The “amazing [Psy/Changeling] series” (USA Today) continues from the equally “amazing storyteller” (Smexy Books)New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh
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 touchif 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
INCLUDES DELETED SCENES
About the Author
Nalini Singh is the New York Times bestselling author of the Psy/Changeling novels including Heart of Obsidian, Tangle of Need, and Kiss of Snow. She is passionate about writing. Though she’s traveled as far afield as the deserts of China, the Highlands of Scotland, and the temples of Japan, it is the journey of the imagination that fascinates her most. She’s beyond delighted to be able to follow her dream as a writer.
Nalini lives and works in beautiful New Zealand.
Read an Excerpt
***This excerpt is from an advance uncorrected proof***
Copyright © 2014 by Nalini Singh
There was nothing left of the man he’d been.
Vasic stared through the glass wall in front of him as the computronic gauntlet biologically fused to his left forearm hummed near silently in the diagnostic mode he’d initiated. Sleek black, the new invention remained relatively unstable, despite the constant and ongoing refinement by the medics and techs, but Vasic wasn’t concerned about his life.
He hadn’t been concerned about anything for a long time. At first it had been his conditioning under Silence that kept him cold, his emotions on ice. Now, as the world navigated the first days of a new year, he was beyond Silence and into a numbness so vast, it was an endless grayness.
The only reason he kept waking up in the morning was for the others, the ones in the squad who still had some hope of a normal life. It was far too late for him, his hands permanently stained with blood from the countless lives he’d taken in pursuit of a mandate that had proven false in a very ugly way.
“What is it?” he said to the man clad in a black combat uniform who’d just entered the common area of Arrow Central Command. None of them were sociable, yet they maintained this space, having learned through bitter experience that even an Arrow couldn’t always walk alone.
Today the room was empty except for the two of them.
“Krychek has a theory.” Aden came to stand beside Vasic, his dark eyes on the vista beyond the glass. It wasn’t of the outside world—the Arrows were creatures of shadow, and so they lived in the shadows, their headquarters buried deep underground in a location inaccessible to anyone who didn’t know the correct routes and codes.
Even a teleporter needed a visual lock, and there were no images of Arrow Central Command anywhere in the world, not in any database, not on the PsyNet, nowhere. Which made it all the more notable that Kaleb Krychek had demonstrated the ability to ’port into the HQ when the squad first contacted him. However, despite the subterranean nature of the squad’s base of operations, on the other side of the glass lay a sprawling green space full of trees, ferns, even a natural-seeming pool, the area bathed in simulated sunlight that would change to moonlight as the day turned.
It had been difficult to acquire that technology without tipping their hand—the SnowDancer wolves were very proprietary of their tech, usually installed it themselves. But the squad had managed, because that light was as necessary to their sanity and their physical health as the captured piece of the outside world on which it shone.
“Krychek’s theory—it’s about the disease in the Net,” Vasic guessed, aware that the broken remnants of fanatical Pure Psy and the sporadic new outbreaks of violence notwithstanding, that was the most dangerous threat facing their race.
“You’ve seen the reports.”
“Yes.” The disease, the infection, was spreading at a phenomenal pace no one could’ve predicted. Rooted in the psychic fabric that connected every Psy on the planet but for the renegades, it had the potential to devastate their race . . . because to be Psy was to need the biofeedback provided by a psychic network. Now that same link could well be pumping poison directly into their brains.
There were some who whispered that the fall of Silence a month prior was behind the acceleration, but Vasic didn’t believe that to be the truth—the decay was too deeply integrated in the PsyNet. It had had over a century to grow, feeding on the suppressed psychic energy of all the dark, twisted emotions their race sought to stifle. “Krychek’s theory?”
Aden, his hands clasped loosely behind his back, said, “He believes the empaths are the key.”
