Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Alleluia Files - Sharon Shinn

This is the third book in the Samaria series and final book in the Archangel trilogy. Feel free to read my reviews of of the first book, Archangel (with a complete series list), or the second book, Jovah's Angel.

Summary: And a god will fall...

It has been one hundred years since the Archangel Alleluia and the mortal Caleb discovered the truth about the god of Samaria. Legend says that they left a record of that truth, though no document has ever been found. In time, an underground cult arose, seeking to find again what Alleluia found. But the reigning Archangel Bael called down the wrath of Jovah upon the cult, and hundreds died in a hail of thunderbolts. Yet some still survive...

Among them is a woman named Tamar, child of cultists, raised in captivity among the angels. Tamar believes that the Alleluia Files--the actual disc on which the legendary Archangel record her experience--exist. She is determined to find it and free the people of Samaria form their fear of Jovah, and the rule of the angels.

In her search, she encounters the angel Jared, one of the members of his kind who have come to question the wisdom of Bael, and his harsh treatment of the cultists. Jared can go places forbidden to Tamar, so when he offers to accompany her, she reluctantly agrees.

Together, these two uneasy allies will journey the length and breadth of Samaria, risking their lives and the lives of their comrades, seeking a truth that will alter the face of Samaria forever. (image from sharonshinn.net - summary from back of book)

My review: A lot has changed in a a century or two. Technological advances in transportation and communication have become much more prevalent in Samarian society--and they aren't entirely welcome. Samaria is ruled by a fanatical archangel who is obsessed with ridding the land of Jacobite rebels who claim that Jovah is a man-made machine and not an all-powerful god. These rebels believe that oracle Alleluia understood the true nature of Jovah and secretly recorded this heretical knowledge to preserve it for the use of future generations. The Jacobites, and a few unconventional allies, frantically search for the Alleulia Files, to substantiate their claims and prevent their own eradication..

This story is told through the perspective of its four main characters, (surprise, surprise) two oddly-matched couples. While the theme of star-crossed lovers is rather formulaic at this point, the rest of the story still had enough romance, originality and unexpected moments to be thoroughly engaging. I have to admit that at this point I’m so attached to the series—to Sharon Shinn, her world, and her angels—that I’m not entirely certain how objective I can be about the successes and flaws of this book. The main characters could be hippos and I’d probably finish the book (though it probably wouldn’t get quite so high a rating).

Thankfully, The Alleluia Files ties up many loose ends, left purposely untied by the previous novels, and provides a definite sense of closure and resolution to the trilogy. I don’t know if I could've have handled it otherwise. I was particularly pleased with how Shinn completely eradicated one "god" while still allowing for the possibility of others. Obviously, not everyone goes for this kind of book, but it will definitely satisfy anyone looking for a charming and light, romantic read with a sci-fi fantasy twist.

My Rating: 4.5 Stars. I took off a ½ star for a certain lack of predictability. Keep in mind, at this point I’ve lost all objectivity and am just trying to maintain some sort of reviewing integrity.

Sum it up: A fitting ending to an enthralling trilogy. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go get the next book.

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