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Archangel's Blade by Nalini Singh

Genre: Urban Fantasy Romance
Series: Guild Hunter, Book 4
Rating: 4 Stars
Length: 348 Pages
Formats: Paperback, Kindle

Dark, Seductive, and Powerfully Emotional

He is not a good man. At nearly a millennium in age, the vampire Dmitri is not a man at all, but a cold and conscienceless killer who lost his soul long ago and who now walks a razor's edge between being the sharpest weapon for the Archangel Raphael...and being a monster. And the sanguine seduction of the monster grows ever stronger.

More than capable of controlling Raphael's New York City territory for the Archangel in his absence, he places a call to the hunter's Guild when the decapitated head of a very new vampire is plucked from the Hudson. The vampire isn't one of Raphael's and the tattooed markings on the face look vaguely like a language of some sort. One that Dmitri doesn't recognize. Requesting assistance from the Guild is only logical given their resources.

The first scent of acrid fear and gritty determination he catches from Guild hunter Honor St. Nicholas, however, punches through his logic and rakes talons along his predatory need for blood and sex. The instant want of her is manageable, barely, and the seductive games he intends to play with her are those that he has honed over the centuries. Except Honor is damaged. Traumatized after two months of vampire-inflicted brutality that smacks hard against every single one of Dmitri's very few lines. She is unable to accept even the most casual of touches from him without an instant fear response that has him dodging her blades.

The rage that erupts in him like a volcano of furious reckoning at the knowledge that the torturing rapists still live is eclipsed only by a cold and deadly certainty that they will not be doing so for long. He is a monster unleashed and he is the thing that other monsters fear.

Honor's damaged soul stirs him in fascinating ways, disturbing ways, as they work together to solve the mystery of the too-young vampire deaths and investigate the grievous crime perpetrated against her. Memories long, long buried are like echoing footsteps along the path they follow towards not one, but two of the world's worst evildoers. They are awakening parts of Dmitri's soul he'd thought excised by the brutal selfishness of a master predator dead for centuries. Those memories may draw him back from the edge of true madness or they may just hasten his descent into blood and death. And much to Dmitri's surprise, he realizes that it is one human woman who will tip the balance either way...either by loving him...or betraying a past she couldn't possibly know.


I have to admit, not even my love for Singh's writing was enough to make me rush to read this latest addition to my beloved Guild Hunter series. I was aware that there would be a reincarnation theme in the plot and I am not in any way a fan of that theme. I haven't read one yet that didn't, to varying degrees, seem to devalue the current life of the character who is or has a reincarnated soul. In the worst cases, the disregard of a character's present individuality has also been an issue. For that reason I try to avoid the theme.

Avoiding Singh, however, is an impossibility. I just dig her work too much. But I admit, I delayed.

And I also admit, for almost all of the book I was kicking myself for that delay, because I was both pleasantly surprised and more than a little elated at how deft and crafty Singh was in addressing and dealing with that theme. It wasn't until the very end that I felt the familiar twinges of dislike and it was only related to one scene. I can live with that...though I do wish that one scene had been different. The power of the writing and the almost effortless emotional firestorm the book generates made up for it, though. I love Singh's characters and the keenly brilliant world she's created for them.

I'm probably one of the minority who has never particularly liked Dmitri. I haven't since his unrelenting negativity about Elena became common knowledge. That being said, I don't have to like a character to love a character, and both Dmitri's complexity and the dangerous line he walks between monster and man has held me enthralled on a visceral intellectual level. In short, he's fascinating, and I have nothing but admiration for how Singh so masterfully maintained his utter lack of humanity even as she was crafting his very sympathetic history.

The chemistry between Dmitri and Honor burned at the fingers holding my Kindle as I was reading and I thoroughly admired Honor's strength in the face of abominable defilement. She was sharp, bright, and had a core of decency that soothed the sharp edges of Dmitri's almost sociopathic nature...until the story served to blunt much of that sociopathy and Dmitri's darkness started to wane just a touch. I enjoyed them together very much, even though I felt a lack of the dark humor that so charmed me in the relationship evolution between Raphael and Elena.

