Shield of Winter: Psy-Changeling, Book 13 Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
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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 suffocate 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.
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|Listening Length||15 hours and 47 minutes|
|Whispersync for Voice||Ready|
|Audible.com Release Date||June 03, 2014|
|Best Sellers Rank|| #41,315 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
#755 in Fantasy Romance (Audible Books & Originals)
#1,164 in Paranormal Fantasy
#1,175 in Paranormal Romance (Audible Books & Originals)
Top reviews from the United States
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And I'm still recovering from Heart of Obsidian, by the way.
Shield of Winter showcases everything that that makes this series so wonderful:
1) Unique, intricate worldbuilding - the concept of the PsyNet is one of the best worldbuilding constructs I've ever read and it takes center stage here.
2) An alpha hero with a devoted, protective and positively molten core despite his mistakes and haunts from the past. Vasic was not what I expected but I couldn't imagine him every other way. He is different than the other heroes in this series yet so, so perfect.
3) A strong feisty heroine who has an iron will, contagious zest for life, and deep awareness of the world around her. I admire Ivy like crazy. Out of all the leading ladies in this world I think she's the truest fighter of them all.
4) Airtight plotting with threads that come full circle from the first book, Slave to Sensation (and SoW is #13!).
5) A sweet, heartrending romance that's also hot, hot, hot.
6) Prose that is haunting, soulful and beautiful on one page and clinical yet flowing the next - Ms. Singh has an incredible storytelling voice.
First, SO much was packed into this book. It is just as much an aftermath book as it is about new beginnings and continuing the stories already told. After the destruction wrought on the PsyNet and wider world by the fanatical group Pure Psy everyone is still reeling. Now add that to the fall of Silence, the protocol that conditions Psy not to feel emotion...because often their rampant feelings cause them to sink into insanity or lose control of their abilities and unintentionally hurt others. Silence kept the lid on those things but it also destroyed their society and allowed sociopaths free reign. Now a disease that originated in Silence is destroying the fabric of the PsyNet - the psychic network that connects all Psy and keeps them alive. After Silence fell it grew ever more voracious.
The Arrow Squad, which was long the Psy Council's dirty little secret now works only for itself and is dedicated to saving the Net. To do this they must "wake" the empaths, whose core ability of healing emotions and damaged psyches caused them to be systematically suffocated under Silence. Vasic is one of those Arrows. As a telekinetic who is also a born teleporter he was extremely valuable to the Council and has been part of the squad since childhood. After all he has seen and done he is ready to give up. Ivy is a powerful empath who was very nearly rehabilitated (a psychic brainwipe) after she broke Silence in a big way at 16. It took her years to recover, and now she's been asked to be part of a group of empaths to investigate the disease and find a cure. Vasic is her guard. He will do this one last thing before he finds the only peace he can get. However, Ivy is a fighter through and through and she refuses to give up on Vasic - or allow him to give up on himself.
The disease and romance are the two biggest plot threads. However, there are also quite a few new characters introduced (Arrows and Empaths - what a combination!). There is a kind-of secondary romance (Nalini Singh you owe us a story about Abbot and Jaya!...I mean, please?). Like I said, there's lots more but this review is already going to be way too long.
We do get to catch up with characters from past books like Kaleb and Sahara, Judd Lauren, Sascha and Lucas, Alice Eldridge, Zie Zen and even Dev Santos. Kaleb in particular is such a complex character, and for all his enormous power he is ever the politician. I also loved seeing Sahara building her own life and her life with Kaleb. These two deserve every single millisecond of their happiness. And Judd Lauren continues to steal my heart. I love you, Judd Lauren. Don't get me started on Kaleb.
So I know I gave this book five stars, but there are actually quite a few things that annoyed me. I'm going to list them briefly, but I just want to say despite the stuff I didn't like this book and series just leave me awestruck.
1) Too many cameos. There are well over fifty significant characters in this series. Ms. Singh never, ever info dumps on her readers, and while I LOVE seeing past MCs again sometimes I feel certain appearances are unnecessary. In particular I didn't think Mercy, Riley and Sienna's part were necessary.
