Angel-Seeker (2004) is the fifth novel in the Samaria series, but is the sequel to Archangel in internal sequence. In the previous volume, Raphael was the archangel of Samaria. From his hold at Windy Point, he ruled over both humans and angels, changing traditions and corrupting his followers. Raphael married a Jansai women and took other Jansai as followers, even allowing them to enslave the Edori.
Finally, Raphael denied any need to sing praises to Jovah and brought his followers to Mount Galo to wait out the entire day which had been appointed for singing the Gloria. After the sun went down, Raphael announced that he was their god and the thunderbolts sizzled out of the sky to destroy him and all who were with him. A great storm blew over Samaria, the skies opened up, rain fell in torrents, and the rivers began to flood.
The next day, Gabriel lead the survivors in singing the Gloria and the skies calmed and peace returned to Samaria. Gabriel was chosen as the Archangel as foreseen by the oracles. He even convinced Rachel to marry him and become the Angelica.
In this novel, the angels have abandoned Windy Point and have begun to build another city of angels in Jordana. Cedar Hills is unlike any other angel hold, for it is down on the plains, easily accessible by ordinary humans. Gabriel appoints Nathan to rule the new city and so Nathan takes Magdalena, his new bride, and a group of Monteverde angels there to reestablish proper relations with the landholders who have been slighted for so long.
Gabriel has banned the enslavement of Edori and freed all the slaves. Now the Jansai are moaning about their economic difficulties. Since Nathan already has enough problems to handle, Gabriel sends Obadiah to handle relations with the Jansai. Shortly after moving to Cedar Hills, Obadiah flies to Breven and meets with Uriah, the acknowledged leader of the Jansai. After concluding his visit, Obadiah is flying back to Cedar Hills when, suddenly, he is shot out of the sky.
Obadiah manages to crash into a small oasis, but hasn't got the strength to attend to his wounds. He is found there by a young Jansai woman, Rebekah, and she covertly tends him for several days while he recovers, but eventually she has to leave with her family. Shortly thereafter, Obadiah flies out of the desert, but has a relapse in mid-air and crashes once again, causing additional injuries. He has been seen falling out of the sky and is quickly found and placed in a trader wagon to be taken for treatment in Cedar Hills.
Elizabeth is a young women who has come to Cedar Hills as an angel-seeker, a woman trying to become pregnant by an angel in order to bear an angel child. Mothers of angels are very well treated, but most pregnancies between angels and ordinary humans do not produce angel progeny. She has met Obadiah briefly and soon comes to know him rather well after she helps tend his wounds and then is assigned the additional duties of periodically checking his condition and tending his needs.
In this story, the lives of these two women are opposed in many ways. Elizabeth is an orphan who comes from a wealthy family who fell upon hard times; she was living with a distant relative and working as a cook before she fled to Cedar Hills. Elizabeth wants to become pregnant by an angel, but has no real affection for her paramour.
Rebekah is living with her step-father, mother, two brothers and other family members in a fair amount of comfort. She is leery of Jansai men, but believes that her betrothed is kindly enough. Yet she has begun to develop warm feelings, even longings, toward the angel Obadiah.
Elizabeth is a very independent woman who has already proved her willingness to change her circumstances according to her own desires. Rebekah, while is a fairly liberal thinker for a Jansai woman, just cannot convince herself that she could possibly withstand the heartaches of leaving her family and circumstances. What surprises will destiny bring?
The author continues her accounts of intercultural conflicts on Samaria and its consequences. As with Archangel, the pairings herein suffer from inadvertent miscues and other misunderstandings, adding a layer of comedy to the actions of the protagonists. While the major characters have entirely admirable personas, they are contrasted with all sorts of unfeeling and corrupted individuals, from Elizabeth's relative James and his wife Angeletta to the angel David to the Jansai men of Breven. Once again, the author has provided an intricate portrayal of an exotic society and its populace, with special emphasis on their romantic involvements.
Highly recommended for Shinn fans and for anyone else who enjoys tales of exotic cultures and strange ways.
-Arthur W. Jordin