As always, this is a long-standing series that I suggest you are caught up on before you read this review or the book, lest you ruin the experience for yourself. However, this is one of the more stand alone type of novels, in that the lead characters meet and interact for the first time, and this is our first time experiencing the world through their eyes, or having more than a cursory mention of their characters. But there are definitely major plot points of the series that will be spoiler for you if you begin the series here.
A horrifying secret rises in the aftermath of an archangelic war in New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh’s deadly and beautiful Guild Hunter world…
The Archangel of Death and the Archangel of Disease may be gone but their legacy of evil lives on—especially in Africa, where the shambling, rotting creatures called the reborn have gained a glimmer of vicious intelligence.
It is up to Titus, archangel of this vast continent, to stop the reborn from spreading across the world. Titus can’t do it alone, but of the surviving powerful angels and archangels, large numbers are wounded, while the rest are fighting a surge of murderous vampires.
There is no one left…but the Hummingbird. Old, powerful, her mind long a broken kaleidoscope. Now, she must stand at Titus’s side against a tide of death upon a discovery more chilling than any other. For the Archangel of Disease has left them one last terrible gift…
I can’t write this review without mentioning how glad I am that Lijuan is finally dead. She began as a great threat, but it started to feel like a sitcom with how many times she narrowly evaded death only to come back stronger than ever. Sharine was a strange choice to get paired up in this book, but I liked her character and Titus’s, and I thought their relationship dynamic was believable* and entertaining.
Archangel’s Sun was fun, and I always love to see subversions of tropes the romance genre often takes as a given. While the Hummingbird was older than Titus, and this was mentioned a few times, it never affected their relationship dynamic or seemed like a fetishization of the situation, or an obstacle for the two to overcome. In fact, it really seemed like nothing more than continued world-building, due to the inevitable situations that might arise if an immortal race was to exist and interact outside of strict age-groups.
I was also happy that although the Hummingbord previously existed largely in her role as damaged artist/mother of Illium/substitute mother of Raphael, in this book she got a personality, life, and name of her own. I liked Sharine, and her character once again proved Nalini Singh’s strength at writing women who have unique ways of being feminine, strong, and individual both in and out of relationships. Titus was also brought to life beyond ‘loud horny warrior’ in this book, and I enjoyed their realistic love story, that didn’t perfectly resolve into a 100% shared life. I also like the message of vulnerability being an unavoidable aspect of any relationship that lasts, and the price that you pay if you pass up said chance. I like that this is present in non-romantic relationships as well, and the healthy relationships amongst Raphael’s seven is a joy to read.
I thought the threat being faced in this book was interesting, although given recent and current world events, I’m glad there wasn’t much of a focus on quarantining, but rather a cathartic hunting down of disease. I don’t know that I could have enjoyed a love in the time of quarantine story in 2020. I also liked the continued incorporation of the environment and the natural world as things to be protected, and that are inevitably damaged in times of conflict.
The horror touches of this series returned in a classical sense in this book, in a way that hasn’t really happened (to my memory) since Angel’s Pawn. It’s not really what I’m reading for, but I appreciate that it was well-written. Archangel’s Sun has a very interesting lead in to future novels that I don’t think I can even hint at without spoiling something, but I am intrigued. Hopefully the next book focusses on Illium and/or Aodhan, but to be honest I wouldn’t be upset by a return to any of the established characters or couples so far. Neha deserves a happy ending at some point, Alexander and Calliane would make very interesting focusses for a book, Qin hasn’t really been fleshed out, but the groundwork for an interesting story is definitely there. I also think a novel or novella focussing on a less traditional relationship structure, like Titus’s sister and her husbands, or Astaad and his harem would be a good addition to the series, and representation of gender and or sexual minorities also wouldn’t go astray.
Overall, Archangel’s Sun was the quick, compelling read I knew it would be, and I look forward to reading future novels in the series. Nalini Singh’s Guild Hunter novels are on par for Gail Carriger, Molly Harper, Jim Butcher, Seanan McGuire, Lynn Viehl, Anne Bishop and Ilona Andrews’s books in terms of automatic-buy, devour-in-a-day style novels that I return to again and again. Specifically, Ilona Andrews’s Kate Daniels, Lynn Viehl’s Darkyn, Anne Bishops The Others and Gail Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate series (all now, sadly, complete) are the closest, though all the authors on that list (Nalini Singh included) have too distinct a writing style to truly be compared one-to-one.
*Whatever that word means in a world populated by angels and featuring a variety of apocalypse scenarios