Thursday, October 20, 2011

Review: Archangel's Blade by Nalini Singh

Nothing new with me. Work, blogging and reading. The usual :) Still addicted to Bu Bu Jing Xin and since I've reviewed twice this week (!!), it's been cutting in my reading time ^_^; But hey, I'm reviewing again, so it's worth it :)

Review today is Archangel's Blade by Nalini Singh. Please peeps, don't throw tomatoes at me :P

Archangel's Blade by Nalini Singh
published by Berkley in September 2011

The severed head marked by a distinctive tattoo on its cheek should have been a Guild case, but dark instincts honed over hundreds of years of life compel the vampire Dmitri to take control. There is something twisted about this death, something that whispers of centuries long past...but Dmitri's need to discover the truth is nothing to the vicious strength of his response to the hunter assigned to decipher the tattoo.

Savaged in a brutal attack that almost killed her, Honor is nowhere near ready to come face to face with the seductive vampire who is an archangel's right hand, and who wears his cruelty as boldly as his lethal sensuality...the same vampire who has been her secret obsession since the day she was old enough to understand the inexplicable, violent emotions he aroused in her.

As desire turns into a dangerous compulsion that might destroy them both, it becomes clear the past will not stay buried. Something is hunting...and it will not stop until it brings a blood-soaked nightmare to life once more...
Genre: Urban Fantasy/Paranormal romance
Series: The Guild Hunter, Book #4

The Story: Archangel's Blade opens with a severed head being found in the river. This head is special as it belongs to a newly made vampire whom the Tower is unaware of and it has some kind of tattoo. When the body turns up in many pieces in Times Square where Raphael punished a vampire in Angel's Blood, Dmitri knows it's personal. As Raphael and Elena are absent, the vampire steps in and takes up the investigation. He reaches to the Guild for help to decipher the tattoo and the director sends him their expert in ancient languages and history, Honor.

For two months, Honor was kept captive, blind-folded, by vampires for them to feed and play their sick games. She was lucky to be rescued by her fellow hunters, Ransom and Ashwini, and has spent the past few months recovering and hiding in the Guild Academy library. She's always had this strange fascination for Dmitri - even keeping a scrapbook of him, but after what she's been through, the thought of meeting him doesn't make her happy... It scares her. However, the director is not giving her a choice and it's time for her to start putting her life back together. Nobody said it'd be easy.

Dmitri is attracted to and intrigued by Honor; however, he knows she cannot be rushed otherwise she'll run. No matter, he is a very patient man...

My Opinion: Okay, so please people, don't throw tomatoes at me LOL. I know I'm in the minority of readers who aren't wowed by Ms Singh' Guild Hunter series. I really enjoyed Archangel's Kiss and there were some elements in Archangel's Consort that I liked, but as a whole... I don't know,  the Guild Hunter series is not working for me and I simply enjoy the Psy-Changelings series much better. Still, I decided to give a try to Archangel's Blade as Dmitri was the hero and I thought perhaps it'd change my feeling towards this series... Unfortunately, it didn't.

Oh, the writing is still great. Hey, it's Ms Singh after all :) I definitively have no complaints about that. For me, what's not working in the Guild Hunter series is the feel. It seems to me Ms Singh is trying very hard to make this series "dark" - perhaps too hard. The constant mention of torture, regeneration and infliction of pain and the reluctance of the ones who have to inflict the pain and do it because "they have to"... it just get repetitive and over-bearing. The fact that so many of the characters have been punished and hence, have "tortured" souls. I know it gives them interesting pasts, but it's just too much. It's like nobody in the series has had a normal life/upbringing and that's just weird. Like I said, it feels to me Ms Singh is trying too hard, that the atmosphere is too forced.

All right, enough about the series, let's talk about Archangel's Blade. I have to say, I've never been a big fan of Dmitri. He's simply not my cup of tea. Most readers find him sexy and sensual. Me? Well I didn't like the way he treated Elena in previous books and the whole tendrils of exquisite scents just go over my head LOL. I like likable characters and Dmitri is not. I guess getting his book, I was hoping Ms Singh would turn him into a more sympathetic hero... but she didn't and kudos to her for it. Dmitri's personality in Archangel's Blade is the same as in previous books, she didn't change him to please the fans and that's not only brave, but smart as well, because otherwise, it wouldn't be Dmitri. So yeah, I still feel lukewarm about him. His whole "I like a bit of pain during sex" probably made some fans swoon, but it left me indifferent. While I didn't warm up to his character, I did enjoy reading about his past :) That part was interesting and unexpected :)

As for Honor, I did like her. Really, what's not to like? Strong and smart heroine who's trying to overcome trauma. She isn't as kick-ass as some other heroines, but she is one determined woman. The romance was also nice with just the right amount of protectiveness and sweetness :) Although I wished for a bit more. Also, I'm not entirely won over by the revelation at the end. I usually like that type of romance, but the revelation is usually earlier in the romance. The problem in this case is that we don't see Dmitri really processing the revelation.

