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Saturday, June 28, 2014

Review: Shield of Winter

Title: Shield of Winter
Author: Nalini Singh
Page Count: 431 pages
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: paranormal romance
Copy for review was purchased by me

Back Cover Summary:
Assassin. Soldier. Arrow. That is who Vasic is, who he will always be. His soul drenched in blood, his conscience heavy with the weight of all he’s done, he exists in the shadows, far from the hope his people can almost touch—if only they do not first drown in the murderous insanity of a lethal contagion. To stop the wave of death, Vasic must complete the simplest and most difficult mission of his life.

For if the Psy race is to survive, the empaths must wake…

Having rebuilt her life after medical “treatment” that violated her mind and sought to stifle her abilities, Ivy should have run from the black-clad Arrow with eyes of winter frost. But Ivy Jane has never done what she should. Now, she'll fight for her people, and for this Arrow who stands as her living shield, yet believes he is beyond redemption. But as the world turns to screaming crimson, even Ivy’s fierce will may not be enough to save Vasic from the cold darkness…
*****

Is there really anything left that I can say to convince you to read this series if you haven't already?  This is installment thirteen and it's just as captivating as the first.  The overall story keeps evolving and adding layers without losing cohesiveness, and it's apparent that the big conflicts that have been brewing since page one of the first book are coming to a head.

One of my most favorite things about this series, out of many, is that you never know which details are going to come back from previous books and be pivotal elements in the story you're reading now.  For example, at the same time that I'm writing this review, I'm listening to the second book (Visions of Heat) as an audiobook, and in that book Sahara Kyriakus is mentioned one time, in one line.  I don't think we hear her name again until she shows back up as the leading lady in book 12 (Heart of Obsidian.)  This is insane, in a totally fun way.  Details like that coming back in a logical way makes for a really cohesive, thorough and engaging story, and is also a reason why you should get to work listening to the books in this series as audiobooks, my thoughts on which will be the subject of another post entirely.

Anyway, the starring couple this time around are Vasic and Ivy- Ivy is new to us, but Vasic has made several appearances in previous installments so we knew we were getting broody, broody backstory when his turn to be the star finally came.  Indeed, we certainly did- Vasic has been an Arrow for 25 years, which means he was brutally trained as a child and has been assassinating, covering up assassinations, and making people/evidence/information/whatever disappear since then.  He is clearly portrayed as a good man who has been forced to do bad things; as a result, he doesn't think he's worthy of anyone's love or affection and that the only way he can atone for his past sins is to exit the world, stage right.

Good thing Ivy has other plans.  Ivy is an interesting character because she's been rehabilitated, which means she's experienced the psychic wipe that's only been a threat to other characters in the past. She's experienced the worst thing, short of death, that could happen to a Psy, and not only has she survived, but her family has rallied around her and gone off the grid to support her and prevent anyone from ever hurting her again.  She's experienced loyalty firsthand, so she's fully conscious of the choice she's making when she throws her lot in with Vasic (and she does throw her lot in with him- hope that wasn't a spoiler.)

Our cast of characters is up against some pretty gruesome stuff in this installment as the deterioration of the PsyNet takes a deadly turn.  There had been a lot of rumors circulating that this was the second to last book in the series, and I can see, based on the events included here, why people might think that- the author wrote a blog post (What's Next for the Psy-Changeling Series) that dismisses that as pure rumor- I know I'm happy about that!  Through it all, though, the message of this story is that you have to choose to be happy, and be judged by your actions of today.  Vasic didn't have a choice about the things that he was forced to do in the past, but he does have a choice now.  Ivy isn't about to let him back out and be noble when he needs to grab life by the short and curlies and decide to be a better man.




Wise words, indeed.  Thank you, Zombie.

I'm excited that we'll get another Psy-Changeling story this year when the Night Shift anthology comes out this fall, and incidentally, that anthology is one of my most anticipated books for the rest of this year.  The good times just keep on rolling at this point!
 
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