Archangel’s Enigma (Guild Hunter #08) by Nalini Singh Review

archangels enigma1We are currently at Book 8 of the Guild Hunter and we are getting close to the end, of the Seven, it is Illium, Aodhan and Venom who remain. I really enjoyed Archangel’s Enigma and unlike the previous book, where the overall plot barely seemed to move, there were clear progressions here.

Archangel’s Enigma focuses on Naasir, a member of the Seven and Andromeda, a scholar who is crucial to finding a Sleeping Ancient before the bat-shit crazy Lijuan kills him. The root of her motive for killing an Ancient is an ancient prophecy that states that an Ancient would be key to her eventual downfall and she can’t let that happen. Most prophecies seem self-fulfilling to me and this one was no different, but more on that later. Naasir and Andromeda spent a large chunk of the book hunting for Alexander’s sleeping location while at the same evading Lijuan and her general Xi’s clutches and making sure that they reach Alexander before Lijuan and her forces. The world is still reeling with the effects of the Cascade and it is not even close to being over.

I was getting a little concerned that the romance element would overtake the plot, or distract from it. That didn’t happen here. In fact, most of the book was squarely focused on locating the sleeping Ancient. Yes, there was the push and pull between Naasir and Andromeda but that didn’t take away from the larger plot. Also, unlike Archangel’s Shadow where Raphael and Elena were featured very prominently, that was not the case here. They were present but only fleetingly. Janvier and Ashwini’s pairing wasn’t compelling enough on its own, so we had Raphael and Elena as well, plus a somewhat ham-handed plot that didn’t serve any purpose. Here Naasir and Andromeda were front and centre. Also, Singh cut down on the angst that dragged Shadows and that was very refreshing. Plus, we also learned more about Naasir and what he really is so that was a bonus. Archangel’s Enigma was a return to Singh’s old form and I was happy so see that.

What can I say about Naasir? He was so likeable and he had no douche moments! He was every bit as wild and unpredictable as expected. And his search for his mate was sweet and adorable. It was also a nice change to see things from his perspective because it was different from the others’. He wasn’t quite a vampire and there was still something inherently wild within him that would never change. His view of and interaction with others was often more insightful because it wasn’t hampered by social graces and protocol. He didn’t care what others thought of him or their expectations of him. He was lethal and I loved his irreverent attitude. Also, his treatment of Andromeda was sweet. He respected her boundaries and saw her a very capable individual and not some frail flower that needed to be protected and coddled. He respected her views and opinions and was always respectful. I loved Naasir.

Then there was Andromeda. She was such a pleasant change from Ashwini. Yes, she too had demons and considering that she supposed to return to Charisemnon’s court was not something she was looking forward to in the least. But what little time of freedom she had, she made it count. She was abducted by Lijuan and managed to mislead her, freed another angel who had been imprisoned by her and thought dead by the rest of the world and managed to avert the death of an Ancient. She was never a damsel in distress. So often, heroines are described as capable, strong women but they never actually are, always needing the hero to ride in and save them. Andromeda really was capable, strong, intelligent, resilient and had the ability to think on her feet. Once she fell for Naasir, she didn’t waste time lying to herself or to him about what she felt.

We also got our first look at another Ancient, Alexander, the erstwhile Archangel of Persia. I’m curious to learn more about him as we move forward. One Archangel I want to see more of and learn more about is Favashi. She is the current Archangel of Persia and the most affected by Alexander’s return. I like her and I hope she doesn’t secretly join forces with Lijuan. We’ve seen Elijah, Titus, Astaad, Neha and even Michaela, leaving only Favashi. And I for one am looking forward to learning more about her. I know that Raphael doesn’t trust her and perhaps he’s right not to. But if she intended to join Lijuan, I don’t think she would have demonstrated her newfound ability. So far, there had only been rumours, there was no need for her confirm them. I think she is honourable but in a Cadre where she is the youngest Archangel, she can’t afford to look soft, not even for a second.

At present, Lijuan’s only ally is Charisemnon and perhaps just as insane as her. I want to believe that the rest of the Cadre will look at her and take a lesson on what not to do but that’s wishful thinking. I know that before the big finale, more will get seduced by her lies and the promise of power and godhood.

Now for the prophecy, more often than not, they are self-fulfilling. For instance, in Archangel’s Enigma, the only reason Lijuan went looking for Alexander and sought to kill him before he woke was because of a prophecy that stated he would kill her. In taking it at face value, she set into motion the very events that lead to him being woken up. Naasir and Andromeda also started looking for him to wake him up so he wouldn’t be vulnerable to an attack. In her quest for the archangel’s resting place, Lijuan killed Rohan, his only son, thus making sure that Alexander would indeed kill her. If she had simply let sleeping dogs lie, he would still be asleep and even if he had woken because of the Cascade, he wouldn’t immediately have sided with Raphael because he did have a soft corner for Lijuan when she was a young Archangel. By acting on the prophecy she may have set up her own downfall.

I’m fairly certain the next book will be about Illium, unless Singh inserts another Raphael-Elena book, but at this point that seems unlikely. I love Illium and I’m even less ready for him to leave the Seven than he is, so I was very happy that that wasn’t going to happen anytime soon. I can’t wait to read more about him (and more about Favashi, please)

Naasir and Andromeda maybe my favourite couple in the Guild Hunter Series, with the exception of Raphael and Elena (obviously) Those two are still my favourite but these two are a very close second.

Archangel’s Enigma did a good job of setting up the principle characters (the new ones I mean) and established that the world is still very much in flux because of the Cascade, affecting not just the Archangels but also other ordinary angels. Could this mean something for Elena as well, considering that she is the only Made Angel. We’ll see I suppose. This book was a very fast read and my only complaint is that I’ll have to wait till next year for the next one to come out. Patience is not always a virtue…

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