Crossposted from The Book Pushers. Our epic group review for Archangel's Legion by Nalini Singh which is the best installment yet in the series!
1. Thoughts on the Hero
MinnChica: It’s always great to see Raphael again. He is so cocky, so sure of himself, and so SO sexy. I love the way that he treats Elena, that he treasures her above all else, that he watches over her every chance he gets, and that he desperately wants to be the kind of man that is deserving of her love. Watching him struggle with the influx of power that comes with the cascade was a special treat, because I think it showcased just how much he loves and cares about Elena. It showed how willing he was to do anything and everything for her, to be deserving of her.
E: Oh Raphael! It is so wonderful to see how he changes and yet doesn’t change in certain areas. I think this story did a great job of highlighting just how different he is with Elena and a few other exceptions versus how he views other humans. Yes, some of his decisions seemed ruthless and caused a few ripples in his relationship with Elena but he wasn’t deliberately trying to hurt her. On several occasions he insisted on discussing whatever was bothering her because her being upset was not acceptable. Like MinnChica, I loved seeing him struggle with the influx power and make a decision against his instincts out of love for Elena. Raphael demonstrated so many different levels of commitment, care, and ruthless leadership as he struggled against unexpected or unprecedented events. Raphael is one of my favorite heroes to revisit over time.
MiscJoy: What’s not to love about Raphael and Elena? I enjoyed the focus on their character progression and the solidification of their love and unbreakable heartbond. I really liked how both Raphael and Elena accepted each other and even when they disagreed, never lost sight of who the other was at the core level. Raphael had to reconcile his instinctive response to protect Elena by accepting her Hunter-born abilities as well as her warrior spirit. He knew she would never stay on the sidelines so he made sure she had access to everything she needed to prepare for the coming battle and life as his consort. His actions showed her that he had faith in her abilities and respect for her position. That didn’t stop him from being the Archangel — he still had to make seemingly harsh decisions to keep his people safe. However, Elena’s humanity, compassion, humor and love made him a better man and subsequently, a better Archangel. I also liked his perceptiveness towards Elena and the emotional wounds she still carried from her childhood and relationship with her father. He wouldn’t allow Elena to fold into herself when she felt the pain of that trauma, just like Elena wouldn’t let him be consumed by the power influx. Each one made stronger because of their love.
Has: I so totally agree! I loved the growth that Raphael developed and portrayed in this book, with each installment. However I think in this one, Nalini Singh really shines a light on the themes of mortality and immortality and what it really means to be immortal. I have always loved the other-worldliness that the angels have because they’re so scary and intense and seeing Raphael changing to due to the cascade really emphasized that. But I LOVED that Elena is his touchstone and helped to balance him without losing his sense of humanity. And I definitely loved the fact that Nalini turned this into a strength instead of a vulnerability. It really illustrated that even though Raphael is more powerful he is an equal with Elena who is the only one who can offer that.
2. Thoughts on the Heroine
MinnChica: Elena is one of the best heroines Singh’s ever written. She is strong and fierce and a warrior through and through. At the same time, she’s also timid and scared and weary. I liked getting to see a little more detail about her father, and her hunter background. Having to watch Elena realize that there is more to her father than a bitter and angry man was both devastating and heart-warming at the same time. I hope that we get to see more develop with her family as the series continues. I really do adore everything about Elena, from the way she pushes back on Raphael, to her kind treatment of the other archangel’s concubines, I just think she is the best.
E: Elena is awesome! She is a fierce warrior with a caring heart. She still struggles blending her roles as Raphael’s Consort, a Hunter, an estranged daughter, an older sister, and a best friend. Each of those tugged at her during this book creating a complex mixture of emotions. This was separate from her dealing with whatever was attacking Vampires and Angels or this power that was trying to change her Raphael. She also fought to keep her friends safe but didn’t dismiss what they had to offer in the defense of their home. Add to that what she did for her younger sisters and discovered about her father took me on such an emotional roller-coaster ride. Yet throughout the story the essence of who Elena was from the very beginning continued to shine through. She is another of my favorite heroines to revisit.
Has: Even though so many changes happened to Raphael, I think this book was focused more on Elena because she was integral to so many characters in this book. The revelations about her past and the emotional fallout which made her face up to some hidden truths was fantastic. It was hard to read those scenes when she was experiencing her flashbacks especially about her mother and sisters deaths and most especially her father. I found those scenes were powerful and heart-wrenching. I especially loved the big confrontation with her father, and the conflict over her younger sister who is hunter-born also absorbing. The evolution that Elena has experienced throughout the series culminates in this book and I loved the new changes this brought to her and I can’t wait to see what happens next for her and Raphael and the people around her.
3. Favorite Scene
MinnChica: Choosing one scene from ANY Nalini Singh book is virtually impossible. However, I think for me I would have to say my favorite scene was at Caliane’s party, when Elena befriends Mele, the concubine of archangel Astaad. I loved that Elena was being herself, friendly and inviting. She admitted to her new friend that Mele blew away her perceptions of what a “concubine” was. When Raphael revealed to Elena that she made an ally and friend in the fellow archangel, I loved that Elena was truly shocked that angel politics would ostracize the woman. To me, it showed just how much Elena didn’t know about angel political BS, and how much she really hated all the little nuances to the political game. I love knowing that Raphael has someone by his side that will keep him kind, keep him honest, and keep him in the land of the living.
