03/22/2004 Entry: "Sharon Shinn's ANGEL-SEEKER - Awesome, According to Preeti"
Can I say it again? Every time I read one of Sharon Shinn's Samaria novels, I'm surprised, pleased, and impressed that she chooses to show the progress of a world through the love stories of its inhabitants. ANGEL-SEEKER was another marvelous mix of science fiction and romance, even better than last year's ANGELICA. But whereas ANGELICA was a prequel to the original Samaria trilogy, ANGEL-SEEKER continues after the events of ARCHANGEL (Rachel and Gabriel make appearances.)
ANGEL-SEEKER chronicles the lives of two women. One is an angel-seeker--a groupie in pursuit of love and status via a liaison and hopefully impregnation by an angel--and the other is a well-off young woman living in the repressive Jansai society. The two women are living a two-degrees-of-separation life, with angel Obadiah as the connection.
Elizabeth's is the story of personal emotional growth. She abandons the drudgery of farm life for the allure of the city of Cedar Hills and the angels contructing a new hold there. She's very much a groupie, blind to anything but chasing after angels, but eventually finds self-worth, purpose, and love after learning some hard lessons in the city. Elizabeth's journey was touching, but it wasn't the reason I loved this book.
Rebekah's story was both grander and more dramatic, serving as the catalysis for incremental reform in Samarian society. She finds a charming young angel injured in the desert, and although she is forbidden in her society from having anything to do with men not of her family, she ministers to Obadiah. The two are fascinated by each other and embark on a forbidden, dangerous affair. The tension in this tragedy-tinged romance was what really propelled ANGEL-SEEKER into being an unputdownable read.
I loved revisiting Samaria and finding out more about different segments of its society, this time the Jansai and the angel-seekers, and I hope Shinn continues writing about the people of this world. It's rare enough as to be precious to find deeply satisfying love stories, ones which are futhermore used to illuminate a fascinating world. (The glamour of the winged angels and the magic of the "Kiss" has yet to get old.)--Preeti