Monday, 28 October 2013

Review: Archangel’s Legion by Nalini Singh

archangel's legionArchangels’s Legion
Guild Hunter #6
Nalini Singh
Publication date: 29th October 2013

Nalini Singh ramps up the action and intrigue right from the word go in Archangel’s Legion the sixth book in her amazing Guild Hunter series with the first of many strange occurrences threatening Raphael the archangel of New York.

What initially looks like another storm over New York instead results in five minutes of terrifying chaos in which birds and then 887 of Raphael’s angels literally fall from the sky in what becomes known as “The Falling.” The resulting five angel deaths and countless injuries is a visible blow to Raphael’s power and must be downplayed by Raphael, his consort and his seven to convince his enemies that his forces have not been weakened. The main suspect of course, is thought to be Lijuan the Archangel of China who has quickly become the Archangel of Death with her army of reborn but with Raphael’s spymaster Jason confirming Lijuan has not left her territory Raphael knows the Cascade is now in full effect and an Archangel war seems almost inevitable. With a surge in power in the Cadre all archangels will grow in strength during the Cascade. Raphael expects that one or more of the Cadre will also be touched by madness or gain powers that will eclipse the rest of the Cadre shifting the balance of power dramatically and leading to all-out war.

With war imminent Raphael reaches out to his mother, the ancient Caliane, for her guidance on what occurred during the previous Cascade. I loved seeing Raphael connecting with his mother, her love for Raphael shines through and it made me chuckle a little when she refers to him as her “babe” and “beautiful boy” Raphael who we know as a powerful, sometimes arrogant and lethal archangel feared by all. Raphael’s heart aches for his mother never really sure if she is truly sane or will remain stable. He knows that she has always loved her people fiercely, that she loved his father and was changed by his birth. However, when her beloved mate was consumed by madness she was forced to execute him which resulted in her also becoming consumed by madness and hurt her only son leaving him for dead. Raphael isn’t sure that he can ever forgive her for her actions (which just breaks my heart) but he loves her all the same and greatly values her support and confidence.

Raphael also reaches out to fellow archangel Elijah arranging a meeting with Elijah, his consort Hannah and Elena. For Elena this is her first opportunity to build a true friendship in the Cadre with someone who understands the pressures of being a consort and for Raphael this is the first tentative step towards building trust, sharing information and forming a much needed important alliance. We learn more about the new powers in the Cadre: Elijah can command animals, Astaad can control the sea, Neha can create fire and ice, and Favashi can now control winds. Whereas the rest of the Cadre seems to have developed violent new powers, Raphael’s new power, the ability to heal, seems to Elena to be more of a weakness. Elena knows that Raphael can’t afford to stagnate when the others are gaining in power if he ever stands a chance in protecting his territory from his enemies. It’s Elena’s overwhelming fear that she has somehow weakened Raphael that really broke my heart. She's terrified that he has become that little bit more human and therefore more vulnerable as a result of their relationship and that his new power is a negative one because of her. Their resulting argument and very smexy make up was out of this world fantastic! Raphael has to convince her that even an archangel needs a weakness to stop power corrupting him fully (like it has Lijuan) and he delivers what is now my favourite Raphael line of all time:

“Eternity would mean nothing without you. For no power on this earth would I trade my Elena.”   

I loved the development in Raphael and Elena’s relationship; they seem very much a unit in Archangel’s Legion. Yes Raphael is his usual bossy, protective and powerful self but Elena is no push over, meets his demands head on and stands with him in his moments of need as they decide that if “we fall, we fall together.” Against the backdrop of Raphael hearing strange whispers in his dreams and developing a strange savage looking mark on his temple Elena is terrified for Raphael but continues to track down the source of a new vampire disease designed to attack the vampires in Raphael’s territory as well as find her way in her new role of consort to support Raphael.

I really did have to remind myself to breathe in the final chapters of Archangel’s Legion as war is declared on Raphael. Grossly outnumbered this seems like a battle that Raphael, Elena and the Seven cannot possibly win. The battle to defend the tower had me I think reading faster than I’ve ever read before as a win in an immortal war means face to face combat and an almighty showdown. It was beyond intense, completely terrifying and captivated me fully. I loved it.

Nalini Singh remains my all-time favourite author, six books into the series and she still makes my jaw drop and my heart race. Archangel’s Legion is the must read of the year.

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