Rec a Series is a monthly post highlighting one of my favorite series, past or present. This month’s spotlight is on that other paranormal series by Nalini Singh. No, not the one with the sexy Psy: Judd, Vasic, Aden, and Kaleb. I’ll cover that series later. Kaleb, by the way, is mine. I’ll cut a bitch. Just saying. This is Raphael and Elena’s series. You know, the one with the angels who make vampires and rarely, so rarely even the angels forgot, the archangels make other angels.
The Guild Hunter Series by Nalini Singh
The series is named for the lead female, Elieonora (Elena) Devereux, a born vampire hunter in the Hunter’s Guild. Born hunters can “scent track” vampires, a useful skill when the vampire has broken his/her contract and must be returned to his/her angel. Yes, angels. Only these aren’t holy messengers of the gods full of warmth and light and goodness. Nope, they’re ruthless and dangerous and powerful in a way that makes most mortals either fall to their knees in awe or shit their pants before running away while screaming.
Archangels are even scarier.
I loved the premise of this series, the unique take on angels and vampires which is so hard to fine now with paranormal being so very popular. Still, this series is a bit hit or miss for me. There are books that shine and that I read over and over and over again, generally those that focus primarily on Elena and Raphael. That pairing shines. Raphael is an extremely powerful archangel in charge of North America. He’s feared by most, including Elena when the series begins and occasionally afterward.
Meanwhile, Elena is human and as squishy as one. A tragedy from her past haunts her, and she has massive daddy-issues (and mommy ones too). Because of this, she’s a bit crazy when dealing with Raphael who actually questions whether or not she has a death wish.
Though their romance is a bit rushed (going from just “I want to screw your brains out” to true love in a very short period of time), their relationship matures over the course of the novels. Raphael has to learn to deal with a warrior for a consort, one who’s far weaker than the others who’d love to see her dead but still wants to fight her own battles. In turn, Elena has to learn how to trust and rely on someone else as well as handle being responsible for others. Theirs is an amazing dynamic with give and take on both sides.
As amazing as the books that focus on the power couple are, those that spotlight the members of Raphael’s Seven, his core of loyal guard/advisor/badass angels and vampires, are less so. Each have their moments, and they’re necessary to the overall plot arc, but they simply don’t live up to the others. Dimitri’s story (Archangel’s Blade) was too far outside my realm of believability even for a paranormal romance/UF with angels making vampires to appeal. Jason’s (Archangel’s Storm) was better. The story was good, it really lent itself to more of Singh’s excellent world building, but in some ways it felt unfinished. I won’t even go into how disappointed I was with Naasir’s book (Archangel’s Enigma). Of all of the novels that don’t focus on Raphael/Elena, Janvier and Ashwini’s story (begun in Angel’s Pawn (novella), completed in Archangel’s Shadows) was the best of the bunch and he wasn’t even a member of the Seven but a recurring character. Overall, secondary characters get better treatment in the novellas.
World building and the overarching plot are Singh’s major strengths. The history and lore of the angels and archangels are lush. Evil isn’t completely evil while good isn’t lily-white. Most things make sense, even those things you think shouldn’t (Lijuan’s evolution, for one). I say “most” as a few of the details in the Seven’s books stretched that for me.
Overall, though, this is a strong series with a hero you sometimes want to kiss, sometimes want to kill, and other times want to run as far away from as you can possibly go. It also has a heroine who isn’t a Mary Sue, who’s strong but not perfect, who has a learning curve instead of instantly uber-skilled in everything, and who isn’t afraid to stand up for what she believes in, even if it’s standing up to her archangel.
Favorite novels of the series, either on their own merit or because of what they add to the overall story arc, are Archangel’s Kiss and Archangel’s Consort, books #2 and #3. Angel’s Blood is a good launching point of the series, sets up the world, and introduces most of the main players, but the subsequent novels have the advantage of not having to go through all that. The story is stronger because of it. Least favorites? Archangel’s Blade and Archangel’s Enigma—Dimitri’s and Naasir’s books. I was so disappointed in Naasir’s story. So, so disappointed. On top of that, it added very little to the overall story arc other than for one key (perhaps two?) key items.
So there you have it. Though I still adore these books, some are more well-loved and re-read than others. I still have Archangel’s Heart on preorder, and my hopes for Bluebell’s and Sparkle’s stories (nicknames…they make sense if you read the series) are so very high I’m bound to be disappointed yet again. *sigh*
The Guild Hunter Series –
Number of Books: Nine (so far)
- Angels’ Blood – Raphael & Elena
- Archangel’s Kiss – Raphael & Elena
- Archangel’s Consort – Raphael & Elena
- Archangel’s Blade – Dimitri & Honor
- Archangel’s Storm – Jason & Mahiya
- Archangel’s Legion – Raphael & Elena
- Archangel’s Shadows – Janvier & Ashwini
- Archangel’s Enigma – Naasir & Andromeda
- Archangel’s Heart (November 1, 2016)
- (TBD 2017)
Number of Extras: Four (plus free shorts/deleted scenes)
- Angel’s Flight (all four Guild Hunter novellas)
- Angels’ Dance (individual novella, #0.3, Galen & Jessamy)
- Angels’ Judgment (Must Love Hellhounds anthology, #0.5, Deacon & Sara)
- Angels’ Pawn (individual novella, #0.7, Janvier & Ashwini)
- Angel’s Wolf (Angels of Darkness anthology, #3.5, Noel & Nimra)
- Deleted scenes
- Book nine is due out Q4, 2016, while book ten is scheduled for 2017.