Series: Guild Hunter #16
Published by Berkley on April 23, 2024
Genres: Paranormal/Urban Fantasy
I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
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New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh’s dangerous and beautiful world of archangels, vampires, and mortals has never faced a threat this cataclysmic…
Raphael and Elena are experiencing their first ever year of true peace. No war. No horrors of archangelic power. No nightmares given flesh. Until…the earth beneath the Refuge begins to tremble, endangering not only angelkind’s precious and fragile young, but the very place that has held their most innocent safe for eons.
Amid the chaos, Elena’s father suffers a violent heart attack that threatens to extinguish their last chance to heal the bonds between them and make sense of the ruins of their agonizing shared history.
Even as Elena battles grief, Raphael is torn from her side by the sudden disappearance of an archangel. But worse yet is to come. An Ancestor, an angel unlike any other, stirs from his Sleep to warn the Cadre of a darkness so terrible that it causes empires to fall and civilizations to vanish.
This time, even the Cadre itself may not be able to stop a ticking clock that is counting down at frightening speed…
Archangel’s Lineage deals with Elena’s change from mortal and immortal and what happens when those you love continue to age without you.
It has been ten years of quiet rebuilding since Lijuan, the Archangel of Death, has been defeated. Most of destruction has been rebuilt, the reborn have been destroyed and the world is experiencing a true peace. But that peace is shattered when the land begins to quake under the Refuge, where the babies and most vulnerable are hidden from the world in general. And as the quakes continue to destroy the buildings and schools, they also realize that the veil which keeps the Refuge hidden from prying eyes is beginning to fray but no one remembers how it came into being, let alone how to fix it before the Refuge is unveiled for all the world to see and their vulnerable angels and precious baby angels will no longer be safe from prying eyes.
Archangel Raphael and the Cadre have hidden the most vulnerable underground but more and more violent natural disasters may point or an Ancient awaking from sleep or something much more ominous. Jessamy, the Refuge Librarian and the Tower’s Vivek have been working together and have uncovered information written in a language even older than Old Angelic, and there is no key for a translation but it seems to indicate a being even more malevolent than Lijuan.
Meanwhile, no one has seen Archangel Qin in some time. With the Cadre down in members, now isn’t the time for Qin to sneak off to go back to Sleep. Now Raphael will need to deal with Qin’s territory halfway around the world to make sure the vampires there don’t succumb to bloodlust while there is no Archangel to oversee the territory.
And while Raphael is trying to hold the whole world together, Elena’s personal world is quietly collapsing around her. Elena and her father have had a rocky relationship since her mother’s death so long ago but when she receives news that Jeffrey has suffered a major heart attack and might not survive, Elena rushes to his bedside and quietly prays that they have time to repair their rift before she loses her chance forever.
This story is mostly about Elena getting her first bitter taste of what happens when you are a “child of mortals” who becomes immortal. As much as she loves her new life with her Archangel, she is beginning to realize that will also mean she will long outlive her family and her human friends. Her father ends up in the hospital, suffering a major heart attack; she notices her little sister Beth has some gray starting in her hair; she even realizes that Sara’s dog who was “just a rambunctious puppy” is now gray-muzzled and having trouble getting up. Obviously we all needed Elena to be immortal to have that HEA with Raphael but leaving behind her humanity also means outliving everyone she knew from her old life, something often discussed in prior books of how does Bluebell keep befriending humans even though he has lost so many of those friends in his only 500 years.
Most of the Cadre also get a shock in realizing that this past decade of peace is a first for some of the younger Archangels, such a Raphael’s one and half centuries. Most of the ancients awaking from slumber in the last few books haven’t realized just how crazy things have been while they were sleeping after millennia of their own peaceful lives. There were always land disputes between Archangels but never anything as crazy as Lijuan or even Neha.
I don’t know if it will be the feature of the next book but we do have an interesting storyline of Vivek and a very old vampire underworld leader? Madam? Dominatrix? And while Vivek can walk at this point, he is suffering a lot of pain now that his nerve endings are regenerating. It would be a very interesting story.
I love this series but there is a little floundering in what to do in a post-Lijuan storyline as peace doesn’t equate to the same excitement as a full-on Archangel battle like in Archangel’s War.
In the same way, the wounded child within her had apparently believed that her father would be endless, too–except in life, not death.
A wash of wind, an angel landing beside her.
