Before I start this review and get lost in talking about how much I enjoyed Archangel’s Legion, let me make one thing clear. You must read at least some of the other books in the series before you attempt this one. Nalini Singh has created a brilliant but complicated world in her Guild Hunter series, and I don’t think you’ll do it justice if you just jump into this book. Too much has already happened.
Archangel’s Legion begins on a peaceful day in New York City. Raphael and his consort, Elena, are relaxing and enjoying themselves for once. The world is going through a Cascade at the moment, which is a highly infrequent “confluence of time and certain critical events that leads to a surge of power in the Cadre.” (The Cadre being the group of ten archangels who rule over certain sections of the world.) Peaceful afternoons are few and far between during a Cascade, so it’s no surprise when this one is disrupted by disaster.
However, what is shocking is the form this disaster takes—a huge storm over Manhattan that makes every flying being fall from the sky. Birds and angels alike tumble down to earth, many dying or badly injuring themselves in the fall. It’s clear to everyone that one of the archangels has developed a new power, and that they’re using it to attack Raphael.
This sneak attack continues with the onslaught of a strange disease that can kill off vampires. Elena and Raphael work themselves to the bone trying to figure out who is attacking their people. I won’t say much more, because one of the best things about this story is how much it keeps you guessing. Having read the earlier books in this series, I already knew the characters well. The fact that Nalini Singh could write a plot centering around a mystery, when all the potential suspects were already well known to her audience, is a testament to her skill as a writer.
Another thing I loved about this book was the world created within it. Diplomacy and politics are art forms, and the intricacy of the political system is in this world of angels amazes me. In Archangel’s Legion there is a large focus on alliances, appearances, and power. Raphael is in the process of gaining some mysterious new ability, but he has to be careful what to reveal about it to his potential allies and enemies. Everything is held in a delicate balance, and no one ever quite knows the whole story of what’s going on with Raphael….except Elena.
I must say, I quite liked the way Raphael and Elena’s relationship worked in this book. There are a couple power struggles, a few moments where you worry he might choose power over her. Overall, however, their transition from archangel and Guild Hunter to archangel and warrior-angel consort goes as smoothly as can be expected. Some might say things go a little too well, but I liked finding a multi-book relationship that wasn’t filled with unnecessary and unrealistic angst. Raphael and Elena still act like Raphael and Elena.
Which brings me to my last point: Archangel’s Legion was exactly what I expected it to be. I don’t mean this in a bad way—having read other books by Nalini Singh, I had high expectations for this one. Happily, it turned out to be as good a book as anticipated.