Ashwini was badly injured in the recent war that hit New York, and her new assignment seems something of a soft-ball compared to her usual fare. Thankfully, Janvier, the intriguing, sexy and very playful vampire who has often being her foil is there to make things more interesting and tempt her to move closer to him – despite the cruel future that she knows makes it impossible.
Of course, the wake of the war has made even a soft-ball investigation fraught – with the possibility of covert agents, the need for discretion to avert panic and the constant tension that threaten the city. Tension that Elena, trying to navigate the tides of Archangel politics, is all too aware of.
In some ways this book was very distracted – but that worked. After all, while this is a book that focuses on Ashwini and Janvier, there is still a lot going on in the world – the aftermath of the war, Elena and Raphael juggling the city and the other Archangels, ongoing covert warfare. I really like that these things haven’t just stopped because we’re focused on another story. This world is rich and involved and there’s a whole lot going on – and we simply cannot ignore the epic happening completely even if Ashwini and Janvier, unlike the other protagonists, are not on a high enough level to be directly involved. I love the fact that it manages to tell the story of the world, how this manages to continue to be Elena and Raphael’s stories – the core characters – even while the protagonist shifts. This is a wonderful switch from other long running series with shifting protagonists as it sometimes feels like every book completely ignores what has passed before. This isn’t just a story of Ashwini and Janvier – this is the story of New York, of the Archangel Raphael and and his consort Elena and a world wide brewing event.
I like the juxtaposition of both the epic, worldwide war and the more local issue – because just as the world-wide brewing war can’t be ignored for the sake of Ashwini and Janvier’s story, nor can local issues of ruling Raphael’s territory be ignored because of political machinations. Murders need investigating, people need to be saved, vampires have to be kept in line. On top of that there’s the inherent link between the meta story and this book’s plot – and not just covert agents trying to destabilise the territory – but even things like the war dividing the vampires who fought and those who continue to indulge themselves, or the fear of panic among the uneasy population and even the vampire’s growing aggression having recently been in combat.
Then there’s Elena’s continued growth as Consort – not just her personal skills but the way she’s learning the necessary etiquette and hosting, finding her own level with the other Archangels as well as Raphael’s household and even changing the way things are done in the territory with her new insights.
There’s also some really cute moments like all the vampires now buying blood from the business Elena’s invested in because they want her first venture to succeed and Janvier’s kind of cutely embarrassed about it. There’s some other nice world building developments – like the idea that we only see the worst of vampires because those less given to destructive proclivities simply don’t come to the attention of the Hunters and some more development of other Archangels (especially Titus). Lots of little bits that just complete this world in richer colour.
Put all this together and it should be impossible to balance – but it isn’t, it works and it all works as a whole rather than lots of disparate elements thrown together. The pacing is excellent, the way the elements come together is excellent and it’s just an altogether excellent continuation of the whole story – not just Ashwini and Janvier