a history major. So I read a lot, in a variety of genres. I just saw Dune in the theater (recommended! Best version yet!) and will be rereading that next after I finish the Brother Cadfael mysteries. But as a romance reader at heart, I only read the original Dune and not the sequels, because they don’t have happy endings.
Do try Strange Practice! The trilogy does have some happy romantic pairings. I forgot to mention something about Carrie Bebris and the Mr. and Mrs. Darcy series. I gather that the author wrote fantasy beforehand, and several of the first few Darcy books have definite fantastic elements. Apparently the mystery readership didn’t care for that, and she pretty much dropped that element in the later books. (Darcy is a skeptic, but Elizabeth has a more open mind.) There are a total of seven mysteries, but nothing since 2015 when she ran out of Austen novels. Supposedly she planned to continue, but her website hasn’t been updated since 2017, always a bad sign. (Even worse, I’ve had another favorite mystery author whose website disappeared, her email discontinued, and only know of one self-pubbed novel by her since.)
I thought of another author by whom I’ve read a few books, Grace Draven. I’ve read her three Wraith King novels: Radiance, Eidolan and The Ippos King. There are meant to be several more, and I hope that happens. Most of her books have been self-pubbed, but a few years ago she did find a publisher for one series, though not this one. I’m still waiting for the paperback edition of the third Wraith King book! I have a Kindle version, but really prefer physical books. I really like The Wraith Kings. The first book is sort of a beauty/beast variation, but who the beauty is and who’s the beast is a matter of opinion. No magical transformations included, but I’d call them fantasy romances, and the first two books are about the same couple.
Draven’s other books are described as being a bit darker, so I haven’t tackled any of them yet. The In Death series is about as dark as I can tolerate (referring to the violence level and frequent serial killer plots) and the Guild Hunters aren’t exactly light. I tried Jim Butcher but when a love interest of the hero died in book one I wasn’t going to go there. I need my happy endings! I get melancholy every time I reread Lord of the Rings because of the bittersweet ending (including the appendixes). But I love it!
I could talk about books forever.
@Kari S.: Yes, I’m recovering well, thanks for asking.
I also suspect that Vivek will get a book eventually. In one of the books, I spotted a mention that he was unusually strong because it was Aodhan who Made him and now I wonder if he’ll go with Illium and Aodhan to their territory when they leave.
I’m doubtful that Zoe and Maggie will get their own stories; the series would probably have to jump forward in time and as I said before I don’t see that happening. How old are Zoe and Maggie now?
(Regarding the pink girly girl thing, it is interesting that Nalini Singh is having them dress so similarly. I have noticed that many of the heroines in her books are short and curvy, too.)
I can’t remember if I said this already and if so, forgive me–I’d rather that Elena’s other sister, Amethyst, also become a heroine. I know that Amethyst isn’t hunter born and even though I think you don’t have to be hunter born to become a guild hunter, I don’t foresee Amethyst becoming one. However, I do think she could get some kind of job a the Tower and become part of the cast that way.
I just reread Archangel’s Consort (book three) and it really bothered me that Elena gave so much more attention to Eve than to Amethyst. Yes, Amethyst was chilly, but she was only thirteen and she is Elena’s sister. I don’t think seeing Elena give attention to Eve but not to her will make her feel any better about Elena and in fact I think it could make her feel worse. It doesn’t speak well of Elena that she has not given this thought.
(TBH, I also don’t understand why prior to the attack on their school Elena only watched over her half-sisters from afar and didn’t try to develop a relationship with them. She kept in contact with Beth and Beth is a wet blanket.)
If Eve becomes a heroine then I think Amethyst could come into the story more. I would like to see some kind of relationship develop between her and Elena–they are sisters!
Uram and Michaela shared Europe before Uram turned bloodborne. I think maybe Uram had western Europe and Michaela Eastern Europe–I know she was called the Queen of Constantinople and I think Prague may also have been mentioned in relation to her. I don’t remember what happened with Uram’s territory after he died or with Michaela’s after she disappeared. What territory is Qin watching over now, do you know?
Question: Does Raphael hold all of North America or just New York and Louisiana? I don’t remember references to other parts of his territory.
I’m sure Illium has some kind of history in England as well since his British accent was mentioned in at least three different books. I wonder what it is?
In one of the earliest books (I want to say the first one) it was mentioned that vampires could only sire children for one century (not two). I get what you are saying about how two vampires may be able to produce a human child but I have a hard time picturing it anyway. Do you remember if we’ve seen a pregnant vampire before? That’s another thing I can’t remember. Maybe it’s only male vampires who can have a biological child but not female ones? Again, I’m not suggesting that it isn’t possible for female vampires. It’s more that we’re now on book fourteen. There have been so many vamp characters and we’ve seen so few children of theirs (relative to humans). When something isn’t shown over the course of fourteen years it gets hard to keep in mind that it’s a regular part of life in the Guild Hunter World.
I haven’t read the Noel/Nimra story and I would like to.
I know we’ve seen Trace in a few books but I don’t have a good grasp on who he is. I’ll have to pay more attention as I keep rereading.
I thought Izzy was about two hundred. Wouldn’t he still be in the refuge if he were much younger?
And re. Xander— yes, if he’s two hundred then he’s too young too (my impression is that its around the human equivalent of twenty) So I guess no Xander book for us. Ever, probably, since I don’t think she’ll shift the timeline forward even as much as fifty years (I’m not necessarily opposed, mind you, it could be kind of cool).
For the same reason, I definitely don’t see Michaela’s son getting a storyline (that would need to be at least a jump of at least two hundred and fifty years ahead to work).
Re Michaela as a heroine— never say never, but she’d need to show a lot of personal growth first. If we’re talking about morally ambiguous female archangels then I’d much rather have a book for Caliane.
Oh yes, Suyin will definitely get a book. I’m not sold on Keir though. Keir has to live in the Refuge, like Jessamy. And he doesn’t have much charisma.
I think the Legion’s return might be tied in some way to Elena’s new ability with plants and growing things, and the green legion mark she has now. And—didn’t the Legion essentially rise from the dead when they first showed up in New York? And that was connected to Raphael’s blue legion mark.
Re Shinn’s Samaria books—I thought of describing them as SF to you but I wasn’t sure you’d read them and didn’t want to spoil Jovah’s Angel for you. I also found the Twelve Houses (Mystic and Rider) series less satisfying (except for Dark Moon Defender, which I loved) and only read the first of the Elemental Blessings novels. I heard the later ones are better though.
Last year I read her Uncommon Echoes series. You can find the reviews here at Dear Author if you search under her name. I didn’t care for book three at all but the first two were good, especially the middle one (Echo in Emerald). I recommend them. I agree she’s nice (I’ve interviewed her and she’s also sent me arcs to review). It’s too bad she’s had some difficulty finding a publisher but I hope she keeps self-publishing because she’s too good a writer!
Have you ever read Seanan McGuire’s October Daye books? The first couple books aren’t as strong as the rest but I like the series a lot overall. If you haven’t read them I think you might enjoy them.
Another one you might like is Ben Aaronovitch’s Rivers of London series. The romance in those is very subtle and slow to develop so if you read primarily for that you might not be satisfied. I enjoy that aspect of the books but also love the hero. He is such a great character.
I have tried Grace Draven a couple of times but her voice just doesn’t work for me.
Have you read Kristin Cashore’s Graceling series?
Darn, I had a long message written and lost it. Should have sent it sooner! (I think it was my phone update that did it in.)
Though I think you’re right and we won’t see Michaela’s son as a hero, with angels aging so slowly, I don’t find it out of the question that we’ll see stories for Zoe and Maggie. Zoe must be about ten by now, and Maggie at least five. Zoe seems likely to become either a Guild Hunter or a weapons maker like her dad. She would make a reasonable heroine in 12 or 15 years of book timeline, and while her parents would have a few wrinkles, they won’t be senior citizens. If I’m figuring correctly, about ten years of book time has passed since Angel’s Blood. I think Nalini will keep advancing the timeline, (albeit slowly), especially since it seems likely that Elena will have a baby.
Regarding Amy, I don’t think it’s Elena’s fault that they aren’t friendly. Amy has the odd idea that being friends with Elena would be disloyal to her mom, which doesn’t make sense to me. She’s made overtures, but Amy isn’t interested and she respects that. Hopefully Amy will change her mind. If Eve becomes a heroine it seems likely Amy would take a bigger part in that story. At least Amy calls Elena when Eve is in trouble. I don’t know whether Amy also shuns Majda and Jean-Baptiste but it would be even stranger if she accepted them but not Elena.
Amy taking a job at the Tower would be exciting, but I don’t think it would make her dad happy. It can be a dangerous place to work. Think of the poor receptionist whose bonsai got violent when Elena admired it! Amy would need some kind of special skill to justify such a step.
Don’t write off Michaela as a possible heroine. If Ilona Andrews can turn Hugh into a hero and sympathetic character (even if it did start out as an April Fool’s joke), Michaela has potential. I don’t have my heart set on it, but when she was one of the first to show up in New York, and was civil to Elena before basically sacrificing herself, something about the situation made me wonder if Nalini had Plans for her, and she claims to have been transformed by motherhood. I’m sure we’ll read about Caliane first, however.
