REVIEW: Archangel’s Resurrection by Nalini Singh
Dear Ms. Singh,
We met Alexander in Archangel’s Enigma, when he awakened after centuries of Sleeping to find that his son had been killed but he had a young grandson named after him, Xander. Zanaya is a more recent addition to the cast; though younger than Alexander, she woke from a longer sleep, around the time of Archangel’s War. But almost as soon as she did, we saw that she and Alexander had once loved, and that even centuries later that spark was still there. Archangel’s Resurrection, the fifteenth book in the Guild Hunter series, is the story of that love.
During the war, Zanaya was bitten by Lijuan and fell, and that’s more or less where this book starts. Alexander watches that moment in disbelief, unable to do more than catch the archangel he thinks of as his Zani and wonder if this is her end. He gives her into the hands of the half-Sleeping, half-awake archangel Cassandra. Though Cassandra is a foreseer, she can’t answer Alexander’s question about whether Zanaya will ever wake again. Alexander is devastated; his relationship with Zanaya was on-again, off-again but he has always counted on her being in the world and he doesn’t know if he can exist in it if she doesn’t.
A short chapter in Cassandra’s viewpoint follows, a murky prophecy where a sickly green infection colors the future and there is only one tiny chance, a diamond strand of small possibility for something better. Cassandra can’t change the future but she has influenced it, and so this is the only timeline in which Elena has survived. Hope remains, but it’s fragile, and the chapter ends with a cryptic prophecy: “Lovers fall and lovers rise. The river stops flowing. This time will be the end.”
We then flash back thousands of years earlier, to Alexander’s birth and childhood. Alexander is a much beloved child with caring parents and an affectionate older brother, Osiris. Unlike his shy parents or his brother who studies the world around him, Alexander is a boisterous, focused and strong for his age. He is enrolled in training and there he befriends Callie, a slightly older girl. She is of course, Caliane, who will grow up to be an archangel.
When his mother is assaulted by a more powerful angel who pursued her against her wishes, Alexander’s choice to seek help from an archangel’s general not only protects the family, it also brings him to the attention the general, Akhia-Solay, who places him under his command and provides him with further training and opportunities.
The incident is a defining one. The lesson Alexander takes from it is that power matters, that it’s worth holding and using to protect others and to fight for what’s right and just. Over the centuries that follow, Alexander rises in power, becoming an admired and handsome general. He takes lovers, but no one means the world to him and he doesn’t anticipate that anyone ever will. This expectation is confounded when he meets a black-skinned, silver-haired young angel named Zanaya.
Though young, Zanaya is already fierce and determined. She grew up in the hinterlands, where her father abandoned her mother after he tired of her. Zanaya’s mother became desolate and desperate, and Zanaya decided that she would let no man have that kind of power over her, that she would always belong to herself.
When she meets golden-haired, silver-eyed, three-thousand-years-old Alexander, Zanaya discovers she is not immune; his beauty, power and danger sing to her soul. And when he rejects her—not because he doesn’t feel the same way but because he can’t give in to the feeling for fear of reshaping someone too young—Zanaya decides that no matter what, she will end her obsession with him.
As the centuries pass, Alexander’s brother Osiris loses himself in his experiments and gets out of touch with the world. Caliane ascends yet she and Alexander remain friends. When the Archangel he serves, Esphares, begins to become unstable, it is Alexander who must make him see that he needs to retreat into Sleep. And then—unexpectedly, because he’d given up the notion that it would ever happen—Alexander also ascends.
Zanaya’s obsession doesn’t die, and when Alexander becomes an archangel, she is angrier than ever at the possibility that he’ll never be within reach. No matter how many lovers she takes, half of her will belong to man she’s never touched. But her best friend, Aureline, has the insight that Alexander feels just as strongly and is waiting for her to grow into her power.
When Alexander and Zanaya finally become lovers, their relationship is passionate and intense. Through more centuries, through Zanaya’s own eventual ascension, two things are always apparent: No matter how many times their fights tear them apart, Alexander and Zani will keep returning to each other, and the real bone of contention between them will always be Alexander’s need to protect Zanaya and Zanaya’s need to remain independent and strong, to belong to no one but herself.
When we return to the time of the cascade, we see Zanaya wake and joins the war effort. She and Alexander put their last fight on hold, more or less, and spend a few days together fighting Lijuan’s reborn with Michaela’s help and preparing to meet with the rest of the Cadre in New York.
Alexander wants to get back together, but Zanaya is skeptical that things will be any different this time. She promises Alexander that she’ll hear him out and they’ll talk after the battle, but then Lijuan bites her, perhaps fatally, and Alexander has to leave her with Cassandra. He mourns and rages and vows to love her again, forever this time, if he’s given the opportunity. But will Zanaya ever wake again, or will something else awaken in her place?
Besides this main storyline, there are a few other threads here. One is about Alexander’s brother Osiris, his descent into madness and its frightening consequences. Another is about Caliane and Alexander’s long, long friendship. Zanaya has her own best friend, Aureline, and Aureline and another angel’s relationship play out in the background. We see Alexander and Raphael’s respect for each other develop, and we see Alexander’s alliance with Titus across their shared border. And this wouldn’t be a Guild Hunter book without a creepy suspenseful subplot; there is one in the second half of the book.
Something else happens that has me very excited.
Spoiler (only sort of a spoiler): Show
It’s also in this part of the book that Alexander and Zanaya’s reunion takes place, and they have to resolve their differences and see if they can shape their future relationship to be more unified than it was in their tumultuous past. Can they compromise in a way that diminishes neither of them?
As characters in this series go, Alexander has never been a big favorite of mine. I’m only rarely interested in stodgy heroes, and Alexander is a bit of stuffed shirt. I do understand that a lot of his inflexibility comes with his immortality. He is truly an ancient. But I think it’s also his personality, because I can think of a couple of other ancients who don’t struggle with this character flaw to the same extent. I didn’t come out of this book a lot more excited about Alexander than I was going into it but I have nothing against him either.
I realize this isn’t a ringing endorsement, but happily, I am a reader for whom one satisfying character is enough to make enjoyable, and this book does have a character I can resoundingly endorse: Zanaya. I really loved her fierceness. She was badass, she took no prisoners, and she took none of Alexander’s crap either. The word spirited doesn’t begin to do her justice, but I also never felt that she was behaving with immature feistiness. In general, I was almost always on her side whenever they were in conflict. She was the one who was ultimately more grounded in life.
Their romance was turbulent at times and I have to admit, I never quite got what the glue was that kept them (particularly Zanaya) from moving on after one of their breakups. The best answer given in the book was that they were destined for each other from the moment they first saw each other. “Fate” is an answer works up to a point, and I think Nalini Singh sells it for the most part. I would still have liked a bit more, because I loved Zanaya so much that I wanted to be convinced that she would be happier with Alexander in the future than she would ever be with someone else. I’m not 100% there.
I do believe that about Alexander, though, that no one else could ever mean as much to him. In his soul and in his bones, Alexander is a one-woman man, regardless of breakups and other lovers. He is unswervingly Zanaya’s and in many ways that’s his saving grace. There was never a moment when I felt he didn’t appreciate how special Zanaya was or understand there was no one else like her. He got it. That part of it he got in spades.
This is very much the love of two archangels and the story makes it very clear that (as the author has said more than once, including in our recent interview here) these characters aren’t exactly human. I think this kind of relationship might not hold together between two human beings, but being Archangels, having that kind of power, gives these two the tenacity to make it work in the end.
Their past wasn’t easy, and I don’t think their life together will always be easy in the future, though I do think they’re both ready to have a mellower time for a while at least. I wish I had a clearer idea of the reason they’ll be a completely united front for the rest of their unnatural lifetimes— “this time he’d thought she was dead” isn’t quite enough for me—but I was willing to buy it because I liked Zanaya so much and I wanted happiness for her. And I do think Alexander will make a genuine effort and that he means what he says.
Now to the other characters in the series. Man, I missed them so much. When we last left the Guild Hunter world, Illium and Aodhan had gone from tight lifelong friends to romantic partners. I loved Archangel’s Light—it was easily one of the top two books I read last year—so I was really, really excited by the possibilities in their future and looking forward to another glimpse of them.
I’ll get out of the way what many Bluebell and Sparkle fans are wondering. No, there’s no further developments on in their relationship that we see in this book (but check out the exciting news about them in Monday’s interview). In fact we don’t see them at all in this book, we don’t see any of the Seven at all except for Naasir and that’s in flashback to his childhood. Even Elena only gets a few lines. That was the most disappointing thing for me about this book. But on the other hand, the sort-of spoiler I hid above makes me very excited about future books.
