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Authors: Sharon Shinn

Archangel

BOOK: Archangel
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SHARON SHINN

“The most promising and original writer of fantasy to come along since Robin McKinley.”

—Peter S. Beagle, author of
The Last Unicorn

“The spellbinding Ms. Shinn writes with elegant imagination and a steely grace, bringing a remarkable freshness that will command a wide audience.”


Romantic Times

ARCHANGEL

And so it came to pass

Through science, faith and force of will, the Harmonics carved out for themselves a society that they conceived of as perfect. Diverse peoples held together by respect for each other and the prospect of swift punishment if they disobeyed their laws. 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 starship
Jehovah
still looms over the planet of 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 …

Other Ace Books by Sharon Shinn

MYSTIC AND RIDER

THE THIRTEENTH HOUSE

ARCHANGEL

JOVAH’S ANGEL

THE ALLELUIA FILES

ANGELICA

ANGEL-SEEKER

WRAPT IN CRYSTAL

THE SHAPE-CHANGER’S WIFE

HEART OF GOLD

SUMMERS AT CASTLE AUBURN

JENNA STARBORN

Viking / Firebird Books by Sharon Shinn

THE SAFE-KEEPER’S SECRET

THE TRUTH-TELLER’S TALE

THE DREAM-MAKER’S MAGIC

A
RCHANGEL
S
HARON
S
HINN

ACE BOOKS, NEW YORK

THE BERKLEY PUBLISHING GROUP

Published by the Penguin Group

Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, USA

Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario M4P 2Y3, Canada

(a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.)

Penguin Books Ltd., 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

Penguin Group Ireland, 25 St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd.)

Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia

(a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty. Ltd.)

Penguin Books India Pvt. Ltd., 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi—110 017, India

Penguin Group (NZ), 67 Apollo Drive, Rosedale, North Shore 0632, New Zealand

(a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd.)

Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty.) Ltd., 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196,

South Africa

Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.

ARCHANGEL

An Ace Book / published by arrangement with the author

PRINTING HISTORY

Ace trade edition / May 1996

Ace mass-market edition / April 1997

Copyright © 1996 by Sharon Shinn.

Cover art by John Jude Palencar.

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.

For information, address: The Berkley Publishing Group,

a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.,

375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.

EISBN: 9781101554869

ACE

Ace Books are published by The Berkley Publishing Group,

a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.,

375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.

ACE and the “A” design are trademarks of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

24 23 22 21 20 19 18 17 16

If you purchased this book without a cover, you should be aware that this book is stolen property. It was reported as “unsold and destroyed” to the publisher, and neither the author nor the publisher has received any payment for this “stripped book.”

For my aunt, Mary Krewson

CAST OF CHARACTERS

In the Eyrie

Gabriel, leader of the host; an angel

Nathan, his brother; an angel

Hannah, a mortal woman; widow of the former leader

Judith, a young mortal woman

Obadiah, an angel

Matthew, an Edori

In Monteverde

Ariel, leader of the host; an angel

Magdalena, her sister; also an angel

In Windy Point

Raphael, leader of the host and Archangel of Samaria

Saul, his foremost follower; also an angel

Leah, Raphael’s wife; the angelica

In Semorrah

Lord Jethro, a wealthy merchant

Daniel, his son

Lady Clara, Jethro’s wife

Lady Mary, Daniel’s bride

Anna, a bondwoman

Rachel, an Edori slave

Others

Elijah Harth, a wealthy Manadavvi landowner

Abel Vashir, another Manadavvi landowner

Malachi of Breven, a Jansai war leader

Peter, a former priest now residing in Velora

Naomi of the Chievens, an Edori woman

Luke, her husband

Josiah, oracle of Bethel

Ezekiel, oracle of Jordana

Jezebel, oracle of Gaza

S
AMARIA

Table of Contents

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-One

Chapter Twenty-Two

Chapter Twenty-Three

C
HAPTER
O
NE

T
he angel Gabriel went to the oracle on Mount Sinai, looking for a wife. He did not go gladly, even hopefully, as befitted a man eager to find his lifelong companion. In fact, he had put off this journey as long as he could, but his deadline was rapidly approaching. In six months, he would lead the annual Gloria to praise and gladden Jovah, and it was a task he would be unable to complete without his ordained partner at his side. Because he was next in line to be Archangel, and therefore Jovah had a special interest in him, Gabriel went to the Mount Sinai seer to learn who the god had chosen to be his bride.

Flying, Gabriel took less than three hours to cross the hundred and fifty miles from his home in the Eyrie to Josiah’s rock-bound retreat. It was easy flying, for the air was very thin in the valley between the two mountain ranges, with no treacherous currents such as one might encounter over the western Gaza mountains or the southern coast of Jordana. To a mortal, the frigid air this high above the ground would have been deadly, but angels carried heated blood in their veins, ideally equipping them for surviving the icy wind in the higher reaches of the stratosphere. Gabriel wore only a leather vest and leather pants, tucked into his boots, and he felt no cold.

When he arrived at Sinai, one of Josiah’s acolytes led him to the oracle’s room, moving soundlessly through the shadowy gray corridors of rock. They came at last to a small, well-lit chamber
where the oracle could be seen leaning toward a glowing plate of glass and metal embedded in the slate-rock wall. The acolyte put a finger to his lips.

“Quietly,” the boy said. “He is communing with the god.”

Gabriel nodded, and gestured for the boy to return the way he had come. Clearly the acolyte would have preferred to stay, making sure Gabriel did not disturb Josiah at his prayers, but very few people would gainsay an angel, particularly this one. The boy left, and Gabriel leaned against the wall, waiting courteously. He was nothing if not respectful of the will of the god.

In a matter of moments, Josiah straightened, murmured an
amen
, and touched the face of the lighted screen. Instantly, the plate went blank. Gabriel stepped forward.

“Josiah,” he said.

The oracle turned to him with a smile. He was a small, gray man, nearly lost in a voluminous blue robe. Unlike the angels, he suffered from the cold.

“Gabriel!” he exclaimed. “An unexpected pleasure.”

The angel laughed, coming forward to take the seer’s hand and bow over it. “Come, now,” Gabriel said straightening. “You must have been expecting me anytime these past six months.”

“These past three years, more like,” Josiah retorted. “If by that you mean you have come at last to seek my advice about your bride.”

“Jovah’s advice,” Gabriel corrected.

BOOK: Archangel
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