E: Since I can’t pick just one scene I am going to go with a particular theme that showcases Singh’s ability to keep track of every single thread and also highlights how Elena is becoming an integral part of the angelic structure. One of the young angels briefly introduced in Angel’s Blood was injured when he fell out of the sky. When Elena visited him, he asked if he could become part of her guard. She agreed but it took Raphael explaining that he wanted to be the equivalent of his Seven for her, one of her Guards, until she realized just how important his request was. This meant when she told him on her follow-up visit his request required extra training with Raphael’s Seven then he knew she was serious and gave him motivation to progress through his painful healing. A later conversation with one of Raphael’s Seven about the first person she wanted as a vampire Guard really honed in on Elena’s realization of how she was shaping her role as Consort. I absolutely loved those scenes because they told me that Elena with her growing immortality and still mostly human outlook on life was accepted and considered part of what was supposed to be not just an anomaly.
MiscJoy: Just one? That’s hard. I really can’t say there wasn’t a favorite among the whole book. However, there are two poignant moments within the story that stand out for me. The first is the gift that Raphael gave to Elena. Even in the midst of battle preparations, he took the time to give Elena a very thoughtful gift that would lift her spirits, bolster her courage and let her know she was loved. The gift itself and what was carved on it showed that Raphael paid close attention to Elena and that he could turn something she said in passing into such a powerful message. The second is when Elena realized the full breadth of her role as consort and what that meant to her people. When she said to herself “if [redacted] could smile through his agony, she’d damn well find the guts to be what he needed her to be,” I cheered. It encapsulated the essence of her character. Additionally, while not a single “scene” per se, I really loved the action and pace in this installment. It just flew from page one, every scene building up to a crescendo that just kept going. I loved every minute of it!
Has: Oh I have to agree what the others have said because there are so many favourite scenes, I can’t really list them all because it will be spoilery too. But I have to say the ending which is beyond epic in scope and kept me on tenterhooks. I think Nalini surpassed herself, with the action set pieces and tension which was built up beautifully. I also loved how the ending and the fallout over that promises that the next book is going to be even better with the twists and turns Nalini has introduced into the series.
4. Dislike about book
MinnChica: This book had a lot of time spent on action and war. While I enjoyed it immensely, I find myself wishing for more one on one time between the hero and heroine. There are so many different aspects to Elena and Raphael’s relationship, and I always enjoying seeing those dynamics explored more. When more time is spent on Raphael’s Seven (which, OMG, YAY!), the ongoing vampire sickness, and angel problems, we don’t get the extra time to focus on the romance. That being said, holy cow was the plot fast paced and on the ball!!
E: My only complaint is that it ended *grin*.
MiscJoy: My fellow Book Pushers will probably kick me out of the club for saying this, but holy moley! There is a LOT of smex in this book. I mean, so much smex, I totally lost count. Now, don’t get me wrong, Singh writes some really good smex and this book is certainly no exception. But I guess, for me, perhaps less is more as too much seems to diminish the overall impact. Of course, on the other hand, it does showcase just how much Raphael and Elena care for each other and obviously can’t keep their hands off of the other. I loved the intimate one-on-one time they spent together and would have liked more of that and a tad bit less smex. Now, pardon me as I duck for cover. ::prepares to be smacked upside the head:: BP NOTE: No reviewers were harmed during the formatting of this review.
Has: I am with E, I LOVED everything in it, the pace was perfect for me, it had action, character development and I definitely enjoyed the smexing which I didn’t think overpower the plot.
5. Any other misc. thoughts
MinnChica: All in all I am so glad to be back with Elena and Raphael, especially as they deal with the unknown of the power cascade and forming of alliances and enemies. I can’t wait to see what happens next, especially given the way this book ended with Raphael’s new army. I loved getting to see and learn more about the Seven, and am dying to know more about Aodhan!
I give Archangel’s Legion a B+.
E: I absolutely loved this book. All of the developments and connections with threads established from the very beginning tied all of the events to pass so far together. I loved the insights Elena received into some of Raphael’s most secretive members of his Seven. Of course this also raised several questions that I can’t wait to see how they are answered. It was lovely seeing Elena and Raphael together again and having them work through some relationship issues. I have found that Singh’s work is complex, moving, and full of nuanced detail which is why I pre-order everything that she writes. I can’t wait for the next installment.
I give Archangel’s Legion an A+.
MiscJoy: I admire Singh’s storytelling ability and how she creates such multi-dimensional characters and stays true to each character’s unique voice. Raphael is still an Archangel and Elena still a Guild Hunter. The secondary characters are just as strongly developed and integral to the storyline. The Guild Hunter series is not set in a peaceful world and Singh doesn’t pull any punches. The non-stop action pulls me in, the deep character profiles and emotional connections keep me grounded, and the intricate storyline keeps me wanting more. As with E, anything Singh writes is an auto-buy for me.
I give Archangel’s Legion an A+.
Has I think this was the best installment yet in this series, I was swept away into the story which was epic in scope but at the same time, there were major and minor developments in the story and characters. I really didn’t know how much Nalini managed to pack so much in but, I honestly felt breathless with the events especially the ending. I also adored how the romance and relationship between Raphael and Elena evolved in this book, which was solidly strengthened and like MiscJoy stated – many of their scenes were sizzling. I also loved how the emotional and psychological elements which added so much more depth to the characters and further expanded the on-going plot. Archangel’s Legion was an amazing and engrossing entry in Nalini Singh’s rich and vibrant world. I want a time machine so I can travel to the future to read what comes up next!
I give Archangel’s Legion an A+