Besides Alexander and Zanaya, the familiar faces we do see are most of the Cadre (including, before the war, Michaela who I’m now convinced will be given her own book), especially Caliane, Raphael, Titus, and to a lesser extent Elijah. Xander, Alexander’s grandson, gets a fair bit of page time too, as does another character we haven’t seen since Archangel’s War and that I wasn’t sure we’d see again anytime soon. There is also a glimpse of Sharine that I really enjoyed.
However, this book is focused very tightly on Zanaya and Alexander, as a larger-than-life, millennia-spanning love story might have to be, and I did love the epic scope of it. It’s a story that’s told to a large extent through Alexander’s eyes rather than Zanaya’s, although we do get her POV. There were times I wished it was the other way around but that might just be because I like her so much.
Overall I enjoyed Archangel’s Resurrection, and now I’m dying for Guild Hunter #16. B-.
I am so fed up with Lijuan. Will she ever just die? No probably not. When she appeared on the first page I almost deleted the book, but I kept on and now I’m at the halfway point and very bored. I like Alexander, but I’m not liking Zanaya. She is a carbon copy of Aden’s mate in Psy/Changling series and I loathed that book. Honestly I’m losing interest in both series.
@mel burns: I am sick of Lijuan too. I hope she goes away and never comes back, but I have a feeling she won’t, because of Jinhai (I think that was his name). Clearly we are not done with creepiness in China.
It’s interesting you don’t like Zanaya, I liked her so much better than Alexander. I can see what you are saying about her similarity to Zaira. I liked Zaira too, so it wasn’t an issue for me. But on the whole I like Zanaya better. Zaira seems a lot more violent to me–understandable, given her childhood–and her conflict was the usual psy conflict (some kind of impending brain-related doom) whereas Zanaya’s conflict with regard to her own past was more unusual and interesting. But she’s not your cup of tea, she’s not your cup of tea.
Why did you like Alexander so much? It’s hard for me not to think of him as a grandfather, probably because the first time he showed up in the books, his relationship to Xander was emphasized so much. And then he has this stodgy personality where he doesn’t work too hard on changing his view or his behavior, which also strikes me as old and conservative (I don’t mean conservative in the political sense). He’s not sexy to me, but I would love to hear what his appeal is to someone else.
He is a bit fatherly and curmudgeonly and very charismatic which I like in a man. You are spot on about about him being a grandfather and not sexy which probably put me off his relationship with Zanaya whom I see as an aggressive teenager. Zanaya’s back story didn’t help and wasn’t very interesting to me either and she came out of left field in the last book. Why is she even a Cadre and how many Archangels can the Universe hold? ♀️ Maybe had NS shown her life before angel camp instead of telling the reader about it later I might of cared more. Also I get tired of a new couple in every book, just kill Lijuan and get on with it! Selfishly I just want to read about Elena, every GH book should have her as the main protagonist with secondary characters as added entertainment only. I still haven’t got past the half way mark, if I finish it I’ll check back.
@mel burns: Hmm I agree with fatherly and curmudgeonly but some of the charisma was lost on me. I can kind of see some if I squint, but I think for me the he is a little too much of a patriarch—not quite patronizing but a little too much of an authority figure in the family type guy. Not my type.
I can see what you mean about Zanaya being teenager like and I think that may be because when we were first introduced to her she was a teenager (same as that when we were first introduced to him he was a grandfather). It’s funny because I did really love the dynamic between Hawke and Sienna in the psy/changeling books, at least in their book, even though Hawke was also a bit patronizing as well as something of an asshole (which Alexander isn’t) and Sienna was even younger when she first showed up. But they had more chemistry for me.
I agree 100% that more of Zanaya’s backstory would have been good. I really would have liked to see the same kind of childhood stuff with her that we saw with him. That was one of my favorite parts of the book, the scenes where he was a child. That said she is more mature in the second half of the book so maybe that will help you with liking her (if you keep reading).
I laughed at “How many archangels can there be?” because it has always seemed to me that there are too many, particularly if you count all the Sleeping ancients. There shouldn’t be so many in the world with so few continents to rule and only ten spots on the cadre. I was okay with Zanaya waking in Archangel’s War (two books ago) because she wasn’t the only one and it was a Cascade effect. And now a bunch of them are out of commission so we are back to nine or ten. But I have a strong feeling Michaela will be back soon and that she’ll be redeemed and made into a heroine. I am actually really looking forward to that (surprising even to me).
I wish a villain would wake up from among the Sleeping ancients to replace Lijuan. I am almost certain Lijuan reincarnated herself in Jinhai/Quon (that one of them is Lijuan and the other is the original boy she took and did that to, and the one in charge, Jinhai, is presenting Quon as the bad person where Quon is really the innocent child and Jinhai the one who murdered everyone). I really would rather that wasn’t the case because argh! Like you I am bored by Lijuan and her particular creepiness and would rather see something really different.
I love Elena but there’s a limit to how many Elena and Raphael books there can be now that they have worked out all their differences. A book needs some conflict for romantic tension, don’t you think? And if they kept rehashing the same conflict over again we would be bored and tired of them too.
That’s why I agree with Kari (in the interview thread) that Elena will get pregnant soon. That should be really interesting. Also, unlike you I really like some of the secondary couples (especially Illium and Aodhan but I also loved Dmitiri and Honor’s books despite not loving either of them, and I really love Andromeda, Naasir’s true love).
I don’t know if you looked at my sort of spoiler but that makes me eager to see where the next book takes us.
Well, my copy finally came. Brief rant: I’m nearly ready to give up on my local Barnes and Noble. I try to give my business to a local store, but it’s hard when they don’t carry the new releases by people like Ilona Andrews and Nalini Singh! Yes, really. They have failed me twice, now. (They couldn’t find a copy of the new Patricia Briggs in August.) This in Silicon Valley, land of SciFi fans! So rather than drive to the jumbo B&N on a day when I didn’t feel well, I ordered from Amazon. No effort on my part. So, I will come back probably over the weekend with my comments since even I can’t finish it in one evening. (I read fiction really fast.)
I do agree that I prefer the Elena/Raphael books but acknowledge that every book can’t be about them. The only exception so far is Illium & Aodhan, which I loved also. But I’ve enjoyed most of the titles anyway, no matter who the central characters were.
@Kari S.: That’s annoying about your local B&N. Surprising too. I wouldn’t necessarily be surprised if it was a little indie bookstore that focused mostly on biographies and literary fiction etc but B&N should be interested in bestselling authors and Patricia Briggs is a big name.
I’m looking forward to your thoughts on the book!
Warning: probable spoilers!!
Okay, just finished it. Overall, I found it interesting though it started slow. I really liked Zanaya. I haven’t read the Psy/Changling series so I have nothing to compare her to, but I liked the character as portrayed in this book. Since I read fiction really fast I just skimmed over anything I found annoying like stupid arguments between Alexander and Zanaya. I found it interesting that Lijuan attacked Zanaya as a form of revenge for Alexander rejecting her. But honestly I can’t blame Alexander, because I can see that Zanaya is an extremely attractive lady and I never got the sense that Lijuan was terribly sexy and appealing! Her character as portrayed when older was almost asexual, but not in a good way. I have serious doubts, for instance, that she was ever pregnant.
It’s interesting that A and Z have found a way to tolerate being together as two archangels, which speaks well for a long future together. I loved that Zanaya had a bestie who agreed to get up from Sleep and serve as her second, and loved what we saw of her character. I didn’t find Alexander annoying. A bit old fashioned and stick-in-the-mud early on but by the end I felt that he’d learned how to treat Zanaya in a way that wouldn’t drive her insane, and he seems to have learned to compromise.
I also really liked the history of Alexander’s early life, and the elaboration of his brother’s history. Loved seeing baby Naasir! So cute. Made me want a tiger creature of my very own, but then I’m a serious cat lover. So is Zanaya! (So is Nalini, for that matter.)
Glad for the resolution of the storyline concerning the fallen archangel. Trying not to be too spoilery, but I didn’t like the way the character was left hanging in Archangel’s War. Not terribly surprised that someone decided to take a nap, either. That was pretty much predictable. Go, Caliane! That was a logical move.
Like you, Janine, I’m convinced that Michaela will get her own book. It’s sad that she and Zanaya haven’t had a chance to sit and talk about Michaela’s father but hopefully that will be rectified in her own book! I want to meet that son of hers!
I appreciated hearing about Rohan and Citrine (always nice to have a mother’s name) and getting to know Xander. (Loved Zanaya sneaking him a glass of mead. My brother once smuggled a VCR into my room in the ICU so that we could watch a movie. Convalescing is boring!) Xander is getting his own book for sure! I’d love to see him with Eve, but he may be too young. We’ll see.
I see lots and lots of possible directions she could go in for the next few books. I’m really hoping that a baby for Elena is next in the offing. There have been enough of the alternate character books already. That book will certainly have plenty of time for Uncles Illium and Aodhan and would be a perfect way to work up to their second book and ascension.