I don’t know about Izzy, but I have a feeling that Nalini has Plans for Xander as well. It’s not out of the question that angels have serious love affairs at a young age (see: Illium). Mihaya had a lover before Jason, too, and I think she’s about 200. Otherwise why would she pay so much attention to such a minor character?
Raphael is archangel of all of North America. I don’t know whether Central America is under his control or Elijah’s, but it seems to be considered part of North America by geographers. Elijah willingly gave up control of North America when Raphael ascended. It’s true that the only places described in any detail are in New York State, but other places visited in stories include Louisiana, Atlanta, and Boston. She just hasn’t written about the rest of North America, but his territory certainly includes Canada and probably even Greenland.
Regarding vampires and babies, it doesn’t seem reasonable that only young male vampires can have offspring. I’ll have to try and find the reference that made me think 200 years of fertility was possible. We have never seen a vampire heroine; all heroines so far have been angels or Guild Hunters. Of the vampire heroes we’ve seen, I think all of them, even Venom, have been too old to sire children.
Noel and Nimra’s story “Angel’s Wolf,” is very sweet. It’s in the Angel’s Flight anthology, which has one of the most gorgeous covers I’ve ever seen. Plus the story features cats! What more can you ask? (Noel is the vampire who was nearly killed at the Refuge in Archangel’s Consort.)
I have read Graceling and Fire, and preferred Graceling, though I was bothered by the heroine refusing to commit to the hero. I’ve got Bitterblue and will probably reread/read them all when the next one is available in paperback.
I will look into the other authors you suggest. I haven’t tackled Seanan McGuire yet, though I’ve read enough about her work to make me want to try her eventually. She’s very prolific and money is tight since my mom went into an assisted living facility last summer. I’d have to request from the library to get her backlist. I have a copy of the first InCryptid title and will probably start there.
It’s so good to have a place to talk books. Covid did in my book group and I miss the regular outlet to share what I’m reading with friends. I did find out that a teacher I work with is a Guild Hunter fan, but it’s hard to spend much time chatting at work, particularly when we see each other only when surrounded by 25 first graders!
Adding: Qin is in the Pacific because Astaad is Sleeping (Anshara). Aegaeon is all of Europe but he wants to Sleep again, so maybe that will be Illium’s eventually.
I alread raved about seeing a review that really cherished the beautifully subtle story about love and healing on Goodreads.
First my gripe with the book: What the hell was that plot? Or, less the plot and more the setup and initial incident and the amount of zero tension in the first third of the book. That really irked me. Once we got to the village, it got plenty tense… but until that point? Phew.
But the rest was honestly amazing. One of the best love stories I’ve read in a long time. Maybe up there with Judd and Breanna. And that’s HIGH praise.
I honestly was somewhat taken aback about seeing so many people complain that this isn’t a real romance book because it has no sex and that it was a cowardly cop-out and whatever other hyperbole some came up with.
There was so much history and emotional ground to cover, I found, sex would’ve just cheapened that. Like Wham, bam, thank you, sir, you are now healed from your all defining trauma, let’s fuck.
What we got instead was an intimate portrayal of a relationship between two people who’ve been damage in very different ways – one who got destroyed because people wanted him too much and one who subconsciously felt they never want him enough to stay. They shared a lot of that trauma. Illium got wounded just as much as Aodhan by his abduction and abuse and what followed. They needed to face that together, each his own but also what stood between them. And THEN they could make the decision to choose each other.
I have rarely read a story that handled that so well in a romance book.
Watching Aodhan grow and come out of his shell and take control of his own destiny again, asserting himself in this world and his relationship, all the while Illium crumbled the more Aodhan rose was magic. It was like Aodhan’s healing lifted a weight off Illium and he finally had a chance to stumble.
They both were frozen for 200 year and this book was them rising out of it together.
And sex… yeah, ok, some steam might be nice. But you know what I really wanna see?
Them watching Psycho, snuggled up on a couch, wrapped into each other and Aodhan laughing when Illium hides his face against his shoulder during a creepy scene.
I’m just copying you spoiler thingie, because I have a thought about
SPOILERS FOR ARCHANGEL’S LIGHT AND POSSIBLY FUTURE BOOKS
I’ve reread the whole series to get the full build up for their development, and something that came up again and again is how similar they always were in power. Aodhan was always a small step behind because he was younger or because he had broader interests, but their raw powerlevel was always very close to each other.
We’re pretty much all in agreement that we will get an Illium Acension at some point soon. But It’s also always stated that he is too young.
The world desperately needs another Archangel and if the whole checks and balances theory of the Cascade is true, then there is not enough power in the world currently, so whatever power is behind the Cascade might have another ace up its sleeve.
What I suspect is going to happen is that Illium will ascend, but out of necessity for his survival, part of his power will be transfered to Aodhan – temporarily or permanently. In the end they’ll be less of Archangel and Second and more of two halves of one archangelic pair.
@Kat Haeske: What a great comment! The first third only bothered me a tiny bit. I really enjoyed seeing Illium’s hostility and reticence to discuss things vs. Aodhan’s determination to stand up for himself. I felt there was a lot of tension there, and I liked seeing Illium meet Kai and Aodhan’s reaction. The flashbacks were good too. But there was a little while after that and before they left to do their first survey of the village where I wanted the story to move a little more. Beyond that point it was all great though.
(Incidentally, Caressed by Ice (Judd/Brenna) is my other favorite too. I’ve read it four times, I think, and this one only twice, so it remains to be seen which of them is my top favorite. But they are both great books. What others are favorites of yours?)
With regard to the sex–I can see that point of view, only because every single other book in this series has sex scenes, and this, the only queer romance, is the one that doesn’t. I hope we get them eventually. At the same time I agree with you that it had to play out as it did. Especially with how much others coveted Aodhan, to show Illium desiring him earlier would have been jarring and potentially uncomfortable. Also there had to be room in the book for the mystery and the childhood stuff. Regardless ,I really want to see them get there in the next book or two.
“Watching Aodhan grow and come out of his shell and take control of his own destiny again, asserting himself in this world and his relationship, all the while Illium crumbled the more Aodhan rose was magic. It was like Aodhan’s healing lifted a weight off Illium and he finally had a chance to stumble.”
That is such a beautiful observation. I didn’t think of it that way but it’s a great insight.
SPOILERS FOR ARCHANGEL’S LIGHT AND POSSIBLY FUTURE BOOKS
“What I suspect is going to happen is that Illium will ascend, but out of necessity for his survival, part of his power will be transfered to Aodhan – temporarily or permanently. In the end they’ll be less of Archangel and Second and more of two halves of one archangelic pair.”
Some of what Kari said made me think that was a possibility too. The question for me is whether, if that happens, they’ll govern a single territory together or each govern a territory that neighbors the other’s. The thing that usually happens with archangels is that they can’t be in close proximity to other archangels for very long — even Caliane and Nadiel couldn’t. But if they are a couple there’ll have to be some kind of workaround for that, an explanation of why that won’t be the case with the two of them.
I had a similar thought, even though I’m not caught up on the series. ;) If they share power, like @Kat Haeske says, and it’s the same power, just split between them, that might negate the problem of close proximity since the same power wouldn’t be antagonistic to itself. They might share an ascension and become two parts of a whole.
@Kari S.: Sorry it took me so long to get back to you.
Great point re. Zoe and Maggie. You’re right, that could happen. Zoe seems definitely has heroine potential.
Re Amy–yes, but I got the impression from Archangel’s Consort that Elena had not been in touch with her two youngest sisters, only observed them from afar. Amy was thirteen by that point. If you don’t talk to your little sister until she’s thirteen then you shouldn’t be surprised if she doesn’t respond to overtures later. Elena needs to take some responsibility for the fact that she didn’t make her sisters a big enough priority to push past her comfort zone and fight for the right to stay in their lives when they were children. You can’t blame kids for distance in an adult-child relationship.
Re Michaela, W/r/t Hugh, I feel that hero redemptions are easier to pull off than heroine redemptions because many readers have a fascination with dark, morally ambiguous heroes and dark, morally ambiguous heroines are generally less popular. But NS redeemed Caliane also, so there’s that comparison, too. The difference there is that Caliane was unstable when she tortured and abused Raphael whereas Michaela was just her “bitchy” (the books’ word, not mine) self much of the time when she was being awful. But if it’s explained with a good enough reason, then yes, her redemption is not impossible.
Re. Xander, Illium / Kaya has been portrayed in the light of Illium having been a callow youth at two hundred, a boy who lacked the judgement to fully see who Kaya was and to keep the secrets of angelkind. If anything, that only supports my case that two hundred is too young to find the person who deserves your love and trust and to have the emotional insight and sturdiness to build a strong relationship that will last for centuries. Mahiya is a better example though. Is she really just two hundred when she and Jason get together? There are some people who are mature enough at twenty to make good choices and begin a successful, healthy marriage, but it’s not common. And in romance those are much more likely to be the heroines than the heroes. But don’t get me wrong! I would love a romance for Xander so I hope she proves me wrong. And I think if she takes the book forward even twenty years as you theorize that she will, it would work a bit better.
“Otherwise why would she pay so much attention to such a minor character?”
I do hope so. I really like Xander.
“We have never seen a vampire heroine; all heroines so far have been angels or Guild Hunters.”
