Book Review: Nalini Singh’s Shield of Winter

Posted October 25, 2014 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews

I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Nalini Singh’s Shield of Winter

Shield of Winter


Nalini Singh

paranormal romance that was published by Berkley Hardcover on June 3, 2014 and has 431 pages.

Explore it on Goodreads or Amazon.

Other books by this author which I have reviewed include Must Love Hellhounds, Kiss of Snow, An Enchanted Season, Archangel's Blade, Angels of Darkness, Lord of the Abyss, Desert Warrior, Angels' Flight, Tangle of Need, Play of Passion, Archangel's Storm, Wild Invitation, Heart of Obsidian, Archangel's Legion, "Hide and Seek", "Making Dinner", A Conversation, "Home", Angels' Pawn, "New Year's Kisses", Night Shift, "Weapons Training", "Zoë's Workshop", "Wild Night", Archangel's Shadows, Archangel’s Enigma, Shards of Hope, “Fairy Balloons”, “An Unexpected Guest”, Allegiance of Honor, "The Song of the Wolf", Archangel’s Heart, Archangel’s Viper

Thirteenth in the Psy-Changeling paranormal romance series revolving around changelings and psychics, and for the first time, a spirit of cooperation between changelings, psy, and humans. The couple focus is on Ivy Jane and Vasic.

You should read Heart of Obsidian, 12, before reading this one as it will make the exchanges between Krycheck and Sahara more meaningful.

My Take

Whoa. I don’t know how Singh does it! Her books keep going from better to better.

“Flaws make us who we are, Ivy. Without them, we might as well be made of plas, featureless and indistinct. Never ever be ashamed of your flaws.”

Be prepared, I cried a lot. There’s the back history on Vasic and Aden’s past. And the horror of it made me alternate between rage and weeping for such cruelties. Zie Zen talks about the introduction of Silence, and how it affected the Psy, those too old to go into Silence, the Es. That sociopaths and psychopaths would find it so much easier to hide within the Psy. That horrible decisions were so easily made. Seeing people as tools to be discarded when they no longer functioned as required. There’s talk of the evil side of the E designation. Whew. There are also revelations, as people think back, that others were in the know about Es but chose to leave people in ignorance.

It is balanced by all the sweet moments. The healing that begins in Shield of Winter. Kaleb and Sahara’s interactions prove that man is fractured! Lol, it cracked me up when Ivy came out to see her small dog sitting at attention at that big wolf’s feet. Vasic is learning how to tease, and it’s so beautiful. He didn’t even have to find a manual on it, lol.

It’s gotta be the slowest foreplay, as these two people unaccustomed to experiencing emotion try to keep from frying their brains. Then there’s the moment when they actually do make love, and Vasic parrots back the Arrow mantra — “…repetition and practice until the basic skill is honed…” — and you realize they both are virgins. Seems Vasic’s teleportation skills go to pot when he’s excited, lol.

This is such a change-up for the Arrows. When they learned the truth about Silence, how the Councilors were using them, they fought back in their own ways. They’ve become an independent group under no one’s command. Now they’re struggling to determine where and how they can fit in this new world. It’s Vasic’s meeting with Ivy that will flip his whole world over, and another comment from her that makes him stop and think: the Arrows are like pack.

Sahara Krychek’s definition: “Good governance is acting for your people rather than for your own gain.”

Kaleb Krychek’s definition: “…do nothing that would make you ashamed to be mine.”

Reading of what Silence did to people, oh god. I have to wonder what was so awful before that made continuing with Silence seem the right thing to do. A race of people who range from an excess of the sociopathic to the sheep. I wonder if the Psy had to go through all this — Silence, the Forgotten Ones — as part of an experiment to learn what would really work for them?

“An expert is simply someone who know more than those she’s teaching.”

Humans are not as touch-needy as the changelings, but I still can’t imagine a life with none at all. It becomes morbidly fascinating to read as Ivy considers touch, how lucky she was to have parents who allowed it, and now she’s considering more. More lessons arrive with Vasic needing to learn how to not keep information from a woman.

