Archangel (The Chronicles of Ubastis) Paperback – May 12, 2015
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"A solid debut."
"Reed writes like a techno-Valkyrie with a flaming sword for a pen. Her prose will cut you, the action will make you sweat, and the characters will break your heart then patch it up again. This is science fiction adventure that attacks you like a Beast."
Charles Coleman Finlay, editor of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction
"Marguerite Reed is a brave and audacious writer, with a strong and original voice."
Gardner Dozois, editor of Year’s Best Science Fiction
"Author Marguerite Reed's first full-length novel, Archangel, presents readers with a fully formed, well-considered universe populated by believable characters and with a strong yet flawed female hero science fiction fans will love rooting for."
Marguerite Reed makes us ache and cheer for the lush xenobiology of Ubastis . . . The intimate portrayal of characters coupled with dazzling scientific and social speculation make for a great read.”
Andrea Hairston, winner of the James Tiptree Jr. Award and the Carl Brandon Parallax Award
About the Author
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The protagonist, Vashti, is a mother and protector, but not just to her toddler daughter. The main conflicts of the story revolve around her need to decide what needs her aegis and what needs to be protected from, and when the story starts she doesn't even have enough information to answer that question (so, I suppose my initial confusion is at least thematically apt). Is she to be more Sekhmet or Bast?
Regarding the "100 pages of nothing happening" criticism posted by another user, that reader may have been expecting something more pulp-SF-ish. In a tale like that, this entire book would have been the "Star Wars Crawl" explaining why they can go into the shooty in scene one. (And now I'm tempted to write such a crawl..."UBASTIS! Protected haven of careful scientific inquiry, but in the wake of the BEAST Wars humanity aches for a green world to replace used-up Earth, and all the treaties in the galaxy won't stop a truly determined People's Party...")
Definitely going to read the next book.
Vashti's desires and emotions run all over the place - she wants to protect Ubastis, protect her daughter, withdraw from the world forever, and more - which can be frustrating to the reader, especially when she trips over her own feet, but is totally believable, and likely spot on for someone living the life and in the world she is. The Beast reeks of a dark, blood-filled history. The best (and sometimes most frustrating - see above) parts of Archangel are the interactions between Vashti and the Beast, but everyone, except Vashti's toddler daughter, is on edge as they know their world is likely about to change, or, like Vashti, had their world ripped apart so badly the anger will never completely fade.
Marguerite Reed's writing style comes across like a parallel to Vashti and the others around her: tense, often curt, with a simmering ready to boil just below the surface and sometimes erupting over. Whichever mood came across, it kept propelling me forward. (On a personal note, I was reading this book by the time I took my first and long-dreamed-of trip to Europe, and the only reason it didn't go with me was because I finally decided to only take reading material specific to the trip. But I had it in the back of my mind until I got home.)
Needless to say, I'm much looking forward to the next book in the series.
Brilliant setting with believable tech, well-written interactions, and compelling characters.
As soon as my girlfriend reads it I'm stealing it back to re-read and looking forward to the rest of the series.
The feminine perspective of the novel's protagonist is refreshing, and there's much to ponder about population, environmentalism, politics, and religion in the tale. You might even find yourself caring about a beast.
Archangel is now the "past" in my imagination, and I'm excited to find out what the future holds and how it compares to my perception of where things are headed. This book made me feel young and restless. What more could I ask for?
If you've made it as far as to consider my recommendation, then you are obviously a person who needs to read this book!
Top international reviews
ARCHANGEL ist ein wirklich schöner und spannender Science Fiction-Roman. Marguerite Reed hat mit Ubastis eine großartige und farbenprächtige Welt erschaffen. Ihr Weltenbau glänzt mit zahlreichen Details und klugen Einfällen und die Beschreibungen der Flora und Fauna des Planeten sind bildhaft und wunderschön. Die spannende Handlung hat mir ebenfalls gefallen, obwohl mir der Einstieg ein wenig zu behäbig gewesen ist. Nach dem ersten Drittel kommt aber Fahrt ins Geschehen und das Finale ist wirklich packend.
