Book Critique – Shield of Winter (Psy-Changeling #13)

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, 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. 

Shield of Winter is the thirteenth book in the long running Psy-Changeling Series by Nalini Singh, published in June of 2014. The primary plot revolves around Vasic Zen - an Arrow - and Ivy Jane - an Empath, E-Psy. It is set in winter of 2081, right after the events in Heart of Obsidian.

Psy-Changeling series focuses on three races living side-by-side on Earth - The icy Psy who rule the world struggling with fall of Silence; the Changelings with natural mental barriers to fight the Psy invasion; and the Humans considered the weakest have decided to level the playing field. The series takes the readers through 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 thirteenth book in the parent series. Nalini continues to focus on the Psy and the war brewing while exploring further into the Arrows.

The Arrow Squad were first introduced in Visions of Heat and we saw that they pledged their allegiance to Kaleb Krychek in Bonds of Justice. However, Vasic was introduced in Hostage to Pleasure as an arrow who is on the edge to go up in flames. And so it made sense for Nalini to begin her stories for the Arrows with the one who is almost at the door of death.

The Psy Council has dissolved and Silence Protocol has fallen. But there are millions of innocents who need to be saved and guided through this transition process. The only ones who can do so are the Empaths aka E-Psy. After a century of sleeping, the E-Psy are waking up. One such is Ivy Jane whose protector is Vasic Zen. But they form a bond between them from the start of their meet. Now Ivy has to not only fight for her race but for her man as well. The biggest battle they both have to endure in their lives.

As cold as Vasic is, Ivy is filled with warmth. All the light Vasic doesn’t seem to have comes from Ivy blending them into a kaleidoscope of colors protected by Vasic's dark shield. Despite being the one with all emotions, Ivy shows her mettle when needed, standing shoulder to shoulder with Vasic.

Interestingly enough this time around Nalini published three new novellas, and re-published two already published novellas before she had given the readers the next story in the series.

She continues to sneak in various eco-friendly concepts and futuristic things in her plots. In this we see: simulated sunlight and moonlight for subterranean dwellings; weatherproof combat uniforms; bullet & laser proof clothing; spectacles designed to see at microcellular level; medical gloves that could direct energy into damaged areas; 

She brings back the cast of characters in this which we missed in Heart of Obsidian. She also includes six deleted scenes at the end in the paperback version of this novel. Some as usual agreed that they should be deleted, but two of them I truly would have liked to have them in the original plot. This time she has little notes at the beginning of most chapters, that give a hint to the readers as to what is in wait for them in that chapter.

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 damaged souls, Nalini gave them a poignant love story that brings out their inner character and core spirit that hadn't been broken by anything that was thrown at them. Nalini also brings almost all the key players from past books together in this plot, in one form or the other. Another hint that the third wave is about to reach crescendo.

Like her other series', there is romance and passion 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 all three races are facing the aftermath of the falling of Silence, with some working towards creating a balance while some trying cash in on it at the cost of everyone's lives. 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. Ivy Jane's family - partnered parents Gwen Jane & Carter Hirsch.

b. Vasic's family - great-grandfather Zie Zen. Introduced in Caressed by Ice supposedly as biological father for Ashaya's son Keenan.

c. Hawke and Sienna's plan to eliminate Ming once for all takes a little detour in the wake of fallen Silence.

d. Abbot, another Arrow, forms a bond with Jaya, an E-Psy; while the two E-Psy Isaiah and Concetta seemed to do the same. Although Isaiah is injured during one of the outbreaks.

e. Silver Mercant sets up the worldwide rapid-response network that contains every single body from the three species. Aden is tasked to work directly with her to send Arrows to critical incident locations.

f. Vasic has an obelisk made with the names of all the people he was forced to eliminate traces of during his role as an arrow under the previous regime. 

2. Sub-Plots: 

a. Several Psy Designations are mentioned in the series which this fandom detailed here.

b. Psy terms:

i. NetMind - the central governing factor of PsyNet. It's twin DarkMind collects all negative. Obsidian Archive, a backup to PsyNet.

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

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

iv. Ruling Coalition: Nikita Duncan; Kaleb Krychek (mated to Sahara Kyriakus, an F-Psy, in Heart of Obsidian); Anthony Kyriakus; President of Empathic Collective

v. Honeycomb Protocol - The colorful new PsyNet connected by Empaths to all Psy across the world, guarded by the Arrows and neutralizing the disease to the PsyNet.

vi. Empathic Collective - formed by 5 empaths including Sascha Duncan from across the world, Ivy Jane is President; Sahara Kyriakus as specialist; Alice Elridge as Consultant.

c. Various Psy:

i. Ex-Councilors: Ming LeBon; Shoshanna Scott

ii. Other Psy: Latham; Sione; Juniper; Gia Khan; Silver Mercant (Kaleb's sr. personal assistant, introduced in Caressed by Ice); Lenik (Kaleb's admin assistant); Samuel Rain; Keisha Bale; Tanique Gray (Faith's brother); Clara Alvarez; Chang; Concetta; Teri; Dechen; Isaiah; Brigitte

iii. Kaleb has a vision for the square beneath his official buildings. A short story perhaps. 

iv. Amara, Ashaya's twin, gets distracted by one of the males working in her lab in Tangle of Need.

v. In Heart of Obsidian:

1) To avenge Sahara, Kaleb imprisons and tortures ex-Councilor Tatiana Rika-Smythe.

