Set one hundred years after Jovah’s Angel, rumors are abounding that Alleluia had discovered the truth about the god Jovah — that he is actually a large spaceship orbiting the planet. While these ideas are declared heretical, a small cult has sprung up around finding the files Alleluia is said to have left behind. The Jacobites are declared criminals, and the Archangel Bael brutally suppresses their existence. But there are enough people believing the rumors that Bael can’t stop them all, and what they find could change Samaria forever.
The Alleluia Filesis told through two different storylines running simultaneously. One plot follows Tamar, a Jacobite on the run for her life, who finds an unlikely ally in Jared, an angel and leader of the host at Monteverde. The other storyline features Lucinda, an angel raised in isolation her entire life, and her quest to find her place in a Samarian society that is undergoing significant changes.
This third book in the Samaria series is set about 250 years after Archangel, the first book, and shows how the society has changed over time. While you could read this book by itself without any problem, readers who have enjoyed the first two volumes will be intrigued by the shifts in the world that have happened between installments. Entire cultures have evolved, new lands found, and new technology has been developed. This entry in the trilogy nicely wraps up the storyline, but leaves some pretty significant questions unanswered, leaving a possibility for later books in the series. (Shinn has written two other books set in this same world, but they are both set earlier in time.)
Sharon Shinn has managed to do something that many authors struggle with: discuss important philosophical issues without sacrificing plot or characterization. While the love stories here are not new ground for Shinn, the characters are engaging and fun. Jared is a being of great power and talent, who refuses to grow up and take responsibility for anything around him. Tamar is the product of a fundamentalist cult, struggling to deal with a society that both is and isn’t as horrible as she had been taught. Lucinda is a sweet and charming young woman who has to find significant strength to deal with the challenges that are presented. But even with all these detailed characters, and a plot that will completely revolutionize Samarian society, Shinn delivers a treatise on the dangers of power unchecked by a moral code, the balancing of faith and science, and the role of freedom of thought in a religious society.
While there are a few niggling questions left unanswered — how is the spaceship capable of prophesying? — The Alleluia Files is a satisfying and enjoyable conclusion to a beautifully written and emotionally compelling saga. This series has made me interested in investigating Shinn’s other writings to enjoy even more wonderful fantasy tales.