Holly is a vampire.
“I have read Graceling and Fire, and preferred Graceling, though I was bothered by the heroine refusing to commit to the hero. I’ve got Bitterblue and will probably reread/read them all when the next one is available in paperback.
Winterkeep is now out. Bitterblue is by far my favorite in the series. Fire is my least favorite, FWIW.
Re Seanan McGuire–I should disclose that she is a client of my literary agent. I haven’t read the InCryptid series but each of her series is very different from the others (she has written under the pen name Mira Grant as well). I tried one of her other series, Middlegame, and it was not my cup of tea at all. It was so different from the October Daye books that you could hardly tell the same author had written them. So even if InCryptid doesn’t work for you, I urge you to still give the October series a shot.
(And as I say, it takes until book three for the October Daye series to get really good. Book three is one of my favorites (though also the darkest in the series), and book four is a game-changer. After that everything gets better. There is a really sweet romance in this series; they got married in the most recent book.)
The Ben Aaronovitch Rivers of London series has been compared to Harry Dresden but it’s soooooo much better IMO. Peter, the hero, is much more lovable than Harry.
My book group died too (it dwindled away). Can yours move to Zoom or Skype?
@MaryK: I love your explanation that the same power split between two archangels won’t create the need for distance as with archangels where each has a different power source. Very clever and I would love to see it happen.
Okay, after a serious reread to battle holiday trauma, I learned a LOT of interesting (and many useless) Guild Hunter facts. One of the things I worked on is the ages of as many characters as I could pin down. There are a few I don’t have yet. It’s a bit irritating, but most of these ages are very round numbers, for example: Venom 350, Illium/Aodhan both about 500, give or take 10 years, Naasir 600, Jason 700, Dmitri 1000, and Raphael 1500. (Then there’s Caliane, whose age has been suggested as 60,000 or 100,000 or 250,000! I may have missed one but every new guess is older. Alexander is close to her in age, but somewhat younger.) I’m guessing that Nalini is keeping it simple because otherwise keeping track of everyone’s exact age would be a nightmare. I’m missing the ages of two archangels, Astaad and Charisemnon, but I think I have most of the others. This doesn’t include the Ancients, the eldest probably being Cassandra, since she’s rumored to be so old that she’s related closely to the Sleeping Ancestors. Sharine is a complete mystery. At least 50,000 and probably much older. If anyone has a better number for her please tell me. I have more, just ask. Human heroines, on average, are about 28. Mahiya is 307 in Archangel’s Storm (I was off, sorry) and Andromeda 400.
Illium was 125 when he fell in love with Kaia (age derived from “Angel’s’ Dance). Also, in Archangel’s Light he compares himself (age-wise) to Izzy, who’s about 120 at that point. I do see the point of Xander being young for a serious romance, but there’s an interesting comment regarding angels of about 200 in Archangel’s Heart: the third century is the moment between childhood and adulthood. By 225, Xander will probably be considered an adult. I think in 25 years (book time), we may see him as a hero. And I do think she’ll go there. She has left so many breadcrumbs for future stories that I just can’t imagine that she won’t go there, aging characters or not. Xander’s story doesn’t have to refer to Elena’s friends at all if the story doesn’t call for it.
Ten years (give or take a few months) have passed in book time from Angel’s Blood to the end of Archangel’s Light. Zoe is about 10, and Eve is about 17. (I haven’t pinned down Maggie yet. Her actual age – she was two in Archangel’s Heart – has only been mentioned a time or two as compared to Zoe. Let’s say between four and six.)
Holly is not really a true vampire. Like Naasir, she has vampire tendencies, but she also has archangelic tendencies she got from Uram. Specifically her bone structure, since she can be thrown against a wall and remain uninjured. She has to eat solid food. Before her book she would literally go months without drinking blood, and could still function, albeit not as well as she could have. (Her age is a puzzle. In Archangel’s Viper it says she encountered Uram four years previously, making her 27, but that seems off to me, looking at all the books that came in between. I think she should be a year or two older. It’s stated that her encounter with Uram took place when she was 23.)
Regarding vampire reproduction, normally vampires past the age of two hundred can’t have children. I found multiple references if you want them, so I’m sure about that number now, and it’s something Dmitri tells Elena as early as Angel’s Blood. However, it has happened that a vampire older than 200 has done so a few times (per “Angel’s Wolf,” Noel and Nimra’s story). That story also states unequivocally that vampires and angels can’t reproduce together. So I guess it’s a good thing that Naasir isn’t really a vampire! Whether he and Andromeda can have biological children together seems doubtful to me, but he’s convinced that they can. Maybe because he was created by an Angel?
Female vampires can give birth. It’s implied several times, and a character in Archangel’s Blade, Jiana, did so. She and her son Amos are two of the vampires who tortured Honor. She was definitely a vampire when she had him.
Glad to know that someone else had the idea about Illium and Aodhan sharing power. Can there be such a thing as co-archangels? Maybe when the pair are as closely allied as these two, because I now think it’s probably the way Nalini’s going to do it. Over and over in my reread there were references to Illium’s power, and how he needed an anchor to keep him sane. All sorts of characters worry about his gifts over many of the books. Over and over it’s shown that the bond between the pair is unique, and when Aodhan finally gains emotional strength after 200 years of avoiding touch, it’s Illium’s touch he accepts. After that he allows Elena close, as well, but even in Archangel’s Light it isn’t easy for him to accept the random touch of the people serving Suyin with him. He wears long sleeves a lot.
I don’t know if Michaela will ever be redeemed with her own story, but I hope she does heal and come back. I like her much better than Aegaeon. She’s also pretty young as archangels go, being about 500 years older than Raphael, and has potential to be an interesting person beyond the bitch.
I will post more in a few days. Bedtime!
Wow Kari, that is some amazingly thorough research. Thank you!
Re. Sharine, doesn’t it say in one of the books that she and Caliane are equally old, or at least mention their ages relative to each other (no numbers, but whether they are equally old or one is even older than the other)? Could that help you narrow it down?
Since you offered, I would love to have ages for Lijuan (I think it is stated in Archangel’s Consort that she is younger than Caliane), Suyin, Aegaeon, Nadiel, and the Legion (though I’m almost certain no age is given for the Legion). Favashi, too, since I think Raphael describes her as the youngest of the Archangels in Angels’ Blood. Also, how young is the youngest heroine in the series, and who is it?
I’m confused about Eve’s age. I’m pretty sure that she’s ten years old in Archangel’s Consort, which takes place six months after Archangel’s Kiss, which in turn begins a year (or maybe a year and a couple of months?) after the beginning of Angels’ Blood. So if it’s a ten-year timeline, then we are less than two years into it when Eve is described as ten years old, meaning that she should be at least eighteen now. However, I noticed that early in Archangel’s War she is described as “heading to sixteen” (meaning fifteen, I would think). I can’t recall how long it takes from the beginning of the book until the end of the war, but assuming it’s not more than six months, Eve should still be sixteen by the time the book ends, and Archangel’s Light begins a year after the war. That would make her currently seventeen. Or would it? How much time does Archangel’s Light span from beginning to end?
I have noticed that Nalini Singh sometimes fudges ages. When I was rereading the first dozen books in the Psy/Changeling series I noticed that Sienna had aged an extra year close to her book, so that she was nineteen instead of eighteen when she and Hawke got their romance. If she’d been eighteen he’d have been twice her age, and this way he was only seventeen years older. I was a bit annoyed by the age change though, I like for timelines to be consistent because that kind of thing can be jarring. Also it was a slight copout. Nalini Singh is far from the worst offender, though. Lisa Kleypas takes greater liberties with ages and does it more often. I suppose most readers don’t notice, but I don’t like retconning of any kind.
Thanks for the information on vampire reproduction.
Where does it say that Naasir is confident he and Andromeda can have biological children? I don’t remember that, can you provide a citation?
Yes, co-archangels is what I have been thinking ever since you mentioned the idea of Illium drawing on Aodhan’s power to ascend. That’s why I keep wondering if they’d govern the same territory jointly or adjoining territories separately (if that does happen). What do you think?
More age requests–Jessamy and Galen.
Also–do you have a rough timeline of how much time passes between each book and during each book? If so I would love to see it.
Let me give you some of what I do know. More later.
Jessamy is about 3000, Galen only about 650. He’s 150 years older than Illium. He’s also the one who came up with the nickname Bluebell, in “Angels’ Dance.” Favashi is said to be over 1000.
Lijuan’s age is slightly confusing. I believe the number 9000 was once mentioned early on, but a more recent reference was 10,000 and is probably correct. I don’t have a definite number for Suyin, but an educated guess would be 5000-7000, since she is Lijuan’s niece and has lived thousands of years. Give or take a thousand years.
The Ancients are cagey about their ages. Very rarely is a definite number given. (Maybe they stop counting after 250,000.) Caliane’s age is guessed at several times but I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s 250,000. The Legion is at least that old because they also witnessed the Cascade of Terror that almost destroyed the world but they never give a number, either. Alexander is slightly younger but I don’t know an exact number. Sharine might be as old as Caliane, but I just don’t remember seeing a number for her. I believe she claims to be “older than dirt” at one point. So I don’t have a number for Aegaeon. Nor do I remember finding one for Nadiel but I know he was much younger than Caliane. It may turn up the next time I reread.