She wasn’t the least surprised when Illium threw an arm over her shoulders, their wings companionably crushed against each other. “He called you, didn’t he?” she said.
“Yup,” answered the angel with wings of dazzling blue and black hair dipped in the same shade, his scent a fresh and tart lime intermingled with an exotic element more luxurious. “The sire didn’t want you to be alone. And I am your favorite.”
She elbowed his tautly muscled gut. “Don’t let that head get too big it explodes.” But she was glad for his presence as they walked. Because Illium, playful and vulnerable in ways that echoed her own wounds, was her favorite of the Seven.
More than anything else, she felt loved by her archangel. Though he couldn’t be with her, he’d made sure she wouldn’t be alone. “Did he tell you what happened?” she asked after chucking her empty coffee cup into a trash can.
“No. Just that you might need a friend.” He squeezed her closer. “I don’t need to know, Ellie. I’m just here to astound you with my wit and genius.”
“I can literally see your head expanding.” Despite her dry words, Elena told him the basics. The rest, she’d talk about only to Raphael. “It’s a shock–coming face-to-face with his mortality.” Her chest ached all over again.
“He’s still young in mortal terms.” Illium turned her down a street that led in the wrong direction for the Tower, and, more than happy to meander, she didn’t protest. “I’d have been shocked too, were he my friend.”
The streets were busier now and Elena managed faint smiles for the people who walked past and said hello or waved. No one but the odd slack-jawed tourist paid any mind to the fact Elena and Illium were walking together wing over wing. The people of their city had long ago cottoned on to their friendship and that they were both very much entangled with their chosen lovers.
“How’s Aodhan?” she asked, no longer wanting to talk about Jeffrey. The shock was too new, the memory of his sudden decline too new, the memory of his sudden decline too bright. Nausea lurched in her gut at the smallest remembrance of it. “He still shut up in his art studio?”
Illium’s lover, best friend, and fellow member of the Seven had built that studio five years ago, in part of the Enclave not visible from the water but that received plenty of natural light.
“I threatened to hide his paintbrushes if he didn’t allow me to feed him at least one proper meal a day,” Illium muttered darkly. “Someone should’ve warned me about creative types.”
The two of them emerged onto one of the main avenues, the sky above busy with angelic traffic, their wings lit by the pale glow of the morning sun. Below, mortals and vampires, half in New Yorker black, the other half in corporate suits, strode to their jobs or into the luxury boutiques that lined this stretch.
A lunatic messenger on a fold-up scooter zipped down the street, zigzagging through the traffic as if he was on a damn motorcycle. At least he was wearing a helmet. Even the pigeons seemed to be giving him the side-eye.
“Sparkle is lucky I’m such a ball of sunshine.” Illium’s voice was the embodiment of a scowl. “He growls like a feral wolf half the time at this stage of project.”
Elena chuckled at the most unexpected description of quiet, contained Aodhan. Because if anyone knew Aodhan, it was Illium. The two were each other’s forever and had been for a long time, even if it’d taken them a while to realize it. “How’s the project going?”
“Breathtaking.” Smug pride. “He’s almost ready to show everyone.”
“I can’t wait.”
They walked on, content to listen to the city wake up and get ready for business. A blue-haired man in a top of glittery gold mesh and skintight black jeans asked Illium for a selfie “since we’re so coordinated, honey,” and Illium obliged with a grin, spreading his wings out in a show behind the two of them. He’d never lost his heart, no matter how potent his power. She couldn’t imagine him as an archangel ruthless, but the signs of his intensifying strength were obvious.
No. She wouldn’t think about that. Not today. Not when her nerves were already close to shattered.
He came to a halt after turning the corner onto a street with lovingly maintained brownstones. “This is where I leave you.”
Only then did Elena realize why the other street had looked so familiar. She’d just become used to seeing it from the air rather than from this perspective. “You brought me to Sara.” Her throat grew thick.
“I’ll meet you back at the Tower.” Illium pressed his cheek to her temple just as Elena’s best friend opened her door to run down the steps. She was dressed in jeans that hugged her legs, along with a simple sweater of aqua green that made her brown skin glow. Her black hair was pulled back into a knot, her bangs as thick and flawless as ever.
Elena let her best friend enclose her in an embrace tight. She couldn’t cry, the tears locked up inside like hard little stones, but oh it felt good to be held by the woman who’d been a part of her life for so long that she might as well be her sister.