Tuesday, November 10, 2009

sharon shinn is my favorite.

*sorry, this is a long post. but if you're looking for a new series of books to read, this series is one of my favorites.

as a former english major, i am constantly atoning for 4 years spent reading literature that i was forced to read by college professors. i still read the ol' work of literature now and then (most recently, pride and prejudice) but i think there's a part of everyone that enjoys the fluff. for me reading is an escape and i'd rather read fiction that anything else. or us weekly (which i realize is mostly fiction...). i feel like i should be improving my brain by reading great works of literature but for pete's sake sometimes i just want to read some meaningless highly entertaining FLUFF!

have you heard of a little book called twilight?

haha just kidding. while i do love the twilight series (just like all the other 20-something moms like myself), my favorite fiction writer is sharon shinn. you know those books you can read a million times and never get sick of? your comfort shelf books? her books have been on my comfort shelf since i read my first novel of hers, "archangel." yep, the word "angel" is in there and yes, it is about angels. but i promise you, it is nothing like you'd expect. she is an exquisite fantasy writer and blends the realms of fantasy and science fiction effortlessly. now don't get me wrong, whenever i hear the words "fantasy" and "science fiction" being applied to a book, i think of faeries and aliens - BLECH. but i would say the fantasy/science fiction ratio in her series is 90%/10%. she constructs this completely believeable world that is almost exactly like our own...except there's angels.

i don't think the premise is too confusing. it's in the future and a sect of people have left earth because of violence and nuking ourselves to oblivion (there's no writing about earth, it's all on the current planet) and they find a new world that is similar to earth's atmosphere, except it had super violent weather patterns making it almost uninhabitable. they needed to use their technology to control the weather but wanted the future generations to forget all connections with any kind of technology. why? because they want to live peacefully with zero technology because that's what destroyed their former planet.

now this is where it gets interesting. to make it possible for future generations to control the violent weather while at the same time cutting off all knowledge of technology, scientists grafted giant wings onto the backs of some men and women (and altered their genetic makeup so that they could produce more angel offspring in the future). these angels would be responsible for controlling the weather by flying into the sky and singing "prayers" to "jovah" that would abate a storm or ask for rain, thereby making it possible to live on their new planet. by withholding their knowledge of technology, the original settlers would ensure that the future generations would think that the angels were "praying" to a "god" - although it is actually genetically altered men and women singing aural cues to give orders to the ginormous spaceship orbitting in the sky above them all. and they had to give them wings because the spaceship can't hear "prayers" from the planet's surface, they have to be sung as physically close to the spaceship as possible.

sound confusing? each combination of notes in a song an angel sings is like a code asking the spaceship, or who they think is jovah, for a certain request. over time, people viewed the angels as religious leaders rather than just convenient weather controllers.

oh, and also, if the majority of the people did not get together every year on the same exact day and sing the gloria to assure the "god" that they're living in harmony, the spaceship will "smite" them all with lightning bolts and everyone dies. hence, harmony is essential. although, technically, just because some songs are sung every year on the same day doesn't mean a spaceship cares whether or not someone is unhappy or someone dies, etc. but the people of samaria don't know that...

anyways, that's just the set-up. the first book takes place hundreds of years after all that has taken place and the religiously centered technology deprived society is already in full swing.

and of course, there's romance - something that makes any story worth reading to me. not the kinky romance novel kind - just good ol' fashioned love stories.

she also explores societal issues: slavery, social cast, race, religion, commerce, politics, power, etc. she creates this completely believeable world that practially mirrors our own, and more importantly, she creates completely believeable characters. you genuinely care what happens to them, just like i care about what happens to jim and pam on the office because, yes, they are real people to me...ha.

i wholeheartedly love this series. and pretty much anything else she writes.

here are the titles, covers and a snyposis for each book in her samaria series:

(side note: i think the covers are made to grab people's attention and don't really convey the actual tone of the story)

book # 1: "archangel"
"Through science, faith, and the force of will, the Harmonics carved out for themselves a society that they perceived as perfect. Diverse peoples held together by respect for each other and the prospect of swift punishment if their laws were disobeyed. Fertile land that embraced a variety of climates and seasons. Angels to guard the mortals, and mystics to guard the forbidden knowledge. Jehovah to watch over them all... Generations later, the armed space cruiser Jehovah still looms over the planet Samaria, programmed to unleash its arsenal if peace is not sustained. But an age of corruption has come to the land, threatening that peace and placing the Samarians in grave danger. Their only hope lies in the crowning of a new Archangel. The oracles have chosen for this honor the angel named Gabriel, and further decreed that he must first wed a mortal woman named Rachel. It is his destiny and hers. And Gabriel is certain that she will greet the news of her betrothal with enthusiasm, and a devotion to duty equal to his own. Rachel, however, has other ideas..."

book # 2: "jovah's angel"
One hundred and fifty years have passed since the tenure of the Archangel Gabriel and his angelica Rachel, a time of peace and stability. But now, great storms are sweeping the lands, the deserts flood, and the skies rain down death and destruction. Then the proud and beautiful Archangel Delilah falls victim to the rage of wind, as she is torn from the sky, her wing broken. She can no longer soar in the heavens, guiding and guarding those below. She can no longer be first among the angels. Never before have the oracles had to choose a new Archangel while one still lived. And though Jovah's anger blows all about them, still they must consult him. His choice - the angel Alleluia, a solitary scholar of undistinguished lineage. Now the fate of the planet rests with the reluctant Archangel Alleluia, who believes in her duty and her god. And her fate in turn, may well depend on the mortal Caleb, a man who believes only in science - and himself.

book # 3: "the alleluia files"
Legend has it that the Alleluia Files contain the truth about the god of Samaria. Now, a child raised in captivity among the angels will journey the length and breadth of her world to seek the documents that will alter the face of Samaria forever...

*and then, just because she's awesome, shinn wrote TWO MORE books for this series:

book # 4: "angelica" takes place 200 years before book # 1, "archangel."
Two hundred years ago, the god Jovah created a legion of land-dwelling angels, led by an appointed Archangel. Now, Jovah has a new appointee: Archangel Gaaron. For his life-mate, his Angelica, Jovah has chosen a woman named Susannah. Slowly, an unspoken affection develops between the two. But there is a terrible threat besetting the land--and the true hearts of Archangel and Angelica may never be known.

book # 5: "angel seeker" takes place a few years after "archangel" ends, so it gets to revisit some of my favorite characters from book one.
Award-winning author Sharon Shinn returns to the fascinating world of Samaria in a richly romantic tale that begins where Archangel left off. In that time, the women who craved the attention of angels were known as angel-seekers, a term used with awe by some-and scorn by others.

Elizabeth was born to wealth, but circumstances forced her to live as a servant in her cousin's household. Determined to change her life, she travels to the town of Cedar Hills, hoping that an angel will take notice of her, and take her as his own.

Rebekah is a daughter of the Jansai tribe, raised to hate the angels. But when she finds an injured angel near her village, she defies her upbringing to care for him.

In time, these two women, whose paths will cross, will both find what they long for, in surprising-and dangerous-ways.

all right, i know this post has been a novel unto itself, but i promise you if you like twilight or romance or fantasy at all, then you will immediately buy all 5 of these books and enjoy some fluff-reading bliss.

(for an entire list of sharon shinn's books, go to her website here. after you read these books and fall in love with her writing, i would next read the twelve houses series.)

1 comment:

  1. Way to ruin it for me by giving away the ginormous spaceship part (haha I've read them all as you already know!)
    love mommy