This may sound odd, but I don't really read either of Singh's highly popular series for the story being told so much as for the characters and the depth of emotion found in every one of her books. I do, obviously, still pay attention to those stories. Some appeal to me more than others. This one fell about middle ground for me. I found it more cohesive and less strained than the previous book in the series, Archangel's Consort, but not as thorough and well-developed as the second book, Archangel's Kiss.

Flashbacks were handled well, and the plot thread concerning the search for the monsters responsible for Honor's torture - as well as her slow and painful recovery - was very well done, though I thought it ended on a slightly anticlimactic note. I also felt the plot thread dealing with the dead newbie vamps and all subsequent issues took on a too-ancillary role and wasn't a significant factor in the book until too close to the end to have much impact. The timing of that particular crisis, as well, at a time when Honor was perfectly situated to come into the picture in Dmitri's life, raised my eyebrow a bit. I couldn't help but feel that after nearly ten centuries to stew, Kallistos' actions were awfully convenient in stirring up Dmitri's past. That sort of convenience made that plotline feel contrived to me.

Despite the plot of the book not being completely successful for me and my dislike of the reincarnation theme, I thoroughly enjoyed Archangel's Blade and consider it a solid addition to the series. And I didn't even like Dmitri all that much. I can only imagine how much fun I'm going to have with some of the characters I'm either truly fond of, like Bluebell, or utterly fascinated by, like Aodhan. I have no doubt there is going to be just as much truly spectacular reading entertainment to be had as the series progresses as there has been to date.

Guild Hunter Series:



Karen said...

I've read the Guild Hunter series but haven't made it to the spinoff yet. I skimmed through your review to avoid spoilers but I'm glad that it mostly worked for you.

Tracy said...

Hey, Karen!

It did mostly work for me, and I hope you enjoy the book when you get a chance to read it.

Also, please be assured that while I understand that everyone has different lines about what they consider spoilers, no major or significant story-related details are ever included in the reviews on OGBDA without first being hidden behind HTML coding that allows visitors to choose if they want to read them.

I'm very anti-spoiler myself, so I tend to keep specific story details to myself and write in broad strokes. In the over 550 reviews posted on OGBDA I believe there is less than 10 in which I needed to include spoilers to illustrate a point in a review.

Again, though, I know that line is subjective, but it is NEVER my intent to spoil anyone.

Thanks for your comment, and for reading the review!


Mariana said...

Hey! I agree with your review completely. I really enjoyed this book as well. However, I REALLY don't like the reincarnation trope, and didn't like the end of this one.

I really like the chemistry between Dmitri and Honor. I wasn't a huge Dmitri fan (I want most to read Aodhan's and Illium's stories too :) mind twins again); but Honor I really liked.

Also, I didn't see how this played into the overall arc of the Guild Hunter's story, but it was a nice story overall. I really enjoyed seeing the other characters here; and makes me want their story that much quicker.

The end for me was an issue. And you are so completely right that the story was tighter than the Archangel's Consort, but not has well executed as Archangel's Kiss.

Tracy said...

Hey, Mariana!

Your comment gave me a chuckle. Great minds we must have for all the thinking alike we do. ;-)

I hadn't really thought much of the overall arc of the series when I was writing the review, but you're right - this one doesn't seem to fit with the direction that had been set up over the first three books. And knowing Singh's craftiness with her Psy/Changeling series, I have to wonder what direction the series takes from here.

I can't wait for Aodhan's and Illium's books!

As always, I love chatting with you!

Anonymous said...

I haven’t warmed to Dmitri through his backstory
little Misha that pulled at my heart
Honor’s thoughts noticing the closeness
between Elena and Illium
I know Honor suffered but I don’t feel for
The character at all?

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Ratings Guide

Here is a rundown of what the star ratings mean to me! It's not a perfect system, so you may see me add in a .5 star here and there if my impression of the book falls somewhere between these:

5 Stars - Loved it
4 Stars - Liked it
3 Stars - It's okay
2 Stars - Didn't like it
1 Star - Hated it

2014 Challenge

2014 Reading Challenge

2014 Reading Challenge
Tracy has read 22 books toward her goal of 175 books.


Tracy's bookshelf: read

Zero at the BoneHead Over HeelsLord of the WolfynIn Total SurrenderA Win-Win PropositionNorth of Need

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