Book Critique – Heart of Obsidian (Psy-Changeling #12)

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

Stars: 4 / 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. This one in particular forms a pivotal plot for the series.

Heart of Obsidian is the twelfth book in the long running Psy-Changeling Series by Nalini Singh, published in June of 2013. The primary plot revolves around Kaleb Krychek - a Cardinal Psy and an Ex-Councilor - and Sahara Kyriakus - one of the members of NightStar Psy Clan. The plot continues from where the previous book Kiss of Snow ends.

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 mind invasion by Psy; 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 twelfth book in the parent series. Nalini switches her focus on to the Psy and the war that is brewing with this plot.

In the second book, Visions of Heat, Sahara Kyriakus was briefly mentioned, while we had met Kaleb Krychek for the first time. While Sahara had never surfaced again, Kaleb had been growing ever since. And as I mentioned several times I was craving for his story. Well, finally here is his story that not only takes us into his inner most self, but also answers quite a few unanswered questions that the readers had about Kaleb.

At the end of Kiss of Snow, we see that Kaleb finally finds the person he had been searching for so long. That is exactly where the story here begins. Now that Kaleb has found the one he lost, will their bonds renew and strengthen? While a war is about to wage soon, how does this dark love story of Kaleb make or change the destiny for the Psy, Changeling and Humans? How much of a price will Kaleb and Sahara pay in the end?

Although we have been seeing Kaleb almost in every plot since the second book, we had not heard anything about Sahara other than the brief mention of her name in that second book. So it came as a surprise to me that Nalini picked Sahara as Kaleb's mate. Yes, I know she was his mate from the two books in the spin-off series, still it threw me off. And that added more interest in Sahara, to know about her, what happened to her and how she had come out strong through the rings of fire, and finally making her an equal partner for Kaleb.

First time when I met Kaleb Krychek in this series, his last name reminded me of Alex Krychek, the antagonist in the American science fiction TV Drama X-Files. Alex being antagonist in that show, my mind pushed Kaleb also in the same category at first, just because of the same last name. Sounds really silly isnt it.

Typically hero and heroine usually have a happy ending in a romance novel; which is a standard recipe. Knowing that, it still gave me pause at several places in the plot and made me worry for Kaleb and Sahara's destiny. By the time I was 50% into the book, I was praying hard for them to fight and win, as opposed to destroy themselves for the betterment of the world. It sounds silly that one is praying for characters like how we do for real people. But sometimes the author makes them so real that as readers we forget that thin line between reality and fiction, I suppose.

She continues to sneak in various eco-friendly concepts and futuristic things in her plots. In this we see: computronic gauntlet that becomes part of the wearer's arm; scorch charges for erasing controlled locations. Unlike the previous two books, Nalini doesn’t have the cast of characters in this. But she does provide deleted scenes at the end in the paperback version of this book, both of them very charming and giving more insight into Kaleb and Sahara. But yes, agreed to be removed from the main book.

As always Nalini instills humor in every page along-side love, romance and the danger the characters face. To add to the humor, here is a small tid bit from my end. During the days I was reading the book, I saw an episode of Dancing With the Stars. And one of the dancing couples danced on the song "Perfect" by Ed Sheeran. I think if Kaleb and Sahara lived in our world, this would be their perfect wedding song. Don’t you agree too? ;)

It was interesting to see how Nalini Singh connected each and every knick-knack that our heroine Sahara finds in Kaleb's home to their memory from past. Except for one single piece of twisted metal. I expected it to be part of her deleted scenes. But didn’t see it there either. Perhaps I will see in her newsletter where she has short stories for the characters. Have to check that. 

What I like about Nalini's books is that although the primary story revolves around the hero and heroine, she has sub-plots with other characters that are equally important. She doesn’t leave them astray, as opposed to some other authors I have read, giving them substance to the story-line. 

For two tortured souls, Nalini gave them a very sweet love story despite the impending war or the havoc the terrorists are wreaking on the world or that they could themselves be prime targets for everyone who want to annihilate them. She raised a notch higher with this plot. A second wave in the series crested, and a third wave is ready to reach crescendo with this plot, keeping the readers immersed in her world.

Like her other series, 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. She does leave a lot of inconsequential details and new characters introduced, which we know will form meat for future plots.