2) Sahara feels she owes Judd and Xavier for keeping Kaleb sane. A short story perhaps.

3) Nalini connected every knick-knack in Kaleb's home to a shared memory between him and Sahara except for one single piece of twisted metal. A short story for it?

d. Arrow Squad:

i. Aden Kai - Leader. Introduced in Blaze of Memory.

ii. Members & Defected Arrows who settled in Venice: Vasic; Gutierrez; Suhana; Abbot; Alejandro; Zaira; Sione; Stefan; Amin; Ella; 

e. Forgotten Psy - Introduced in Caressed by Ice; Defected Psy with their own ShadowNet post-Silence.

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

ii. Members: Rangi; 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); Aubry; Aryan; Tag & Tiara; Cruz; Maggie; Dr. Connor; Eva;

iii. In Heart of Obsidian, one of the female Forgotten assists in the catastrophe by Vasquez; who is mated to a DarkRiver male. Who is she?

f. Humans:

i. 18th Century Territorial (Changeling) Wars - Adrian Kenner had help draft laws that ended the war.

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 - Introduced in Branded by Fire. Rescued by Kaleb from a century of cryogenic suspension and handed to SnowDancers in Kiss of Snow; Consultant to Empathic Coalition.

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

v. Sara; Lily (Bowen's adopted sister); Father Xavier Perez (introduced in Caressed by Ice, yet to meet his Nina); Lisette & Emil.

g. Various Changelings:

i. DarkRiver Leopards (Territory: San Francisco)

1) Lucas Hunter - Alpha. Mated to Sascha Duncan, an E-Psy, in Slave to Sensation. In Kiss of Snow, they have a girl, Nadia "Naya" Shayla Hunter.

2) Packmates - Kit & Rina Monaghan; Zara; Tara; Nico; Cory; Jason; Nicki; Aaron; Mia; Sarah; Lysa; Cian; Jamie; Desiree & her mother Meenakshi; Barker; Joe; Keely; Owen; Monroe; Nicki; Sage "Herb", Bastien "Bas" and Grey (Mercy's brothers)

3) Sentinels - Nathan "Nate" Ryder (mated to Tamsyn "Tammy" Mahaire, healer, have twin sons Roman and Julian, Story in Beat of Temptation); 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, pregnant with multiples in Tangle of Need).

4) Other Couples:

a) Emmet, mated to Ria Wembley, a human, in Whisper of Sin; pregnant in Play of Passion.

b) Zachary "Zach" Quinn, mated to Angelica "Anne" Kildaire, a human, in Stroke of Enticement; pregnant in Texture of Intimacy.

ii. SnowDancer Wolves (Territory: California)

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

2) Packmates - Dalton; Lucy; Kieran (a human); Joshua; Brace; Sylvia; Maria & Lake; Riordan; Simran; Ines; Mariska; Sam Baker (a human); Mack; Nell; Shawnelle; Ivy; Becca; Pierce; Felix; Vivienne & Todd (Twins); Daniel; Margo; Vitoria; Sebastian; Paul; Elizabeth; Diego; Revel & Pia  (siblings)

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

4) More Stories:

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. 

5) Other Couples:

a) Tai, dating Evangeline, Indigo's sister, since Kiss of Snow.

b) Elias, his mate Yuki & daughter Sakura

c) Greg; D'Arn & his human mate Sing-Lui

d) Spencer & Ava Stone, their son Ben (wanting to mate with Marlee)

e) Shamus Lopez & his mate Emma

f) Tarah & Abel - Indigo and Evie's parents

g) Melina and James - Grace's adopted parents

h) Aisha & Mack - Lara's parents

6) In Declaration of Courtship, Nalini leaves the accidental death of Cooper's parents unsolved.

7) In Texture of Intimacy:

a) Judd hands over a data crystal to Walker containing details about children who are still in the Arrow Squad's training program.

b) Riordan, is interested in Noelle, sister of Zach Quinn, a DarkRiver leopard changeling.

c) Lara and her assistant Lucy are looking for a dedicated admin person.

iii. BlackEdge Wolves in Moscow. First mentioned in Caressed by Ice. Selenka Durev (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. 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 & Enid; son Nash; 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 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. Members: Miane Leveque (Leader, introduced in Tangle of Need); Emani Berg; Malachi;

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

xvi. WhiteSteppe Wolves in Siberia. First mentioned in Tangle of Need.

xvii. WaterSky Eagles in New York. Introduced in this plot.


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