Archangel by Sharon Shinn
Series: Angels of Samaria #1
Published: May 1, 1996
Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy
And so it came to pass…
Through science, faith and force of will, the Harmonics carved out for themselves a society that they conceived of as perfect. Diverse peoples held together by respect for each other and the prospect of swift punishment if they disobeyed their laws. Fertile land that embraced a variety of climates and seasons. Angels to guard the mortals and mystics to guard the forbidden knowledge. Jehovah to watch over them all…
But an age of corruption has come to the land, threatening their peace and placing the Samarians in grave danger. Their only hope lies in the crowning of a new Archangel. The oracles have chosen for this honor the angel named Gabriel, and further decreed that he must first wed a mortal woman named Rachel.
It is his destiny and hers. And Gabriel is certain that she will greet the news of her betrothal with enthusiasm, and a devotion to duty equal to his own.
Rachel, however, has other ideas…
I absolutely fell in love with this book! Archangel mixes two of my favorite genres–science fiction and fantasy–in a seamless blend that immerses the reader in the world of Samaria. Many of the names found in Samaria are based off of names recognizable from the Bible and other such religious scripture.
The vague references to religion throughout was intriguing and brought to mind my own faith. In fact, few science fiction or fantasy books that I have read have ever made me connect so strongly to my own life through immersion into a fantastical world. The characters exploration of faith throughout the novel combines theology with an analysis of what life would be like without a religious order, especially in simpler times. The division of beliefs causes tension that I saw as a mirror of tensions that are present in the world today.
The romance present throughout the book between Gabriel and Rachel follows a somewhat predictable Slave/Freer relationship. However common this may be, it is a storyline that I always enjoy thoroughly, and only added to my enjoyment. The romance in this book, while central, almost seems secondary to the exploration of tension throughout the world of Samaria. The development of the relationship between the two was endearing to witness as they worked to learn more of each other and their changing world and responsibilities.
This book provided the strong base for an introspective analysis of world views as well as a heart-touching romance. Archangel falls solely in a class of it’s own in the world of science fiction and fantasy, invoking a level introspection I have never experienced in my years reading the genre. Don’t be afraid by this though, I may have just been feeling super analytical when I was reading! Also, any of the themes in the book can be interpreted multiple ways. I will definitely be continuing the series, and can’t wait to see where it goes!
Thanks for reading!