Friday, September 20, 2019

Archangel's War by Nalini Singh

Return to New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh’s darkly passionate Guild Hunter world, where human-turned-angel Elena Deveraux, consort to Archangel Raphael, faces a new challenge that threatens the balance of the world.

Wings of silver. Wings of blue. Mortal heart. Broken dreams. Shatter. Shatter. Shatter. A sundering. A grave. I see the end. I see...

The world is in chaos as the power surge of the Cascade rises to a devastating crescendo. In furiously resisting its attempts to turn Elena into a vessel for Raphael’s power, Elena and her archangel are irrevocably changed... far beyond the prophecy of a cursed Ancient.

At the same time, violent and eerie events around the world threaten to wipe out entire populations. And in the Archangel Lijuan’s former territory, an unnatural fog weaves through the land, leaving only a bone-chilling silence in its wake. Soon it becomes clear that even the archangels are not immune to this deadly evil. This time, even the combined power of the Cadre may not be enough...

This war could end them all.

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Book 12
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“We watch,” the Primary said. “We protect.”

But things were altering in front of them, a faint glow emanating from where the aeclari had been before the filaments obscured both Raphael’s body and Elena’s chrysalis.

Beyond the balcony doors now partially covered with the snow silk of the filaments, the Bluebell turned. His eyes widened at seeing the ocean of filaments, the glow. But before he could open the closed doors, a familiar voice entered all their minds.

Leave now. It was an order from an archangel. Clear the skies above. Empty the land around. GO.

The Legion were moving even as the last word echoed in their minds. They were Raphael’s Legion, Elena’s Legion, and they had been given an order. The Bluebell wasn’t Legion. He was one of the Seven. Unique. With his own mind.

Torment wrenched his features, but he inclined his head, and the Primary saw him form the word, “Sire.”

All of them moved.

The Bluebell dropped to the grass, then ran inside the house.

The Legion broke into four parts and swept the area. Winged beings were already flying toward the river at high speed, their faces stark and their jaws determined. The Legion dropped down in front of cars moving on the nearest road. The cars were not so close to the aeclari’s home, but the archangel hadn’t said how far to clear.

When the first two cars halted with a screech that caused a burning scent to rise to their nostrils, the Legion wrenched the doors open and hauled the startled vampires out. A group of the Legion rose into the air, two to a vampire. Another group found four humans in a third car, a vampire’s cattle heading home. The scared cattle whimpered at being taken by the Legion but didn’t struggle. Neither did the vampires after they saw the angels racing from the Enclave to the water.

Golden light poured out from the windows of the aeclari’s home.

Many of the angels streaming over the water held vampires or humans in their arms, getting their households out of danger. The Bluebell was one of the last to fly out of the Enclave, and though the Legion did not speak to many outside of the aeclari, they spoke to him: Are the aeclari’s people safe? This was important. The Legion knew. The aeclari had bonds to those who lived in the house.

Yes, I got them out. The Bluebell, who could fly faster than the Primary and sometimes raced with the cars of the Blade and the Viper, fell off the cliff with his wings licked by a golden light so bright that it was difficult to face. In one hand, he held a large rectangular thing, in his other items they recognized.

Several of the Legion flew to him, and took the things. They did not understand things, but these were linked to the aeclari in their mind. We will fly them to the Tower.

Most of the angels kept on flying toward Manhattan, and those of the Legion that carried vampires or mortals kept on going, too. But the Primary turned once he was over the center of the river, as did those of his brethren who flew only their own bodies.

The Bluebell halted in front of them, the silvery blue of his wings spread and his face awash in the burning golden light that had turned the river to gold.

And the light, it grew, and grew, and grew.

Until at last, the light was so bright that it became fire and even the Primary couldn’t bear it and threw up his arm in front of his eyes. The last thing he saw was an intense white brightness.

© Copyright 2019 by Nalini Singh

Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

This is the book where all the pieces of this epic series come together in a breathtaking finale. It’s a single sitting read and I’m not sure I remembered to breathe, let alone move as I devoured every last page. All the characters, all the plot threads of the past eleven books explode into an unforgettable immortal battle.

It’s almost impossible to review this without spoilers. I will say that the focus is once again on Raphael and Elena – but the scope of this story is huge and every character from every previous book is present. While there have been several contained paranormal romance (PNR) stories within this series, this one is definitely urban fantasy (UF). It’s a story about the power struggles between archangels and ancients that spiral out of control, bringing chaos and death to every part of the planet. And it is a story about the brave but unlikely warriors who step up to defend their world.

This might be the best book Nalini Singh has ever written and I love the mix of action, politics, romance, and friendship in this story. With eleven books building the background to this epic adventure, it manages to be genuinely epic in scope without losing any heart or humanity. We know all of the characters intimately and my heart bled with each injury, each death, and each setback. I love that this is darker UF than we’ve seen in the series before – though some PNR fans might need a bit less blood and a bit more of a happily ever after. It goes without saying that this story won’t stand alone but I promise that fans of the series will absolutely love every moment of this terrifying adventure.

