Nalini Singh is the rare author who has not one but two extraordinary series that enthrall and delight readers of all genres. I have been a fan of both series since the beginning, but her Guild Hunters series has always held a special place on my bookshelf. This series was my first time reading Ms. Singh and it made me a devout fan from the beginning.
The Guild Hunter series is dark, lush urban fantasy, steeped in violence and power. Set in an alternative version of Earth, the series revolves around two main characters, Raphael and Elena Deveraux. The romance is more subdued than Singh's Psy-Changeling series, yet still deliciously seductive. There's fantastical world building, and the alternate world is peopled with dynamic angels, vampires, and humans. Multiple subplots are rich in subterfuge and adventure, allowing the reader to submerge into this wickedly decadent and dangerous world.
Singh brings a few unique twists to the supernatural aspects of this urban fantasy. The the true rulers of this world are angels—not the benevolent angels portrayed throughout history, but gorgeous and ruthless gods and goddesses who rule with an absolute power, untempered by humanity or goodwill. The world is broken into ten provinces, with each one ruled by an archangel. The ten provinces together make up the Cadre. Religion plays no part in this series from makeup to execution.
Vampires are created from a special venom that angels must secrete to avoid going insane. They are subjected to psy tests and must sign contracts of servitude for a specified time for this gift of immortality. Should a vampire decide to try and escape his contract, then a guild hunter is called in.
A guild hunter is a gifted human individual who can “scent” vampires. These humans are above normal in strength and stamina.
The series begins with Angels' Blood. We are introduced to the female protagonist, Elena Deveraux, a guild hunter whose gifts she fears caused her mother’s and sisters' deaths and left her estranged from her father. The male protagonist, Raphael, is the powerful Archangel of Manhattan. Over 1500 years old, he is thought to be a creature with no heart or mercy. He is both worshipped and feared, as many have witnessed what befalls those who fail him. When a rogue archangel begins to mentally decline, taking as many innocents as he can with him, Raphael summons Elena and demands her help in capturing him. Raphael finds himself angered over this human who dares to defy him at every turn. Soon though, his anger turns to fascination and a love affair begins.
Book two, Archangel’s Kiss, picks up right where Angels’ Blood left off and we see the true effects of what happens when an Archangel loves true. Here is where the series begins the subtle dance between paranormal romance and urban fantasy. Raphael and Elena’s romance takes center stage with the main conflict circling around it. Dark and delicious, we learn of another archangel’s journey into the abyss and watch as Elena chooses to dance with her very dominant angel. We also begin to gain an intimate look into the secondary characters whose daily interaction with our protagonist creates richly developed storylines.
Archangel's Consort, book three, takes us into Raphael’s past, when events herald the awakening of a powerful archangel. Elena suffers her own family problems when a horrific murder at her stepsister’s school brings her back in contact with her father and she learns the truth of what happened to her mother and sisters so long ago.
Though the series is built upon the main protagonists, Elena and Raphael, we are gifted with individual stories of supporting characters we have come to love.
Archangel’s Blade (book four) tells us the heartbreaking history of Rachael’s number one in his trusted seven, Dmitri, and the painstaking and heartbreaking journey he makes back to living and into the arms of the hunter his has come to love.
Archangel’s Storm (book five) tells Jason’s story. Another of Raphael’s trusted seven, Jason’s darkness makes him perfect for his job as spymaster. When he is called to investigate the murder of an archangel’s consort, he meets the one woman whose secrets even outweigh his. When her life becomes forfeit, Jason discovers that releasing the past’s hold on him will enable him to embrace a love worthy of an angel.
This brings us to book six, Archangel’s Legion, set to release October 29th. Singh brings us back into Elena and Raphael’s lives with an outbreak of death affecting angels and vampires alike and an insidious evil who has set their sights on Manhattan...and Raphael. The world will be awash in crimson and a nightmare is rising.
Angels are falling from the sky in New York, struck down by a vicious, unknown force. Vampires are dying impossibly of disease.
Guild hunter Elena Deveraux and the Archangel Raphael must discover the source of the wave of death before it engulfs their city and their people, leaving New York a ruin and Raphael’s Tower under siege by enemy archangels.
Yet even as they fight desperately to save the city, an even darker force is stirring, its chill eyes trained on New York…and on Raphael. Rivers of crimson and nightmares given flesh, the world will never again be the same…
Ms. Singh has only been contracted for eight books in the series thus far, but hopefully more will come. Raphael has seven trusted men in his inner sanctum and we’ve only addressed three of them so far. (Galen’s story appears as a novella in Angel’s Flight). Singh has said she will write about each of the Seven, but is not sure if each will get their very own book.
BLUEBELL!!! WE NEED BLUEBELL!!
Some speculation has book seven being Bluebell’s (Illium’s) story but honestly, it’s hard to separate fact from fiction when it comes to this series. It’s not as well known as her Psy-Changeling series and the fan base isn’t as vocal. I personally think it will center around Michaela, the seductive and deadly archangel who has tried on many occasions to make Raphael her mate. I haven’t read Archangel’s Legion yet, so I could be completely wrong. As we head towards the inevitable battle for territory and absolute power, I find myself curious as to which of the Cadre will stand with Raphael and Elena and who will go against them. Elijah, and Favashi are a sure bet to stand with Raphael, while I’m almost positive Neha and Astaad will stand against him. I’m not sure of Caliane only because she chooses to remain in seclusion, though she may rouse herself if Raphael seems to be in mortal danger. Titus and Charisemnom are unknowns. They respect power and Raphael, but wouldn’t hesitate to kill him to take Manhatten. They will back whomever they feel the winner will be. Lijuin is evolving into something unlike anyone has ever seen and is currently not even on the mortal plane anymore. She’s full of surprises, however, and has a certain fondness for Raphael. Michaela could go either way. She hates Elena passionately and thinks if she removes her from the equation, Raphael will fall into her bed. She is powerful, jealous, and will tolerate no one’s attempts to rule her.
Nalini Singh’s Guild Hunter series is outstanding. The sheer emotional gravity of the characters overwhelms you with both beauty and sensuality. Combined with Ms. Singh’s ever evolving world and storylines, I can’t recommend this series enough.
So tell me, who do you think will be the hero of Ms. Singh’s next Guild Hunter book?
For those just starting the series or want to know the reading order, I have listed the series (novels and novellas) in their chronological reading order.
- Angels’ Dance* (2012-appears in the anthology, Angel’s Flight)
- Angels’ Judgment* (2009-appears in the anthology, Must Love Hellhounds
- & Angel’s Flight)
- Angels’ Pawn* (2009-appears in the anthology, Angel’s Flight)
- Angels’ Blood (2009)
- Archangel’s Kiss (2010)
- Archangel’s Consort (2011)
- Angel’s Wolf* (2011-appears in the anthology, Angel’s Flight)
- Archangel’s Blade (2011)
- Archangel’s Storm (2012)
- Archangel’s Legion (2013)
- Guild Hunter #7 (2014)
- Guild Hunter #8 (2015)
Note: All the novellas (marked with an *) are standalones and can be picked up at any point in the series. To date, all four novellas have been reprinted into a single volume, titled Angels' Flight.