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Book Critique – Blaze of Memory (Psy-Changeling #7)

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

Stars: 3 / 5

My Recommendation: An exciting continuation into a 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. 

Blaze of Memory is the seventh book in the long running Psy-Changeling Series by Nalini Singh, published in November of 2009. The primary plot revolves around Devraj "Dev" Santos - Director of the Shine Foundation - and Ekaterina "Katya" Haas - an M-Psy who was tortured by Council left to dead.

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.

In continuing with the series that intrigued when I picked it's spin-off, Psy-Changeling Trinity Series, here is my take on the seventh book in the parent series. This time Nalini shifts her focus on to the Forgotten Psy that she had been giving us glimpses of since the third book Caressed by Ice. The plot is set in late 2080, almost 5 months after the fifth book Hostage to Pleasure.

We met both Devraj "Dev" Santos and Ekaterina "Katya" Haas first in the fourth book Mine to Possess. Dev is the Director of Shine Foundation, that gathers gifted children, trains and protects them. While Katya is an M-Psy, but was presumed to be dead per Hostage to Pleasure.

The plot opens with Ekaterina "Katya" Hass, an M-Psy, dumped at the doors of the Shine Foundation, left to die. However, it is upto Dev to figure out if Katya is a spy for the Council, harm to the kids at the foundation or if she is being truly written-off by the Psy. And in the midst he has to fight his attraction to the only person he ever felt towards, a person who might be his enemy. 

Nalini created Devraj to be exact mirror image of the antagonist who had tortured Katya, but with a lot of conscience and heavy line of morality in him. She leaves upto the heroine to figure out the differences and chose the right one in the end. I remember Christine Feehan doing the same in her Ghostwalker Series and Carpathian Series. I also remember Nora Roberts has something similar with one of her heroine in her Donovan Legacy series where the heroine works as an image artist for a computer gaming company. Similar concept exploited by three different authors in three different ways. 

Nalini focuses on the Forgotten Psy since their introduction in the third book, Caressed by Ice, and neatly ties them with the other three species in her plots. She continues to sneak in various eco-friendly concepts and futuristic things in her plots. In this one we see solar-paneled offices; vehicles controlled to avoid traffic jams; datapad similar to laptops perhaps; plascrete, plasboard and plas boxes (perhaps a futuristic material that reuses plastic); data crystals (instead of CDs and USB Drives); Stitch Stapler (to put in stitches directly on the skin using a stapler and the stitches dissolve into the skin as the injuries heal); computronic carapaces (that give mobility to the parts of body they attach to).

She has one-page inserts of two sub-plots, one approximately a century ago and one months ago from when the plot is set. Although they seem irrelevant or haphazard, like always she ties all these different threads neatly into the tapestry of the tale. She continues to insert subtle humor all through her plots to keep the heaviness off the more morbid sub-plots at bay. However, the humor was in lesser amount in this plot. 

Similar to Mine to Possess, she has her hero and heroine watch the movie Pride and Prejudice based on a book written by human author some 200 years before the plot is set. Just like in real world how we still listen, read and watch arts that have been made centuries ago, Nalini sets the situations in her plots in the similar way keeping it to the human expectations that history repeats or continues. 

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 is finally come to a point to me as a reader that I am able to understand the futuristic concepts and the technical jargon that Nalini has used in her plots. She does leave a lot of inconsequential details and new characters introduced, which will definitely form meat for future plots.

A good continuation to a long running series in a fantasy word filled with Psy, Changeling and Humans, where Changelings and Humans starting to stake their claim to level the playfield that otherwise was owned by Psy. Nalini has a lot of open-ended sub-plots in here that is definitely making me to look forward to read the next book as soon as possible.

Spoiler Alerts:

1. Plot Reveals:

a. Katya remembers being chased by a panther. I don’t remember if Lucas had chased Katya when she was first introduced in Mine to Possess, but Nalini gives a closure to that in here. 

b. Dev's family included his great-grandmother Maya; two sets of grandparents - Kiran Santos is one grandmother; his cousin Jack with wife Melissa and son William; his cousin Michel Benoit and his aunt Cindee; his father Massey Petrokov.

c. Katya shoots Ming LeBon in this plot. The Arrows put him in a sealed chamber. Aden seems to become the leader of the Arrows who are on an uprise against Ming.

d. In Hostage to Pleasure, a Tk-Psy and a surgeon Psy aids the DarkRiver Changelings and Ashaya. I wondered who they could be. But with this plot, it is clear that they are none other than Vasic and Aden.