A ten year timeframe is approximate and it may be closer to nine years. The best clues I’ve found are when a definite age is given for Zoe. (This is beginning to feel like doing genealogy; I’m using some of the same skills!) Zoe is 6 months old in Angels’ Blood. (Uram is 6000, btw.) She’s 7-1/2 in Archangels’ Prophecy. About a year later (but not quite) Elena and Raphael wake up and then we have the war a few months later (because Elena has to build up her strength). So let’s say Zoe is 8-1/2 during the war which she spends with her grandparents. (Archangel’s Sun follows a few months later.)
Immediately after the war (Zoe is 8-1/2) Aodhan goes to China. He serves there for a year. Illium joins him shortly before he leaves Suyin’s service. Illium stays six more months after Aodhan’s departure to help build Suyin’s Citadel. Zoe is now about ten! Evelyn is about eight years older. (Zoe was two, Evelyn ten in Archangel’s Consort.)
Ages of Heroines during books:
Elena is 28 in Angels’ Blood
Honor is 29 in Archangel’s Blade
Ashwini is 27-1/2 in Archangel’s Shadows
Holly is 27 (according to the text) in Viper
However, it also says that Ashwini was Made less than three years before Viper. And Archangel’s Heart (which happens during the same time as Viper) was two years after Enigma, which was after Shadows. I can’t imagine that everything before Shadows was crammed into a year or eighteen months. See the problem with working out a timeline? I have a long list of significant events and will work on adding a timeline.
Naasir, in Archangel’s Viper, is certain that he and Andromeda can have “cubs” that will be half like him. It’s on page 161 of the paperback. (I’m not saying he’s right, but since he’d love to no longer be a “one-being” I hope it happens. I don’t think Nalini will write a book dealing with fertility issues between species.)
@Kari S.: Thank you!
A reference to cubs in and of itself does not indicate that the child or children they will have will be biological, because Naasir also refers to Illium and Aodhan as cubs when they are children, and in the Psy/Changeling series the Leopard characters refer to all kids as cubs. The idea is that if a character is part big cat, he or she thinks of children as cubs and I believe that’s true of Naasir too. However “half like me” does strongly suggest that the commonalities may be hereditary (because of the word “half”). It’s could still be an adopted child, because the similarities could be formed by nurturing rather than genetics, but it probably does mean biological kids.
I know, I’m not saying it makes sense! But Naasir clearly hopes it will happen that way. I think he makes at least one more reference to having cubs (and I agree, he’s using it as a euphemism for children) but don’t remember if it’s as clearly implying biological children. I do remember that when they rescue Aodhan he allows Raphael to decide on the punishment for the captors since Aodhan is one of Raphael’s cubs.
For all we know, Keir is already hard at work on the problem! But Andromeda is only 400 and based on how shocked everyone is when Aodhan’s sister gives birth at about 1200, she is young to be an angelic mother. This doesn’t stop Andromeda from picturing the “tiny, wild children who’d drive her crazy and who she would love as fiercely as she loved their wonderful, beautiful chimera father.” (Archangel’s Enigma, p. 347.)
Since Elena is only about 37-38 now it seems highly unlikely that she would have a baby anytime soon, but after all she is Our Heroine and if it can happen, it will. Even if the thought terrifies both Elena and Raphael.
In support of our mutual desire to have the Legion return, there is a conversation at the very end of Archangel’s Legion regarding the fact that Raphael is not ready to receive the power they have to offer him that he finally accepts during the War. “What happens when I’m ready? Do you vanish?” “No. We are then freed to stay in the world or return to our sleep once more. If we stay, we become alone and separate.” He also says they were formed during the Cascade of Terror, which I believe Caliane witnessed. That’s the closest answer I have found so far regarding the Legion’s age. So where are they?! Asleep again? Or will they be born again, and if so, as adults or children? Hey, maybe Elena’s baby could be the Primary returning to the world, since reincarnation is part of the mythology… (Notice that I avoided saying the reborn Primary.)
Speaking of angels giving birth, all the recent deaths (from the War) are apparently causing a larger number of births than normal, but since “normal” is still pitifully small, I don’t think we’re going to notice it much. Those angel babies probably won’t be playing a very big part in the story unless one of them is Elena and Raphael’s child.
Considering the usual progression of the series the next book is likely to center on Elena and Raphael. And I just found Raphael telling Elena “that though Alexander appears little older than me, he is hundreds of thousands of years older,” also near the end of Archangel’s Enigma. That makes me bump Alexander’s age up to more than 200,000. (Every time I read these books I find more clues.) I have to say, while there are some things that she clearly changed midstream because she thought of a way to make it better, this series is remarkably consistent from the beginning. In Archangel’s Kiss the Archangel Wars are referred to, and I think that’s another name for the Cascade of Terror. Already in Archangel’s Consort the Sleeping archangels Antonicus, Qin, Zanaya (and Caliane) are mentioned – only to be followed by Caliane’s awakening.
One example: Dmitri’s title. In Angels’ Blood he is the Tower’s Security Chief. In Archangel’s Kiss he is Head of Security. But in Archangel’s Blade, he’s been “promoted” to Raphael’s Second. (Myself, I prefer Illium’s Dark Overlord. More in keeping with his character.)
Very Rough timeline:
Before Year One:
“Angels’ Dance” Jessamy/Galen 375 years prior
“Angel’s Judgment Sara/Deacon 2 years prior
“Angel’s Pawn” Ashwini/Janvier 1 year prior
Year 1 Angel’s Blood
Year 2 Archangel’s Kiss
Year 2.5 Consort, Blade, Storm (back to back)
“Angel’s Wolf” (guesstimate) Nimra/Noel*
Year 3 Legion, Shadows (back to back)
Year 4 Enigma
Year 6 Heart, Viper (simultaneous)
Year 8 Prophecy
Year 9 War, Sun
Year 10 Light
That’s very, very rough. Not set in stone. I used the actual years Nalini mentioned in the stories as well as various clues (how long Ashwini’s been a vampire, how many years since Vivek was made), and the scattered references to Zoe’s age. So it’s pretty obvious to me that it hasn’t been only four years since Holly met Uram when Archangel’s Viper begins (as claimed on page 36). Six years is more like it.
*Didn’t find any clear number for how long it’s been since Noel was so badly injured at the Refuge during Archangel’s Kiss. He’s about 250 in the story -I’m making a guess that it might take a vampire his age a couple of years to recover from such severe injuries. Dmitri is not happy when Noel decides to stay with Nimra since he was only supposed to be on loan to her smaller court.
@Kari S.: Re Naasir and cubs, “cubs” definitely does NOT imply specifically biological children. It’s not just the one reference–he also tells small child Aodhan that he is a cub (“But right now, you are a cub. Cubs don’t have to worry about things like that. You just have to be Illium’s friend.”). And there’s his statement (in reference to having accepted Aodhan and Illium’s adult status more easily than Dmitiri, Raphael or Jason have), “Cubs grow.” To Naasir, any child (whether his or someone else’s) is a cub.
With regard to angelic pregnancies and births, do you get the sense that there is a typical age range for angels to get pregnant and give birth? Or is it just that angelic births are so rare that getting pregnant as early as 1200 is unlikely (independent of fertility)? Or do you think it’s a combination of both?
I’m pretty sure Elena will eventually get pregnant in one of the books. It’s too juicy to leave on the table. I think I said before that I’m of two minds about it, given that it will take at least fifty years for the child to be old enough to go to elementary school, and that I don’t really want Raphael to backslide into stifling overprotectiveness. I kind of feel like there was enough of that in the early books. But there is also a lot of potential in other ways, and I kind of like the idea of Caliane as a grandmother. To say nothing of how the members of Elena’s family could be affected.
W/r/t the Legion, they are clearly going to return, or there wouldn’t be so much emphasis on how Elena and Raphael miss them. I think their return will be somehow connected to Elena’s Legion mark. I mean why does Elena have a Legion mark? What is the purpose of it? There has to be one, doesn’t there?
I also think the next book will be about Elena and Raphael. If Illium (and possibly Aodhan) ascend, that will be portrayed in a Raphael / Elena book, I suspect. The reason I say this is that Raphael and Elena’s POVs will be crucial to telling this part of the story. Ascension can’t just be experienced (by the reader) from within, it needs to be shown through the eyes of an observing character and IMO that observing character will be Elena (it frequently is when it comes to all the big events and superpowers–her human background makes her an excellent conduit to the reader’s understanding of these things). Further for Raphael this will be a dramatic event, as we’ve previously discussed. And it will have huge repercussions for the Seven and the Tower. I am hoping it happens in this next book and I think the odds are pretty good. If it doesn’t happen in that one then it will take place one or two books after that for sure. I can’t see it being drawn out beyond that.
I agree she’s changed some things mid-stream. I noticed that when I went back to reread the early books. What you mentioned about Dmitri being a security guy was among the most noticeable but there were other things too. In that sense I think the psy/changeling series is more consistent. But I agree that this series is very consistent relative to most.
Thank you so much for the timeline! I appreciate it. I would also love to know how much time each of the novels spans, but don’t go to a lot of trouble to figure this out if you don’t already have the info.
