Two hundred years ago, in order to keep the peace in Samaria, the god Jovah created a legion of land-dwelling angels, led by an appointed Archangel. Now, Jovah has a new appointee: Archangel Gaaron. And for his life-mate, his Angelica, Jovah has chosen a woman named Susannah. With trepidation, she bows to the will of Jovah and an unspoken affection develops between the two.
But there is a terrible threat besetting the land - black-clad strangers who call fire down from the sky, leaving death and destruction in their wake, And the true hearts of Archangel and Angelica may never be known, as the future of the planet hangs in the balance...
Beautifully told, with engaging depth and richness, this stand-alone novel, the latest in Shinn's Samaria series (Archangel, etc.), will win new readers and delight existing fans. In an expansion of a folk tale briefly related in Archangel, the Edori wanderer Susannah becomes the Angelica of the archangel Gaaron, giving up her peripatetic life and her faithless lover to live with the angels. One subplot concerns the mystery of the strange men who can literally disappear and have long sticks that shoot fire and destroy entire campsites and villages. In another subplot, Gaaron's sister, Miriam, a perverse and uncontrollable mortal, goes to live with the Edori but ends up involved in something much larger when her tribe captures one of the alien men. Underneath the action lies a love story, all the more realistic for its quietness, as a homesick woman used to showing her feelings comes to love an angel used to hiding his. Threaded through the intertwining plots is the gorgeous prose music, the bright strand that links all the Samaria novels. The fantastic tone of the novel belies its SF underpinnings: Susannah's dreams of silver and glass panels evoke technology, and the dramatic conclusion, melding machine and dream, is an emotional high point. This SF-fantasy hybrid will please lovers of plot and world-building as well as romance.