ANGELICA is a prequel to Sharon Shinn's science-fiction-that-reads-like-fantasy Samaria Trilogy. It's quite good--I read it in one long sitting--even though it isn't in the league of ARCHANGEL. You know, I'm as taken aback as when I read the earlier books at how strong a role the love story plays. And there're two sets of romances in ANGELICA.
There are three characters to follow in this book. One is the star-billed story about Susannah, a woman of the gypsy-like Edori tribe on the planet Samaria who is chosen by their god Jovah to wed Archangel-elect Gaaron and become Angelica. Susannah leaps at the chance to leave her faithless Edori lover behind, but then she has to deal with her doubts about life at the angels' Eyrie and about the nature of her relationship with Gaaron. We get to see the growing respect and trust between the Archangel-elect and his Angelica transform into love.
Gaaron is basically a rock-solid guy willing to take the burdens of the world onto his shoulders, from his troubled and troublesome sister to trade issues between the people of Samaria. But an invasion by technologically superior beings may be too much even for him to handle.
Gaaron's rebellious young sister Miriam was not born an angel, and is trying to find her place in this world, which she accomplishes only after she's forced out of the Eyrie. Her story gets pretty wild at times, and is by far the most dramatic in the book.
While I liked the story very much, a weakness in the story to me was that Susannah didn't exactly move the plot along. Things kind of happened to her and she was just there. The dynamic (chaotic?) Miriam took center stage by the latter half of the story, almost completely overshadowing the main couple (although Shinn did a bit of rescue with the poetry of Susannah and Gaaron's lovers declaration at the end.)
Overall, though, I can definitely recommend ANGELICA. Samaria is such a fascinating science fiction world, with its winged angels and oracles and gypsies and traders and the love of music. I sense there are many other stories Shinn could tell, and I hope she does.
Note: I think you can read this book without having to read the earlier trilogy. Maybe. I do wish that I remembered more details from the earlier set of books, though, so that I could pick up more instances of foreshadowing or winking nods to the other books.--Preeti (16 Feb 03)
I also read Shinn's latest. Recommended, though it took me a while to get into it. I wonder if it was because I didn't have enough time to read, so was reading in bits and pieces? That doesn't always work. When I finally had a bit more time, it was much better. Definitely a romance, and somewhat in the slower, older style of romance books.--Lori (8 Apr 03)
I also got a chance to read ANGELICA and I'd give it a mild recommendation. Not only did it take a while to get into, I also thought the book a bit too long. I hated the hero's sister--what an obnoxious self-centered spoiled brat. I didn't quite buy into her transformation, either. And there were two plot points I did have quibbles with:
1) I thought it HIGHLY UNLIKELY that a spaceship would need human intervention to shoot down another spaceship.
2) Just because the spaceship was shot down doesn't mean more of them won't come to take the planet.
And why did it take so long for people with such superior technology to take over the planet?? And the way they went about it. Not really credible.
I did like Susannah and Gaaron although I wished they'd solved their differences before the last page.--Edith (9 Apr 03)
I liked this one quite a bit as well. Anyone who liked the other books in the series should like this one as well, though it didn't have nearly the impact ARCHANGEL had on me.--JW (10 Apr 03)