"Then said he unto me, Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words." -- Daniel, 10:12
Those are the words of the angel Michael, one of only two angels who are mentioned by name in the whole Bible. The other is Gabriel, who also happens to make his appearance in the Book of Daniel.
I finished reading Daniel today, and was quite moved by this one, especially in contrast to the previous prophets, Jeremaiah and Ezekiel. The Book of Daniel is actually a work of encouragement to those who are righteous among the Jews, who follow their God despite persecution from the ruling Babylonian king. The book is basically written in two parts; the first is a series of stories about hardships facing the Jews, and the second about the series of visions Daniel has predicting future events.
[One thing I'm still confused about, even with the help of Idiot's Guide to the Bible, and Cliff Notes, is when the Isrealites became known as Hebrews and then Jews.]
Daniel is considered an apocalyptic text, part of the wisdom literature, but is included in the prophetic books of the Old Testament. As noted in the Cliff Notes, this placement is perhaps erroneous. Unlike with the other prophets, who lament their people's sins and try to get them to be good, warning of coming punishment, Daniel warns of coming suffering that will happen regardless of what the Jews do or don't do.
Ironically, I found this book to be more uplifting and hopeful in the larger context of the Old Testament because of the message of hope for those who trust in, and obey God. The end may be nigh, but those who are righteous will be saved. In the most famous example among the parables in Daniel, he is thrown to the lions for worshipping his God, but the next morning the king finds him unharmed and realizes his God has saved him. In the end, king Darius tells everyone they must worship Daniel's God because He is awesome.
"I make a decree, That in every dominion of my kingdom men tremble and fear before the God of Daniel: for he is the living God, and stedfast for ever, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed, and his dominion that be even unto the end. He delivereth and rescueth, and he worketh signs and wonders in heaven and in earth, who hath delivered Daniel from the power of the lions." -- Daniel 6:26-27
**NEXT: the minor prophets