An unexpected idea from Kaleb Krychek, whom many considered the epitome of Silence . . . but that was a false truth, as the entire Net had learned when he had lowered the shield around the adamantine bond that linked him to Sahara Kyriakus. Of course, it was a false truth only when it came to Sahara Kyriakus. That was a fact Vasic didn’t think everyone understood, and it was a critical one.
Kaleb Krychek remained a lethal threat.
“Krychek,” Aden continued, “theorizes that the fact the empaths are so prevalent in the population speaks to their necessity in subtle ways we’ve never grasped. Stifling their abilities has thus had a dangerous flow-on effect.”
Vasic saw the logic—empaths might’ve been publicly erased from the Net, but every Arrow knew the E designation had never been rare. Except once. Their emotion-linked abilities contrary to the very foundations of the Protocol, the Es had been systematically eliminated from the gene pool in the years after Silence was first implemented, only for the ruling Council to realize almost too late that it was attempting to excise a vital organ.
No one truly understood why the Net needed the Es, but it was incontrovertible that it did. The Council that had first come face-to-face with that truth had named it the Correlation Concept—the lower the number of E-Psy in the population, the higher the incidents of psychopathy and insanity. However, while the current generation of Es might’ve been allowed to be born, they’d never been allowed to be, conditioned to stifle their abilities since birth. “Has Krychek considered the fact that it might not be a case of merely awakening the Es?”
“Yes. You see the critical problem.”
It was inescapable—if the empaths had to do something active to negate the infection, then the Psy race might well disintegrate to ash, because there was no one left to teach the Es what to do. By the time the ruling Council of the time had accepted their mistake in attempting to cull the Es from the gene pool, all the old ones were dead and information about their abilities had been erased from every known archive.
“How many?” Vasic asked, knowing they couldn’t simply begin to nudge the empaths awake on a wholesale level. Their deaths had almost collapsed the PsyNet. No one knew what would happen if they woke all at once, disoriented and unable to control their abilities.
“A test group of ten.” Aden telepathed him the list.
Scanning it, Vasic saw the short-listed Es were all high Gradient, from cardinal to 8.7. “No,” he said, before Aden could make the request. “I won’t retrieve them.”
“You don’t have to retrieve them all. Just one.”
“No,” Vasic said again. “If Krychek wishes to abduct empaths, he’s capable of doing so himself.” Vasic was no longer on anyone’s leash but his own.
Aden’s response was quiet. “Do you think I’d bring you such a request?”
Turning at last, Vasic met the eyes of the telepath who was the one individual in the world he considered a friend, their lives intertwined since childhood—when they’d been paired up to do exercises designed to turn Vasic into a stone-cold killer. To their trainers, Aden had simply been a useful telepathic sparring partner, a well-behaved complement to Vasic’s erratic temperament at the time, an Arrow trainee only because his parents were both Arrows who’d worked to hone his skills since the cradle.
As such, Aden had been put into classes that eventually qualified him as a field medic. He’d been given the same harsh training all inductees were given, but was never deemed worthy of any extra interest—except when it came to punishments designed to “harden” a boy who’d been small for his age. Always, the ones who would use the Arrows had underestimated Aden, and in so doing, they’d given the squad a leader who’d saved countless lives and who they would follow into any hell.
“No,” Vasic conceded. “You wouldn’t.” Aden knew exactly how close Vasic was to the edge, that the destruction of, or damage to one more innocent life could snap the razor-fine thread that bound him to the world.
“Krychek,” Aden continued into the quiet between them, “doesn’t think his proposed experiment as to the impact of the empaths on the infection will work if the Es are forced to participate.” A pause. “I’m not certain if that’s his personal view, or if it’s Sahara’s, but whatever the case, each of the Es must volunteer.”
Vasic agreed with Aden that the compassion was likely to emanate from the woman who had appeared out of nowhere to forge an unbreakable bond with the otherwise cold-blooded dual cardinal, and who, their investigations told them, was in no way Silent. “Where does Krychek intend to run his experiment?”