2) The prose. Yeah, I said it was great. But there was some ridiculousness going on in there. At times it's so overly dramatic it feels campy. It also gets repetitious in places. And there was THREE times Ivy felt like there was "confetti" inside her. It stuck out like an awkward, sore thumb.
3) Too much build up and glossed-over resolution. I was nervous about how Ms. Singh would solve the dilemma (understatement) of the disease, and I thought the solution was perfect. Unfortunately there wasn't much pagetime for the actual cure and aftermath. I'm sure some of this will be covered in Psy-Changeling #14, but it was still somewhat disjointing.
4) Ming LeBon. This situation still isn't resolved. I'm thinking his part happened for a reason that will become evident later on but it felt unneeded while reading.
5) This is a darker series and some pretty horrifying things happen. Like not thousands but hundreds of thousands of people dying. Sometimes I feel that awfulness isn't emphasized enough. I also think the characters and events get pretty edgy only for Ms. Singh to pull back. I wouldn't call it deus-ex-machina but it still seems there should be more sacrifice from the characters.
Although this is a series I think SoW can be read standalone. New readers won't be familiar with the socioeconomic attributes of the Psy-Changeling universe or the histories of past MCs, but it's still manageable. However, you're going to really like this book, then go back and read the rest and wish you had read them in order in first. It's an amazing journey and Nalini Singh is a sneaky, genius, masterful storyteller. And very emotive. These stories will touch your heart and soul.
I don't so much dread having to wait for a new installment in this series as I do finding something to read after a new book goes out. Seriously, withdrawal occurs - and it ain't pretty. Booklist has called Nalini Singh the "alpha author" of paranormal romance. For me it's pretty much fact. Shield of Winter is an impressive addition to the phenomenal Psy-Changeling series, and I treasured every minute of reading it. The phrase not-to-be-missed is NOT an exaggeration here!
The world of the Psy changed forever at the conclusion of Heart of Obsidian with Kaleb Krychek putting an end to the Silence that has been the norm for decades. Now, this unique species is forced to figure out how to live with their emotions and battle the rapidly increasing infection that is oozing through the Psy Net. One way that they believe they can fight the disease is by utilizing the powers of the E-Psy or empaths who are in hiding due to the former mistrust of them during the years of Silence. In order to increase the success off this experiment, Kaleb reaches out to the Arrows, a military-like order, to keep the empaths safe and help them learn how to use their powers.
Vasic is one of the heads of the Arrows and is the most powerful teleporter in the Net. He and his fellow soldiers have been trained to be completely unfeeling in order to properly protect Psy interests. Now that Silence has fallen, the Arrows have decided that they will devote their lives to helping the Psy population adjust to their new world and keep the innocent safe. Vasic is assigned to Ivy Jane, an empath who lives in seclusion with her parents after she was tortured when it was revealed that her Silence was flawed. Shield of Winter tells the story of Vasic and Ivy as they figure out this new world and how to trust one another enough to help save it.
Anybody who reads my blog on a regular basis knows that I have a soft spot for stoic heroes. There is something that I find so attractive about their stubbornness plus they are usually tortured for one reason or another which is another draw for me. Vasic is one of the sexiest and heartbreaking heroes I've read this year. He was put into intense Arrow education from an early age with his trainers' goal being that he become an unfeeling assassin. Unfortunately, while Vasic is programmed to associate feelings with pain, he obviously retains a heart and, it turns out, feels guilt over all that he did in the name of protecting the Psy under the former leader. One of the best things about this series is the way that Nalini Singh slowly develops her characters and allows them to undergo realistic transformations. This book allows him to slowly break out of his shell and understand that he deserves to be happy which was a joy to read about.
