Shield of Winter
Author: Nalini Singh
Reviewer: Jen Twimom
Shield of Winter opens shortly after the fall of Silence and the world-altering events of the previous book, Heart of Obsidian. Kaleb Krychek has taken a leadership role for the Psy race now that their once-ruling council has been disbanded. He believes the empaths (E-designation Psys) are the key to stopping the horrible disease that is infecting the PsyNet – the psychic fabric that connects all Psys and provides the biofeedback necessary for the race to survive. Krychek wants to run an experiment with targeted volunteers (gone are the old ways of force) in the Snow Dancer-Dark River territory. Enter Vasic and Ivy Jane.
Ivy Jane is a damaged empath with extraordinary potential. She agrees to help Krychek to see if the E’s can save the Psys. Because of the social unrest after the fall of Silence, an Arrow is assigned to assist and protect each E-Psy. Vasic is charged with Ivy’s care, and the pair begin to develop a partnership and friendship. However, with time running out on multiple fronts, it is unclear if the group of E’s and Arrows can overcome the problems they face.
I found Shield of Winter to be an enjoyable follow up to the powerhouse story of Heart of Obsidian, and although it had the feel of a transitional book, the romance was sweet and the story engaging. I enjoyed learning more about both E’s and Arrows – two groups that until now, have not been looked at in much detail. In addition, I found the solution presented to cure the problems of the crashing PsyNet to be realistic within the parameters of the world. The journey to discover the solution was intense, although at times a bit drawn out, but overall, I enjoyed the plot.
Before this book, readers didn’t know much of Vasic, other than cryptic bits and pieces. I found that Ms. Singh did an excellent job of “humanizing” Vasic without changing his core personality, and without repeating the journey other hardline Psys like Kaleb and Judd took to find their freedom from the ties that bind. Right from the start, Vasic is shown as someone who is in the fight for his comrades, trying to give those like him a better life. By accepting his own fate (he has faltering tech attached to his body and only weeks to live), yet fighting for others because it is the right thing to do, the reader sees that Vasic can be kind without feeling the emotions behind the reasons. I found Vasic’s dedication to the E’s and his fierce loyalty helped created a hero that I wanted to get behind.
Ivy Jane is also a very likable character. She is not as outrageous with her emotions as previous heroines, but she has an infectious appreciation for life and dynamic personal connections. Right off the start, I liked Ivy’s attitude. She realized that she is defective and unstable, but that she didn’t deserve to be “violated and tortured” in her youth. I appreciate her willingness to trust Kaleb and his plans, even though she would have been condemned if Silence was still in place. Ivy is cautious, yet at the same time optimistic and willing to create change.
The pair have a slow-burning romance. One that starts in inquiries and dialogue, and moves towards teenage sexual interest. I loved how they both are curious and trying to understand the other… coming to ideas from two different directions and willing to listen. Then, as Ivy feels more for Vasic, I cheered for her willingness to go out on a limb and explore her sexuality. I adored their private moments as they began to build in to more and more. Overall, I didn’t mind the slow pace of the romance, because it fit the characters. However, Vasic’s teleporting problem every time the pair got intimate began to wear on me by the three-quarter mark of the book.
While there are a few important relationships throughout the story, and my favorite was the one between Zie Zen and Vasic. “Grandfather” is in fact, Vasic’s blood relative, although not too many know this. He was alive pre-Silence, and the story he shares about his lover Sunny, is touching. I adore how Vasic treats Grandfather with awe, reverence, and even love (although Vasic would never call it that). The pair share tender and intimate moments that brought a tear or two to my eyes.
Overall, Shield of Winter is a good story that brings readers into post-Silence life. Vasic and Ivy share a sweet romance, which is slow-burning yet pleasing. I loved their innocence and efforts to support one another no matter what. And while they didn’t share scorching hot sex scenes, it’s how it should be since they are both completely inexperienced virgins. The two main conflicts – the failing mechanical gauntlet grafted to Vasic’s arm, giving him weeks to live and the infection in the PsyNet gaining ground and driving Psys to a violent madness – provided solid suspense and action; however I did feel like it went on a bit too long. I would have preferred one less mass riot scene or so. The most touching scenes throughout the book were consistently those between Vasic and his grandfather. The book did hit on an emotional level many times, and overall, I really enjoyed the book.
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…
Release Date: June 3, 2014
Series: Psy-Changeling #13
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Format(s): hardcover (448 pages), e-book, audiobook
Book Source: Publisher/NetGalley
Shield of Winter (Psy-Changelings #13)
Reviews in the Series:
Bonds of Justice by Nalini Singh (Psy-Changeling #8)
“Whisper of Sin” by Nalini Singh (Burning Up) (Psy-Changeling #0.6)
Play of Passion by Nalini Singh (Psy-Changeling #9)
Kiss of Snow by Nalini Singh (Psy-Changeling #10)
Tangle of Need by Nalini Singh (Psy-Changeling #11)
Wild Invitation by Nalini Singh (Psy-Changeling #0.5, 3.5, 9.5, 10.5)
Heart of Obsidian by Nalini Singh (Psy-Changeling #12)