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. With introduction of Bowen, the Human Alliance Security Chief in Branded by Fire, I am not sure whose story I want to see next - Kaleb Krycheck, the Psy Cardinal or Hawke, the SnowDancer Alpha or Bowen. All three of them have captured my mind. Cant wait to read their stories.

c. Psy terms:

i. PsyNet - Psychic Network that the Psy are connected to through minds.

ii. NetMind - the central controlling factor of PsyNet, the policeman and librarian encompassed together. It's twin DarkMind houses everything negative.

iii. Web of Stars - the network that Sascha forms with Lucas, his sentinels and their mates. With Talin, a human, joining in Mine to Possess, it becomes a true triumvirate with all three species joined together. 

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

i. Psy Council (a panel of Psy that ruled the world with an iron fist) - Nikita Duncan, mother of Sascha Duncan, runs from California; Tatiana Rika-Smythe, runs from Australia; Ming LeBon runs from France; Shoshanna and Henry Scott, only Psy couple, run from London; Kaleb Krychek runs from Mosco; Anthony Kyriakus runs from California.

ii. Latham; Sione (an F-Psy from PsyClan Pacific Rose); Juniper (8yr old F-Psy); Gia Khan (an M-Psy); Silver Mercant (Kaleb's sr. personal assistant, introduced in Caressed by Ice, tasked by Kaleb to connect with Pure Psy and spy on); Lenik (Kaleb's admin assistant); Samuel Rain (a robotics expert); Keisha Bale (An M-Psy); 

iii. Remaining Lauren Family - Introduced first in Slave to Sensation. Walker; Sienna and Toby, their dead sister's kids; Marlee, Walker's daughter. Defectors into the SnowDancer territory, interlinked to their own psy network LaurenNet. Sienna and Hawke have a strong attraction since their introduction. Indigo is assigned to train Sienna in Visions of Heat. Sienna is made a trainee soldier in this plot, but is sent to DarkRiver for an indeterminate time, where she bonds with Kit.

iv. Anchors: Though essential to the PsyNet, yet they could go rogue and turn into serial killers as seen from the first book, Slave to Sensation. At least 50 of them so far identified of which three have been taken care of.

v. In Visions of Heat, we see:

1) Faith NightStar's father Anthony Kyriakus is the governing force of the PsyClan NightStar- the clan of Psy that begets atleast one F-Psy in every generation. He is also the leader of a quiet revolution of Psy. She has a brother Tanique Gray and a cousin Sahara.

2) Faith's sister Marine is killed by the Psy Serial Killer. However, there are still unexplained reasons as to why she was targeted.

vi. Kaleb has a vision for the square beneath his official buildings. Wonder where Nalini will bring this up again. He is also searching for the owner of a star-shaped platinum charm. As the series is progressing, we are seeing more and more of him, although making him sound like an antagonist. Cant wait to read his story as much as I want to read Hawke's and Bowen's.

vii. In Caressed by Ice, we see that the Psy Council is faced with a new enemy who calls himself Ghost, who is infiltering the Psy. I have a distinct feeling it is Kaleb Krychek, but we have to wait and see.

e. Arrow Squad - First introduced in Visions of Heat.

i. Vasic - First introduced in Hostage to Pleasure.

ii. Aden - First introduced in this plot. Medic-in-charge.

iii. Several Arrows are held in Dinarides, a mountain range. 

f. Forgotten Psy - First mentioned in Caressed by Ice; left PsyNet forming their own ShadowNet post-Silence.

i. Their descendant are mostly gifted human children with newer abilities; their ancestors having mated with Changelings and Humans.

ii. Devraj "Dev" Santos is their official leader.

iii. Other members: Rangi (Guardian); Dr. Glen Herriford; Jonquil "Jon" Alexi Duchslaya, a fourteen year old rescued from Psy Anchors from experimentation; Noor Hassan, rescued along with Jon. Keenan, Ashaya's son want to marry her one day; Aubry (Vice-Director); Aryan (Guardian); Tag & Tiara (telepaths and a couple); Cruz (a child telepath); Maggie (Dev's secretary); Connor (a doctor); Eva (the manager); 

iv. Jon and Noor are adopted by the DarkRiver.

g. Humans that we see along the course of the series:

i. 18th Century Territorial Wars - Adrian Kenner, a human, had been the one to help draft laws that ended he Changeling wars. 

ii. Max Shannon - a Human police detective with strong mental shields, introduced first in Mine to Possess. As of Branded by Fire, he is back in New York. 

iii. Bowen "Bo" - First introduced in Branded by Fire. Human Alliance Security Chief; defects from the paramilitary arm; takes over the Alliance after the Chairman is killed to lead the Human Alliance for a better and stronger species along-side Psy and Changelings; 9 other men and women support him. I have a feeling we will continue to see Bowen in future books.

iv. Alice Eldridge - First mentioned in Branded by Fire. Presumed killed. Had researched extensively on E-Psy and X-Psy. 

v. Sara, a human intern with the DarkRiver; Lily (Bowen's adopted sister).

h. Various Changelings we see during the course of the series are:

i. DarkRiver Leopards with their territory in San Francisco and surrounding areas.