@Kari S.: I’m not a skimmer and the arguments did get repetitive for me. I think if you skimmed them that might give you a better feeling about the two of them belonging together than I had.
I do agree that Alexander and Zanaya brainstorming ways to manage the friction of being two archangels in the future was good. One of the things I found interesting about that conversation is that they borrowed the strategies from Caliane and Nadiel.
While I’m not sure that’s 100% consistent (didn’t Raphael say something about his parents clashing because of being two archangels in one or more of the earlier books?) I think it sets up the possibility of another archangel/archangel pairing. Possibly even Caliane and Nadiel if he is indeed resurrected as I’ve been predicting since Archangel’s War (or maybe Archangel’s Prophecy—the book where Raphael and Elena visited Caliane). It could also be someone else although are there any other male single archangels left? Could also be Caliane and Suyin I suppose.
(I would actually love for Caliane to be in an f/f relationship, but maybe with her general.)
I also loved Zanaya’s friendship with Aureline. Baby Naasir was adorable.
It’s been a while since I read the book so I’m not sure what you’re alluding to with your nap and “Good move, Caliane” references.
Yes, I’m positive now that Michaela will return and will return much changed for the better. Also if Raphael and Elena have a baby that might soften her toward Elena and then vice versa. Even if Michaela doesn’t get her own book, she and Elena will form a truce, I’m certain.
I really like Xander and I think he and Eve would be wonderful together but I wonder if Eve will end up with a vampire instead, since she will probably be made into a vampire to become immortal. I think that would be very, very interesting actually, since Eve has a sister close to her own age and a mom as well—how would they react to Eve becoming a vampire? I can’t imagine Jeffrey would handle it well. And how would Eve herself handle the fact that they will age but she will not, or very little?
I’m free associating here, but I was thinking the other day was that a cool subplot (not that I think this will happen) would be for Eve to be attacked and about to die so that Elena would have to make the choice (or ask Eve to make the choice) that she was torn about Raphael making for her—whether to be made into a vampire or to die. And then for Eve to have an adjustment process to being a vampire, sort of like Holly did but not as dark, and with Elena supporting her along the way as she got familiar with the immortal world. That could be a really cool subplot through a few books. I would love love love to read it.
I am sure another Elena and Raphael book is coming soon! They are at the center of the series after all.
Spoiler if you haven’t read the book! That’s why I was trying to drop it as a hint.
I was referring to Neha’s decision to Sleep, which has been hinted at heavily for several books, and the decision to give India to Caliane. Kind of a long commute if she leaves Amanat in Japan but has to rule India too. India is a pretty crowded country already and I can’t imagine them squeezing another city into their geography. Plus she’d have to meld her people with Neha’s rather poisonous court. Could get nasty. Maybe that’s going to be at the center of Caliane’s book. Since Qin really doesn’t want to be in the world maybe Nadiel will get his territory if he returns. (I’m sorry but I have no interest in Astaad. The thought of all those concubines turns me off, even if the women are apparently happy.)
No, Jeffrey will not be happy if Eve becomes a vampire. That development might work best if it was forced upon her, as you suggest. I think her mother and sister would accept as long as Eve didn’t die, which would be unbearable. It might force Amy to warm up to Elena.
Agh this was so boring!!!! Reunited lovers and alpha mails are my favorite themes in the books (aside from secret baby). This book had everything that I love, and it was very, very boring. I usually love Nalini writing, however, in this book I did not connect with the main characters at all. I loved Alexander from previous books, I still like him much better than Zanaya. She came out of left field as a main character and since she is an alpha female, she did not work for me. I really do not like alpha females. Some mentioned that she is a carbon copy from Aiden Psy book, and I agree. In addition, I still do not understand their main struggle in the book. Please someone explain it to me. I feel like the author glossed over some of the steamier parts of the book which I did not like. I was looking forward for a character being together for a first time and then after every separation and got generic descriptions that did not do anything for me. In comparison to Dimitry and Honor story one of my favorites, this felt very flat. This book was a huge let down for me.
I am still looking forward for Caliane and Nadiel story, but now I am afraid if she writes it, it will be just as boring as this one. The only interesting part was a new description of Michaela, but again since she is an alpha female I am not sure I will like her book.
@Kari S.: Yes, I had forgotten all about that. Agreed on Astaad! Although I think there might be a way to pull it off.
In some ways I wish Cassandra wasn’t alive because I think Qin has a lot of hero potential and I love widow/widower books where they have to get past their grief and loss. But I don’t think that will happen.
Now that we’ve talked about Eve becoming a vampire I really want to see it happen LOL.
@Nati: I saw Alexander and Zanaya’s main struggle as being about his need to possess / protect and her need to be independent and self-reliant. Which after her mother I really do understand.
That’s a good point about there not being much steam. That was true in Aodhan and Illium’s book too, and in general I have noticed less sex in her books than there was earlier on in her series. Maybe she has less affinity for writing about that at this point in her life? But I don’t want to speculate too much. TBH I didn’t even notice that there wasn’t much steam! I think I’m reaching that place myself, LOL.
I agree the Michaela part was really interesting. What did you think about the nine-year time jump?
Also, did you read my interview with her? Just wondering if you saw the part where she said that Illium and Aodhan will have another book.
I saw Alexander and Zanaya’s main struggle as being about his need to possess / protect and her need to be independent and self-reliant. Which after her mother I really do understand. Ok, I saw that conflict but it is very hard for me to believe that after a millennia they could not get their s…. together. Just feels forced to me at some point.
Regarding steam in her books, I think you are correct and in her earlier books it was done really well much better than now in my opinion. I do not need a lot of steamy scenes in the book, but it does help me to feel the connection between the characters. I did not feel that way regarding Illium and Aodhan book because it was M/M and I figured the author maybe could not do it justice ? Not sure, or maybe she left it for a next book.
Nine year jump did not bother me since we are talking about immortals and nine years is not a lot of time for them. However, I do not feel it added anything to the plot, it could be a hundred years or a one year and it would still be the same (boring).
I think I read it before that I/A would get another book. I liked their books better than this A/Z book so I am looking forward to their book. I am assuming Illium will become an Archangel ?
Where did you read about Elena having a baby ?
Nati, we haven’t read anywhere that Elena will have a baby but Janine and I have done a LOT of speculating about this series (we’re obsessed) and decided that Elena WILL have a baby, so Nalini had better catch up with us! If you go back to some earlier book comment threads you’ll find some of the speculation plus we’ve exchanged private emails.
Anyway, in Archangel’s War Nisia told Elena that she was mature enough in angelic terms to get pregnant and gave her birth control. Since Raphael and Elena have had a lot of conversations about how scary they find the idea, of course it has to happen! We figure that’s one of the reasons why she is advancing the timeline by ten years from Archangel’s War.
Other speculation is that a ten year jump will make Elena’s sister Eve about 25/26 and old enough to be a heroine, which probably means she’ll end up a vampire. Otherwise how can she have an immortal hero? Xander is my favorite for Eve, but he may be too young still.
Also we have deeply contemplated Jinhai, Lijuan’s son/clone/heir/whatever who also appears to be schizophrenic. Or just crazy, and also a cannibal. Janine has some really intense theories about him, but she’d better be the one to explain them.
The other thing we’ve speculated about endlessly is Illium’s ascension. My theory is that they (Illium and Aodhan) will both ascend, because that way they can share the power and not get overwhelmed and die. I think Janine basically agrees with me.
Other speculation has led to us deciding that Michaela will get her own book.
The thing we can’t agree on is Caliane. I think Nadiel will come back and reunite with her, but Janine doesn’t like him that well and would make him a villain and give Caliane someone nicer, preferably female.
We’ve also speculated a lot about the return of the Legion and how that will happen. You name it, we’ve speculated about it.
Well, this was the reason I liked Alexander less than Zanaya. I saw it as primarily his fault. He would promise that he would not try to confine or possess her and then he would go back on his word. He’s always been stodgy and not very flexible, so it fit his character, but it’s one of the reasons I’m not hugely into him. To me it didn’t exactly feel forced–they are immortals and it’s in their nature to be inflexible–but it did make it a little harder to get over the hump of “You’ve broken up before, what’s to convince me you won’t do it again?”
I was actually happy when she dialed back to Elena / Raphael sex scenes to a more reasonable number because it got a little repetitive after a while, but I agree that it helps establish a connection between the characters. However I really did not want a sex scene in this one and I think that gets back to my feeling that Alexander is grandfatherly to me and not really sexy.
I would actually really like some intimate scenes between Illium and Aodhan because they have such a lovely emotional connection and also because I want to see how Aodhan deals with the trauma issues–does it ever come up for him in that context? So I hope there will be some in the future.