Spoiler-Free review, where I don't discuss the plot itself, rather how it was delivered.

Archangel's War is the 12th installment of the Guild Hunter series, and it goes without saying that it cannot be read as a standalone.

Archangel's Prophesy ended with one doozy of a cliffhanger, where readers were eager with trepidation to discover the fate of Elena and Raphael.

The beginning portion of
Archangel's War had me on the edge of my seat, pages turning at a rapid rate, evoking true emotions within me, as I watched Elena emerge from her chrysalis and transform into who she would become. Dmitri, Illium, and Raphael's emotions as Elena was revealed. The deep connection between Raphael and his Seven, as well as Elena to her friends and family. I was beyond pleased with how the story was unfolding, and I couldn't wait to sink my teeth into the meat of the story.

That meat of the story took me nearly ten days to read, when ordinarily I read a book by Singh in half a day at most, because I always need to know what happened next. In the case of
Archangel's War, it was just too much, too soon, with no development or time to process what was occurring on the pages, to the point I lost interest with what I was reading.

After this amazing beginning, the novel turned into a Travel Guide of Destruction, devoid of emotion or humanity. From a half page to two pages at most, each chapter break jarred me from the story itself, the scenes not truly developed as the beginning was.

A sentence here or there to explain away why there was no humanity written on the pages, no emotional connection between the characters. A page and a half to traverse the whole of China. A blink later, they're back in New York. Half a page, we're visiting Raphael's mother, with the turn of the page, we're at a destroyed village or helping another archangel's vampire, then a passage later, back to Raphael's mother. A heartbeat later, one of them is on another continent.

The scenes did not flow together, without even a prompt to explain how they got from point A to B. Yes, I am a reader who never wants over-description, where I don't need to know what happened in the journey from the bathroom to the kitchen, but we're talking about going from New York to China here, where the last dialogue read was "we need to go to China and check it out" and suddenly the reader is teleported to China. It was the in between that creates a fluid, cohesive story and it was missing.

A page and a half to describe what happened to entire villages of human beings, siphoned into empty husks, left as nothing but dust, or left to walk the earth as blank zombies. They deserved more than being a footnote, as did the rest of what occurred. A half page, maybe only a sentence or paragraph to describe how the landscape froze over, the ocean was nothing but glowing light, or some other unnatural act of destruction of the cascade continued to wreak havoc. Followed by a paragraph or two of Elena taking a bath or a fade-to-black smexy scene with zero steam.

No aftermath, no humanity, no showing how everyone in those areas picked up the pieces. It was meaningless in the large scheme of things, since it left a meh/shoulder shrug, because we were on to the next event and the next and the next and the next. Three to five events could have been a book, any more than that, it's overkill, where the reader is desensitized and the characters' voices cease to matter.

I felt apathetic as page after page of events happened, because I could have easily skipped twenty-page sections and not been lost as to what was currently happening, then another twenty-page section, and another.

It was jarring, fractured, chaotic, and not a smooth, organic read, devoid of emotional connection and destructive to character development. It read as a detailed plot outline, scenes not developed, just a truncated few lines to describe an entire chapter, and onto the next and next.

There was so much going on that there was no way to digest it, not without a break of everyday events that connected the reader to the characters. It was literally something new every few pages, before anyone was able to come to terms with the previous twenty events.

There is fast pacing, but then there is paragraph chapters, where even the act of clicking to the next chapter tugs the reader out of the story, and several of these chapter breaks were in the middle of scenes, attempting to leave a chapter on a dun-dun note of tension, only it wasn't as if it was a cliffhanger, since what happened next was literally on the next page. Instead of amping up my excitement, it left me feeling disinterested, as it was a manipulation tactic that backfired.

Simply adoring this series and the world and characters Nalini Singh has created, I needed to feel the hope, joy, fear, anger, sadness, grief, and the love and intimacy of friendship and connection between mates. Singh delivered all this and more in the beginning, everything that I've come to expect from the author... I only wish that would have transferred to the rest of the novel.

New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh is passionate about writing. Though she’s traveled as far afield as the deserts of China, the Highlands of Scotland, and the frozen landscapes of Antarctica, it is the journey of the imagination that fascinates her most. She’s beyond delighted to be able to follow her dream as a writer. Nalini lives and works in beautiful New Zealand. You can contact her directly through her website. While visiting the site, Nalini invites you to join her newsletter for up-to-date news about both the Psy-Changeling and Guild Hunter series, as well as fun exclusive extras, including free short stories set in her worlds.

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Archangel's War (Guild Hunter #12) by Nalini Singh to read and review.

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