Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Review: Archangel's Blade by Nalini Singh

It's sexy vampire Dmitri's turn today. This is the 4th instalment from Nalini Singh's epic Guild Hunter Series!

Title: Archangel's Blade
Author: Nalini Singh
Publisher: Gollancz (UK) | Berkley (US)
Release Date: 8th September 2011 (UK) | 6th September 2011 (US)
Series: Guild Hunter, Book 4
Source: My personal copy

Synopsis from the back of the book:
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…

I'm a big fan of Nalini Singh, both her Guild Hunter and Psy/Changeling series' are amazing. Though at the moment I can't get enough of the Guild Hunter books. I was blown away buy Angels' blood and the world she has created, filled with Angels, Vampires and the Guild. The previous 3 books have been centred around the Archangel of New York Raphael and his consort, the Guild Hunter and newly made Angel, Elena. Archangel's Blade, however, is focused on one of my favourite characters of the series, the immortal Dmitri, as well as the haunted and scarred Guild Hunter Honor.
Dmitri is a 1000 year old vampire and Raphael's second.  The vampire that everyone fears and whose past is surrounded by shadows. The previous books portray Dmitri as a cold, callous vampire with very little humanity left. Someone who enjoys his job as executioner and wields his sensuality like a weapon, luring his prey. Dmitri is only loyal to Raphael, a loyalty we discover, extends back to a trauma in the young Dmitri's life. From there he became Raphael's Blade. A deadly weapon loyal only to Raphael and he will be wielded by no other.
Our heroine in Archangel's Blade is the Guild Hunter Honor. We find Honor struggling to come to terms with her abduction and rape at the hands of a group of vampires 10 months earlier. So naturally she's terrified when Guild director Sara says she'll be meeting with Dmitri to help solve the riddle of the tattoo on a severed head...interesting job these Guild Hunters have. Unbeknownst to Sara and Dmitri is that before her abduction, Honor had been strangely drawn to sexy Dmitri. However this is not enough to prevent Dmitri from terrifying her when they meet. Dmitri's callous behaviour does bring Honor out or her shell, even if it is only to throw knives and insults at him. Dmitri pushes her boundaries, making the timid Honor stronger, and helping her to heal. Something she would have never done on her own hidden in the Guild's library.

Archangel's Blade has a few story-lines that interlink. Dmitri and Honor hunt down the vampires responsible for Honor's abduction and, using threats and torture in equal amounts, the pair attempt to uncover the mastermind behind the abduction...before they strike again. Alongside this the pair solve the riddle of the tattoo, and find a link back to Dmitri's well hidden past. It is there we find the key to Dmitri's heart, a heart that last beat for only one woman, nearly 1000 years ago. Can Dmitri face his haunted past in order to save his future? 
We also find out more about Holly (from Angel's Blood) and how she's coping with her ordeal at the hands of bloodborn Archangel Uram. Needless to say she's not coping too well. When Dmitri introduces Holly (now called Sorrow) to Honor the two become friends and start sharing stories about their traumatic pasts, another step in the right direction for them both. The fact that Dmitri can see that these two can help each other proves that he has not lost all his humanity like he believes. Honor sees the man behind the armour and is determined to pull him to the surface. But Dmitri is more scarred than she realised, can this unlikely couple overcome their pasts and allow themselves to embrace the love they share? Or will the past swallow them whole?

I must say that this possibly the best in the series so far. Dmitri is such a complex character and his past...oh my heart broke for this strong warrior who has lost so much, I can't think about it for too long otherwise I'll cry. It's a testament to the calibre of writing that Nalini Singh produces that you can get so absorbed in the characters that you hurt when they hurt. I think the flashbacks to Dmitri's past were cleverly done, slowly revealing layer after layer of the man inside. I'm glad we got to see where Raphael and Dmitri forged their bond of loyalty. I had wondered what it had taken for Raphael to earn the unwavering loyalty of this independent and strong warrior, I won't spoil it...but I cried. I also thought she handled the delicate subject of Honor's recovery from her rape well. Honor stumbles through the relationship with Dmitri often taking a step back in her recovery if she is pushed too far. But Dmitri is always there for her to fall back on. The way Dmitri is written allows him to push her to her limits to make her stronger without seeming cruel, which only a few people could have done. I just love both these characters.

I love that we still see some familiar faces... Illium *sigh*... and of course Raphael and Elena. I can't wait to see what comes next! It is all in all an amazing read and a fabulous addition to the Guild Hunter series.

My Rating: 4.5/5

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