I am excited about the nine year jump because I think it will be a whole lot more interesting when we get back to New York. For example, Elena’s human friends and sisters will all be older. How will she deal with Sara being in her mid-forties (I’m guessing) while Elena retains the appearance of a twenty-seven year old forever? Also what is Eve like now that she’s grown up? How have Illium and Aodhan settled into their relationship nine years later? Are Naasir and Andromeda maybe talking about adoption since he’s always wanted cubs? Etc.
Darn, I thought I scooped that news about Illium and Aodhan. Where did you read about it? Do you remember? I wonder if it was just speculation at that point (we speculated a lot here last year).
Re Elena–at the end of Archangel’s War (I think), there’s a scene where Elena and Raphael talk about how she’s now mature enough in terms of her physical growth to be able to get pregnant and how they feel about that. They both decide they’re not ready and that they don’t know if they’ll ever be ready, so she’s going to take birth control. I don’t see why that scene would be in there if it wasn’t to set up something that will happen in a future book, and that something can’t be anything but a pregnancy.
@Nati and @Kari S.: Did Elena and Raphael have lots of conversations about that? I only remember one.
I suggested last year that I would like to see Eve become a heroine in one of the books and Kari said she would like Xander to and I think from there Kari moved on to an Eve and Xander as a couple wish. I think they would make an adorable couple but I also want lots more books so if she writes separate books for them I’m okay with that too.
Kari, it’s a common misconception that schizophrenia has to do with dual (or multiple) identities but it doesn’t, that psychiatric condition is called dissociative identity disorder and it’s much more rare.
In any case, Nati, re Jinhai/Quon (Lijuan’s child), I can go into it in more detail but basically I think that Lijuan took a boy from the village and altered him, and she left a piece of herself in him, and that boy is meant to be a new body for her to come back in. Remember he got upset at Suyin and said he was Lijuan’s “skin.” I have a lot more thoughts connected to this theory but I won’t go into them unless you want to hear more. In a nutshell: Lijuan is either going to return or to try to return and fail, and I hope it’s the second because I have Lijuan fatigue.
I think Kari and I both arrived at the theory that Aodhan and Illium might both ascend during the conversation we had here after Archangel’s Light more or less at the same time, but we came at it from different angles. Mine was from the feeling that the relationship between them would be uneven in a not-so-good way if only Illium ascends. It works well for Raphael and Elena but that’s because Elena is so much younger and was once a mortal. She’s new to the angel world and doesn’t know enough to try to be an equal in running the show. With Illium and Aodhan it would be less successful for me as a reader because they are so close in age and power and have had a much more equal and much more longstanding relationship for a long time. When two people are almost equal and then all of a sudden the power shifts drastically to one of them, it might not feel good to readers.
Kari’s theory came from a different place and is really cool–she thinks that though Illium, at five hundred years old, is too young to ascend, but if Aodhan’s power (also five hundred years of power, and almost equal to his, we were told in Archangel’s Light) combines with Illium’s when Illium starts to ascend than that might be enough to help him survive it (Raphael ascended youngest of all the archangels and he was a thousand). And that could pull Aodhan into the ascension as well. That would be really cool, I think, but at the same time I really don’t want them to have separate territories. I’m hoping that if it happens the way they ascended and their power combined makes it possible for them to be physically together (I mean in each other’s company) as much as they want. They deserve it!
This is all just a theory and I think Kari is more certain of it than I am. I think it’s possible that only Illium will ascend.
I agree with Kari that Michaela will get her own book. I thought it might be the case even when we learned she had a baby and then she sacrificed her life to save the world, but now that we’ve seen another side of her in this new book I think so even more.
Re Caliane, I’m not crazy about Nadiel. I don’t actually mind if Caliane ends up with a guy but I don’t want it to be Nadiel, he sounds like a putz to me, sorry! None of the things Raphael has said about him make me see him as hero material. The reason I think an f/f romance would be a good fit for Caliane is because if it’s a guy it will be hard for him to be her equal in power and if it’s a woman that will matter less. Also Caliane has always had this city of women so it fits well with her personality and background for her to be open to lovers who aren’t men as well.
(Whether or not they get together, I do think that Nadiel will return. There’s been a lot of attention give to him in recent books and that makes me think so.)
Re the Legion. Yes. They will return. Who knows what will happen when they do, but they will. I am hoping they return transformed and without bat wings. If they do, maybe some of them can also serve as main characters.
One thing I would really like to have happen but may not is the arrival of a new big villain on the stage. I would like one of the Sleeping ancients to wake up and prove to be as dangerous and evil as Lijuan but not in the same way. I want something different, and I think if the revelations about that characters start out slowly that could be really good and an excellent way to refresh the series.
Mind you, I think the nine-year jump is also a good way to do that. In the psy-changeling discussions I have been saying for a few years now that I think the books need to jump some years forward in time to shake things up for readers. Based on my interview it looks like that won’t be happening in the psy-changeling world but I’m very glad it’s happening in the angel world.
Regarding 9 years jump, in my previous post I was only thinking in terms of A/Z and it did not made much difference to me. However, after reading your comments, yes, a lot can happen in 9 years. Humans age and it would be interesting to see how Elena deals with her family and friends age. Especially her father, there is a lot of unresolved conflict there that I would like to see resolved one way or another. I do not really want to see Xander as a hero. To me he is a kid, and I do not see him as a leading man in a story. Regarding Evie turning vampire that I would read LOL.
Re Caliane, I’m not crazy about Nadiel. I don’t actually mind if Caliane ends up with a guy but I don’t want it to be Nadiel, he sounds like a putz to me, sorry! None of the things Raphael has said about him make me see him as hero material.
Well, Alexander described him differently than Raphael in this book, and Raphael saw him from a child perspective, Alexander saw him from an equal point of view. I still want Caliane and Nadiel story, like I said I am a sucker for reunited lovers. Think of the conflict, Calaine actually offed her lover, almost killed Raphael and went nuts as well. Imagine Nadiel anger, and Calaine angst, and of course Raphael will have to deal with both. If you mix it with Raphael and Elena having a kid (maybe) the conflict and it would be epic, only if NS pools it off.
Raphael and Elena having a baby should be interesting as well, a lot of emotions to deal with.
I am ok with books with or without sex scenes depends on how I view and connect to the couple. For example, the scene between Casandra and Quin was amazing, only a couple of lines but I could feel the connection, the love the earning from them. Patricia Briggs Alpha and Omega book is one of my favorites and there were no sex scenes and I connected with the couple. So, what I am trying to say is that, since I did not connect with A/Z as a couple, the more detailed sex scenes with their feeling involved would probably help me out to connect with them.
I also feel like Casandra and Quin might get a book as well. Both of them were mentioned in previous books, and in this book when Cassandra spoke with Z, she said she does not remember some things. Maybe as a result of the cascade she will be able to function. What do you think?
I am really tired of Lulujan (spelling), and would like a new villain, but I think we are not finished with Lulujan. She might comeback for her kid or as a part of her kid. In one of the posts someone mentioned that they could not see Lulujan getting pregnant with a kid and I actually agree. But she was also a Archangel so who knows what she did.
I think NS mentioned it before that A/I would get another book, because the first one ended kind of not finished in a since, but I might be wrong.
I do not know what I think regarding both A and I becoming archangels. First, they could not be at the same place for a long period of times and would need separate territories. There only so many archangels that can exist at one time it seems like a stretch.
Janine, Raphael and Elena only had one conversation about babies in Archangel’s War but I can remember previous times they’ve talked about it. I would have to reread to find them, however. I can distinctly remember a conversation in an earlier book where Elena expressed relief when a healer told her that she couldn’t get pregnant and Raphael chiding her (not seriously) about how she feels. Nisia calls a baby a “parasite” in one of their conversations.
One reason I’m convinced it will happen is the Lois McMaster Bujold school of thought on plotting books, which seems to be a common one with authors: think of the worst thing that can happen to your hero and do it! Then see what happens. I suppose it’s possible that having a child will be a logical, thought out decision for Our Heroes, but an unexpected pregnancy would be a lot more fun for readers (and probably the author too).
I think a Sleeping Ancestor (who are probably a different species) would make a great villain. Why would she have mentioned them if they weren’t going to appear eventually? But like everyone else I am SICK of Lijuan and really hope she stays thoroughly dead. After all, Cassandra said that her timeline stopped after she turned into a bunch of leaves. If she left some remnant of herself in Jinhai, I’m going to be annoyed, but Janine’s theory is very plausible when you reread Archangel’s Light. I’m not sure why Nalini likes the character well enough to keep bringing her back, but she may be the only one who does.