Vasic is so literal! It’s a great way to show how Silence has affected him. His thoughts, his curiosity, his decision to explore more time with Ivy shows the thawing of his shield. The comment Sascha makes about “the myriad quiet intimacies” when she realizes how much Silence has cost the Psy is another great example of showing.

Sahara’s right about society needing “disparate voices” to prevent a group becoming too homogenous.

“I want to make mistakes with you, learn how to be in a relationship with you.”

There’s a fine line between excessive repetition and creating a real sense of breaking someone’s conditioning, and there were times when I got pretty annoyed with Singh’s harping on and on about Vasic’s beliefs about himself.

“We all have to live with our past, but it doesn’t have to define us.”

Gawd, Singh really knows how to tear your heart out. I don’t think I’ve cried so much over a book before. This is definitely a buy!

The Story

The NetMind is infected and great swathes of the world are failing, causing the minds linked in that area to go mad. It’s a massacre, and the Arrows and Krychek are scrambling to figure out how to stop it. How to treat the infection and save their people.

It may well be too late as Silence stomped out the Es almost to extinction before the Psy Council realized its mistake. But there has been no one to teach the Es how to use their skills.

Vasic believes there is nothing left of the man he was, and in that spirit, he volunteered to a trial, a penance, perhaps a sentence. He feels stained by what he has done, believing it was necessary only to learn it was flawed.

It takes field testing to ramp up the Es honing their skills, coming to understand what they can do.

The Characters

Ivy Jane is a low-level telepath and an empath. Rabbit is the dog she saved and who saved her right back. Gwen Jane is Ivy’s mother; Carter Hirsch is her father. In spite of Silence, they love her and disappeared to keep her safe. They run a large, moderately successful farm in North Dakota.

Vasic Duvnjak is a Tk-V Arrow, a born teleporter, a man who is discouraged by his past. Aden is the one man he considers truly his friend. Patton was the only other Tk-V Vasic had ever known, his mentor.

Kaleb Krychek is a dual Cardinal Tk, a teleport-capable telekinetic. He leads the Ruling Coalition after taking down the Psy Council. He’s psychically bonded and in love with Sahara Kyriakus, Faith’s cousin. Anthony Kyriakus is Sahara’s uncle and a member of the Ruling Coalition as well as a former Psy Councilor. Her loving father is Leon Kyriakus. Nikita Duncan is Sascha’s mother, the head of her family, and a ruthless businesswoman. She’s also a former Psy Councilor and a member of the current Ruling Coalition. Zie Zen is a Tp, a telepath, and a Psy elder. Samantha, a.k.a., Sunny, was his wife, a powerful E, an empath.

Ming LeBon is a combat-grade Cardinal Tp, a former Psy Councilor, a military mastermind, and a psychopathic madman. Tatiana Rika-Smythe is a former Psy Councilor whom Kaleb has imprisoned. And I love it!

The Empaths (E) are…
…endangered among the Psy as their purpose within the NetMind was not understood. As Sascha says, “an empath is as social a creature as a pack-minded changeling”. Now the entire Psy race is endangered by their few numbers. Chang, a scientist, is a cardinal empath from Kenya. Concetta Galeano‘s home base is Paraguay where she helps in the family business. She’s felt the rot in the Net, but feels forced. Dechen is from Tibet. Isaiah is from Niue and refuses to believe his Silence is cracking. Jaya‘s home base is the Maldives, and she’s paired with Abbott. Lianne is from Kuala Lumpur and must have missed that clause in the contract. Ray Faison is her cousin. Dara Faison is the head of the family. Penn is from Scotland and believes it makes sense to have a designation that can work with psychic injuries. Terri‘s home is in Houston. Brigitte is a German based in Amsterdam who had a terror-filled experience.

The Arrows were…
…a squad of assassins aimed by the Psy Council, directed by Ming
Aden is a Tp, Vasic’s friend, and the leader of the Arrows who is always thinking ahead to the Arrows’ futures. He’s also a medic gifted at delicate work. Abbot is teetering on the edge, Nerida, and Stefan (he’s figured out the key to those erotic shifts) are Tks. Cristabel Rodriguez is a sharpshooter and one of the best teachers in the Arrows. Amin and Ella are Arrows on whom Ivy wishes to try an experimental bond.

