Book Critique – Shards of Hope (Psy-Changeling #14)

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

Stars: 3.5 / 5

My Recommendation: An exciting continuation into a series filled with Psy, Changeling and Humans, all three races facing the aftermath of the fallen Silence and braving into a new world under Trinity Accord. Of course there is romance, passion, war, friendship, loyalties and betrayals along the line. 

Shards of Hope is the fourteenth book in the long running Psy-Changeling Series by Nalini Singh, published in June of 2015. The primary plot revolves around Aden Kai - leader of the Arrow Squad - and Zaira Neve - a senior commander in the Arrow Squad.

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 having 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 fourteenth book in the parent series. Nalini continues to focus on the Arrows and more about their secrets. The plot is set in Spring of 2082, four months after the events in Shield of Winter.

We met Aden Kai first in Blaze of Memory as the acknowledged leader of the Arrow Squad while Zaira Neve made her appearance first in Tangle of Need as the head of the defected Psy who have been settling in Venice over the years. Now here Nalini spins a story for another pair of damaged and tortured souls. 

Aden Kai and Zaira Neve barely escaped from death at the facility they were held after being kidnapped. But their escape turns into going out from frying pan to fire. Now they are stranded in an unknown region of vast forest, badly injured, with no supplies, no medical help, a deadly predator changeling pack close-by and unknown assailants on their heels. They have only themselves and the promise they made to each other that they would never leave each alone again, to survive and live.

Though broken and battered, Zaira proves herself to be as whole as she can be for Aden, despite her flaws. The very flaws that Aden considers as strength, that make him a better person with her on his side. Nalini again found a perfect match between two Arrows who were otherwise destined to be lost to everyone, if not for their core strength and grit to hold on.

From the time I started reading the series, my mind and heart was set on reading stories for Hawke Snow, the SnowDancer Wolf Alpha; Kaleb Krychek, Dual Cardinal Psy; and Bowen Knight, Leader of The Human Alliance. Never expected Aden Kai's story to take such prominent position in the series, and that he would elevate into one of the characters beside the above three. Now I want to read more of all of them in every book and every plot from now until whenever Nalini concludes them. :P

We also see more of other predatory changeling packs - RainFire Leopards, who we first had seen in Beat of Temptation, the very first novella in the series; BlackEdge Wolves, who were continually being mentioned since Caressed by Ice; BlackSea Water Coalition who first surfaced in Kiss of Snow. With this plot, Nalini expands these packs further more, just how she had done with SnowDancer Wolf and DarkRiver Leopard Changeling packs. Perhaps we might see more tales from these packs in future as well.

Nalini also shows how the Arrows and the Changeling packs learn things from each other. While Arrows learn about pack mentality, the Changelings learn about the hard Arrow world. She creates a unique chance for Zaira to have her redemption and Aden to prove his will and path, with these ties she binds between the Arrows and the Changelings.

She also elevates Silver Mercant and her family with respect to the direction the plot is heading. Since I have already read Silver's story, it is such a treat to read her character evolve. 

She continues to sneak in various eco-friendly concepts and futuristic things in her plots. In this we see: biodegradable containers to bury that would dissolve with earth; laser binoculars. She gives the readers the treat of listing out the cast of characters in the beginning of the book. Although we miss seeing any deleted scenes.

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 and tortured souls, Nalini gave them a powerful love story and a purpose to their lives; giving them the courage and strength to not only find themselves but also make a mark for their brethren.

Nalini again brings almost all the key players from past books together in this plot, in one form or the other, which we have been seeing since past three books. And that wave has come to a crescendo and not only that, but to a conclusion for this arc of the series. Would be interesting to see how Nalini connected this arc with Psy-Changeling Trinity arc in the next book which sort of forms a bridge.

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.