Nati, my theory is that Illium and Aodhan will be co-archangels because that’s the only way a 500 year old angel could handle all the power involved. The time that Illium started to ascend nearly killed him until Raphael siphoned off the power. I think they could work together in the same territory by sharing that power. But it’s only my theory and Nalini may have another far better idea of how to manage it.
Regarding sex scenes those are one of the things I skim so I can live without them just fine. I do it with all the books I read with graphic scenes.
I don’t have a lot of certainty that we will see Xander as a hero anytime soon because he is so young, barely out of his angelic teens. I just think he and Eve would be cute together. I can see him becoming one when older, however, if she chooses to do another time jump. Which seems likely to me, even if it does mean that most of Elena’s family and friends will be very old or dead. I think it’s inevitable when you have immortal lead characters. Yes, Elena will grieve but hopefully she won’t lose Eve, and at least two of her fellow Guild Hunters are vampires.
Oops, three Guild Hunters are vampires. I was forgetting Honor.
Nati: One thing we didn’t talk about here with regard to the nine-year jump is the little children; Elena’s niece Maggie and Sara and Deacon’s daughter (I forgot her name) will be preteens or young teenagers now. That will be different too, for Elena to have young teenagers in her life.
I do agree that Xander is a little young and ten years have not made a big difference in that, judging from the ending of Archangel’s Resurrection (that takes place after the jump). I was mostly thinking they’d be a cute couple if Eve stayed young but since she’s going to be aged up, then no, probably not.
I agree that Alexander saw Nadiel in a better light than Raphael did, but Raphael was not actually speaking from a child’s perspective. What he said was more like “I didn’t realize it at the time, but with hindsight I see that Nadiel was irresponsible,” etc. He made him sound immature and in an earlier book he said Uram got his ideas about angels being superior to mortals and vampires from Nadiel and that Nadiel believed that angels should be worshipped as deities. This last book portrayed him better via Alexander’s POV but by the same token that Alexander was an equal that I think would actually make him less inclined to judge since he had seen archangels come and go with delusions of grandeur. He might have been more accepting of it. As for how Nadiel endangered his child, I doubt Alexander was around for that.
With regard to the angst—yes, but I think most of that could be accomplished if Nadiel returns as a villain. Caliane is clearly not over him and is haunted by having killed him, so if he comes back and at first we don’t know for sure if he’s good or bad, he could mess with her mind and try to turn her back to being unstable and evil as part of his revenge. That would also create a lot of angst for Raphael, Elena and any child they might have (as well as for Sharine / The Hummingbird, and for other members of the Cadre (think for example about Illium and Aodhan in that mix, with Illium’s loyalties to his mother and to Raphael). Afterward, when Caliane finally broke out of Nadiel hold over her and realized how he’d almost turned her unstable and evil again, she’d feel a lot of anger and hurt, and it would be a challenge not to get back at him without injuring innocent people, and for her to contain the threat he presented to the world at large. Especially since she would be hampered by all the guilt she felt over what she did in the past. And she would probably mistrust her own judgment after having fallen for his deception and therefore second-guess herself, which means that if she did fall in love with someone she would have to wrestle with that as well. There are rich plot possibilities either way.
I agree with you that sex scenes aren’t always necessary but in the case of Alexander and Zanaya I’m not sure that would have helped (in my case). He’s not sexy to me and unsexy sex wouldn’t do it for me.
I really like Quinn but Cassandra would have to get more functional for me to want them together. I’d also need to understand their backstory better to feel the magic.
When Archangel’s Light came out Nalini said in her newsletter that this book (AL) was only the beginning for them. Is that what you’re thinking of?
Like Kari says, Aodhan and Illium would have to be an exception to the rule of two archangels not being able to share a territory for long. And it’s possible IMO. If they ascend together, then that could result in different dynamics for them, a melding of their power, perhaps. In the same way that Raphael is the only angel to have made a human into an angel, they could be the only lovers to ascend together and that could impact things. It was already said in Arhcangel’s Light that the theory about why their power level was so close had to do with how much time they had spent together, how they had grown and developed side by side. Since a joint ascension is already unusual, it could also have unusual aftereffects that could make it possible for them to share the same space with no constraints.
Actually I think Cassadra’s new prophecy, “Lovers rise and lovers fall” could be a relevant reference. I think Illium and Aodhan might be the lovers who will rise.
I agree with you that sex scenes aren’t always necessary but in the case of Alexandra and Zanya I’m not sure that would have helped (in my case). He’s not sexy to me and unsexy sex wouldn’t do it. LOL, I see your point. I did not see him as grandfather so it is a little different for me. On that note, did it bother you when you read Titus and Sharine book? I mean she was ancient with a grown son and Titus was much younger .
“Lovers rise and lovers fall”, can be applied for so many couples. Caline and Nadiel (I still have my hope), Casandra and Quin, Aodhan and Illium, and maybe even Michaela, and Raphael and Elena (possible baby drama).
When Archangel’s Light came out Nalini said in her newsletter that this book (AL) was only the beginning for them. Is that what you’re thinking of? Possibly, for some reason I already knew that there will be second book , but I cannot remember where I heard it first.
I do not see Caline with anyone else but Nadiel, probably because some of their backstory is shown to us and I am invested. Villains can be redeemed (think Hue by IA) and Nalini does have the talent to write awesome books.
I think Elena had a teenager in her life , Evie. I understand that her relationships with her younger sisters were different due to her father but maybe during 10 years it changed.
I would love to see Honor and Dimitry have a kid. I know biologically it is not possible, but adoption works.
@Nati: It worked for me better with Sharine and Titus. Sharine had a grown son but not a grandchild, and Illium isn’t that old for an angel. He has a playful personality so I read him as relatively young, in his late twenties if he were human.
Sharine had some traits of older adults for sure, like missing patches of memory and not being familiar with current technology, but her personality also had a youthful aspect, for example she started using the cell phone Illium gave her and teased Titus about not knowing how to use one. And as you say he’s much younger.
The fact that Titus had the steady, more serious personality and she had the teasing, laughing personality helped me see their age as less uneven. And the fact that Titus was an archangel but Sharine wasn’t also made up for some of the gap in life experience. But I don’t think there was a lot of sex in their book either, or am I forgetting?
I was looking at “rise” through the meaning of the word “ascend”, its literal definition. Two of the definitions on the Merriam-Webster dictionary website are “ “1A: to move upward // the balloon ascended” and “2A: to rise from a lower level or degree // ascend to power.” So in terms of vocabulary, ascend=rise, and it was that choice of word that made me think so. You’re right, it could also be other things, but in this interpretation the word “rise” reads like a clue. The other people you’ve mentioned have ascended already.
You’re right that villains can be redeemed and I think she will redeem Michaela. If she does then she can certainly also redeem Nadiel. But we’ll see. I actually think that you and Kari are closer to being correct than I am on this one. I’m just saying what I want, not what I think will happen.
That will be interesting to see, how Elena’s relationship with that side of her family has changed over the years (or if it hasn’t). But in terms of having young teens in her life, she wasn’t that close to Eve yet when Eve was that age. Whereas Sara and Beth’s kids she’s been spoiling and visiting since they were little so I think the dynamic will be different. Less interesting in some ways but still kind of fun.
Re Honor and Dmitri adopting, yes! I have said I’d like that before too. It would be healing for them and they would be excellent parents.
@Kari S.: It’s funny, you forgot Honor when you said three of Elena’s fellow Guild Hunters, and then I had to wrack my brain about what other hunter but Honor and Ashiwini are vampires before I remembered: Vivek!
I am not excited about it because Vivek’s backstory is ableist IMO, but I think it’s possible that Vivek will also get a book. That would have to be down the line though. And I wonder if he’ll move to Aodhan and Illium’s territory because Aodhan Made him.
Elena is not that close to Honor as far as I can tell but she is tight with Ashwini and to a lesser extent Vivek, so that will help some. I think Sara’s aging might really hurt.
Then again, Nalini Singh has yet to kill a single character the reader cares about, even if they are a peripheral character, and we have been through three wars at this point (if you count the psy-changeling war as well as the two in this series). There have been many situations where all logic dictated that someone we really care about should die, and so far it hasn’t happened. Unless you count the Legion, but I think they are being set up to return and therefore I don’t really count that as death.