Very few things had the capacity to surprise Vasic, on any level. This, however, was unexpected. “The SnowDancer wolves have a tendency to shoot intruders on sight”—“shoot first and ask questions of the corpses” was their rumored motto—“and the leopards aren’t much friendlier.”
“I’ve told Krychek the same, yet I can see his point as to the area’s suitability.”
“An isolated location, no other PsyNet connected minds for miles in any direction.” As a result, that part of the Net, too, would be quiet, giving Krychek a clean canvas on which to run his experiment.
However, that was a factor that could be replicated elsewhere.
Which left a single critical element that could only be found in the changeling-held territory. “Sascha Duncan.” Access to the only active E in the world no doubt played a crucial part in Krychek’s plans.
“There’s no infection in that section of the Net,” Aden said, instead of nodding to confirm what they both knew must be true. “However Krychek has the ability to shift the infection in that direction, or seed the area with it. He says he can’t control it beyond that, but I haven’t yet decided if he’s lying.” The other Arrow turned to acknowledge another member of the squad who’d just entered, walking over to her when she indicated she needed to speak to him.
Alone, Vasic considered the misleading simplicity of Krychek’s proposed experiment. An isolated group of empaths surrounded on the Net by the infection. If the experiment failed and the infection threatened to overwhelm them in a wave of murderous madness or more subtle mental degradation, it would be relatively easy to relocate all ten men and women at short notice. As well, the deterioration of an empty part of the Net would cause few ripples.
In that sense, it was a clean plan, with no threat of major losses.
Of course, no one could predict how the infection would move, what it would do to the empaths. “I can’t, Aden,” he said when the other man returned to his side, their fellow Arrow having left the room.
“You know what happened when I had cause to pass near Sascha Duncan prior to her defection. It was a deeply . . . uncomfortable experience.” Councilor Nikita Duncan’s daughter had been pretending to be Silent at the time, but even then, there’d been something about her that had made his instincts bristle.
It was one of the few times he’d felt true pain as an adult—at first, he’d thought he was under attack, only to realize it was Sascha’s simple presence in a room separated from the one where he stood by a solid wall, that was sandpaper along the insides of his skin. As if some part of him knew she was the antithesis to everything he had ever been taught to be, the rejection primal.
It wasn’t until her defection and the resulting revelation of her empathy that he’d realized the reason behind the strange effect; the knowledge had made him recall the numerous other times he’d felt a faint irritation against his skin as he moved through the shadows in populated areas. Sleeping empaths, their conditioning not as badly degraded as Sascha’s must have been.
He also knew he was an anomaly in sensing them in such a way—according to Aden, no one else in the squad had ever reported the same. Vasic had a theory that the awareness was an undocumented adjunct of being a Tk-V, a born teleporter. Patton, the only other Tk-V Vasic had ever met, had often complained about an “itch” under his skin when he was in the outside world.
Regardless of whether that was true or not, the effect continued unchecked for Vasic, causing deeper and more frequent serrated scrapes over his skin as the conditioning of the Es in the Net fractured further with each passing day.
Aden took several minutes to reply. “Uncomfortable, not debilitating.” The words of a leader evaluating one of his men. “The empaths will need a protection squad—their designation has never been aggressive according to the historical records I’ve been able to unearth so far, and none of this group are, either.”
The telepath’s tone remained even as he added, “I want you to run it. You’re the only man I trust to get them all out of danger if there’s a sudden spike in the infection, or if the pro-Silence elements in the Net seek to do them harm.”
Vasic knew that wasn’t quite the truth—the squad had other teleport-capable operatives in its ranks. No one as fast as Vasic, but fast enough. None of them, however, stood so close to an irrevocable and final descent into the abyss. “Are you trying to put me on soft duty?”
“Yes.” Eyes on the greenery outside, but his attention on Vasic, Aden continued to speak. “You don’t see it, but you’re one of the core members of the squad, the one we all rely on when things go to hell. Outside emergency situations, the younger Arrows turn to you for guidance; the older ones use you as a sounding board. Your loss would be a staggering blow to the group . . . to me.”