The breakaway Venice Arrows
…want active duty. They’ve been a clandestine op made up of officially dead Arrows. Zaira is their leader.

Zaid Adelaja was the first Arrow; he set the squad up to protect Silence and to give Psy with certain abilities a home. He also fought to keep their money their own. Zie Zen, Vasic’s great-grandfather, is their financial manager. Dr. Edgard Bashir is the current team leader on the biofusion gauntlet project. The creator, Dr. Samuel Rain, was a robotics expert. Now they believe he’s either dead or disappeared. Clara Alvarez, a former Justice-Psy runs Haven, a home for the psychically damaged.

Ida Mill is the leader of Silent Voices, an organization that is full of bigots refusing to believe the Es are needed. Her son is a Tk, eight years old, and already drafted into the Psy black ops teams.

Surviving victims include…
Silver Mercant is Krychek’s very able assistant, and her skills will be handy at handling people and logistics. Eben is an E, but it didn’t save his father Phillip Kilabuk; Marchelline and her mother, Christiane Hall; and, Miki Ling was the cousin who babysat and died were in Anchorage. Harriet and Miguel Ferrera, a commercial telepath, in Manhattan.

The Forgotten Ones are…
…Psy who defected from the PsyNet when Silence began. Devraj Santos is its current leader. He’s married to Katya Haas. The ShadowNet is their biofeedback link that keeps them saner than those under the PsyNet.

SnowDancer Wolves
Hawke Snow is the Alpha, and he’s mated to Sienna Lauren, a Psy with X abilities, lethally psychic. Indigo Riviere is a lieutenant. Judd Lauren, a Tk who can manipulate living tissue, is a former Arrow and now a member of SnowDancer as a lieutenant — and a favorite of pups and cubs! The Arrows see him as hope. He’s mated to Brenna and uncle to Sienna, Toby (a cardinal Tp with very little E), and Marlee. Walker Lauren, a Tp, is Marlee’s father and Judd’s brother, and another Psy member of the pack. Julian, a.k.a., Jules, and Roman are Tamsyn, the SnowDancer healer, and Nate‘s twin terrors. Ben is a cute little pup.

Dr. Alice Eldridge is a human scientist who had been placed in a forced cryonic suspense a century ago. It’s the extensive sociological and anthropological study on The Mysterious E Designation: Empathic Gifts & Shadows that is so desperately needed now. A book systematically destroyed wherever it could be found. Awake now, Alice’s memories are mere fragments, and she’s healing now as part of the pack.

DarkRiver Leopards
Lucas Hunter is the Alpha, and he’s mated to Sascha Duncan, a Cardinal E. They have a daughter, Naya. Faith NightStar has the gift of Foresight (F) and is mated to Vaughn. She’s also Sahara’s cousin; Anthony is her father. The newly pregnant Mercy Smith is a Sentinel mated to Riley Kincaid, a lieutenant. Kit is a soldier whose best friend is Cory. The twins, both Psy, both former Council scientists, Amara Aleine is a true sociopath loving only her twin while Ashaya Aleine is mated to Dorian Christensen, a Sentinel and sniper, and they have a Psy child, Keenan.

The Silence Protocol is the price the Psy believed they must pay for the psychic gifts they have. While it helped many, in truth, it’s doomed them. The Psy Council once ruled the Psy, but no more. The Ruling Coalition has taken its place and includes the Arrows. The DarkMind is the dark side of the NetMind, all the emotions the Psy tried not to feel. Both are “neosentient psychic entities said to be the guardian and librarian of the PsyNet, which holds the Psy race together. Jax was a drug LeBon used to amplify Arrow abilities while removing their ability to tell right from wrong.

Sunshine Station is in Alaska and was the first area to be hit with the virus. The Pure Psy are nut jobs. Psy who will violently refuse to allow Silence to fall. The Empathic Collective is an E-Psy union that will look out for their membership. The Honeycomb Protocol will be a miracle.

The Cover and Title

The cover is a snowy background of gray-greens and whites with Vasic in his uniform of black, hands on hips, appearing determined yet relaxed.

The title is what protects Vasic. If the Shield of Winter ever falls, if his protective instincts collapse, he will die.