Book Critique – Slave to Sensation (Psy-Changeling #1)

For review of all books in this series: Go here.

Stars: 3 / 5

My Recommendation: A fitting beginning for me as a reader to get me into the series filled with Psy, Changeling and Humans, who are living together, ruled by Psy but the other two races making the playing field even. Of course there is romance, passion, war, friendship, loyalties and betrayals along the line. 

Slave to Sensation is the very first book in the long running Psy-Changeling Series by Nalini Singh, published in September of 2006. The primary plot revolves around Lucas Hunter - alpha of DarkRiver Leopard Changelings - and Sascha Duncan - a Cardinal Psy and daughter of a powerful Psy Council member.

Psy-Changeling series focuses on three races living side-by-side on Earth - The icy Psy who rule the world but are facing the fall of Silence; the Changelings of varied kind with natural mental barriers to fight the unwanted entry of any Psy into their brains; and the Humans considered the weaker of the three but have decided to level the playing field. The series shows the readers to the downfall of Psy, their drawbacks, why all three races are needed for survival of each other, and above all finding mates across races thus disintegrating the walls further.

After I read the first two books of the Psy-Changeling Trinity Series - spin-off to Psy-Changeling Series, I realized that this is a very complex series written by Nalini Singh that involves several characters. With the various characters and terminology from the earlier books popping up in the two books I read so far, I had to start from the beginning of the series. As suggested by one of the readers from Nalini Singh's blog, who mentioned that I should read it from the beginning, so here I am now with the parent series that stared it all. 

Someone is killing changeling woman, and the trail for Lucas Hunter and other changeling packs points to Psy. But the Psy protect their own. To find the criminal, Lucas Hunter resorts to infiltrate the Psy, even if it means he has to seduce Sascha Duncan, his in into the Psy. But he finds an irresistible bond towards Sascha, a Psy with no emotions and feelings. While he hunts the killer, where will his path take him - towards Sascha and breaking her Silence? Or towards the killer and losing her to the killer? Or will a war breakout that would keep them apart forever?

This is the first major novel by Nalini Singh (per all the research I had done) and I must say she had picked a very complex topic with characters filled with more than complex texture and strength, and plots that have unimaginable twists. She does get high praise from Christine Feehan in this book - Christine who would have been the reigning queen of paranormal romance then when this book had released. 

The concept of minds, how they work, psychic connections using mind, various kinds of psychic abilities, changeling dynamics, the complex science behind all that is explained very well and in-detail by Nalini. Normally we see characters with one or two psychic powers in a paranormal plot. However, Nalini has a plethora of Psy and Changeling abilities introduced to the readers. I can't even imagine how she managed to keep it all together. 

Finding one's mate in your own species is something we can understand. However, Nalini has two people from different species find their mate in each other. This cross pollination, for the lack of better word, reminds me of inter-caste marriages in Hindu religion, which was very much frowned upon at one time, but it is getting acceptable now. Nalini definitely took that history into her plot when she had a Psy mate a Leopard.

That brings me to our hero and heroine. As arrogant as Lucas Hunter seems to be, he is very gentle and a fitting mate to Sascha. And as empathetic and soft that Sascha Duncan appears to be, she is no pushover, especially when her alpha mate tries to show his alphaness with her.

Like her other series (GuildHunter, Rock Kiss or Hard Play), there is romance and more in the plot with hidden humor that lightens the plot, taking the sting of the darkness away. She has some repeat paraphrasing. And definitely some of the concepts are beyond imaginable. It will take more than a few books for me to get the depth of all the technical jargon behind her complicated concept. She does leave a lot of inconsequential details and new characters introduced, which will definitely form meat for future plots.

A fitting beginning  for a long running series in a fantasy word filled with Psy, Changeling and Humans, although we don’t see a lot of humans and their role yet. Looking forward to read the next book as soon as possible.

Spoiler Alerts:

1. Plot Reveals:

a. Tamsyn, the DarkRiver healer's son Julian, forms a bond with Sascha through psychic thread.

b. Lucas's parents are Shayla, a healer, and Carlo, a sentinel, who were killed by rogue leopards, ShadowWalkers. Lucas became alpha after previous alpha, Lachlan dies unexpectedly.

c. Brenna, a SnowDancer wolf is rescued from the Psy serial killer, Santiago Enrique, the Council member, after he is killed. But Brenna seemed so strong despite being tortured, I am sure we will see a story for her soon.

d. Shoshanna and Henry Scott, the Psy Council couple, are looking for some kind of markers in Sascha's family and extended family. They have concern on one of the youngest Psy male. 

e. There are at least 50 Psy serial killers according to the Psy Council's investigation. Only one is killed in this plot, will the remaining be annihilated in future plots?

f. Hawke, the alpha of SnowDancer wolves, has captured my interest more than the actual hero and heroine of this plot. I am sure we will see more of him in future plots, but I cant wait to read his story. 

2. Sub-Plots: 

a. There are several Psy Designations that are thrown around by the author Nalini Singh. I wondered if there was a list of all of them some where. And true to that, some fan had posted about them here.

b. Some of the groups or organizations, and Psy terms:

i. Psy Council - A panel of Psy who ruled the word with an iron fist.

ii. Silence Protocol - Introduced first in 1969, conditions Psy to not feel any emotions so they can perform better. 

iii. Enforcement

iv. PsyNet - Psychic Network that the Psy are connected to through minds, to share information, converse and much more. 

v. NetMind - the central controlling factor of PsyNet. 

vi. Web of Stars - the network that Sascha forms with Lucas's mind and the sentinel's minds he is connected to.

c. Various Psy we would see as the series progresses:

i. Members of the Psy Council - Nikita Duncan - mother of Sascha Duncan; Santano Enrique; Tatiana Rika-Smythe - youngest to become a Councilor; Marshall Hyde; Ming LeBon; Shoshanna and Henry Scott - only Psy couple on the council; 

ii. Latham

iii. Lauren Family - Walker and his brother Judd; Sienna and Toby, their dead sister's kids; Marlee, Walker's daughter. All defect into SnowDancers territory, unlink themselves from PsyNet and live their lives with the wolves. There is some attraction between Sienna and Hawke. 

d. The various Changelings we see during the course of the series are

i. DarkRiver Leopards:

1) Lucas Hunter is their alpha, a black panther; great-great-grandmother was a Psy

2) Other Leopards and pack mates we see - Kit Monaghan and Zara (a wildcat, distant cousin) - the designers and architects; Ria, a human mated to DarkRiver leopard; Rina (Kit's older sister); Tara; Nico and Sarah (juveniles); 

3) Lucas's Sentinels (second-in commands) - Nathan "Nate" mated to Tamsyn "Tammy" their healer and have twin sons Roman and Julian; Vaughn; Clay Bennett; Mercy; Dorian, a latent leopard.

4) Seems to be Dorian and Rina have a relationship. Will she be his mate eventually?

ii. SnowDancer Wolves

1) Hawke is their alpha.

2) Other Woves and packmates we see - Riley and Andrew - Brenna's brothers;

3) Hawke's lieutenants - Indigo

3. Grammatical / Character / Plot / Geographical / Historical / Mythological Errors:

a. On Pg. 101, Line 18, it should be "…never going to help her…"

b. On Pg. 105, Line 11, doesn’t seem to be needing the extra "softly" in the line. 

c. On Pg. 264, Line 19, it should be "…sensually, beautiful female…"


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