Now, the story. Archangel's Blade has two storylines: one is about the severed head found which is linked to Dmitri's past and the other is Dmitri and Honor finding Honor's captors and seeking justice/revenge. I really liked the storyline involving Honor's case. I thought it was great that Dmitri helped her out and by finding her captors, it gave Honor's closure. Plus, the whole plot was intriguing and engaging. I liked how from a bite, they found one person which led to another and another and another :) Personally, the way it was developed, I think the story should have been about this and Honor and Dmitri of course. As it is, the other storyline about the severed head got the short end. I thought the mystery/suspense of it was very thin. Since there was little focus on it, the clues became very obvious... And I really didn't like how it was linked to Dmitri's past. I understand why Ms Singh did it, so she could bring up Dmitri's past... I simply don't understand why it didn't happen sooner ^_^; Why now? Yes, it is Dmitri's book, but it's a bit too coincidental.

My Grade:  C+. I've really been torn about this grade, debating between B- and C+. In the end, although it pains me because this is by Ms Singh, I need to be honest with myself. Do I love this book? No. I've enjoyed parts of it and so, I did like it-ish... and therefore, it's in the C range. I really don't know what I'm going to do when the next full-length Guild Hunter novel comes out. I guess it's going to depend on the characters, story and reviews :) Although knowing myself, I'm most probably going to read it because it's Ms Singh after all :)


  1. You’re not alone! The only reason I kept reading this series (and by kept reading I mean that I skimmed through the last two books…) was because of Dmitri and Venom (I do like unlikeable characters).

    But this book was disappointing, everything was good except the love story with the WTF ending that you could see coming from a mile long. I was actually more invested in the flashbacks than in the present storyline.

    I did like the secondary plot with the severed head investigation and I loved the tracking down of Honor’s captors. But I was hoping for more since Dmitri was my favorite character in this series. I do hope that Singh keeps writing about different characters because I was done with Raphael and Elena halfway through book one!

  2. What Brie said. Lol. You are so not alone.

    This series, while nice (like you said, it's Ms. Nalini and her writing tends to be top notch), it really isn't my thing.

    I'm not sure what the facination with Dmitri is, not that I don't like him. Just not that into it all.

    Plus, I really really agree with your point about the constant need for this to be a "dark" series.

    *shrug* Not my thing and I've really debated whether to continue this series.

    Thanks for the review. It made me feel not as alone. LOL.

  3. See I really liked this one! For me it's the pick of the series so far. I got a bit frustrated with Lijuan NOT DYING and I thought the build up with Caliane never really went anywhere but this one felt more complete to me.
    I did feel that the author was able to make Dmitri very sympathetic. I was really sad about what happened to his family, esp his children.
    Seeing things from Dmitri's POV gave me more insight too, like how he does the scent thing with Elena so that she will be able to resist powerful camps because the hunter born are so susceptible to it.
    It will be interesting how he is with Elena now that he's fallen for a hunter too I think.
    I'm not throwing tomatoes though. It is very dark and I suspect the plot will push some hot buttons with some - rape and torture and violence against children/babies are pretty icky really let's face it. I'm not sure what it says about me that I liked this one the best LOL!!

  4. Brie - Hey Brie! I'm glad I'm not alone!! Everyone seems to love this series sooo much ^_^;

    I actually don't mind Venom too much, but Dmitri? Meh. My bigger issue is that all of Raphael's cadres are soooo "tortured" sigh.

    I think it's unfortunate about the ending. I'd rather it didn't happen... for Dmitri to make a new life, start anew. He's been ensconced in the past for too long. Ah well, we're not the ones who get to decide.

    I thought the severed head case was too coincidental with the circumstances and the intrigue was just a bit too thin. Like it was obvious with the clues that Ms Singh put in. Usually, she's more complex and subtle.

    Little Alys - Yay, someone else who agrees!

    Yeah, I don't get Dmitri's fascination either ^_^; I mean, the guy actually creeps me a little LOL. Is that sexy? Not really.

    You're welcome for the review :) You're not alone! but we're very few LOL.

    Kaetrin - I'm glad you enjoyed this one, Kaetrin :) Yeah, I do agree that if Lijuan would die, things would be easier. I'm really not sure where Ms Singh is going...

    Oh, Dmitri's past is really sad and it makes sense for Dmitri to be the way he is... but it's been a thousand years ^_^; Shouldn't he let go a little?

    LOL, it says Ms Singh is a very talented writer :)

  5. Hey Nath! You know how I feel about Raphael and Elena and the fact that I skipped books 2 and 3! But, I had to read this one because I like Dmitri's character.

    I also debated about the grade quite a bit because well... sigh... I had quite a few issues with this book too. But in the end, I did enjoy Dmitri's characterization and the action. Unfortunately, as much as I love Nalini's work I won't be following up with the rest of this series.

  6. Hilcia - Did you review it yet? I think you did LOL.

    I really have difficulty letting go of authors or series ^_^; So I'll probably pick the next one... I'll try to be patient though and perhaps get it at the UBS or something.