I want to thank this discussion thread for rekindling my interest and love for this series because Archangel’s Resurrection was NOT good. I am used to a well-paced story from NS. She can blend mystery/thriller aspects with a well-developed romance like few others. But this? This story had no pacing. VERY very little development in terms of the characters either. Neither main characters were really unique or interesting. We get a patchwork of other beloved characters stitched into these two. Honestly only when Titus (or other well-loved characters) was on the page did the story gain life. It began so well. The early chapters recounting the battle over NY and then the chapter with w Cassandra. That was a fine set-up but then poof! Nothing for hundreds of pages. The pay-off in the final chapters is RIDICULOUS and comes very close to breaking the rules of continuity for all the chess pieces already in place (re: reborn….just think back to the reborn plot in Titus and Sharine’s story or to Bluebell and Spakle’s) Compared to Archangels Sun or Archangel’s Light, the plot in this book is lacks credibility. The youth of Z and A was fine but why are we fed pages and pages and pages of it. Again, especially when neither of them feels new or unique. Caliane is so well-developed. She is an ancient and we get that about her. Why then do A and Z feel cookie cutter outlines of other characters already in this world. I could live happily never reading another page from Alexander’s POV.
@ Kate, I agree with almost everything you wrote regarding this book. I expected so much more and got very little.
Then again, Nalini Singh has yet to kill a single character the reader cares about, even if they are a peripheral character, and we have been through three wars at this point (if you count the psy-changeling war as well as the two in this series). This made me laugh because it is so true . I gave up on this particular point because it will never happen.
I feel like this discussion is way more interesting than the book itself and I had fun participating.
@Kate: I’m glad you enjoyed the discussion. I agree this was a weaker entry in this series, but for me even a weak Nalini Singh book is heads above most everyone else in this genre. Unless you count Ilona Andrews and Patricia Briggs, she’s the only author of paranormal romance I follow anymore. Every once in a while I try a new parnamoral by another author and conclude that the vast majority of that sub genre doesn’t work for me. So I give her big points for that.
I can see what all of you are saying about the similarities between Zanaya and Zaira from Aden’s book (Shards of Hope), but who does Alexander remind you of? He doesn’t seem like any other NS character I recognize but I only read her PNR series, not her contemporary stuff.
@Nati: Thank you! I had lots of fun too (and am open to more if anyone else wants to join the conversation).
If any of you can recommend good paranormal romances to me, please do! I mean paranormal romance novels, not fantasy, urban fantasy, fantasy romance or SFR. I read and enjoy plenty of the first two and have limited interest in the other two (they are usually too light on worldbuilding for me). I would really love some good paranormal romance recommendations. I have already tried Maria Vale, Heather Guerre and Amy Green in recent years, so no need to mention those.
@Nati: Nisa tells Elena she’s too young for her body to handle an angelic pregnancy but since the Cascade is causing havoc she decides to err on the side of caution and prescribe birth control. Nisa also said Elena would need to be 500 yrs old to be mature enough to carry full term and survive. I just read that today.
Since finishing AR, what a bore, I’ve been reading/skimming through the series and I noticed that many of the female characters physically take after Nalini Singh’s own appearance.
@Janine: This book must be a stepping stone for a “Big Bang” it was nothing but recap with the added history of Alexander which for me was the best part of the story. After rereading Naasir’s book I like Alexander even more, he embodies an Ancient Archangel like Brad Pitt as Achilles or dressed in Armani.
@mel burns: How many books ago did Nisa say that? I am just remembering that Raphael gave Elena his heart in Archangel’s Prophecy and it changed her physiology and power.
When I was doing a reread binge of most of the first arc of the psy-changeling series, I noticed that so many of the heroines were short and curvy and now I can’t unsee it.
I cut her some slack on the height, though. It must be hard to write someone whose height is very different in terms of spatial considerations like ceilings, doorways, chairs and sex scene choreography. I just saw a reader talk about how her dad is 6’6 and how she doesn’t understand why so many authors make their heroes that tall without giving thought to how people that tall have to bend down going through doorways and worry about hitting their heads on ceilings. Not to mention the back pain.
Naasir’s book was so good.
@ Janine, like you I only read IA, PB, NS . One other paranormal author that I love is Kresley Cole, her Immortal After Dark series is really good. However, I know she is a little problematic in terms of releasing her books for the last couple of years, and the series is not finished. I like her writing style, but it can be a little cartoonist at times . I wish she would say what is going on so I would not keep my hopes up for continuation. I cannot get into any other paranormal authors as well and it sucks because I do love the genre.
Yep. In Archangel’s Prophecy “no babies you’re too young”. In Archangel’s War Nisa tells Elena her rebirth has made her the equivalent of an 300 yr old angel. Hint hint. Then in the saccharine epilogue of AW Nisa says (paraphrasing) “Ellie my dear you are ripe and ready for an angelic pregnancy”. I read the end this morning and boy was Nati right. Babies are coming and over achieving Elena will probably have twins. It feels so contrived.
I hope NS doesn’t fall into the baby HEA trap. Ilona Andrews very skillfully ended KD with toddler Conlon, but Thea Harrison really screwed up her shapeshifter series with Pia and her rapid growth babies. It’s a risk.
Naasir needs his own superhero franchise with Ashwini and Janvier as his sidekicks.
@Nati: Thanks. I tried Kresley Cole’s first book in that series and it didn’t really grab me. I agree with “cartoonish.” I don’t know why so few authors come out with good paranormal romances these days! Layla has recommended Lana Harper’s series and I’ve also heard good things about The Undertaking of Hart and Mercy by Megan Bannen so I might try those. TBH though, straight up fantasy with romantic elements is so much more satisfying to me these days that I rarely poke my head into PNR.
@mel burns: It sounds like saying 500 years was the pregnancy threshold is an inconsistent with what comes later (300 years).
I hope Elena doesn’t have twins! I want just one baby for them, I think that’s plenty of stress and overprotectiveness for Raphael. I wonder will their child be raised at the Refuge or with them at home? It seems a bit inconsistent to keep the child in New York but I think she can make a case that it would be easier to protect the baby there.
I agree that IA did a great job with baby Conlan in Magic Triumphs (that was terrific) but at the same time I don’t know how long that could have been drawn out. It was a one-joke running gag and would have exhausted itself eventually and then they would have had to flesh him out more to make him interesting.
NS is a mixed bag for me on babies. I feel that Baby Naya in the psy-changeling world (Sascha and Lucas’s child) is excessively sugary and I got annoyed with the stuff about how appealing these big, dangerous men look holding their baby. Ugh. I think that was in Allegiance of Honor. At the same time, even though I was really opposed to Mercy having triplets I’m relieved that it hasn’t hampered her from being the same independent woman she’s always been. It helps a lot that the changelings have the babies communally cared for by “dominant maternals,” whatever that means. I hate that term but it’s nice that they have grasped the “It takes a village” philosophy.
I also thought NS did a great job in Archangel’s Light with toddlers Illium and Aodhan. TBH I am more interested in a baby angel than in baby kittens or wolf cubs. It’s just more novel and cuter when they have wings and a tendency to want to fly. Also it makes a charming image.
@mel burns: Re Naasir. But Andromeda was the best part of that book! (He was adorable too.)
I am more interested in a baby angel than in baby kittens or wolf cubs.
There is nothing cutter than a baby kitten or a puppy !!!! LOL
It helps a lot that the changelings have the babies communally cared for by “dominant maternals,” whatever that means. I hate that term but it’s nice that they have grasped the “It takes a village” philosophy.”
When I read leopards and especially wolf books and how they live I always think Kibbutz . Growing up I loved visiting Kibbutz so I like it.
Please recommend fantasy with romantic elements, since we read and love the same authors I trust your taste in books.
@Nati: I’m familiar with kittens and puppies, but not with baby angels, so it’s more fun for me. Also it always weirds me out when they call their babies “pups.”
I always think that too! I wonder if she based them on the early kibbutz model (it’s been changed a bit since the inception of kibbutzim).
I was born on a kibbutz and lived there until I was three (almost four). After that we visited my grandparents there most weekends until we moved to the US when I was eleven. I loved it too. My parents are both kibbutzniks also, from different kibbutzim. My dad’s kibbutz (where I was born) had a much nicer atmosphere than my mom’s, and they were both very lucky in their group (kids they were housed with, grew up with etc.). They are still like siblings to this day.
I’m happy to recommend books but can you give me some guidelines? I assume you mean fantasy and urban fantasy, since that’s what I mentioned–does that include YA fantasy? And do you like science fiction too?
Also, do you mostly read m/f or are you interested in m/m and/or f/f also?
\@Nati: Also, are HEA’s crucial?
Kibbutzim are not as they used to be. My cousin lives in one and it is so different now. Not communal anymore. I know a lot of people who lived their either loved it or hated it later on in life.
I love urban fantasy and fantasy, YA fantasy is OK , but no to science fiction . I prefer M/F, but can read M/M and F/F and HEA is desirable if possible.
@Nati: Yeah, they are not the same. I have an uncle and aunt still at one and yeah. Now for recommendations (this is going to be loooong).
Paranormal / Fantasy Romance:
These are oldies because it’s been so long since I found anything good in this genre.