“I won’t snap.” Even though he knew the oblivion of death was the only peace he’d ever find. “I have things to do yet.” And it didn’t only have to do with helping to save those Arrows who might still have the chance to live some kind of a real life.
You don’t have the right to be tired. When you can write her name on a memorial, when you can honor her blood, then you’ll have earned the right.
A leopard changeling had said that to him over the broken body of a woman whose death Vasic had been sent to erase. The leopard couldn’t know how many names Vasic needed to write, how many deaths he’d covered up when he’d believed that what he was doing was for the good of his people . . . and later, when he’d known it was too early for any revolution to succeed. Each and every name had a claim on his soul.
“Nevertheless, I want you away from the violence, at least for a short period.” Again, Aden’s voice was that of the leader he was, and yet it was no order, their relationship far too old to need any such trappings. “There’s another reason I want you on this detail—and why I’m going to ask you to consider certain others for your team. Being near empaths may be uncomfortable for you, but it will likely be soothing for the Es.”
Because, Vasic realized, he and the others like him, were ice-cold, permanently cut off from their emotions. Unlike the fractured, they would leak neither fear nor pain, eliminating one source of stress on the newly awakened Es. “How does that tie in with being so close to the changelings?” The shapeshifting race was as rawly emotional as the Psy were not, their world painted in vivid shades of passion.
“If Krychek manages to negotiate access to part of their land, he intends to agree to full satellite and remote surveillance, while asking them to keep a physical distance the majority of the time.” Aden paused as a butterfly flew from the lush green of the trees to flutter its scarlet wings against the glass before returning to more hospitable climes. “It’ll take time for negotiations to be concluded, a location to be settled on, whether it’s in changeling territory or elsewhere. Take the invitation to your nominated E, gauge whether you could remain in her proximity for the duration.”
“You’ve already decided who I’m to approach.”
“According to Krychek, all the empaths on the list but one have already begun to wake to their abilities, even if they aren’t cognizant of it.”
Vasic didn’t ask how Krychek could’ve known that, aware the cardinal telekinetic had an intimate link with the NetMind, the vast neosentience that was the librarian and guardian of the Net. The NetMind had no doubt informed Krychek of the Es who were coming to an awareness of their true designation.
“Your retrieval, however, first broke conditioning at sixteen and was given aggressive reconditioning to wrench her abilities back under. Two months later, she and her parents quietly disappeared.”
It was the second surprise of the conversation. “The NetMind can’t locate the family unit?”
“Not that type of disappearance,” Aden clarified. “We know where they are geographically, but they’ve done an impeccable job of making themselves of no interest to anyone. Her mother was a systems analyst for a cutting edge computronic firm in Washington; her father held a senior position in a bank. Now they run a large but only moderately successful farm in North Dakota, in cooperation with a number of other Psy.”
Psy preferred to live in cities, near others of their kind, but that wasn’t to say none of their race ever chose outdoor occupations. Like humans and changelings, Psy needed to eat, to put a roof over their heads, and work was work. Such a massive career change, however, was an indication of a conscious decision. “Protecting their child?” It wasn’t impossible, the parental instinct a driving force even in many of the Silent, though Vasic had no personal experience of such.
“Possible but unconfirmed.”
Vasic knew there was more to come.
“What’s also unconfirmed is if she still has access to her abilities—or if they were terminally damaged by the reconditioning process.” Aden stared unblinking through the glass. “I watched the recording, and it was one of the most brutal sessions I’ve ever seen, a hairsbreadth from a rehabilitation.”
“Then why is she on the list?” The ugliness of rehabilitation erased the personality, left the individual a drooling vegetable, and if this E had come so close to it, she had to bear major mental scars.
“To be valid, the experiment needs not only Psy who have never been reconditioned, but those who’ve been through the process. She’s one of six in the group who have, but the others underwent only a minor reset.”
