Aziraphale is Heaven’s agent on Earth. He started out as the guardian of the Eastern gate of Eden but that didn’t last too long, what with Eve eating the apple and getting both her and Adam kicked out. Since then, he has travelled the world, thwarting the wiles of his demonic counterpart, Crowley, who he has actually formed quite a deep friendship with over the years.
He owns a small bookshop in Soho, where he does his best not to sell any books whatsoever. It serves more as a storage place for his personal collection of books – rare Bibles, books of prophecy and first editions. All of which he will lose in about eleven years, when then apocalypse is due.
The problem is, Aziraphale is actually quite fond of Earth. He doesn’t want it all to end. As Crowley points out, there are no decent composers in Heaven. Hell got all but Elgar and Lizst. None of the things Aziraphale likes are in Heaven. No antique shops, no Daily Telegraph crossword, no fascinating little restaurants. They’re all human things. So he and Crowley team up to try to influence the Antichrist. While Crowley, in various disguises, tries to teach him to want power and to conquer, Aziraphale preaches love for all things.
Unfortunately, due to a mix-up at the hospital, they end up influencing the wrong child. The Antichrist, named Adam Young, is growing up somewhere far different.
Aziraphale and Crowley head out to seek the real Antichrist, beginning their search with finding the hospital where the switch occurred. This is not such an easy task, as the hospital, run by Satanic nuns, was burned down shortly after the switch and has been reopened as Tadfield Manor Conference and Management Training Centre.
Along the way, they crash into one Anathema Device – quite literally – and Aziraphale makes Crowley take her home. Later, they discover she has left a book behind – The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, the rarest book of prophecy Aziraphale knows of. Every prophecy contained within it is unfailingly accurate, although since much of what Agnes saw was a mystery to her, most of what is written is up for interpretation by most of her readers (Aziraphale, having lived six thousand years on Earth, has no trouble understanding what she means). One thing is clear though – the end of the world is very much nigh.
Aziraphale attempts to look for loopholes, to avert the impending Apocalypse. He locates the Antichrist and informs Heaven, hoping they will call off the battle. No such luck, however. All the angels are geared for war and seem to be looking forward to it. Before Aziraphale can contact Crowley however, he finds himself unexpectedly lacking a physical body when the Witchfinder Sergeant walks into his shop and interrupts.
Over the next few hours, Aziraphale travels the world, landing in various bodies until he finds himself in England once again, in the body of one Madame Tracy (Painted Jezebel [mornings only, Thursdays by arrangement] and Medium). With Shadwell in tow, they make their way to Lower Tadfield to stop the end of the world. Once there, they meet with Crowley in his flaming Bentley and everyone else who has a part in the Apocalpyse.
It turns out to be rather anticlimactic. Adam has decided he doesn’t want the responsibility of actually being the Antichrist. He and his friends defeat the Four Horsepersons of the Apocalypse with some improvised weapons made of twigs and the computers set to start a nuclear war break. When it all seems to be over, Aziraphale is given his own body by Adam and they all seem set to go home.
Until the Metatron and Beelzebub appear to tell the Antichrist that he doesn’t have a choice. It is written that he will destroy the world. Adam tells them quite calmly that whatever is written can always be crossed out. Besides, it might be written differently somewhere else. When everyone is sufficiently confused as to what is actually supposed to be happening, the angels and demons retreat, Apocalypse averted.
Unfortunately, the Devil is pretty pissed that his son is disobeying him and tries to rise up anyway. Aziraphale and Crowley step forward to do battle with the Adversay – it’s hopeless and they’ll never win but it can’t be worse than doing nothing. Adam isn’t having any of this though and, using his powers, rewrites the world. The father that appears is human – and all set to ground Adam for being up late and causing trouble for the entire neighbourhood. A side-effect of this is that the humans present no longer remember exactly what happened. Later, when Aziraphale and Crowley are discussing the events in St James’ Park and apparently getting quite close to the truth of God’s ineffable Plan, Death makes an appearance and wipes their memories of the events as well.
Shortly after this, Aziraphale finds himself in Nautilus, utterly confused.
First off, it must be mentioned that Aziraphale is an angel. As a result he is basically good. He spends his time thwarting wiles and generally encouraging humans to do good deeds to one another in small, subtle ways. He is well-mannered and polite in a very English way. He is also quite intelligent, although he does sometimes misunderstand modern expressions.
Despite being an angel though, Crowley does note that he is ‘just enough of a bastard to be worth liking.’ Being a demon, Crowley knows what he is talking about. The two have been friends for 6000 years, more or less, and several of his traits do seem to have rubbed off on Aziraphale. He does occasionally do some fairly unangelic things – setting a traffic warden’s book on fire, for example – but he feels guilty afterward. There are signs that he is not utterly loyal to Heaven too. His attempts to avert the apocalypse, for starters, and his desire to inform Crowley of his discoveries before he gets in touch with Heaven. Though all of Heaven seems to be looking forward to the battle, Aziraphale goes against then and works to save humanity.
Aziraphale is surprisingly materialistic for an angel too. You could say he’s gone native. He owns a bookstore that is more of a place for him to store his books than to sell them. He does everything he can to avoid having to sell them, from deliberately not pricing the books to keeping the store dimly lit. He collects rare Bibles and first editions, particularly books of prophecy. He prefers to buy his clothes, rather than wish them into being as Crowley does.
Aziraphale is first and foremost, an angel. He is a basically good person. He thwarts demonic wiles and subtly encourages humans to do good deeds to one another. He is well-mannered and polite in a way that makes most if not everyone assume he is English when first encountering him. They also tend to assume he is intelligent, which is true but he is not much more intelligent than any normal human. His intelligence is just broader and has more experience.
However, after spending thousands of years on Earth, Aziraphale seems to have ‘gone native’. He’s picked up a number of habits like collecting rare books and first editions, which he stores in his bookshop. To quote the book, “Aziraphale was an angel, but he also worshipped books.” It seems all of his interests are human-created things – books, sushi and Regency silver snuffboxes, to name a few examples.
Most angels, from what little information there is to be had of them in the book, seem to only be concerned with serving God and smiting demons during the apocalypse. Aziraphale is different in that he does not see why the Apocalypse has to happen at all. He is quite fond of humanity and all its little quirks. He is even quite fond of Crowley, the demon who is Hell’s agent on Earth. Quite early in the book, it is pointed out that Aziraphale would not be comfortable at all in Heaven anymore and is shown to have lied to God when Adam and Eve were banished from Eden. Such things tend to make him feel very guilty however, and Aziraphale is not adept at hiding that guilt no matter how long he has had to practise. When he learns that the angels long for battle, he makes excuses to give himself time to contact Crowley, deliberately acting against the perceived plan of God. This is not because he does not have faith in God or is rebelling as Lucifer did but because he is not certain whether the Apocalypse is even supposed to happen. He knows that only God knows the true plan and that He does not share, even with His angels.
Aziraphale, can pretty much miracle anything into existence if he wants. Or out of existence. Or on fire. Or…well, you get the idea. He has personal limitations, however. He won’t do anything about stains, for example, stating “but I’ll always know it was there!” as the reason why. Being around humans has caused more than a few traits to rub off on him so he doesn’t really do a lot of miracles. At the most, he might turn a wine into a better vintage or will the alcohol out of his system if he is too drunk.
Oh, and if he were to get his hands on his old sword, he can set it on fire too.
To be added when I can be bothered. >.>