Saturday, January 2, 2010

Jovah's Angel - Sharon Shinn

This is the second book in Sharon Shinn's Samaria Series. Click here to read my review of the first book, Archangel, and to see a complete list of the series.

Summary: All is not well in Samaria...
One hundred and fifty years have passed since the tenure of the Archangel Gabriel and his angelica Rachel, a time of peace and stability. But now, great storms are sweeping the land, the deserts flood, and the skies rain down death and destruction. As they have always, the people turn to the angels for help. Yet even their splendid voices, raised in supplication, cannot seem to reach the god Jovah.

Then the proud and beautiful Archangel Delilah falls victim to the rage of the wind, as she is torn from the sky, her wing broken. She can no longer soar in the heavens, guiding and guarding those below. She can no longer be first among the angels.

Never before have the oracles had to choose a new Archangel while one still lived. And though Jovah's anger blows all about them, sill they must consult him. His choice--the angel Alleluia, a solitary scholar of undistinguished lineage.

Now the fate of the planet rests with the reluctant Archangel Alleluia, who believes in her duty and her god. And her fate, in turn, may well depend on the mortal Caleb, a man who believes only in science--and himself. (summary from back of book, image from sharonshinn.net)

My review: I could pretend this book was deep if I really wanted too. I could rave about its subtle discussions of the effects of increased technology on societal mores, the destruction of indigenous cultures through population expansion, and the intangible power of religion as a tool to control the masses. I could. It does touch on all those things—but in a profoundly less textbook kind of way.

Jovah’s Angel takes place 150 years after the previous book in the Samaria series, Archangel. The formerly agrarian world of angels and mortals is becoming increasingly technologically advanced and the mysterious deity of the masses, Jovah, is no longer answering all of the angels requests, creating some massively unstable weather patterns. Something is terribly wrong and the newly installed Archangel Alleluia seems to be the only person whose songs will reach the god’s ears. If the Gloria is sung and the God cannot hear them, will their world be ripped apart? Yup.

Alongside Alleluia, there are several other main characters whose stories intertwine: Caleb, an atheistic engineer obsessed with learning to fly (via machine), Delilah, a deposed Archangel cast down by the god when she lost her ability to fly, and Noah, an Edori in love with a woman who is utterly distant and unobtainable. I enjoyed the dynamic between these characters, perhaps a bit more than the love/hate relationship sustained by Gabriel and Rachel in the first book.

Jovah’s Angel spends more time exploring the technology and history of Samaria-- how the Samarians got to the planet, what they gave up, and what changes had to be made to make the planet habitable—than its predecessor. This book also ventures into more of the sci-fi genre than the last—and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. I loved it when the characters would encounter objects that I recognized but the characters themselves did not. It was a fun way to know more than them about the “mysteries of Jovah”.

This book was surprisingly philosophical for me. It was supposed to just be fun (and it undoubtedly WAS), but I couldn’t help but think about some more serious topics while I read. Look at me--capable of intellectual thought!?! I’m as shocked as you are. I wouldn’t go into this anticipating much more than a good time, but you might get a little bit more food for thought than you expect.

My rating: 5 Stars

Sum it up: A fascinating continuation to an entertaining series.

1 comment:

Dannie said...

I love this series, and I'm glad you did too.

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