A good continuation to a long running series in a fantasy world 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. Sahara's family includes - custodial parent Leon Kyriakus; cousin Faith NightStar and uncle Anthony Kyriakus.

b. Upon finding that Tatiana Rika-Smythe had kidnapped and tortured Sahara, Kaleb imprisons Tatiana in a similar fashion and tortures her to exact his revenge.

c. In Stroke of Enticement, Annie, Zach's mate, was rescued by a very young Cardinal Psy boy. I wondered if that was Kaleb. And Nalini confirms my suspicion in this book.

d. Since Caressed by Ice, Nalini introduced a character, Ghost, who had slowly become the nemesis of the Psy Council. Again, I had a feeling that Ghost was none other than Kaleb. Again Nalini confirmed my suspicion in this book.

e. Someone was trying to hack into Kaleb's mind in Bonds of Justice. It is confirmed in this plot that the Arrows had indeed tried to hack by way of keeping an eye on Kaleb.

f. Sahara feels that she owes Judd and Xavier for keeping Kaleb sane. A short story on it perhaps.

2. Sub-Plots: 

a. There are several Psy Designations that are thrown around by the author Nalini Singh. This fandom has detailed them here.

b. With introduction of Bowen, the Human Alliance Security Chief in Branded by Fire, it was a toss up on whose story I want to read soon - Hawke's or Kaleb's or Bowne's. We finished Hawke's in Kiss of Snow; with this plot we read Kaleb's; now I have to re-read Bowen's story from the Psy-Changeling Trinity Series.

c. Psy terms:

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

ii. NetMind - the central governing factor of PsyNet. It's twin DarkMind houses everything negative. Obsidian Archive, a backup to PsyNet.

iii. Web of Stars - the network that Sascha forms with Lucas, his sentinels' and their mates' minds. With Talin, a human, joining making it a true triumvirate. 

iv. SnowDancer Web - the network formed with Hawke and Sienna's mating bond, pulling the Lauren family into the bond that extends to his Lieutenants and their mates. Walker acts as valve for Sienna's X power.

d. Various Psy:

i. Surviving Ex-Councilors: Nikita Duncan, mother of Sascha Duncan; Ming LeBon; Shoshanna Scott; Kaleb Krychek; Anthony Kyriakus, head of the PsyClan NightStart begetting F-Psy.

ii. Other Psy: 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); Lenik (Kaleb's admin assistant); Samuel Rain (a robotics expert); Keisha Bale (An M-Psy); Tanique Gray (Faith's brother, an Ps-Psy).

iii. Remaining Lauren Family who defected to SnowDancers - Introduced in Slave to Sensation. Walker; his nephew Toby (Sienna's brother); Marlee, Walker's daughter. 

iv. Anchors: Essential to the PsyNet, could go rogue and turn into serial killers as seen from Slave to Sensation. 

v. At the end of Visions of Heat, there are still unexplained reasons as to why Faith's sister Marine was targeted by the Psy Serial Killer. Although in this book, it seems that Faith and her family have accepted her death.

vi. Kaleb has a vision for the square beneath his official buildings. Wonder where Nalini will bring this up again. 

vii. Amara, Ashaya's twin, seems to be distracted by one of the males working in her lab in Tangle of Need

e. Arrow Squad - Introduced in Visions of Heat. Pledge Allegiance to Kaleb Krychek in Bonds of Justice.

i. Aden - Leader and Medic-in-charge. Introduced in Blaze of Memory.

ii. Members: Vasic (introduced in Hostage to Pleasure); Gutierrez; Suhana; Abbot; Alejandro; Zaira (introduced in Tangle of Need); Sione;

iii. Defected Arrows - Introduced in Tangle of Need; defecting over the years; settling in Venice and aid the humans as needed.

f. Forgotten Psy - First mentioned in Caressed by Ice; Defected Psy who form their own ShadowNet post-Silence.

i. Devraj "Dev" Santos is their leader, marries Ekaterina "Katya" Haas, an M-Psy in Blaze of Memory.

ii. Other members: Rangi (Guardian); Dr. Glen Herriford; Jonquil "Jon" Alexi Duchslaya, a 14 year old rescued from Psy Anchors imprisonment; 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);

iii. In this plot, one of the female Forgotten assists as a tracker in the aftermath of Vasquez's atrocities; who is mated to a DarkRiver male. Who is this one?

g. Humans:

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

ii. Bowen "Bo" - Introduced in Branded by Fire. Human Alliance Security Chief; striving to make the Alliance a strong and powerful one along-side Psy and Changelings; 9 other men and women support him.

