If you have been reading the Psy-Changeling series, you know that there is a significant turning point in book 10, Kiss of Snow. Up to then, Nalini Singh has been establishing the major character groups: the Psy, the Shifters, and the Humans. By the time we get to book ten, there is tension between the three groups, but there are also alliances being established through the tentative friendships and romantic ties between and within species. There is also dissension brewing within the Psy community. Silence, a protocol put into place to stop the Psy from degenerating into madness, is breaking. There are those who are advocating that Silence is dismantled and others who vehemently want to uphold the protocol. Those who want to keep Silence call themselves Pure Psy. They believe that those who want to eliminate Silence are betraying their race, therefore, they believe that they represent the only legitimate cause and must disrupt the current social and political culture. They also believe that the Psy connection with the other races is diluting Psy blood and therefore must also be eliminated.
In the midst of all this turmoil is the story of two high-ranking Snowdancer (Shifter wolf clan) soldiers, Riaz and Adria. What makes this story unique for me is that it reads as a seasoned romance. Adria is divorced from a wolf that is submissive to her rank. This causes a great deal of problems for her as he resorts to emotional sabotage to make up for his shortcomings. Riaz is a lone wolf choosing to align himself with the Snowdancer pack. What makes this relationship unique is that Riaz has already found his destined “mate” and she is married to another person. In the PNR world, finding one’s mate is the ultimate goal. Mates are destined and are usually together for life. So then what happens when the person you love, is fated to be with another person? This tension feels like a more mature dilemma involving people who have some experience with love and loss under their belt. The resolution to this conflict is tragic, impossible, and marvelously satisfying.
HEART OF OBSIDIAN is the beginning of a set of stories focusing on the Psy. In what must be my favorite anti-hero story, Ms. Singh delves into the story of Kaleb Krychek, Psy leader and one of the most enigmatic characters in the series. Kaleb is a man who needs control and is expert at political machinations. The progression of Kaleb’s character in the series hints also at a man who has a hidden agenda. To this point, we are never quite clear if he is a good guy or bad. From the beginning, the author sets the record straight about Kaleb’s motivations. Kaleb’s decisions are re-evaluated in this new context and gives a different light into his actions. His life is devoted to finding this first friend and love, Sahara Kyriakus. Because of their history, their love is pure with an innocence that reflects their friendship as children. Her courage to overcome her past, her loyalty to Kaleb, her undying love impacts the stoic leader.
There is also a fair amount of progress and intrigue into the greater story arc. The identity of The Ghost is revealed, new alliances are forged, and a civil war ensues. Ms. Singh amps up the pace of the storyline giving us some conclusions and introducing us to new dilemmas. I feel like I’m gearing up for something bigger and MORE.
Of all the books in the series so far, SHIELD OF WINTER is my very favorite. SHIELD OF WINTER features the story of Vasic and Ivy. Vasic is one of the most tragic of the Arrows – the assassin squad deployed to maintain and protect the anything that might disrupt the Silence. The Arrows are groomed from the time they are young children. Vasic is turned over to be trained by the time is 3 or 4 years old. The training a brutal and torturous. They abuse the children to teach them how to endure pain and control their emotions. In other words, emotions are literally tortured out of them. When I think about what this young child has to endure, I am broken. The real issue is that as an adult, Vasic still manages to care and the guilt of what he has to do as an Arrow is crippling him.
I love this book because Vasic has a long way to redeem himself and every chapter is a new revelation. His relationship with Ivy is luminous and helps him shed layers of self-preservation. Ivy’s kindness, generosity, and courage are pure light for Vasic. To see his darkest Arrow get his HEA? Bliss.
Aden is the leader of the Arrows. He is a legacy soldier, both of his parents are also Arrows. He has been under-estimated all of his life because he does not test highly on any Psy scale, but he has an awesome power that he keeps well hidden. Zaira is one of Aden lieutenants and a close friend, but she is broken. Silence is the only thing keeping her explosive and murderous instincts at bay. Given the abuse she experienced as a child, she cannot manage her emotions, even love.
This story is so easy to love it contains some of my favorite elements in any story: 1. There is a level of parity from the characters. They are both physically strong, and they are both skilled. 2. Aden is half-Korean. 3. Aden’s loyalty is incomparable. Whether he is helping to keep his best friend Vasic from jumping off the ledge or convincing Zaira to embrace her humanity, he stands by the people he loves.
By the time we get to Book 14, the interests all of the groups are intertwined and we see the beginning of cooperation between the species. Additionally, new sub-groups have emerged. Each group is still weary and trust is fragile, but there is now precedent. None too soon as we now have a greater threat emerging and will need the combined efforts of all species to overcome this new evil.
Hugs,Tags: Aden, Kaleb, Nalini Singh, paranormal, Psy-Changeling, Science Fiction, Snowdancer, Sunny, Sunny Review, Vasic