I must read that Noel/Nimra story.
I know, Naasir frequently referred to Illium and Aodhan as cubs, particularly Raphael’s cubs, in the flashbacks. I think Aodhan was closer to Sharine and Raphael than to his own parents, who had no frame of reference to deal with a son who was part artist and part warrior. I was referring to Naasir’s hopes for cubs with Andromeda. I’m pretty sure he talked about it more than once.
Honestly I don’t know what the “normal” age for having angelic babies might be. Caliane and Sharine were both very old when they gave birth, and Sharine’s parents were also Ancients when they had her. If Lijuan actually gave birth she would have been 10,000, while Michaela was 2000 when she had her son. He wasn’t her first, either, but I don’t know when she had her first child. But apparently 1200 is on the young side. Nisia told Elena that her rebirth in the chrysalis bumped her angelic development up to about age 300 so she was “compatible” with Raphael, so maybe we could use that age as the youngest extreme but, perhaps, anytime after age 1500 or 2000 would be more in the “normal” range. There is also somewhat of a stigma against giving birth in extreme age, and while I doubt anyone dared make nasty remarks to Caliane or Nadiel, Sharine was targeted by the unpleasant over Ilium’s birth so late in her life.
Maybe one of the Legion guys -probably the Primary – will join the Seven. Maybe the other new member will be female! Because I agree that she’s building up to Illium’s ascension, which will of course include Aodhan in some way. I can imagine the book, Archangel’s Chaos (because it will mean chaos), being the next Elena and Raphael story followed by a second Illium and Aodhan story as they reconfigure their lives in their new territory, which I predict will be shared because they will share power. Elena’s POV is definitely valuable as observer.
In my reread I encountered another female Angel, Kiama, that I’d like to see more of. She’s a squadron leader for Titus, embittered against Charisemnon because her parents stayed loyal to him after she defected to Titus. She’s the one who Sharine was giving advice to, and Sharine would like to paint her. She’s a little younger than Titus, who’s 3500. There are several more out there whom I’d like to see more of.
Time spent on each book… no, I haven’t made a special note of it, but most of the books take place in just a few weeks of time. This would include Angel’s Blood (not counting the epilogue), Blade, Storm, Shadows, Enigma, Heart, Viper, and Prophecy. The books with a longer timeline are Kiss, Consort, Legion, War, Sun and Light. Some a few months, on the longer side are the ones where Elena is having to get stronger such as Kiss and probably War. Light is about seven to eight months because of the six months Illium stayed in China but the main action was only weeks. Sun is stretched out by the time Sharine and Titus were working in different parts of Africa battling the Reborn, which is only mentioned as the reason they were separated after they became romantic. I’m going to go thru Sun again and will pay more attention. (Still hunting for Sharine’s age.) Several books have epilogues that take place months or weeks (or a year) after the main action.
Yes, I know Naasir is speaking of his and Andromeda’s kids specifically. I just meant that he could be thinking of kids they will adopt. If Aodhan and Illium, who aren’t biologically related to Raphael, are Raphael’s cubs, then Naasir and Andromeda’s cubs may not be biological offspring either. They wouldn’t be any less loved and Naasir wouldn’t consider them any less his own because of biology.
I would like to see one of the couples from the series adopt a human child. It could make a moving and heartwarming storyline–exactly the kind of thing Nalini Singh excels at. I had been thinking that Dmitri and Honor were the best candidates because they’ve been parents in the past, and good ones, and because, in light of their losses, there would be a lot of material to mine there. But now that it’s come up, I think that Naasir and Andromeda would also be a good choice (in a very different vein) because of their joyful playfulness. Regardless, it is something I would like to see happen.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts on angelic pregnancies. You are a font of information!
I really like the idea of the Primary joining the Seven. That would be so cool. What do you think of what I said earlier re. Elena’s Legion mark?
I remember Kiama. I liked her, though I didn’t like the conversation Sharine had with her.
Thanks too for the info on the length of each book’s timeline. I would count Elena’s coma and her awakening in the epilogue as part of the the timeline of Angels’ Blood.
Now that you’ve done all this rereading, what are your thoughts on what territory Illium and Aodhan are most likely to end up overseeing?
Just found some more about angelic pregnancies. Finished my reread of Archangel’s Sun (I’m a really fast reader) and when Titus and Sharine found the pregnant reborn angel Titus recognizes her from the Refuge. She’s very young – about 200 – and Sharine says that it’s almost unknown for an angel to have a child that young. Imagine (ick) what had to be done to get her pregnant. Somehow I don’t think Charisemnon was using in vitro techniques in his secret bunker! So having Elena matured to the point of being like a 300 year old angel makes sense and definitely means they’ll be hearing the susurration of tiny wings soon…
However… I’m drawing a blank regarding Elena’s Legion mark. I’ve searched the more recent stories and can’t find anything about it. I’m getting old and my memory isn’t great so I’ve probably just forgotten for the moment. This is why I had to take notes and get it all down on my iPad when I compiled my list of events and clues and ages. (Unless it’s something from Nalini’s newsletter, which I just barely subscribed to.)
Suyin is older than Titus, who’s 3500, so she’s at least 4000. (Titus says so.)
Regarding a territory for Illium and Aodhan, I’m not sure. They certainly could have Europe but that would mean Michaela’s going to be out of action for awhile or a blowup between our beautiful boys and Her Beauteousness may occur when she does wake up. However, it seems pretty obvious that Neha plans to Sleep soon. Unless Nivriti is going to take over, India will need a new archangel.
It seems like at least some of the archangels currently serving have an ethnic and cultural similarity to the people they rule; this is true of Titus, Neha, Lijuan/Suyin, and may have been true of Favashi as well when she was archangel of Persia. This doesn’t always follow, as in the cases of Alexander and Elijah. It also seems that members of archangelic courts (vampires and angels) are usually multi-ethnic. So I don’t know whether that’s a real factor in choosing a new archangel for India.
The Pacific currently needs a more willing archangel if Astaad isn’t going to recover. It could be any of the three places. Possibly even Northern Africa, I suppose, which would mean the boys would be close to family. I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that of the four possibles I could see more interesting stories might result from either Europe or Africa because of the family complications. Aegaeon may be moaning and groaning about wanting to go back to Sleep, but I wonder whether he’d willingly give up Europe to an estranged son.
Another interesting character turns up in Archangel’s War: Celesta the Knife, Caliane’s very beautiful vampire spy. She would make an spicy heroine!
It would be interesting to have a couple adopt children, but in the immediate future I could see Dmitri and Honor doing it before Naasir and Andromeda, who are surely still in the honeymoon phase. It would certainly be entertaining if either couple makes that decision.
@Kari S.: I reread the last bit of Archangel’s War last night (looking for Elena’s Legion mark, which I’ve concluded existed solely in my imagination–sorry about that!) and Elena is absolutely going to get pregnant. All that tongue-in-cheek talk about the angel fetuses being “super parasites” and Elena and Raphael’s confessions of their fears to each other, reads like foreshadowing to me. If it weren’t for the fact that it hasn’t come up in earlier books I might not think so, but in this case it would have been just as easy for NS not to mention it and readers wouldn’t have thought much of it given the rarity of angel births. So the fact that it was brought up suggests to me that she is setting it up to happen sometime down the line.
(I would love for them to have an unplanned pregnancy and have to grapple with becoming parents despite being unprepared for it.)
I think Europe would be an excellent choice of territory because proximity to Aegaeon can create a lot of plot conflicts and story tension. Whereas being near Titus and Sharine would be a lot less effective for that (although it could result in heartwarming scenes, which NS also likes to write, so it’s not at all impossible that that’s what she has in mind). It would also be interesting if Aegaeon split Europe with them, and they shared it as Michaela and Uram once did.
There are also Illium and Aodhan’s connections to Britain and Ireland. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if they end up with a London base. It would be a better setting because it’s urban and we know Illium loves being around people and that night lights are helpful to Aodhan, but of course there are cities in Africa too. I would love it if we got an archangel base in a busy African metropolis like Nairobi or Lagos, but with the way Nalini Singh portrayed Africa in Titus’s book, I’m skeptical that she would do that. India is more of a possibility in that regard. I could see her setting a book in Delhi–I think that’s where part of the last Psy/Changeling book took place.
I don’t recall Celesta.
Re. Naasir and Andromeda’s honeymoon phase–yes, you’re right.
Celesta is introduced – briefly – in Archangel’s War when Raphael and Elena stop in Amanat on their way to patrol China. Apparently she babysat Raphael! I just thought she was an intriguing new character and worthy of being a heroine. Maybe for someone like Vivek – she seemed just his type. She was a spy in Charisemnon’s court for many years.
The only problem with your thought about one of the Seven couples adopting a human is the reluctance they all express (except for Illium) regarding the unwisdom of growing too attached to mortals. Illium alone seems to find it worthwhile to make true human friends, and we’ve seen how terrified Elena is to watch her friends and family die while she lives on. I’m not sure Dmitri, with his past, could bring himself to get too attached. It would have to be very unusual circumstances. After all, there’s no guarantee that such a child could one day be Made.