The catalyst for Vasic's change is the introduction of Ivy to his life. She is an empath that survived an unsuccessful Silence rehabilitation attempt and is, understandably, wary of opening up again. But, her inner strength and emotional sensitivity forces her to step into the line of fire and try to do everything she can to help heal the Psy Net. I enjoyed her character and thought she was a great match for Vasic. There were a few moments where I wanted to know more about her past and how it shaped her personality, but I understand why the author left it a little mysterious. Ivy is a character who is determined to not think about the past, but live in the present which is shown in her character development. While she is not my favorite of the Psy heroines (my heart will always belong to Sascha), she is admirable and intelligent enough to rank her pretty high on my list.
The relationship between Vasic and Ivy is very interesting and takes a bit of patience on the part of the reader. Because of each of their own issues, neither person is comfortable with physical intimacy, but their chemistry is obvious from their first meeting. I loved the slow and deliberate way that their relationship developed from casual friendship to lovers. By the end, I was rooting for them to be happy which is something I always look for in a good romance.
While the romance is central to the Psy-Changeling books, the series also benefits from one of the most creative settings and overall plot in paranormal romance. I mentioned above that Silence has finally ended for the Psy and they are at a turning point as they try to adjust to a new life. I love this development and am excited to see how the story moves forward with such a change. Readers see hints of it in this book and I know more is coming in the future. I also liked the infection storyline which forced the Psy to see the type of damage the Net is facing as well as making the Psy, changelings, and humans all work together for a goal.
Vasic and Ivy are the main focus of Shield of Winter, but, as one would expect from a series as lengthy as this, there are plenty of background characters popping in and out. In particular, I enjoyed getting to know more about Vasic's Arrow partner, Aden, who is taking center stage in the next book. It was also great to see the return of some favorites like Sascha, Lucas, Kaleb, Ashaya, and (my favorite) Judd Lauren. Judd has had my heart since the beginning of the series and his attempt at providing Vasic with sex advice was absolutely priceless.
All in all, I thought Shield of Winter was a great installment in the Psy-Changeling series. The main couple was wonderful while the rest of the cast continued to develop in interesting ways. This world remains highly original and it seems like the plot is just picking up speed again. I highly recommend this series for anyone who wants creative and thought-provoking paranormal romance though make sure you start at the beginning to get the full impact.
Vasic is an Arrow and the only true teleporter left in the PsyNet. He has seen and done so many things believing them to be for the good of his people, only to learn his leader was abusing his power and using the Arrow Squad as his own personal assassins. In an attempt to pull him back from the darkness, he is assigned to watch over the empath compound as they learn their newly awakened abilities to take on the darkness infecting the net.
Ivy Jane was nearly erased in a brutal reconditioning session when her abilities almost killed her at 16. Now the PsyNet needs those abilities as she is a powerful empath not a flawed telepath as she was told. Ivy and the other newly active E’s have to learn fast as deadly outbreaks start happening all over the world. The only thing that stand between the complete decimation of the PsyNet are the E’s and their Arrows.
There is so much going on it’s hard to put this book down! We learn so much more about the empaths and their roles in the PsyNet, we also learn about the Arrows and the horrible things they went through in the name of “training”. We start to see hints of future partnerships and we see the current alliances grow even stronger. This was beautifully written and I hope we see more Arrows in future books.
Top reviews from other countries
I’m sad I didn’t like this book more but I’m happy I’ve almost reached the end of the main series.
I know as with many fans of the series we were all eagerly waiting for Vasic's book to be released (ever since he said he was tired, and seemed suicidal and some of us were greatly disappointed that he wasn't going to end up with Aden). SoW is mainly about Vasic an arrow and Ivy an empath psy, but we see a lot of our favorite changeling packs and Psy's world where we see the impact of what happened in the last book.
While I did love Vasic and Ivy's story it was different than other other Psy books like for e.g. Judd and Kaleb's. In those books we saw Judd and Kaleb kind of learning about emotions and understanding them but at the same time they were very much still in silence in the way they interacted with others apart from their heroines. Vasic is different in that aspect though he did not quite understand emotions like hope but he had someone who kept him from feeling lonely, his friendship with Aden which saved him from a difficult childhood and later with the morality of what they were doing for their race. To me it felt like Vasic and Ivy's relationship came about very easy and without much conflict. It could be because the end of silence or just because they both could feel without any restraints, especially with all the understanding and emotional backbone that Ivy had. Their falling in love was sweet and cute.