iii. Alice Eldridge - First mentioned in Branded by Fire. Rescued by Kaleb from a century of cryogenic suspension and handed to SnowDancers in Kiss of Snow; wakes up finally in Tangle of Need.

iv. Max Shannon - assigned as Security Chief for Council Nikita Duncan, married to Sophia Russo in Bonds of Justice, a J-Psy also assigned as Advisor to Nikita.

v. Sara, a human intern with the DarkRiver; Lily (Bowen's adopted sister); Father Xavier Perez (human, first introduced in Caressed by Ice, his search for the woman Nina concludes in this plot although he is yet to meet her); Lisette & Emil.

h. Various Changelings:

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, in Slave to Sensation. As of Kiss of Snow, they have a girl, Nadia "Naya" Shayla Hunter.

2) Other packmates - Kit & Rina Monaghan; Zara (a wildcat); Ria, a human mated to Emmet (she is pregnant as of  Play of Passion); Tara; Nico; Cory; Jason; Nicki; Aaron; Mia; Sarah; Lysa; Cian; Jamie; Desiree & her mother Meenakshi; Barker; Joe; 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, pack healer, in Beat of Temptation and have twin sons Roman and Julian, ); Vaughn D'Angelo (mated to Faith NightStar, an F-Psy, in Visions of Heat); Clay Bennett (mated to Talin "Tally" McKade, a human in Mine to Possess); Dorian (mated to Ashaya Aliene, an M-Psy, in Hostage to Pleasure); Mercy Smith (mated to SnowDancer Lieutenant Riley Aedan Kincaid, in Branded by Fire. She is pregnant with multiples as of Tangle of Need).

ii. SnowDancer Wolves with their territory in California

1) Hawke - Alpha. Mated to Sienna Lauren, an X-Psy, in Kiss of Snow.

2) Other packmates - Dalton (librarian); Tai (dating Evangeline, Indigo's sister, since Kiss of Snow); Lucy (assistant to Lara); Elias, his mate Yuki & daughter Sakura; Greg; D'Arn & his human mate Sing-Lui; Ben (wanting to mate with Marlee); Kieran (a human); Joshua; Brace; Sylvia; Maria & Lake; Riordan; Simran; Ines; Mariska; Sam Baker (a human); Mack; Nell; Shawnelle; Ivy; Becca; Pierce; Felix

3) Hawke's Lieutenants - Indigo Riviere (mated to Andrew "Drew" Liam Kincaid, a SnowDancer Tracker, in Play of Passion); Riley Aedan Kincaid; Judd Lauren (an Arrow Squad Psy, mated to Brenna Shane Kincaid, in Caressed by Ice); Riaz Delgado (mated to Adria Morgan, a SnowDancer Sr. Soldier, in Tangle of Need; Garnet "Jem"; Kenji Tanaka; Alexei; Mathias; Cooper "Coop" (mated to Grace); Tomas; 

4) More stories of the Lieutenants:

a) Kenji and Jem are fighting sparks.

b) Drew and Indigo are set to take over Alexei's sector in a month while Alexei to come back to the den as of Tangle of Need. 

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 introduced in Mine to Possess. Members - Teijan (Alpha); Suyi; Zane;

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

viii. Lynx Changelings. Introduced in Branded by Fire. Members: Baker Family - Iain and Enid and their son Nash and daughter Willow.

ix. SilverBlade Leopards. Introduced in Branded by Fire. Members: Hamilton (A Sentinel)

x. AzureSun Leopards in Brazil. Introduced in Branded by Fire. Members: Isabella (Alpha. Grandmother of Mercy); Eduardo and Joaquin (Sentinels).

xi. WindHaven Falcons. Introduced in Branded by Fire. Members: Adam Garrett (Wing Leader); Naia (healer); Jacques (second to Adam)

xii. RainFire Leopards in the Smokies. Introduced in Beat of Temptation. Remington "Remi" (Alpha); Finn (Healer)

xiii. WinterFire Leopards in North Dakota. First mentioned in Play of Passion.

xiv. BlackSea Changeling Coalition aka Conclave - First mentioned in Kiss of Snow; coalition of all water-based changelings across the world. Members: Miane Leveque (Leader, first mentioned in this plot); Emani Berg; Malachi;

xv. StoneWater Bears - First mentioned in Kiss of Snow.

xvi. WhiteSteppe Wolves - First mentioned in Tangle of Need. Sole wolf pack in Siberia.

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

a. On Pg. 250, Line 11 from bottom, it should be "…of the orders given to him…"


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