Regarding the Legion mark, Elena has noticed that sometimes Raphael’s mark seems to glow briefly but she may believe it’s wishful thinking. Now that we’ve decided that the Primary must join the Seven, should we suggest it to Nalini? (Actually I think it’s very probable that she already has it in mind.) The Legion will probably be somewhat lost at first if their new incarnation has them separate and alone. Hopefully they will get real names. I wonder if they will all serve Raphael, or if they’ll be distributed among the other territories. It seems like Raphael’s territory lost the most people in the war (not counting China).
Speaking of China, this brings me back to a complaint in one of the other comments earlier in this thread regarding the trope of family members resembling one another so closely. I think it was in regards to Lijuan/Suyin/Jinhai and Kaia/Kai. It does happen in real life. There are several photos I have of my grandmother as a young woman that were given to my mother by two of her cousins. Honestly, when I look at them it’s like looking at photos of myself. I finally understood why people had told me that I looked like my grandmother. (Because I had only known her when she was old; she died when I was six.) Family resemblances can be uncanny. I don’t resemble my mother as closely, but the occasional picture is strikingly similar.
I know you weren’t completely happy with the portrait of Africa in Archangel’s Sun. It seems to lack the political divisions we know. Don’t you think it possible that the form of government by archangel might have changed its development? There are very few descriptions of the big cities we know in our world in the Guild Hunter world. Only a few of the big cities of America are ever mentioned, much less visited. Only a few cities of Europe are ever mentioned. Only in China are many real-world cities featured, mostly following their destruction.
I can think of two possible reasons for this. One, Nalini doesn’t want to sketch things too closely in a way that might limit future story directions. Or, she may not want to take the time to research the geographical realities and political boundaries of continents or countries unfamiliar to her. I can relate. It’s easier to invent a new place based on reality where you can make up your own geography rather than having to do intensive research. Yes, I’ve done it. If you invent your own geography no one can complain that you got it all wrong. (I have read such complaints from romance readers.) There’s no guarantee that our big cities exist exactly as they do in our world in the Guild Hunter world, with the obvious exception of New York.
(If you’ve figured out the geographic location of the Refuge please let me know. My best guess is somewhere in the Himalayas! Because Naasir showed Illium and Aodhan a snow leopard, if I recall correctly. Plus cold and mountains.)
I agree, Elena’s unplanned pregnancy would be lots of fun. For us, that is. And for all their friends. Not so much for Elena and Raphael (at least not at first). But I love baby stories. Nisia gave Elena a hard time about a possible archangelic “parasite” in Archangel’s Prophecy when they were trying to figure out what was wrong with her, too.
If I was to choose one probable location for Illium and Aodhan I think Europe is most likely. But we shall see.
I love we are all in agreement about Illium’s ascension. Grwat minds and a that.
As for other books: I loved Venom’s and Holly’s simply because the idea of Venom being a cook absolutely slayed me.
But other than that, I haven’t really read much in the last two years because I did a B.A. speedrun while working fulltime and the only things I read had a lot of citations.
I just started Burn for Me. I’m a complete sucker for Superheros and superpowers.
So… Let’s see wherethis gets us.
Btw. On the subject of ssex in the GH books. I’m not sure if there was really any in the Lumia book. Maybe in the very beginning. I just remember it because I found it so refreshing that the wasn’t really any sex that distracted from the story.
@Kat Haeske: I would to hear what you think of Burn for Me!
There was definitely sex in Archangel’s Heart (I remember because Raphael used his powers to keep them from being spied on when they were having sex). But it’s true there was a lot less of it than in the earlier books. I was tired of Raphael / Elena sex scenes by then so I was glad there weren’t as many in this one. There are only so many times I can stay engaged reading about the same couple having sex, especially if there isn’t much change in the dynamic between them. One thing I have noticed from reading the first three again is that the early books in the series had more sex than the later ones. The psy/changeling books generally have more than the Guild Hunter books, too, I think.
TL;DR: It’s 2 am on a Monday. I need to work at 8 am. I’ll finally go to bed now. Holy Shit.
@Kari S.: Hmm, I still don’t remember Celesta, so she must not have stood out to me very much. It’s a pretty name, though, and very suitable for an angel.
I could see the adoption thing, though, if one of the Seven rescued the child (similarly to how Illium rescued Smoke, or Dmitri was around when Holly was rescued) and then found out the child had no parent or guardian to look out for them. If fact it wouldn’t take more than a scene or two for Nalini to convince me that they’d make that kind of commitment. It’s the kind of poignant, heartwarming thing she writes really well.
Re the Legion. Yeah, I think the glow of Raphael’s mark at the end of Archangel’s War, shortly after Elena had a magical effect on the plant or tree (am I remembering this part right?) in the Legion building was what confused me.
IMO for it to work well, the members of the Legion will have to develop enough individuality that at least a few will leave Raphael’s service to explore their new freedom and personal traits / preferences. Otherwise their independence will be harder to sell. If I remember correctly, it was mentioned in one of the other books that they could develop individuality over time.
I agree striking similarity sometimes happens. Sometimes not even with relatives. When I was a teen, someone on a bus I was taking thought they recognized me as another girl she’d briefly met. When I said I wasn’t, she didn’t believe me at first and then told me that I was that other girl’s double. It was odd.
Also–I have always wanted to read this book, after reading this interview with its author:
“Mendelsohn, who is 46, grew up on suburban Long Island, N.Y., during the 1960s and ’70s. He is of course not a Holocaust survivor, nor is he the child of Holocaust survivors. Most of his extended family had emigrated from their home village in Poland to America or Palestine by the time of Hitler’s rise to power. But one of his great-uncles, a man named Shmiel or Samuel Jäger (like many Eastern European Jews, Shmiel had two names and spoke several languages), hadn’t liked New York and had gone back home to Bolechow, a polyglot town of 15,000 Poles, Ukrainians and Jews in Galicia, a province of eastern Poland that bordered first the Russian Empire and then the Soviet Union. He had become an important Bolechower, a kosher butcher and perhaps the most prosperous merchant in town, owner of a fleet of trucks, liked and respected by Jews and gentiles alike. In 1939 the war started, and in 1941 the Germans came. By 1944, the Jäger family, along with virtually all the other Jews of Bolechow, were gone.
The first thing we learn in Mendelsohn’s book is that his presence, as a small child, in certain people’s houses in Miami Beach in the 1960s made those people cry. He understood from an early age that this was because he reminded older family members of Uncle Shmiel, and that Uncle Shmiel, Aunt Ester and their four daughters had been killed by the Nazis. But killed how and by whom exactly? Where and when had it happened? Had anything been done to help them? Could anything have been done? He began to formulate some of these questions in his head at an early age, he reports, but no answers were forthcoming.”
I’ve always thought an experience like that must be haunting. I understand why he felt driven to write his book.
Re the portrayal of Africa in Archangel’s Sun. Of course there can be many reasons and explanations for why Africa could have ended up as it is in the GH books, including the one you offer. That wasn’t my issue, though. My issue is that there is a long history of books, movies, TV etc. portraying Africa as a backwards place (“the dark continent” etc.) and not as a modern, thriving one. It’s a stereotype.
Another issue that goes along with that is that African places are often referred to just as Africa, whereas you (general you) wouldn’t usually refer to specific places in the US just as “North America” or in a country in Europe as just “Europe.” Basically it’s treated as all of a piece when in reality Egypt is very different from Ethiopia which is very different from Nigeria which is different from South Africa. It’s not just one thing. So I feel that Nalini Singh made a blunder in that her portrayal of Africa falls in line with these other insensitive depictions.
It’s understandable–writers often fall into cliches because society has embedded them in our brains. And of course she could have other writerly reasons such as the ones you theorize. But regardless of that, it is still a blunder because that long tradition of portraying Africa in these ways is injurious to the people who lived there or are descendants of those who have. I don’t want to be too hard on her because her books were diverse long before those of most authors; she was on the forefront of that. But I think it’s a fair point and one that was worth mentioning.
Re the Refuge, that’s an excellent guess. I assume the lungs of angel babies are designed to be fine with the thin air at high altitudes so that would not be an issue.
I am not a fan of babies in romances but I do really like pregnancy storylines. Go figure.
So, Burn for Me.
First of all, I am terribly nitpicky. I’ve been reading Romance since I was 13 years old and I have opinions. Usually, too many. I just love picking books apart. Even if I love them. Especially when I love them.
I really loved this one. I wasn’t too sure about it in the beginning. First of all, I’m not a fan of 1st POV, since usually it ends with too much rambling and not enough substance, but I have to say A++ execution. After two pages I was completely immersed. The writing 99% of the time is flawless. Smooth, unnoticeable, not too heavy. There occasional weak spots when the plot suddenly switches pace into a fight scene. One or two times it just wasn’t well telegraphed or the scene was a little underdescribed. It was noticeable because it broke the immersion a bit but it wasn’t something that really had an impact on the enjoyment.
It took me two days to really get into the book. It felt a little slow, the world on its own wasn’t really enjoyable initially and Adam was just … well, he was not a match to the heroine.
But then Mad Rogan showed up and HOLY SHIT.
The FMC without a counterpart to play off remained a little pale, there just was no spark there. Which is par for the course in a romance novel, but it dragged. The moment Mad Rogan showed up, everything changed.
I’m not sure when I’m gonna run out of capital words but OMG!
