Part II of my review:
Editing and formatting are not particularly good - from numerous punctuation glitches to typos and minor italicization glitches and even a whole paragraph of nothing right in the middle of an ability text make this feel rushed. Layout adheres to Rite Publishing's beautiful 2-column, full-color standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. Artworks are of a diverse style and range from thematically fitting stock to gorgeous former Pathways cover to beautiful piece.
Let me ramble a bit - I love the concept of playing angels. Perhaps it's Kaori Yuki's manga Angel Sanctuary, perhaps it's the iconic imagery. If someone asks me what my favorite 3.X setting is, I answer, without hesitation, "Engel" - the post-apocalyptic setting in which the angels are pitted against the dreamseed insectoid demons of the lord of flies is stunning and awesome and, while not mechanically perfect, just brilliant. It is a tragedy that the numerous sourcebooks have not been translated to English and if you are capable of reading German, I strongly urge you to seek them out. At the same time, Anger of Angels, the more widely known sourcebook by Malhavoc Press, extremely disappointed me with its lack of fluff, balance or mythological themes.
The good things first - Steven D. Russell's In the Company of Angels gets the feeling right - abilities are highly complex, interesting and wilder widely in the realms of the respective imagery, both real world and in-game. There are a lot of options here that are downright fun and the superb prose is glorious. I also consider the grigori race as such a very fun choice and like its flair, its options. At this point of my first reading, I was truly excited.
Alas, then the paragon class came, and it is one of the most heartbreaking experiences for me. Why? Because Steven D. Russell manages to put extremely complex concepts into a rules-frame; he does so with panache and flair and more often than not, I found myself smiling at the respective abilities and their imagery. Alas, my impression upon reading this was confirmed in the playtest (FYI, we used d8 as HD) - the angelic paragon class is broken. This is essentially a paladin, or rather, magus on steroids. The reason WHY it doesn't work as provided, at least not in a balanced manner, are manifold: Number 1) Glass cannon-argument: The lack of armor, shield, etc. means the angelic paragon is pretty fragile in the AC-department, but that's not the issue. The framework of the class itself, on its own, is already too powerful. Now, one could field the "attack the angel first"-clause, yes, but unlike e.g. the tanimin, the angels herein have all the tools at their disposal - from stealth to mind-games and switcheroo-teleportation that cannot be mitigated, they have the movement-advantage and thus, better chances of avoiding and mitigating attacks. Add to that infinite heal-exploits and we have the trinity of avoidable glitches. The attempt to balance the excessive power of the providence abilities is founded on their relative costliness and short duration, but in-game, this leads to nova-issues.
Full bardic progression, channel energy, flight, copious natural attacks, great framework - this class can get all and that without necessarily excluding that many other tricks, with balance varying wildly between what was obviously based on monster abilities of different CRs and what was intended for player-use. Soulfire's massive range and impossibility to fully mitigate the damage via resistances, magus-like weapon-enhancement at 1st level - this class poaches among the established classes, dials down the minimum required level and then adds its own options. "But it does not get spellcasting!" Yeah, so what? The flexibility in combat provided by spellcasting is there and the collective of abilities and basic class frame, all of which would be strong on their own, coalesce into a class that feels woefully rushed -and capital letter BROKEN. It is obvious that the significant array of complex options provided required a lot of time and effort - it does show. However, how they come together is a mess in everything but the most high-powered of games. This is one of most overpowered classes I've seen for PFRPG and needs a redesign of its bursts, several abilities need to be made into trees and there need to be mutually exclusive clauses to balance this monster.
Now if that all sounds awfully negative, then because for me, it is. This is a tragedy in that the constituent components are great - the rules-language, while sometimes haunted by punctuation errors and the like, is precise and skillful. The concepts are great. The fluff is glorious and the race is fine. But the class is extremely rushed and requires a massive retooling.
I agonized over this. I really, really want to like this book. I can't. With this amount of glitches and, MUCH more importantly, the glaring balance issues, my final verdict will clock in at 2.5 stars, rounded down to 2 for the purpose of this platform.
Reviewed first on endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here and d20pfsrd.com's shop.