I really loved all the scenes that showed the previous characters since it showed what they had been up to and their meetings were all constructed very well to include the overall arc of the series and its effects.
In the end, this was a great read and I can't wait for the next book in the series (Aden's).
It's been painful watching Vasic's deterioration over the last few books, he has come closer and closer to the edge and you could feel how tired he was of living with the things he'd been forced to do since childhood. Although we've seen for ourselves how much Vasic has to offer he never sees the good in himself, all he can think about is the lives he has taken in his role as an Arrow and how much he regrets his past. The fact that he feels so much guilt shows us that his conditioning isn't quite what it should be, even at the height of Silence he was obviously showing signs of fracture and the symptoms are only getting worse.
Aden is like a brother to Vasic, they have been friends since childhood and always did their best to protect each other but being raised by a man like Ming was never going to be easy and we all know how rough the Arrow's have had it. I absolutely love the bond between these characters though, Aden is determined to do whatever it takes to stop Vasic from self destructing and he is making sure to send him on jobs that aren't going to make him suffer even more. I think this is a really interesting time for the Arrows, we're getting to see them making their own minds up about a lot of things, Silence included, and they're starting to see that there are other options open to them.
To give Vasic something positive to focus on Aden puts him in charge of protecting a group of E designation Psy, these empaths may just hold the cure for the rot that is spreading across the Psy-Net and it is vital that they succeed or it could be the end for the entire Psy race. Vasic has always had strong protective instincts but Ivy is like no one else he's ever met before and spending time with her changes him in ways he could never have imagined. Their relationship is one of the sweetest Psy/Psy relationships we've seen and I loved every minute of it. Ivy is a fantastic character, as an empath she was never able to successfully hold onto Silence so she is used to feeling deeply and isn't as cold as some of the previous characters were in the beginning. It was wonderful to see how Ivy instantly warmed not just to Vasic and Aden but also to all of the other Arrows, she is a real beacon of hope for them and I think she's going to be the one who shows them all what it is like to have a proper family. I don't want to give spoilers so I'll just say that things get extremely interesting (and very, very funny) when the passion starts to build between Vasic and Ivy. There was a particular conversation when Vasic askes Judd for advice that was absolutely priceless. You've got to give these Psy guys credit - they like to do their research and it more than pays off for the lucky ladies in their lives.
Shield of Winter was an emotional roller coaster, one minute I'd be laughing out loud and the next I would be heartbroken and crying for everything that both Vasic and Ivy have been through. This was a really heart wrenching read so it needed the humour to lighten it up but Nalini Singh got the balance just right. I loved seeing how things are progressing in the world since the major changes in the last book, a lot of things are happening and it's sure to be a bumpy ride but I'm pleased with the direction things are taking. My only worry is that I've now got to somehow survive the wait for Shards of Hope next summer, write faster Nalini please, please, please write faster!!
I'm not one to review by detailing what happens, I want to find that out for myself suffice to say the storyline is awesome, the sex is blistering, I cried like a baby, every woman should have a man like Vasic and I adore Rabbit.
If you're wondering whether you should buy Shield of Winter, stop thinking and go do. It's brilliant and I might just have to start re-reading it...now.
It is so nice to read his story and the way he battles with himself for some of the things he was forced to do since childhood is quite heartbreaking but admirable. I like the way he takes on the role of the E's Protector and how he interacts with Ivy, the quiet but stubborn Empath. As for Rabbit, I am in love with him. He brings something special to this book.
The way Vasic leads the Arrows to work together with the Es to find a solution to Silence being broken is very enlightening as it shows his true personality. It shows the determination, strength and intelligence in Ivy to work with all the others to find a solution. It is a long and hard journey but it brings hope to all the designations.
All in all I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and I am sure no recommendations are needed for Nalini Sighn's fan but if you haven't read this series, it's definitely well worth a go. I now await the next book in the series with anticipation.