An exciting continuation into a series filled with Psy, Changeling and Humans, all three races facing the aftermath of the fallen Silence and braving into a new world under Trinity Accord, with allies working towards creating a balance and enemies trying to 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. Bo creates a fund between Hawke, Lucas and Bo with the money he gets from transferring the lands that were bought by someone under The Alliance's name.

b. Approx 21 BlackSea water changelings are missing; the hunt for them would no doubt slip and slide to several future plots by Nalini.

c. Nikita Duncan gets shot in an assassination attempt. A relationship seems to be budding between Nikita and Anthony. 

d. Aden Kai and Lucas Hunter (representing all the Changelings) join the Ruling Coalition.

e. Trinity Accord - Aden Kai proposes and is formed at the end of the plot that includes the Ruling Coalition; Devraj Santos (representing the Forgotten Psy); Bowen Knight (Leader of Human Alliance); Lizbeth Shafer (head of a humanitarian group called Hope Light); Miane Leveque (BlackSea Leader).

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 - DarkRiver Leopards network between the alpha pair, their sentinels and their mates' minds. With Talin, a human, joining makes it a true triumvirate. 

iii. SnowDancer Web - SnowDancer Wolves network between the alpha pair, their lieutenants and their mates' minds along with the Lauren family. Walker acts as valve for Sienna's X power.

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

v. The Consortium - headed by The Architect, formed of Psy, Human and Changeling power hungry people who want to take advantage of the fallen Silence at the cost of lives. Unknow yet who is this Architect or even if it is a he or a she.

c. Various Psy:

i. Ruling Coalition: Nikita Duncan; Kaleb Krychek (mated to Sahara Kyriakus, an F-Psy, in Heart of Obsidian); Anthony Kyriakus; Ivy Jane Zen; Aden Kai; Lucas Hunter

ii. 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.

iii. Ex-Councilors: Ming LeBon; Shoshanna Scott

iv. 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; Gwen Jane & Carter Hirsch (Ivy Jane's parents); Zie Zen (Vasic's great-grandfather); Pax Marshall; Payal Rao; Ena Mercant

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

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

vii. 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?

viii. In Shield of Winter:

1) Isaiah and Concetta seemed to bond, although Isaiah is injured in that plot.

2) Silver Mercant sets up the worldwide rapid-response network for aiding in critical situations, supported by the Arrow Squad.

d. Arrow Squad:

i. Aden Kai - Leader. 

ii. Sentinels / Lieutenants: Vasic Zen (mated to Ivy Jane, an E-Psy, in Shield of Winter); Zaira Neve; Cristobel Rodriguez; Amin; Axl (sparks fly between him & Tamar, Arrow's financial genius in this plot)

iii. Members: Gutierrez; Suhana; Alejandro; Sione; Stefan; Ella; Tavish; Mica; Nerida; Beatrice Gault; Yuri; Pip; Carolina;  

iv. Other Couples:

1) Marjorie Kai & Naoshi Ayze (Aden's parents)

2) Abbot (Bonded with Jaya, an E-Psy in Shield of Winter)

3) Bond seems to be forming between Cristobel and Amin in this plot.

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" Kinght - 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 and Grey (Mercy's remaining 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, is pregnant in Texture of Intimacy.

c) Bastien "Frenchie" Michael Smith, Mercy's brother and DarkRiver financial genius;mated to Kirby Rosario, a Lynx Changeling, in Secrets at Midnight.

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 Squad Psy, 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) Walker Lauren, a Tp-Psy, mated to Lara Knight, healer, in Texture of Intimacy.

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

c) Elias, his mate Yuki & daughter Sakura

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

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

f) Shamus Lopez & his mate Emma

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

h) Melina and James - Grace's adopted parents

i) 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.

8) In Shield of Winter, Hawke and Sienna's plan to eliminate Ming once for all takes a little detour in the wake of fallen Silence.

iii. BlackEdge Wolves in Moscow. First mentioned in Caressed by Ice. Selenka Durev (Alpha); Gregori

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" Denier (Alpha); Finn (Healer); Lark, Angel & Theo (Sentinels); Jojo (with markings of an alpha); Jasper;

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; Olivia & her daughter Persephone; 

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 Shield of Winter.

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

a. In several pages Cristobel is spelled as "Cristabel". Is it "Cristobel" or "Cristabel"?

b. On Pg. 365, Kaleb mentions the assassin as "he", while on Pg. 367, Max identifies the assassin as "she". Clearly mis-represented on Pg. 367.


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