Nalini Singh

Guild Hunter, book 4

Gollancz (2011)

ISBN: 9780575113473

Reviewed by Stephanie Gunn

Archangels’ Blade is the fourth book in Nalini Singh’s paranormal romance Guild Hunter series.

In the world of the Guild Hunter books, angels exist, with the most powerful of them, the archangels, ruling sections of the world. Vampires also exist, and are Made by the angels, and subsequently bound to those angels for a period of indenture. Hunters are humans who have the ability to sense vampires, and are employed to seek out rogue vampires who break their contracts with their angels.

The first three books in this series followed the Guild Hunter Elena and her relationship with the archangel Raphael. Archangel’s Blade departs from this storyline, instead following the vampire Dmitri, Raphael’s second-in-command, and his relationship with the hunter Honor. Some readers and fans of the previous books will no doubt be disappointed with this change of focus, especially since both Elena and Raphael only serve very small parts in this book.

Unlike Elena, Honor is a different kind of protagonist. She is a competent hunter, but she is also a broken woman – ten months prior to the events of the book, she was kidnapped and subsequently tortured and raped by a group of vampires for two months. She has been in hiding, until she is called back to work by the Guild. Unfortunately, this also means working alongside Dmitri, a vampire who has, to date in the series, been portrayed as anything but sympathetic.

The worldbuilding in this book continues to be as strong and fascinating as the rest of the series, although the story itself is more focused on the relationship between Honor and Dmitri, as well as the healing and redemption of both.

A good portion of the plot is predictable, but should be no less satisfying for a reader who leans more towards the romance side of paranormal romance. Initially, there are some issues with the beginning of the relationship between Dmitri and Honor, with a little too much love/lust at first sight for no reason, but as the plot develops, even this makes sense and is less problematic.

There is also a fairly hefty twist of a kind involved in the plot, which unfortunately doesn’t feel like it is explored fully. Too much of this subplot is inserted into the second half of the book, where it could have been more fully foreshadowed at the beginning, and there is very little exploration of the impact of the revelation of this event.

Finally, there are some issues with Honor’s storyline. She is presented as a broken woman who has been horribly traumatised, who cannot bear to be touched sexually without going into a violent fugue state.  She also has nightmares, but it feels almost as though these are pure lip service to her being traumatised. She gains healing through revenge as she and Dmitri hunt the vampires who tortured her, but it feels at times like her healing occurs simply because the romantic plotline demands it. However, she does heal, and she pursues her healing on her own terms, rather than having another character, such as Dmitri, heal her.

Overall, fans of the series will find this to be an enjoyable, fast-paced read which delves deeper into the world of the Guild Hunter books. Singh continues to write memorable characters in a fascinating world, with a satisfying romance included as well.