It made absolute sense . . . because the majority of empaths in the Net would’ve undergone reconditioning at some stage, the process designed to force their minds back into the accepted norm, in denial of the fact those minds had never been meant to be emotionless constructs. Which meant the PsyNet had to deal not only with Es who didn’t have any idea of how to utilize their abilities, but also ones damaged on a fundamental level.
“The flip side to their problematic conditioning,” Aden added, faultlessly following Vasic’s line of thought, “is that they’ll suffer no pain breaking it.”
“Of course.” The process known as dissonance was designed to reinforce Silence by punishing any unacceptable emotional deviation with pain, but clearly that approach wouldn’t work on an individual whose mental pathways were structured with emotion as the core. It would simply kill. “The details of the retrieval.”
Aden handed Vasic an envelope. “A letter to her directly from Krychek, setting out the parameters of her engagement, as well as the payment schedule.”
“He’s offering them jobs?” The Council had always just taken.
“We both know how intelligent he is. Why coerce when you can contract?” With that cool statement that perfectly described the way Krychek’s mind worked, Aden sent Vasic a telepathic image.
It was of a small female with black hair to her shoulders, the strands shaping themselves into soft natural curls, and eyes so unusual, he took a second look. The pupils were jet-black against irises of translucent copper ringed by a fine rim of gold. They stood out against the golden cream of her skin, somehow too old, too perceptive.
As if she saw beneath the skin.
Storing the photograph in a mental vault after imprinting a geographic location on his mind using her appearance as a lock, he looked down at the envelope. Her name was hand-written across it in black ink: Ivy Jane.
He wondered what Ivy Jane would think of the Arrow about to enter her life, a man who could never again feel anything. Even were it physiologically possible, Vasic had no intention of allowing his Silence to fragment . . . because behind it lay only a howling madness created of blood and death and endless horror.
What People are Saying About This
Praise for Nalini Singh and her Psy-Changeling Novels
“A must-read for all of my fans.”—Christine Feehan, #1 New York Times bestselling author
“The book I’ve been waiting for, the book I’ve been dreaming of...It’s dynamic, and Nalini is brilliant.”—USA Today
“Scorching hot.”—Dear Author
“Singh has ruined me for all other books. Passion on this level cannot be easily redone or replicated.”—Fresh Fiction
“Paranormal romance at its best.”—Publishers Weekly
“This unique race that Ms. Singh created has to be one of my favorite[s]…One of those series that stays consistent book after book…Perfect. I need more!”—Darkest Addictions
“A fast-moving, heart-pounding, sexy-as-hell thrill ride.”—Joyfully Reviewed
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Shield Of Winter Review by Shawnie (Reviewer Note: Please don't try and compare this book to Heart Of Obsidian. IT CAN NOT BE DONE.) Before I start this review I want to say that I have been a fan of Nalini Singh since I found her books some years ago. She has become a very integral part of my reading life and I am grateful for that. She has a writing style all her own and the depth at which she writes is amazing. She is... in my humble opinion going to be one of the authors who goes down in Romance history for BOTH the Psy/Changling & Guild Hunter series. REVIEW... Finally we have an Arrow. Not to say Judd isn't an Arrow, but he was when we got to his book a SnowDancer. But with this book, we finally get an Arrow who is still very much functional in the inner affairs of the group. His loyalty is to the Arrows. The inner workings and perception that we get with this book is insightful and breathtaking. I loved the Arrows when we met Judd, but now... now it is so much more than that. Love is a pale word that I am forced to use as a way to describe how I now feel about the Arrows. Shield of Winter is based on the Arrow Vasic and Ivy, a rehabilitated Empath. Krycheck has found a possible way to help slow/stop the mental breakdown of the Psy race and help with the damaging effects of the Dark Mind. His solution isn't going to be a cake walk and you can tell that much way before they implement his plan. For the Psy race to succeed, they must first wake the Empaths. They must pull the same people they had sought to erase back into the living, breathing, emotional world. The issue? These empaths have been told that they were flawed from the beginning, some have been rehabilitated so it's going to take some strong Psy to completely break, these Empaths’ silence. It's going to take the ARROWS. Vasic was dealt a bad hand, he was never meant to be an Arrow because the core of his being wants only to protect. But when you are born with the TK-V ability, what you are supposed to be doesn't matter to people who only want to use you. Placed into Arrow "care" at the age of 4, they had sought to break Vasic and turn him into the perfect killer. But a tiger can't change his strips and although he has blood on his hands, he has done good. No matter what he thinks. His arrow family keep him somewhat grounded, while Aden, Zie Zen and his own sense of obligation that keep him going. But it will be Ivy who brings him into