He’s not even the usual brooding hero. He’s outright BAD at times. He’s not a bad boy. He’s a bad man. And that’s where the 1st POV really works because we unravel his layers as Nevada does and it’s amazing.
I am going to say something really terrible here and nobody pllease ever show to this to Nalini b/c I love her and she is an amazing person, but… Rogan is what Kaleb wanted to be.
Kaleb is a romance hero and his drive becomes secondary to his relationship the moment he became the hero of a book. Maybe it’s because we only have Nevada’s POV but Mad Rogan stays Mad Rogan- though she doesn’t have the heroine problem either. I have to admit, I read ahead a little. I love how his PTSD world view is just accepted as part of who he is. He fixed himself to the point where he doesn’t become a monster, but he isn’t completely socially acceptable either. And that’s fine. He doesn’t have to fix himself and become a good guy or a nice man to be worthy of being a hero.
It works great with Nevada, who isn’t “different to other girls” (even if she is). But within her community, her family, she isn’t different. They’re all like that! They all just absolutely crazy and not really socially acceptable. But there is a reason for that. They aren’t just weird for the sake of being quirky, abusing real mental health problems like ADHD or autism for shits and giggles, you feel like there is a reason behind it. We get a glimpse into the past of Nevada’s mom and yeah… I believe she will bring a sniper rifle to her daughter’s business date with Mad Rogan. No questions asked. Penelope does that.
But it’s never just treated like a trope, the fact that Penelope Baylor has raging PTSD is never used as a shortcut to tell about her character, it is all laid out and shown on the page. Same with Mad Rogan, same with Nevada’s titanium spine in standing up to the most dangerous man in Houston.
I also love how we are told that Nevada is just, you know, low level and next thing we know, she wipes the floor with a Prime and nobody in her family blinks an eye. “I broke his spell.” “Ah yeah, ok.”
And the reader is just like: Wait, what?
Normally that would annoy me as a plot hole, but here it works. Because the characters are presented so beautiful and for the reader to discover, there is a trust there that you will find out, at some point, why nobody fell over at that declaration.
The plot, in hindsight, was a bit flimsy and it lost a little towards the solution, but by then I was so invested in the characters that I plain didn’t care anymore.
The characters are definitely the books strong suit and I hope it continues. I just started book 2 of “The resocialization of Mad Rogan through Murder, Mayhem and Banter” and I have high expectations.
While some people might decry the lack of sex, I definitely didn’t miss it much. I’m way too invested into what these people are doing to waste pages on bed sports.
I also do not regret any of the sleep I lost once the book picked up the pace and I was forced to finish it in one sitting. And that is all I want from a good book.
So, there you have it, my opinion. And now I’m off to the next one :D
Janine, sorry for the long gap. Life has been unusually busy, preparing for Mom’s memorial and getting ready to sell the house! I lived with my mother and the house is too big and expensive to run for only one person and two cats. Plus, debts to pay.
But I’ve still been going back to the Archangel world (comfort reading) and now I must tell you that you’re not crazy, Elena does have a Legion mark. In fact, she’s had two!
The first one showed up in Prophecy, the book you don’t like. Toward the end (p. 274) Elena and Raphael find that she’s slightly glowing on her chest, in the same place where she had her “heart attacks.” Same shape as Raphael’s mark, and the Legion tells them that it has to do with Aeclari being mirrors. But the mirror turns dark, which is wrong. Later (p. 313) the mark begins to pulse, when she is much weaker. You know how everything goes wrong after that.
So, I assumed this was what you were thinking of when you talked about Elena’s Legion mark. All gone after Prophecy and I know you probably don’t enjoy rereading that volume. But no! You must have missed this when you were searching through Archangel’s War:
When Elena is still growing strong again she has this episode where she starts glowing (p. 90) and when the glow goes away “Raphael saw that his hunter had acquired a new tattoo. It was on her left temple and was an exact mirror of the Legion mark on his right temple, except hers wasn’t a glittering blue touched with wildfire white. It was a verdant forest green that shimmered.” Then it disappears for the time being. I’m not much further along in the book than that this time around so I will have to report back when it reappears. (Right now I have to feed cats, wash dishes and go back to the agonizing task of deciding which of my collection of picture books I will donate, and which ones I’ll pack.)
@Kat Haeske: Somehow I missed your comment back in January, but I am thrilled that you liked the book so much. Ilona Andrews (two authors, a married couple) are hugely popular so it’s an easy recommendation to make, most people really like their stuff. The Kate Daniels series is their best known work and has a romantic thread that starts out small but grows over time. It’s an urban fantasy series, though, whereas the Hidden Legacy books are more romance-oriented. I would love to hear what you think of Rogan in the later books, too. And Nevada. Book two in that series is my favorite Ilona Andrews book period (although I haven’t read everything they’ve written).
@Kari S.: Oh wow, I am excited that I was right about the legion mark! I thought I had imagined it. It was the second one I remembered, the green one on her temple.
I had/have a theory that it’s connected to her ability to help plants grow. Particularly since it’s described as “verdant,” and the Legion are associated with plants and trees. I noticed when I was skimming for Aodhan and Illium scenes that in Archangel’s Shadows, when Elena and Raphael were hosting the party, Elena went up to the roof garden and it was mentioned that her plants were responding to her somehow, or maybe just that she was getting unusually good at growing them. Something like that. Naasir brought her a plant as a gift, too.
Well, nothing more about Elena’s Legion mark in the subsequent storyline. After reading (again!) Archangel’s Sun and Light, I’m more than ever convinced that Illium and Aodhan have to share the archangelic power. There’s no other way for Illium to ascend unless Nalini wants to jump forward 500 years.
Also, reading the POV of both Aodhan and Illium is rather enlightening. Both men are flawed, and scarred emotionally. They stabilize each other the way Elena stabilizes Raphael, however. Aodhan is no longer remote and emotionally removed from the world because he’s secure in his power. The time as Suyin’s Second has given him self-confidence (remarks about boring admin details, for instance, show how competent he is). Illium’s ability to talk to anyone (and even gain the affection of a sour old vampire like Greta) really shows what an empathetic archangel he has the potential to become.
I think that the Legion must return transformed. The way they’ve been described, they have no “normal” bodily functions. (They don’t eat unless Elena feeds them a treat, I don’t think they have hearts and they don’t need to breathe.) Non-starters as heroes in that condition, because I’m pretty sure they can’t function sexually, either. Plus, it’s a little off-putting when a lover doesn’t breathe. Therefore, big changes are in store. I think they’ll be “reborn” as regular angels. But does this mean as infants?
(Crazy thought: Elena’s inevitable baby will be the reincarnation of the Primary! Okay, maybe not. We’d have to wait 200 years for him to join the Seven, much less have a love affair.)
More likely they will be transformed into regular angelic adults, and help rebuild the population devastated by Lijuan’s insistence upon making war with her fellow archangels. Another crazy thought: will some become female? Raphael’s Legion all looked alike, but that wouldn’t work too well if they’re reincarnated as individuals. Why couldn’t some of them be literally transformed?
None of this follows your plant speculations. I’m not sure how Elena’s affinity with plants could help bring the Legion back to life. I don’t think they’re all meant to be angelic gardeners because there’s a lot more kinds of work waiting for them in New York. However, the Legion mark of Raphael seems to light up just a little every so often. Maybe it symbolizes the return of each Legionnaire?
Btw, Celesta the Knife (former babysitter of Raphael) is a vampire, not an angel. Reread Elena and Raphael’s arrival at Amanat in Archangel’s War for the full story.
Holy smokes! Guild Hunter #15 has a title and it’s Archangel’s Resurrection. That probably means I was right about Lijuan (*groans*). Unless it means Illium will die and then be brought back to life somehow? That I would really like.
Wait, maybe it’s actually my theory about Nadiel that’s going to come true? That would be so much more interesting than more Lijuan.
Okay, calm down! I agree it is a rather ominous title. But I think you can relax about Lijuan. If it does refer to her (seeming) resurrection, I think it will involve Jinhai. Remember he claims to be “her only skin” and that she will somehow be brought back through him. I don’t think it would be truly her, but a seeming resurrection when people see him and how much he resembles Lijuan. Plus he’s crazy like her. Every fan I know is sick of Lijuan.
There are very few people left in China to take up arms on his behalf, however. All of Lijuan’s chief generals are dead. I don’t think he’d be strong enough to make such an attempt for years, and we’ve agreed that it’s very unlikely that she’ll jump forward that far now. I can’t see it happening yet. And Cassandra said, quite firmly, that Lijuan’s timeline stopped when she turned into a plant. If this does involve Jinhai, I think it would be Suyin’s book. But that’s not the first thing that occurs to me, hearing that title…
I think it will be Nadiel. (99.9% “no” on it being Illium, since he isn’t an archangel yet.) I think it might be Caliane’s book. Whether Nadiel will be redeemed, I don’t know. (I think it’s possible.) After all, an archangel can come back if even a tiny, tiny bit of them survived their seeming destruction. It’s been a thousand years, plenty of time for that little bit to regrow. At any rate, I think that’s the likeliest scenario. I’d love to see a nicer Nadiel, happy with Caliane again. Or your guess could be right and he’ll come back a villain.
Also possible that it will be Elena and Raphael, dealing with Nadiel’s return. And maybe a baby, too!
