Saturday, February 28, 2009

Angel’s Pawn – Nalini Singh

Singh, Nalini - Angel's Pawn This little story was published as an ebook exclusive to tie-in with the imminent (3rd March) release of Singh’s first book in the new Guild Hunter series, Angel’s Blood. Being the completist kind of person that I am, of course I bought it and read it. Now I’m waiting for the actual book to arrive.

Ashwini is a Guild Hunter. In this alternative Earth, that means she tracks down rogue vampires to return to their masters, the angels. Ash has tracked Cajun vampire Janvier three times so far, but he has always managed to fix his problems before she gets a chance to capture him. Now, she finds herself asking him for help as she gets caught up in a dispute between two vampire factions that their ruling angel wants resolved without getting involved himself.

This is only a little story, introducing the set-up of the world Singh has created. She has already proved herself an excellent world-builder with her Psy/Changeling series and it looks like she is going to have done it again with this series. Here we find out that angels are powerful and intimidating creatures who inspire fear rather than awe and like to play often malicious games. Whatever the background of these angels, they are not the ones of religious lore in our world – or not Western Christian lore anyway. I don’t know enough about other religions to comment on those. In this novella, we learn that the angel in it, Nazarach, is 700 years old. The implication is that other angels are older, but in terms of the history of the world, that’s still not all that old. It makes me wonder where the angels came from. I am hoping that as the series and the world develop we’ll learn more.

Humans petition the angels to be Made into vampires and only a few are accepted. Vampires offer the angels their first 100 years in service and the hunters track down those that break their contracts. It seems that century is rarely pleasant, but the indication so far (and it’s a small sample of one short story and the first three chapters of Angel’s Blood that I’ve read) is that vampires come in a variety of types, probably indicative of who and what they were in life. Certainly, Janiver is an appealing character, if clearly far from perfect. I enjoyed him in this story and I can certainly understand why Ash is attracted to him. The other vampires in the story range from mean to petulant, and petty to scheming. Discovering whether there will be more like Janiver or if he’s an aberration will have to wait on the full series.

Ash is a well-rounded character, intact with a harsh past that is explained in a few moment’s of Ash’s remembrance rather than expounded on in detail, which is perfect for this kind of story. Kudos to Singh for having faith in her own story-telling ability (which she has already proved is excellent) rather than belabouring the point. In a pleasant change from many stories, Ash has already made a certain kind of peace with her past and chose to accept she isn’t exactly ordinary. She has made a virtue of her differences and if some things (like meeting an angel whose very house as well as his person is seeped in the pain caused by his past actions) are difficult to manage, she finds a way to do it.

I honestly don’t know if this is the idea start for Singh’s new series. I think it helped me to have already read the teaser chapters of Angel’s Blood, but it is certainly a good little story and well worth reading. All the same, coming from that Western Christian background I mentioned earlier, I find the concept of angels that are all about pain and power and cruelty a little uncomfortable. How well Singh makes it work for me is still to be discovered. I guess Angel’s Blood will be the true test, although those first three chapters suggest its angel may be an exception rather than the rule.

Angel’s Pawn
Nalini Singh
Guild Hunter short story

Guild Hunter:

  1. Angel’s Pawn
  2. Angel’s Blood (March 2009)

1 comment:

orannia said...

That was a REALLY good review! Thank you!

FYI - am first on the library hold list for Angels' Blood *smug grin* I can't wait to read it :)