Review: Shield of Winter by Nalini Singh

Title:  Shield of Winter*
Author:  Nalini Singh
Series: Psy-Changeling series #13
Genre:  paranormal romance
Publisher:  Berkley
Format:  hardcover ebook
Date/Year:  June 3, 2014
Reviewed by:  Andrea

*This book was provided to reviewer by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Summary from the publisher:

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 iand 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.

My Musings:

This book is part of a series and is best enjoyed when read in sequence. I would strongly advise against trying to read this as a stand alone.

Silence has fallen and the Psy race is in chaos.  An uncontrolled disease is slowly taking over sections of the NetMind.  Once infected, it can send those affected into a mass psychotic and murderous rage.  If it’s not stopped, it will destroy the entire Psy race.  Kaleb Krycheck has an idea which may save the Psy, but he desperately needs help.  He believes that the long hidden and sidelined Empaths are the key to healing the NetMind.  It’s a bold and dangerous move, as a particularly dangerous segment of the Psy are set on eliminating anyone within the E classification.  Kaleb cannot ask the vulnerable E-Psy to step up without offering them protection.  For that, he turns to the Arrows.

Ivy is one of the E-Psy asked to help.  As a child, her Silence was always fractured.  As a teenager under the old system, she was rehabilitated.  It left her mind fragmented and barely functioning.  It has taken years of hard work under the protective shields of her parents for Ivy to mend the damage done to her mind.  When a cold and lethal Arrow appears with the proposal from Kaleb, it gives Ivy hope that maybe she isn’t as broken and useless as she was led to believe.  What they’re asking of her is an unbelievably dangerous and difficult task, but one she is willing to take on if it will give her the chance to regain everything which was stolen from her as a teen.

Vasic is a familiar character to those of us who follow this series.  He is the ultimate Arrow, but lately he has been showing signs of cracking.  Those close to him can see that he is dangerously close to the point of self destruction.  They decide that Kaleb’s new project is perfect for Vasic.  He can lead the mission, protect the vulnerable E-Psy, and will benefit from the emotional stability naturally extended to those in close proximity of them.  What nobody counted on was the connection between Ivy and Vasic.

If you’re a fan of the Psy-Changeling series, you’ll know that most of the books have a strong romance which runs alongside whatever crisis is causing strain among the three different races trying to live together in relative harmony.  SHIELD OF WINTER is no different.   While the romance between Ivy and Vassic is strong, most of the other plotlines struggled to hold my interest.  I think my biggest issue was that there was so much going on and too many people involved.  The many plotlines also had varying levels of development.  Therefore, I was pulled into some and had only a minor interest in others. 

I desperately wanted the focus to be on the disease of the NetMind and the actions of those involved to stop it.  I hated it when I found myself resenting some of the characters I had formerly loved because they didn’t seem to be doing anything to stop the violence and deaths of so many innocents.  For example, I was angry with Sasha Duncan through most of the book.  She is a cardinal E and has the most developed E talent within the Psy race, yet it took her until almost the very end to take an active role.  Most frustrating of all was that I don’t think my anger at Sasha was the author’s intention.  I believe it was simply a result of too many plotlines and characters being packed into the story.  Honestly, it would have taken an epic book to fully develop every plotline and give everyone involved their due. 

While the romance between Ivy and Vassic was quite good, the rest of it fell short for me.  I had a difficult time connecting with a few of the characters and was angry with a couple others.  With all of that going on, I wasn’t able to fully get behind the fight to save the Psy race.  I was frustrated by the lack of action on the part of the E’s and that made portions of the book feel as though they were dragging.  I did enjoy SHIELD OF WINTER, but it was close to being equal parts frustrating and interesting.  If you’re a fan of the series, you should definitely read it.  Just don’t get your hopes up too high.


Overall: 3.25 stars
Sensuality level: 3.5

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