I loved the first two books in Shana Abe’s drakon series, The Smoke Thief and The Dream Thief. These are historical fantasy romances, very different from Singh, Andrews and Briggs so I don’t know if you would like them, and I haven’t read them in many years, but I remember them as really romantic, atmospheric and magical. Worth trying if you haven’t read them. The next few books weren’t bad and after that she switched to a related YA series. The first book in that was terrible and I never read the other two. Don’t read it! You find out something sad that happened with an earlier couple if you do. These are all m/f.
I liked the first couple of books in Meljean Brooks Iron Seas series, Here There Be Monsters (a novella) and The Iron Duke. I wasn’t so into the third one and didn’t stick with the series after that, but a lot of people love them. They are steampunk romances. She also had a vampire / demon / angel series before that but the first book didn’t grab me at all and I stopped there. But again, they were popular. She is really hit or miss for me. Also all m/f, as far as I know.
Have you read Sharon Shinn? I love a lot of her books. If you haven’t I would recommend starting with Archangel. I haven’t read it in many years and I’m not certain it holds up but it’s her most popular book and I remember having a very high opinion of it. It’s the story of a reluctant marriage of convenience between an angel who leads the world and a human woman who wants to be free of him–after years of forced servitude, all she wants is freedom to roam the world and reunite with those of her loved ones who survived, but their god has decreed that she has to marry this man instead.
Shinn has beautiful worldbuilding that reminds me a bit of the Guild Hunter books although the setting isn’t a real world setting. The angels aren’t saints, some are quite corrupt, and they hold the power in the society. Like NS she also describes the world in vivid colors. However the tone is very different, much quieter and more poetic, no fight scenes etc. The books are very romantic. There is an element of SF that comes in at one point but only in a few of the books, not in all of them, and not in this first one. It reads like fantasy, so I think it’s worth trying. M/f as well.
This next recommendation is the first book in a series where I wasn’t a fan of book two and the last book isn’t out yet. It’s Tasha Suri’s Burning Kingdoms series. The first book, The Jasmine Throne, is gorgeous and moving and for most of it beautifully paced. And incredibly romantic. It also won the World Fantasy Award. But like I said I wasn’t crazy about book two. I’m guessing book three will be better but of course I can’t guarantee that. The romantic elements here are f/f.
You might also like her earlier books, Empire of Sand and Realm of Ash (Read in that order; they connected to each other but not exactly a series. They are not connected to the Burning Kingdoms trilogy, however.) They are strong books and romantic, around a B or B+ level for me. The heroes might not be your thing though, they aren’t alpha. These two books were get really dark but they end with the characters together and the future looking better. Both have m/f romantic elements.
This year I got into a series that Sirius has been recommending for years, the Tarot sequence series by K.D. Edwards. I don’t know if I would call these fantasy or urban fantasy, they are sort of in between, but they are so good. The first book, The Last Sun, was a B for me but book two, The Hanged Man, was one of the best books I’ve read all year. So so good. Book three is very good too and almost certainly will end up on my best of the year list.
These books remind me of Ilona Andrews’s stuff except if it was darker and had more plot twists and complexity. The things they have in common with IA are action, humor, a found family with really well-done family dynamics between the adults and kids, good pacing (for the most part), a hero whose powers grow from book to book. There are some wonderful characters and it’s also clear that the author has the series plotted out and knows where he’s going.
The hero’s House was destroyed, everyone killed, and he was raped but couldn’t see his rapists. One of the long arcs of the series is trying to figure out who did it and why was he spared when everyone else was killed. Each book has its own plot/mystery but there you also learn things that tie to the bigger mystery, and as these twists are revealed the stakes keep escalating. I think you might really like these. The romance in these is m/m.
Another possibility is Seanan McGuire’s October Daye series (elf-based urban fantasy). Disclaimer: my agent represents McGuire. October “Toby” Daye is a changeling woman (half-fae, half-human) who thinks she doesn’t have much power but has more than she realizes. The series begins after a spell that turned her into a fish in koi pond wears off. She’s the same age she was, only fourteen years have passed. Her boyfriend moved on, her two-year-old daughter is now a sixteen year old who thinks her mother abandoned her.
Toby starts out as a private an investigator and later turns into a “hero of the realm” (official title). There is a romance I really like (m/f) but it starts out with an annoying triangle just like the Patricia Briggs Mercy books do. Warning: these books don’t hit their stride until book three. But I would say that of the Kate Daniels series also, and of a few others. When the main character starts out a loner they often don’t get interesting until they acquire a community of people who care about them and who they have to protect.
I am also very fond of Ben Aaronovitch’s Rivers of London series but the romantic element (m/f) is kind of subtle and in the background and they don’t get together until book five. The books have a wonderful main character and some great snarky humor. I have a review of the first one (titled Midnight Riot in the USA and Rivers of London everywhere else) here somewhere that might be a good idea to take a look at. I don’t know if you listen to audiobooks but the audiobooks of this series are really good (everyone told me to listen to them on audio so I finally did, they have great narrator).
The first YA Fantasy I would recommend to you is Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik. It is her masterpiece IMO and can be considered either adult fantasy or YA fantasy. I think it will be of interest to you because (I assume) you are Jewish and you mentioned once that you speak Russian. Novik’s father is from a Lithuanian background and she wrote the book partly to honor his background. The book is set in a wintry Eastern European style country and it’s a retelling (deconstruction) of the antiemetic Rumpelstiltskin fairy tale which Novik turns on its head. There are also elements of other fairy tales in the story, at least one Russian one as well as Hades and Persephone.
The heroine, Miryem (about eighteen) is a moneylender and Novik shows how she has no choice but to become one and how everyone treats her poorly and then try to get out of repaying their debts. She succeeds anyway but things go awry when a Staryk (elven) king overhears her boasting that she can turn silver into gold. The Staryk are terrifying and when he leaves silver on her doorstep for her to turn into gold or else he’ll kill her, she has no choice but to try. She succeeds again but she’s scared and angry so she demands repayment. And he says if she does it successfully one more time, having achieved it three times, he makes her a vow that he will marry her and take her to his kingdom that humans can reach and make her his queen. Except she doesn’t want to marry him and he doesn’t want to marry her, but now they are both locked in by his vow.
In addition to this there are two other heroines. One is Wanda, an impoverished young woman raised by an abusive and alcoholic father. Wanda begins to work for the Mandelstams (Miryem’s family) after her father can’t repay her debt, and at their house she experiences what a loving family is for the first time. She starts out uneducated but Miryem begins to teach her to read and tally so she can help with the debt collecting; this and the love of Mireym’s parents transform her. But things change when her brother steals from the Staryk (he is nearly starving) and Wanda’s father decides to trade her to another man for a pig. The third girl is Irina, the daughter of a duke, but how she comes into the story is a spoiler so I won’t get into it.
The romantic elements (m/f) here are very subtle; I wouldn’t call this a fantasy romance by any means. But I’ve read this book twice and it’s an A for me.
I would also recommend Novik’s Scholomance trilogy which I liked a whole lot but not quite at the same level. These are about a scary boarding school that offers kids the best chance of survival in a world that threatens them. There they are taught to hone their magical abilities but graduation poses a terrifying threat. The heroine is the snarky school outcast and though she is prophesied to destroy the world, she is determined not to. The first book is called A Deadly Education. The heroine is bisexual and I’ll say nothing more about her love life, just that there is one and that the trilogy does have an HFN ending, as I read it.
This series is totally different from Spinning Silver so if even if one doesn’t work for you, the other might. Both have happy endings and romances but the heroes are unusual to say the least. You might also like her book Uprooted, it’s a good book with a more pronounced (m/f) romance than Novik’s others, but not as good IMO (a B for me). It’s her most popular book though. It’s a fantasy set in a Poland -like country and it’s more similar to Spinning Silver than to the Scholomance books.
My favorite YA fantasy series is the Queen’s Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner. I love these books and the primary romance in them is soooo romantic. However the first book is kind of slow, especially the first half, and it also reads like it’s for a younger audience. All the later books are much more adult, and the romance doesn’t start until book two. Start with book one, some people love it best of all of them (my favorite is book three) and try to stick with it until at least the middle (things get exciting there). It’s a short book. But if that doesn’t work, move on to book two, The Queen of Attolia; it’s much more adult and romantic. Also–and this is very important–avoid all spoilers. If you can, avoid reading the blurbs of the books after book one because they spoil the book. The books all have these amazing twists, best not to ruin them for yourself.
These books BTW have a passionate cult following among adults. All end happily and excepting the fifth book, about another couple, all are M/F. Book five is M/M (but very subtle about that, many people took it to mean they were friends until book six clarified briefly that they are more than that.) No cliffhangers either (as I would define them).