1) Lucas Hunter - Alpha, a black panther. Mated to Sascha Duncan, an E-Psy. Story told in Slave to Sensation. Sascha is pregnant as of Branded by Fire.

2) Other packmates - Kit and his sister Rina Monaghan; Zara (a wildcat); Ria, a human mated to DarkRiver leopard; Tara; Nico, Cory, Jason, Nicki, Aaron, Mia and Sarah (juveniles); Lysa; Cian; Jamie; Desiree and her mother Meenakshi; Barker; Joe (owner of Joe's Bar); Keely (Pack historian); Owen; Monroe; Nicki (apprentice historian); Sage "Herb", Bastien "Bas" and Grey (Mercy's brothers)

3) Lucas's Sentinels (second-in commands) - Nathan "Nate" Ryder (mated to Tamsyn "Tammy" Mahaire and have twin sons Roman and Julian, Story told in Beat of Temptation); Vaughn D'Angelo (mated to Faith NightStar, an F-Psy, Story told in Visions of Heat); Clay Bennett (mated to Talin "Tally" McKade, a human. Story told in Mine to Possess); Dorian (mated to Ashaya Aliene, an M-Psy. Story told in Hostage to Pleasure); Mercy Smith (mated to SnowDancer Lieutenant Riley Aedan Kincaid. Story told in Branded by Fire).

4) In Stroke of Enticement, Annie, Zach's mate, was rescued by a very young Psy boy with Cardinal eyes as a kid. The description reminded me of Kaleb Krychek. Is that who he would become? Definitely need to see Kaleb's story fast.

ii. SnowDancer Wolves with their territory in California

1) Hawke - Alpha.

2) Other packmates - Andrew "Drew" Liam Kincaid (eyes and ears of Hawke); Lara (their healer); Dalton (librarian); Tai; Lucy; Elias (a soldier); Greg; D'Arn & his human mate Sing-Lui; Ben (a wolf pup wanting to mate with Marlee); Kieran (a human); 

3) Hawke's Lieutenants - Indigo; Riley Aedan Kincaid (Mated to Mercy Smith, a DarkRiver Sentinel, Story told in Branded by Fire); Judd Lauren (an Arrow Squad Psy, mated to Brenna Shane Kincaid. Story told in Caressed by Ice); Jem;

iii. BlackEdge Wolves with their territory in Moscow. First mentioned in Caressed by Ice. Selenka Durev is their alpha. 

iv. DawnSky Deer - First mentioned in Caressed by Ice.

v. PineWood Hyenas - First mentioned in Caressed by Ice. Members: Kevin; Mahal; Lou-Ann;

vi. Rats Changelings. First mentioned in Mine to Possess. Members: Teijan (Alpha); Suyi; 

vii. Snake Changelings. First mentioned in Mine to Possess plot.

viii. Lynx Changelings. First introduced in Branded by Fire

1) Baker Family - Iain and Enid and their son Nash and daughter Willow. Nash is working on nanotechnology.

ix. SilverBlade Leopard Changelings. First introduced in Branded by Fire

1) Hamilton, a sentinel - Mercy guides him to Indio, the SnowDancer Wolf Lieutenant for dating. Will they mate?

x. AzureSun Leopard Changelings in Brazil. First introduced in Branded by Fire

1) Isabella - is the Alpha. Grandmother of Mercy Smith.

2) Eduardo and Joaquin (Sentinels)

xi. WindHaven Falcon Changelings. First introduced in Branded by Fire.

1) Adam - their Wing Leader; Naia - their healer; Jacques - second highest ranking member. Adam gets injured in that plot.

xii. RainFire Leopard Changelings in the Smokies. First mentioned in this plot. Remington "Remi" is their Alpha.

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

a. On Pg. 103, in a scene Nalini has three men enter an elevator. But on Pg. 104, in the scene continuing she has four men instead without the fourth man every entering. How is that possible?

b. On Pg. 267, in the scene that Nalini describes, she has Dev take off his knit cap from his head. But on Pg. 269, she has Dev put back Katya's cap on her head. Infact Katya never removes her cap before. And Dev doesn’t put on his after. 

c. On Pg. 339, Line 17, it should be "…you're getting so…"

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