by Sharon Shinn

Cover image

Series: Samaria #1
Publisher: Ace
Copyright: May 1996
Printing: April 1997
ISBN: 0-441-00432-6
Format: Mass market
Pages: 390

Buy at Powell's Books

In a world run largely by angels (complete with wings), who are supposed to intercede for men and ask the god of the world for such things as needed climate change with the magic of song, this book focuses on the woman chosen by that god to become the wife of the archangel. Starting a a slave, she's found and drawn into a foreign world, one that she's not at all convinced at first that she likes. Along the way, it touches on greater questions of that world's religion, a conflict between angels, and questions of the rule of the world, but the core of the book is a romance.

There is a distinct feeling from the beginning of this book that this all is the sort of magic that's indistinguishable from advanced technology and genetic engineering. Whether that's true or not (I'm fairly certain it is), the fantasy in this novel has a sharp set of defined and consistent rules that make it a pleasure to explore.

I liked this book a great deal. The world background is unusual and distinctive and the characters extremely likeable. It reminded me, quite favorably, of the early books in McCaffrey's Pern series, but with a stronger lead female character. Rachel is consistent and believable, angry, passionate, stubborn, and honorable, growing over the course of the story while still remaining thoroughly herself, and by the time the story is over, I was left wanting to read more about her. The romantic plot is fairly well-handled, and while things do wrap up neatly in the end, the conflicts along the way give it a lot of credence.

The book suffers in a few places from a plot that can be too predictable and a few twists that are a bit too neat. I'm not really a fan of stories where nearly everything that goes wrong is tied together as having a single source; it breaks my suspension of disbelief. The lines of good and evil are also drawn a bit too clearly, and realistic shades of grey are occasionally missing. I only had problems in a few places, though, and the characters are strong enough to carry the story regardless.

Recommended. I'll be picking up more books by Sharon Shinn.

Followed by Jovah's Angel.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Reviewed: 2004-05-11

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