I also recommend Kristin Cashore’s series beginning with Graceling. Everyone seems to have a different favorite in this series. The books are Graceling, Fire, Bitterblue, Winterkeep, and Seasparrow (that one just came out and I haven’t read it yet). They have to be read in order except for Fire–since it’s a prequel it’s not strictly necessary. My favorite is Bitterblue but that’s the only one that doesn’t have a HEA or HFN (no tragedy though!). Most are m/f but Winterkeep has a protagonist who is bisexual and some f/f hints of romance (in addition to another m/f couple).
Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone series (Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Days of Blood and Starlight, Dreams of Gods and Monsters) has a beautiful (m/f) romance and great worldbuilding. It has beasts and angels and doors between two worlds (ours and another one). It’s wonderfully done but then it gets SO DARK. It has a happy ending ultimately but the author had evoked the dark stuff so well that ultimately I wasn’t convinced there could be a HEA with this backstory. Still worth reading though!
I also really liked Holly Black’s series beginning with The Cruel Prince (The Cruel Prince, The Wicked King, Queen of Nothing). This one features a human girl in an elven world. She’s determined to be a warrior but is thwarted because she’s human. She finds another path to power and she’s in an initially antagonistic but ultimately romantic relationship with a boy who is the heir to the throne and who wants to look down on her but is instead fascinated and attracted to her. I read them this year and each was better than the last, so it’s worth it to keep reading (book one starts out slow).
I want to issue a disclaimer that with some of these books I haven’t read them in years and there could be offensive content in them.
Great recommendations Janine! I want to add a few things/comments.
Definitely seconding Sharon Shinn’s Archangel series! Love them. The weakest book is Angel Seeker IMO, the strongest is Archangel but I also love Angelica’s romance, hero, and heroine. However, you spend most of the book wanting to strangle the hero’s younger sister.
Also by Shinn, one of the most beautifully written books I’ve ever read: Summers at Castle Auburn. A stand-alone fairy tale with an incredible fae-like people who are enslaved by humans, and the remarkable human heroine who does something about it. Includes a very subtle romance with a HEA.
Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik is still on my tbr mountain but I did love Uprooted and its grumpy sorcerer and the heroine’s remarkable best friend.
I also love the Rivers of London series! If you enjoy comics/graphic novels (Janine doesn’t) the series includes some, and they are worth reading, too, with quite decent artwork and bits and pieces of added story. Not necessary to the series as a whole, however.
In addition, I really enjoy Carrie Vaughn’s Kitty the Werewolf series, urban fantasy, HEA.
If you like science fiction at all, you can’t beat Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan series, which has plenty of romance. Not your average sci-fi at all; Bujold is brilliant and the books and short works are full of human emotion and ethical dilemmas. Every book is unique. Bujold’s World of the Five Gods series is also mostly excellent, fantasy, but the third book isn’t great. The series does include romance.
Sorry that I dropped out of the Archangel’s Resurrection discussion. I had a dental crisis this week that wiped me out for a couple of days, but everything is better now. Getting old is the pits, so try to avoid it!
@Kari S.: Oh! I was going to mention Lois McMaster Bujold. I haven’t gotten to the Miles books yet but I really liked The Curse of Chalion and its sequel, Paladin of Souls. Both very romantic and both have m/f romances.
I’ve heard excellent things about the Sharing Knife series and haven’t gotten to them yet. I did try the first Penric and Desdemona novella and it did nothing for me.
I was not a huge fan of Summers at Castle Auburn (too slow for me) but Layla loves it. Shinn also has an anthology called Quartrain with four novellas, each in a different one of her worlds from previous books, and there’s one there about the daughter of the heroine of Summers at Castle Auburn. Have you read it?
Also, what are you waiting for, read Spinning Silver already!
@Kari S.: Do you think I would like the Carrie Vaughn series? Does it have a romance?
Also feel welcome to pick the Archangel’s Resurrection topic back up, if you have something you wanted to add on that subject.
Yes, Summers at Castle Auburn is slow, but I just love the hero, and the heroine is an herbalist which ties into my own writing so well. Plus Shinn’s version of the fae is so unique. I have read the sequel novella, which is interesting because it gives you a look at the world of Shinn’s fae kingdom as well as a look at Cory’s children.
I’m glad you’ve read the two Chalion books! Do yourself a favor and don’t read The Hallowed Hunt. Bujold can’t write a bad book, but it’s kind of meh, and has no connection to the others that I can recall. The Penric stories are supposed to be better after the first one. I’ll let you know when I read more. The Sharing Knife series is much more romance than anything else, with interesting fantasy elements, and fascinating geography in the post-apocalyptic Ohio River country.
Even non science fiction readers would enjoy the Vorkosigan series. They are all very readable, and some of them are brilliant. Memory is one of the best books I’ve ever read. Not a romance, kind of mid-life crisis in that Miles has to completely rethink his life. His big romance is in A Civil Campaign, which is partly dedicated to Georgette Heyer. Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance is straight romantic comedy, marriage of convenience with a dash of crime caper thrown in. (It’s about Miles’ cousin “Ivan you idiot” who isn’t an idiot at all but pretends to be one as a measure of self-preservation.) Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen is a lovely romance between a widow in mid life who snags a really wonderful younger man. Btw, Bujold is a big fan of Megan Whalen Turner!
Yes, I think you would like Kitty the Werewolf! (I’ve told you so before.) Yes, she does have a romance with a HEA. There’s even a spin-off book about Rick the Vampire, which I haven’t read yet, and another series (e mostly) about Kitty’s husband’s cousin who has a ghost in his head. The two of them solve mysteries.
On a darker note, I’m finding all the rampant anti-semitism going on right now so utterly appalling. Hang in there, and know that there are decent people everywhere who don’t share such disgusting thoughts.
@Kari S.: Thanks, Kari. It’s terrifying. I said to my husband today that we should renew our passports, just in case.
(Thanks for the recommendations also.)
@Kari S.: I forgot to mention—did you see that Sharon Shinn is coming out with a new book in a couple of weeks?
@Janine and @Kari S
Thank you both for book recommendations. They are all new to me so I am going to try most of them .
@Nati: I hope you enjoy them. I would love to hear what you think if you feel like sharing. The Open Threads are probably the best place to do that here( they run on the first Sunday of the month every month). BTW when I was describing Spinning Silver I meant that the Staryk kingdom was a place where humans can’t go.
I’m super late to the discussion, but I seem to be one of the few people who really liked this book. Maybe it’s just the headspace I’m in, but I found it romantic.
However, I had also just read some of the psy/changeling series, and I’m finding those so incredibly formulaic now. It’s like a Nalini Singh book/word generator exists and it just mixes tortured male character types with sunny curvy female types in different variations. They’ve become formulaic enough that her idiosyncratic writing style is too apparent to me.
The archangel books are a different enough that the writing style doesn’t bother me enough though it’s still there. She’ll never say something like “passionate and consuming love”; it’s always “a love passionate and consuming.”
@elizabeth: I’ve often thought that the angel books feel more varied and fresher than the psy/changeling books. Part of it I think is an outgrowth of the worldbuilding which is also better and lends it self to more plot possiblities and characterization choices. Angels, particularly the older ones, are really different from vampires and vampires are different from mortals. The psy-changeling books have been stuck on the brain disease issue as the main conflict for the last several books, I think because they are focusing on psy characters. It’s frustratingly repetitive.
And yes, her writing style is very distinctive. Years ago someone pointed out in the comments that she used what they called “the blankest of blank” a lot (i.e. the hottest of hot kisses, the most beautiful of beautiful men,” etc. That commenter also said that it made not sense, not everything could be superlative. How many hottest of hot kisses can there be for the same couple? I’m paraphrasing from memory. She hasn’t used that expression in a while, which is good because that stood out even more than her “a love passionate and consuming” phrasing structures.
All this said, I recently finished my fifth read of Caressed by Ice. So I’m not bored of all the psy changeling books by any means.
@Janine: quite sure the archangel/ archangel pairing will be Qin and Cassandra. At the end when her owls find him I felt like it was a marker.
@Hazelle: That’s very possible. I think Caliane will get a book too though, and relatively soon (like within the next five books). I have been really wanting a book for her and I’m curious about who it will be with. And after this book I think Michaela will too, eventually.
I love Qin but I’m not that eager for a Cassandra book because I’m sure the main conflict will be about whether she will go mad and I feel like we’ve seen that already with Ashwini and with umpteen characters in the psy/changeling series. I want something new and less repetitive.
Hi, I recently found this series and your explanation was really helpful in making me want to continue reading the rest of the series. However, I’m curious to know, does the Elena and Raphael story end in the book #12? It seems to me that the books after that have other individuals set at the main characters. I was invested in this series initially becasue of Elena and Rapahel and would really like to know what kind of ending they got :) Appreciate if you can enlighten me (with minmal spoilers of course hehe) Thank you!