Die Handlung von ARCHANGEL folgt der Ich-Erzählerin Vashti, einer wirklich großartigen und facettenreich gezeichneten Figur. Sie arbeitet als Safarileiterin und Dinojägerin auf Ubastis und ist nach dem brutalen Tod von Lasse alleinerziehende Mutter. Vashti lebt in einer Gesellschaft von Pazifisten und Vegetariern und ihr Job ist einer der Gründe, warum sie des Öfteren in der Gemeinschaft aneckt. Seit Lasses Tod steckt sie in einer tiefen Sinnkrise und im Verlauf von ARCHANGEL arbeitet sie sich durch diese Emotionen. Der Katalysator für diese emotionale Entwicklung ist die Ankunft des Beast, war doch einer der Supersoldaten für Lasses Tod verantwortlich. Vashti ist eine faszinierende Figur. Sie ist trotz ihres Schmerzes eine starke und selbstbewusste Frau, die auch ihre Fehler hat, und sie hat zahlreiche Rollen zu erfüllen: liebende und fürsorgliche Mutter, trauernde Witwe eines immer noch geliebten und verehrten Gründungsvaters von Ubastis, leidenschaftliche Wissenschaftlerin und Wächterin von Ubastis. Vashti muss im Verlauf von ARCHANGEL ihren Weg finden und ihre Vorurteile und ihre Vergangenheit endlich hinter sich lassen.
So plastisch und lebensecht Vashti gezeichnet ist, die Nebenfiguren in ARCHANGEL sind leider bei weitem nicht so kraftvoll dargestellt. Sie bleiben leider alle eher zweidimensional und wir bekommen nie tiefere Einblicke in sie. Ich hoffe, dass wir in den Fortsetzungen mehr über sie erfahren und zu sehen bekommen.
Trotz leichter Schwächen ist ARCHANGEL alles in allem ein großartiger Science Fiction-Roman mit einer tollen Hauptfigur und einer packenden Handlung. Ich bin schon sehr auf die Fortsetzung gespannt. Sehr empfehlenswert!
This is a fine example of world building, and the author has done her homework. The ecology of the colony world Ubasti feels realistically conceived and portrayed, as does the culture that has taken root there. There is compelling comment on genetic engineering, and the consequences to our species if we take that road. Refreshingly, there are good and bad points shown. In any other book, these would be the focus of the review. Here, they scarcely merit more than mention, because the mood, you see, is the thing.
This is a dark book, in a dark head space. Our lead, Vashti Loren, is strong, loving, and suffering badly. She has witnessed the murder of her husband, and is suffering from PTSD and an overpowering grief. She is strong, and confident, and has deeply held beliefs about the stewardship of this new world. Ubastis, you see, is a young pristine world, the only one that anyone knows of, and the galaxy is full of humans living in privation and despair, longing for elbow room. She is committed to preventing the destruction of Ubastis, but also committed to keeping humanity from making the same mistake it did on Earth. Her fears, her hatreds, and her passions are all utterly convincing. They are also frightening, and the book is willing to let you consider that she may be in the wrong. We can empathize with her, and sympathize with her, even at her worst.
It's a vivid trip into another human being's mind.
It is not a perfect book. Reed is not as successful in portraying the other characters. This may be a function of Vashti's difficulty in relating to other people, or perceiving their inner life, but none of the other characters feel quite as real or compelling as Vash herself.
The ending of the book feels somewhat hurried, and the book does not feel entirely self-contained. I presume there is a sequel in the works. I welcome that, as it happens, but I did hope for a slightly more satisfying resolution to the plot.
On the whole though, this is science-fiction with a level of character development and passion that I've not seen in a long time.
Read this, and spread the word.