04/14/2004 Entry: "Shinn's Best Since ARCHANGEL -- Suzanne"
ANGEL-SEEKER is Sharon Shinn's best book since ARCHANGEL. Set a year after the events of ARCHANGEL, it tells two interweaving stories. The first concerns Elizabeth, an orphaned and impoverished woman forced to work for her room and board at her cousin's farm and have her life made miserable by her cousin's wife. So she runs away to the new city the angels are building and decides to join the "angel seekers"--mortal women who try to seduce an angel in order to have an angel child, thereby insuring their future.
The second plot line follows angel Obadiah, who is shot through his wing while flying over the desert, and falls. Near death, he is discovered and secretly nursed to health by a Jansai woman, Rebekah. Afterwards, thoughts of her haunt him.
The Jansai hate angels because their lucrative trade in slaves has been banned by the Archangel Gabriel. Obadiah is sent by Gabriel to engage in political manouevering with the Jansai and meets Rebekah again. She is as attracted to him as he to her, but they must meet in secret because the patriarchal Jansai society cloisters and subjugates its women.
Rebekah is a moving and well-written character, her story filled with gripping conflict. I was thoroughly involved in her relationship with Obadiah and the seemingly insoluble cultural differences threatening to doom their love.
Elizabeth's story is not quite as involving, but I liked the fact that this somewhat selfish and self-absorbed character is moved to grow and change. She's faced with a number of pathways and eventually succeeds in choosing a life and partner she wants.
I liked ANGEL-SEEKER very much. You don't need to read ARCHANGEL first in order to enjoy the story--it's self-contained--but you might be a bit confused about the world of Samaria and the angels' place in it if you haven't. Besides, ARCHANGEL does a good job of setting the stage in Shinn's world and is a great story!--Suzanne