I adore Nalini Singh, really I do, and I love her even more for sending me an advanced reader copy to review. I’ve been a huge fan of the Psy/Changeling world from the start. I mean who could pull it off to make even rat shifters sound sexy? Right from the first moment I read the first line introducing Vasic, the cold TK-V Psy with the silver eyes I wanted his story. And Nalini Singh delivers again a fascinating story with my favorite Psy taking over the center stage.
The Psy-Changeling series is one of the few remaining paranormal romance series that keep getting better with each new book. There are many series out there who can’t keep the same level of awesomeness in the course of an ongoing series with 10 or more installments. Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark-Hunter world and the Black Dagger Brotherhood by J.R. Ward disappointed me. I don’t even want to start on the last installments in Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stakehouse series. And even my all-time favorite author Karen Marie Moning crushed my fangirling over the Fever world back to the Ice Age with Iced (Dani O’Malley, #1; Fever, #6). Nalini doesn’t disappoint. She always delivers a good story even if the main characters of the individual book don’t end up on my favorite shelf.
My favorite part about Shield of Winter was not as I expected Vasic falling in love with Ivy but to see how Nalini played out the many challenges in the Psy-world after the fall of Silence.
The twilight of 2081 will be forever remembered as the time when Silence fell in a crash of violence brutally leashed by the furious abilities of the most powerful Psy in the Net. With the fall comes a hush across the world, as the Psy race seeks to understand who they are in this new reality where emotion isn’t a crime punishable by a vicious psychic brain-wipe, and the heart is no longer an organ simply used to pump blood. For though Silence was a deeply flawed construct, it existed for a reason.
- One the one hand there is the creeping darkness in the Net that is still getting stronger, a sickness infesting in the society, on the other are the empaths whose abilities have been suppressed their whole lives and who now have to come out of hiding and face fighting a war against madness on the psychic plane they have no understanding of how to fight. Nalini Singh has done a great job in exploring this story line.
- The same can be said about another sub-plot: The importance of government supervision and control and the qualities of a good leader. Kaleb Krychek, Nikita Duncan, Anthony Kyriakos and even Ming LeBon – they all play a role in this book trying to keep a fragmenting society from crumbling down completely. Does this make them all good persons? No! But it explains why sometimes justified revenge and personal interests have to be postponed when hundreds of thousands of innocents would suffer otherwise.
- With Vasic being an Arrow, Shield of Winter also features an interesting discussion on assassins/soldiers. The Arrows have been known for black operations, for assassination and even mindless murder (while under the influence of a drug called Jax administrated during the time Ming LeBon was the leader). Each member of the squad has to come to terms not only with the fall of the Silence Protocol and the challenge of a new society they have to adapt to, but also with their former role as assassins. The Arrow squad will have to undergo a long process of reconciliation. Soldiers go to war and sometimes they have to kill. But soldiers also help in reconstruction and development; they are the ones who help in times natural disaster strike, rescuing innocents, sometimes by putting their lives on the line. In a new world without silence even assassins have to adapt and change without forgetting the past. Nalini takes us on an interesting journey of assassins turning to heroes that will render readers sympathetic to guilt and responsibility and what it means to serve and protect.
As I mentioned before the love story wasn’t my favorite part of the book.My main reason is that I constantly compared the love story of Ivy and Vasic to those of Sasha & Lucas Slave to Sensation and Brenda & Judd Caressed By Ice. Sasha an empath like Ivy, Judd an Arrow like Vasic. I had hoped for a similar romantic journey, a slow awakening to emotions as in those two former books. But the romance in shield of winter felt rather rushed. Ivy was very upfront with her feelings for Vasic. After only a few small encounters and conversations she sends him telepathically an image of her … topless, bra-less, half-naked, like an idiot girl sending images of her breasts to some stranger she met on a dating internet site. After only a few kisses she already talks about “we” and “our”. And to top it off she is annoyingly clingy throughout the book. I mean, I understand she is an empath and all but she doesn’t even let poor Vasic shower in peace (after he carried dead and injured people around while on a mission) because she wants to discuss something with him. I thought: please, please let the man breathe a minute without nagging him. And Vasic, my Vasic, what has become of you? Every time he talks to Ivy all those florid words and flowery descriptions come out of his mouth. It was hard to not roll my eyes sometimes.
But the novel recompenses by the different POVs and all the secondary characters. We meet old friends like Zie Zan, Alice Eldridge, Devraj Santos and are being introduced to new ones like the group of empaths and Arrows. Especially Aden has a leading supporting role and I loved to see Sasha in action, calming a riot with her cardinal powers.
So all in all this might not be a glowing 5-star review but it still was a very satisfying 4,5-star read for me. I hope very much everybody else will like it just as I had.