the light and makes him fight to live and have a piece of happiness. Ivy is a Empath who had her mind violated, but it had been her choice at the time. She has always thought she was flawed and with her silence shattering at an unbelievable pace, she doesn't know what to do. Until an Arrow, wrapped in ice, appears in her garden. Nothing could have prepared her for what Vasic, was asking her to do, but Ivy is done hiding and done pretending that she doesn't feel. She is determined to make her Arrow realize he is more than a killer. She is determined to learn and help her race survive, even at the cost of her own life. Good thing Vasic has no plans on letting her sacrifice herself. As they rush to save their people, from the madness trying to destroy them, Vasic and Ivy find a love so pure it's hard to swallow sometimes. They become a symbol of hope and acceptance within the Arrow group and they show the world that despite what the Arrows where made to do, that is not who they were anymore. They are capable of taking care of their people without causing bloodshed; but make no mistake, an attack on any of "their" empaths will mean an end to your life. Shield of Winter is a raw and up close look into the world of the Arrows. How they think, feel, act, and see things. It is a blue print of sorts into how they operate and what happens when they take on a task. They have evolved from the killing machines they were once made to be and now they can finally show the world who they really are. Partnering with the Empaths in my opinion was just the start of what the Arrows are going to show the world. (I fell a little for the Arrow Aden, who is without a doubt the leader of these extraordinary group of people. Singh gives us a peak into his world too. But it's only to wet your feet, I can't wait for his book. ) Book Pages & Dropping Ink gives Shield of Winter 5 C4 bricks and a must read stamp of approval.
The Psy-Changeling series is an alternate world where humanity has split into essentially three species, humans, Psy who are an icy and emotionless race and who have mind powers, and changelings who are essentially shifters. This is book 13 in the Psy-Changeling series. This is NOT a standalone, so I wouldn't encourage anyone who hasn't read at least the first few books of the series to start with this one. Frankly if you haven't read the entire series, the average reader is likely to be lost. Spoilers for previous books in this series may be contained in this review. At the end of Heart of Obsidian, Silence has fallen but the infection is growing in the Net. However, the bond Sahara and Kaleb have formed is giving new hope to the most damaged of Arrows, except for Vasic who holds so much guilt and self-hatred and really has very little care for his own life. Vasic seems to have been used by Ming more harshly than any other Arrow. He's killed and erased for so long he feels he has very little worth as a human being. Even in previous books while he seemed so very Silent, he never seemed particularly heartless, just...tired. Ivy is an Empath who has been bent and shattered (but not truly broken) by life in a Silent net and brutal reconditioning. There is fairly strong agreement for the theory they must wake the Empaths to save the net, so Kaleb surprises everyone by offering the E's employment on this project rather than merely conscripting them, and the Arrows are enlisted to protect them. So, first things, first. The romance between Ivy and Vasic was fairly straight forward and sweet. I bought Ivy's relatively gentle awakening as well as her obstinacy, it seems characteristic of all we have learned of E's so far. I even bought Vasic's growing feelings for Ivy and how gently he stepped out of his depression, because it made sense for his character that having someone of his own to love and protect would make all the difference in his life. And their Psy sexting was adorable and sexy. Unfortunately, with this book, I wanted more of them. As much as I loved Kaleb and Sahara, there was a bit too much time being spent in their heads, I understand that they are integral to the plot-line, but all we needed was their actions not their feelings or thoughts. But the cameo from Judd was spot on and just what the story needed. He's still my absolute favorite hero. And on to the ending, for this book there were two serious conflicts that needed resolution, the disease in the net, and Vasic's gauntlet. I won't spoil too much but one was almost a deus ex machina and the other one, while it was a gentler and more straightforward resolution than we might have been led to expect, it also fit perfectly with everything we've learned bout the world and all the other actions that foreshadowed this same solution, so it made sense. I'll let you decide which one is which. Overall, I really enjoyed this book; it just didn't reach the same level of enjoyment I received from Caressed by Ice or Heart of Obsidian, so 4 stars. I am seriously wondering though, where is Nalini Singh going with this world next? We finally have a what appears to be the closed circle of the overarching conflict of this series, from Slave to Sensation with the very first awakened Empath, to now with the awakening of ALL the Empaths. I worry for the continuation. Hopefully the next book is Aden's, I am hoping to see him hook up with either a human (maybe Alice?) or a Forgotten in order to close another circle.
