I bought this book on Amazon because of the good reviews, but couldn't help feeling that this would turn out to be some religious work. I could not have been more wrong. Shinn's created a new and intriguing way to think of angels in a more human sense. In her world, they interact with the mortals and directly respond to requests for, say, rain to help the crops, and the only real religious references are some familiar Biblical names and vague references to a higher being. This is non-denominational, and thought-provoking to think of angels as, well, people. Highly recommended.
I absolutely loved this book - it was so different from things I've read before - as far as the world building was concerned. What a unique, wonderful world. And it had a love story to make me both frustrated and satisfied. What more could I ask for?
Readers of Archangel who are familiar with the Bible will see plenty of names which have Old Testament meaning and importance. Nearly all of the important angels during the past six hundred years and the humans who worked with the angels are biblically based and some of their actions reflect those of their Old Testament counterparts, but this is not a biblical retelling in a fantasy setting. How Sharon Shinn mixes the biblical into a believable fantasy setting is impressive. She builds a real story for Gabriel and Rachel and their relationship. It is something of a love story, but it is completely dysfunctional and it is very well written. Shinn's descriptions of the angels and their lives and how they pray for intercession from Jovah is more than overt Christianity. It fits into the context of the world and is more storytelling than preaching. This isn't a Christian novel and I do not believe it is intended to be. It's a well told story. Period
Despite being called sci-fi, it absolutely is not -- perhaps the later books explore that angle, but this book lacks any sci-fi elements. Absolutely worth reading if you like music, angels, politics, sweet love stories, or fantasy world-building with an interesting twist. The few references to sex are oblique and demure.
I really enjoyed this non-traditional epic love/good vs. evil/ religion vs. atheism novel.