Shield of Winter by Nalini Singh

Shield of Winter by Nalini SinghShield of Winter by Nalini Singh
Series: Psy-Changeling, #13
Published by Berkley Hardcover on June 3rd 2014
Pages: 431
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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…

Post-Silence, the Arrows need to find their own feet amidst shifting alliances and betrayals. Vasic’s story comes in the dawn of this new age, and perhaps rightfully so, for a man who has been waiting to die for a long time. It’s a relief to see that he finally finds something more in Ivy Jane, one of the many empaths in Psy-Net whose designation has been ignored and scrubbed out when the empaths are tasked to restore order in a rotten Net collapsing under the heavy weight of mental infection.

(What I really, really liked was the sex-talk between Judd and Vasic, done with such military precision and planning that made me laugh throughout. *I heart Judd for sharing his research file*)

By that same token, I’m starting to think of Lucas as a personality-less panther whose claws come out each time someone comes near his mate and child – understandable but a tiring rhetoric from a panther who introduced us to this wonderful world in Slave to Sensation and can do so much more than be the overly protective entity hovering over his family. Any wonder why Hawke – and how beautifully he handles his responsibilities as alpha – had me sunk in Kiss of Snow?

Apart from that, ‘Shield of Winter’ is so much more than a simple story about 2 people fumbling their way through intimacy – which it undoubtedly is, in a raw, beautifully awkward way that can only happen when neither party has the experience for it. It is also one that chronicles one of the most honest relationships – sans mind games and manipulating – that I’ve had the privilege of reading.

Nalini Singh’s world-building is rock solid at this point and the book reads like a penultimate swan song to the next one where I’m guessing things will finally settle into a denouement that will allow subsequent books in this universe to shift away from the Psy-changelings who have been the focus for the past 14 or so novels.