~Reviewed by FRANCESCA & posted at Under the Covers Book Blog There are several reasons why you WILL fall in love with Vasic. He’s loyal, he’s fierce, he’s caring, he’s protective, he’s possessive. He’s everything you’ve ever wanted in a man all wrapped up in a deep layer of ice. Ice that has hardened to a glacier throughout the years. But that ice is slowly cracking. The Arrows are some of the psy’s who follow Silence as a necessary way of life. The conditioning they’ve received since they were kids is both harsh and heartbreaking. Now that Silence has fallen, Vasic is being put to the ultimate test to prove he can still function without going mad. He’s assigned, along with other Arrows, to guard a group of Designation “E” Psy’s. The future of the net lies in their hands and how much they can heal the infection and contain it, preventing it from spreading. The Arrows are to keep them safe when they are at their most vulnerable. Vasic is assigned to Ivy Jane, an empath who never really lived with Silence as others did, because her parents saved her from that fate. The little bit of her curiosity and innocence is the key to winning Vasic over. And that was my favorite part! The innocence! First though, I have a confession to make. Psy books are not my favorite in this series. When there’s no changeling in sight I tend to lose interest because, in part, of how cold and mechanical the psy can be. I shouldn’t have worried though. Ms. Singh did such an amazing job at humanizing Vasic and Ivy that I never even noticed a difference. Their feelings were palpable, and I was able to appreciate the little things even more. The importance of just a touch, or just a look. It can drive the story forward more than an explosion of passion. This story is a slow and steady climb, full of tensions and discoveries. Vasic’s barriers are broken one tiny piece at a time. And the more he opens up, the more you fall for this broken beautiful man. Ivy is just the woman to give him a true life back. The one that was stolen from him years ago. And he embraces it full force! I love how Nalini Singh can make you feel so much with just a couple of words or sentences. Every book I crack open I am more amazed at the powerful and just beautiful writing. It’s rich and fulfilling, depicting the world, the characters and the emotions in a way that’s riveting. Let SHIELD OF WINTER be that book that lets you sink into a magical world. You won’t be disappointed!
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.
I hate having to say this but this was a disapointing read. I have read every book in this series and enjoyed them all except tangle of need which was a murky read. This was too long and messy..the hero and heroine had potential but fell flat it just kind of rambled along. The ending was especially weak. And a sprcial note of my own: penis is not a sexy word every time vasic used it I cringed. After the amazing heart of obsidian this was a let down. I jusy hope nalani gets her groove back and doesn't go down the dark abyss of mediocrity that's spreading through romantic fiction faster than that disease in the net mind.
I'm sorry, I love her series for the most part but this was an epic fail for me. The characters were dull and lost in so much background information, just like in Tangle of Need. I found parts to be interesting but the storyline as a whole was not worth the 13 dollars and some change I was charged for the book. I pre-ordered the book and got charged more than if I bought it on the day it was released, something just strikes me as wrong about that.