The outlier? Michaela. Transformed into a much nicer person. She appeared pretty dead when last seen. Or it’s just possible that Zanaya could recover, and she also appeared dead. (Astaad is pretty boring and he’d have to give up his harem if he wanted to be a romance hero.)
@Kari S.: I guess you forgot my theory that Quon/Jinhai is *literally* Lijuan’s skin? We discussed it here:
Nevertheless, I do think it’s most likely Nadiel! I have thought he might be coming back since I read Archangel’s War. And I like that idea much better.
(I don’t want a Nadiel/Caliane pairing though. In Archangel’s Kiss Raphael tells Elena that Nadiel was where Uram got his bright ideas—Nadiel wanted to be worshipped by humans. Also two archangels can’t be together in a stable way. And the more I think about it, the more I think I want to see Caliane in an f/f pairing.)
My Illium thought was that Illium might begin to ascend and it would kill him. Then Raphael would use his healing power, in conjunction with Aodhan somehow, to resurrect Illium and Illium would be resurrected as an archangel.
Not impossible IMO.
Michaela—nah. I don’t think so. Not Zanaya either. Too boring to warrant a book title at this point in the game.
No, I haven’t forgotten your theories about Lijuan and Jinhai but we don’t know yet whether they will turn out to be right! We have to wait and see. However, the theories could certainly fit with the resurrection theme. I just hope that isn’t the plan for this coming book. I’m so sick of Lijuan, and everyone else seems to be, too. Nalini is probably sick of Lijuan. How many ways can you write “I am a goddess” and “you will all die”? She’s become a one-note villain and I don’t want to read more about her. I’m not sure whether even reincarnation as Jinhai could make me want to read about her. Of course I will read the books, I’m hooked, but it would take a lot for me to like it.
Nadiel would be much more interesting, and an emotional roller coaster for Caliane and Raphael. We will find out when the plot blurbs are added. But don’t completely discount the various archangels mostly destroyed by Lijuan in Archangel’s War. I think they’re possible, too. As long as it isn’t Uram… I suppose the title could be stretched to Favashi or Cassandra, even. You just never know. Writers can be sneaky. What doesn’t seem like a great idea to us can be turned into a New York Times bestseller if the writer is good enough.
Also, don’t forget the various past archangels that have been mentioned by characters, or even a Sleeping Ancestor could be resurrected, with catastrophic results. However, the emotional toll on Raphael and Caliane are more romance-worthy and I’d probably say I’m about 90% sure that it will be Nadiel. (Another character that might be greatly impacted is Laric.)
Your idea about Illium is interesting, but without the Cascade I’m not sure Raphael would be able to heal such catastrophic injuries, not to mention the possible fallout mentioned by Caliane when she asked Raphael if his city was still standing the time that Illium began to ascend.
I would rather read about almost any of the other past archangels than Lijuan at this point.
It could be the Legion, too! That would be so cool.
I agree re: sick of Lijuan. If I never see Lijuan again it will be too soon.
Yes re Nadiel, absolutely. My money is on him or the Legion. It’s been hinted in a couple of books now. Good point re. Laric.
I’d be good with a Sleeping ancestor too.
@Kari S.: I agree with everything you said here about Aodhan and Illium stabilizing each other. And I am also wondering, because of that one stray thought of Aodhan’s in the last book (the one I quoted about how those most likely to lose their humanity are [paraphrasing] “archangels….and those powerful enough to be their seconds”) if after they ascend it will be Aodhan that starts to happen to and if Illium will have to fight to get him to keep some humanity. With Aodhan’s remoteness and Illium’s warmth and empathy, I could really see that happening.
I suppose you’re right that some of the Legion could return as women but it would require a mental adjustment for me because I think the pronoun “he” was used with any of them who were referred to in the singular. The more I think about it the more I think it is likely that the Legion will return, then Illium and Aodhan will ascend, and finally a few of the Legion will step into the roles previously occupied by Illium and Aodhan, or at least the Primary will. But I still do see Nadiel as an equally strong and in some ways more intriguing possibility for the resurrection in the next book and I would love to see that happen.
(Although I have to say, if and when that plus the Illium ascension happen, the Cadre will be a complete soap opera. Illium with his biological dad, his true father figure, and his “stepdad” if we consider Titus that, Raphael with his almost-son Illium and both his parents, Nadiel with his ex who tried to kill him, Aodhan with his lover Illium and his once-rumored lover Suyin. LOL!)
I am sure that Elena’s green Legion mark and plant ability are tied to each other and so I think there’s a chance they will have some tangential connection to the Legion’s return. Elena keeps thinking about how they are preserving the Legion building with all the plant life inside—surely that has to have some significance? I don’t think that Elena’s powers will bring the Legion back, just that maybe they will have a healing or restorative effect on them after they return.
I don’t really care that much about Celesta, TBH. There are too many minor characters in Nalini’s paranormal series / worlds to keep track of and care about each one.
I am 95% sure that Lijuan did create Jinhai to be a life pod for her, in essence, and preserve her through death and “rebirth” (after all she is so fixated on the reborn/rebirth). But I agree that will be in Suyin’s book and that won’t come for a while. Frankly I hope we get a couple more Illium/Aodhan books, at least one Raphael/Elena book, and a book for Caliane before Suyin’s turn rolls around.
I meant to say that I am 100% sure that the next book will be an Elena / Raphael book but I don’t think either of them will be resurrected. The resurrection will be someone else’s, but we will read about it through Elena and Raphael’s eyes.
Surely it’s not about Ilium. Archangel’s Ascension would be too tempting a title not to be used for his book.
Yes, I agree with your last note. Elena and Raphael will be the POV characters, no matter who ascends and/or is resurrected.
Could be that a Legionnaire (old joke, only for comic book fans) will be the one resurrected and HE will become an archangel. We’re very short of those right now. Probably the Primary, and he’d have to choose a name! I just can’t picture the Archangel Primary. It would imply a superiority and several of the more egocentric archangels wouldn’t put up with that.
The main reason I think it possible that some Legion members might be reborn female is that the imbalance of the male/female dynamic with 777 more male angels added to the population could be a problem among angelkind. You need female angels to reproduce! The population of angels is in crisis right now, and there might be some backlash if female angels choose mates with whom they can’t reproduce (such as Naasir and Andromeda, unless Nalini breaks her own rules). Since both male and female angels fought, presumably members of both sexes died. (Besides, we are living in a gender-fluid age.)
I notice characters like Celesta (and Isabel, and Kiama) that just seem randomly thrown into the story because I assume that Nalini wouldn’t introduce them unless she planned to do something with them later. I could be wrong, but why would she bother to invent an intriguing character and backstory and devote a few pages to them unless she plans to bring them back later in a more central role? Celesta is heroine material, in my opinion. Or someone who might be useful in a supporting role. So I tuck them away in my memory and anticipate their possible return.
In my own writing, random characters whom I just threw into the mix because I needed to fill a niche ended up becoming some of the most interesting and important supporting characters I created (and eventually got stories of their own). That’s why it’s so hard for me to kill off characters for the sake of realism (for example, women do die in childbirth without competent healers, but it really hurts to kill off characters you created and grew to love).
More later. Time for bed.
EDITED AND POTENTIALLY VERY SPOILERY
@MaryK: I had that thought too, after reading Archangel’s Light—that we might be getting a second Illium/Aodhan book and it could be called Archangel’s Ascension. However, I think Illium could physically ascend, die, and be resurrected in a Raphael / Elena book titled Archangel’s Resurrection, and then the next book could start shortly after that and be titled Archangel’s Ascension. That one could then be focused on the political aspect of the ascension—getting a territory, seeking ways to protect it, bringing on people to help run it, etc.
It seems to me that the physical ascension itself would have to be portrayed from Raphael and Elena’s POV anyway. If that happens and Guild Hunter #16 is titled Archangel’s Ascension and focused mostly on the rest of Illium’s rise to power, then that one would almost certainly be an Illium / Aodhan book. In fact if our theory is correct and they both ascend, then it could be titled Archangels’ Ascension (plural). I could see why Nalini might want to keep a lid on that title until after they have physically ascended and Illium has been resurrected.
@Kari S.: Oh if its the Legion then I don’t think any of them will ascend. I was thinking the book could be called Archangel’s Resurrection because Raphael, an archangel, will be the one who performs the resurrection. Again, using his healing ability.
Interesting theory about the Legion and gender/sex. It would still be a big mental adjustment for me because of the pronouns.
With many other writers I would agree, but Nalini has a gift for introducing characters you care about in just a page or two. For example in Archangel’s Light Illium’s human female friend in New York who owns a bakery — we heard about her for maybe a page or two but she immediately jumped off the page and had an interesting backstory. And she certainly isn’t going to be a heroine. Also, Nalini does this all the time in the psy/changeling series—there have been a lot of interesting side characters over the years. Some have gotten their own books or novellas but many have not. She likes to have very big casts in her paranormal series.
Useful in a supporting role might be a possibility. I think Vivek will eventually be developed more now that he’s a vampire.
I agree it really hurts to kill off characters you’ve grown to love (I have experienced that too). But I still think that in a war there needs to be at least one casualty that readers care about. Otherwise it feels like theater rather than an actual war.