I have alwysenjoyed Nalini Singh's books. This one was poignant and delicious.
I love this series i have all the books andhave read most of them multiple times. I read the whole book between 8am and3 pm and only took that long cause got interupeted. Truely excellent book.
it was fantastic
I thoroughly enjoyed Shield of Winter I am glad another Arrow got his story and was able to leave the darkness of his former life. Ivy is a perfect foil for Vasic.
Of all the novels, this and Heart of Obsidian are my favorite go-to escapist readings from the series. The bond between Vasic and Ivey will tug at your heart.
OMG. How can I love this series so much after 13 books?! I so love it! It's just gotten better and better. This one brings another contender for favorite of series. It joins book 3, Caressed by Ice and book 12, Heart of Obsidian as my favorites. These Psy males are ruining me for all alpha males to come! Meet Vasic. Abandoned...um left by his birth father at age 3 to be be trained as an arrow, Vasic has his protective heart tortured...um conditioned out of him. He's literally the walking dead when he meets Ivy. Vasic can't accept that he deserves anything good. He's done too much bad. But there's something between them, he can't deny and Ivy won't let him ignore. I love Ivy. Believing she's a broken, untalented psy, she finds a place to be herself. It's pretty dangerous to be yourself in this world. She's brave. And when she FEELS the connection to her arrow, she uses her bravery to coax him out of his silence. I was so proud of her. I was so cheering for them. These two have some serious sexy. Both of them have never even kissed another person, so they figure things out as they go. Psy with Vasic's talent tend to struggle to keep control when they engage in intimate skin privileges. So, um, Vasic is a gifted teleporter. Yeah, um, you so don't want that skill out of control during sexy times. Hehe. I have to include my favorite line from Vasic to Ivy. "I was not done kissing you." *Sigh* LOVE him. Such a great story. As the backdrop to Vasic and Ivy's story, the psy-net is facing the brink of disaster. The psy race is facing dramatic change and many are not happy about that change. As a result, new enemies pop up everywhere. Add to that the damage to the net that years of silence have caused. How does this race pull their world back together and live up to their potential. It's a really good question and one that is yet to be answered. I'll be reading to know the answer as my obsession with this series continues and has known no equal. Damaged sexy male combined with great story and incredible world makes this one a contender for favorite of this obsessive series!
I absolutely loved this story. It reminded me of Caressed by Ice (Judd's story) and Heart of Obsidian (Kaleb's story). Vasic is very much like Judd and Kaleb, Silent, tortured, and hungry for the acceptance of the woman that has caught their attention. The story is passionate, emotional, adventurous, and entertaining. I love Vasic and enjoyed following another story of an arrow finding happiness. Ivy is a strong character who is attracted by Vasic and she doesn't let him accept his cold existence, or his tendency to punish himself for the actions of his past. I love the Spy-Changling series and I think that it is just getting better. The plot and conflicts are continuing to progress and it is not getting dull or formulaic. I also love that the stories are now focusing on the Arrows, they have intrigued me ever since book 3, Caressed by Ice with Judd, and I like reading about the Arrows finding their happy ending.
Love the series, but for some reason this one didn't hold my attention. It was boring. DNF.
Shield of Winter is paranormal romance at it’s finest! The psy-net is infected and causing the psy within the infected regions to go mad with murderous rage and intent, slaughtering one another without remorse. In addition to that, the net itself is collapsing in some regions, wiping out thousands. With time running out. Kaleb turns to the Es and points the Arrows in their direction, hoping that with Arrow protection, and training from cardinal E Sasha Duncan, they can figure out a way to restore the net and find some stability. Vasic is an Arrow with a soul drenched in blood. Forced as a child to become a deadly assassin, he believes he is beyond salvation but then he meets the E whom he is to be partnered with and everything changes. Vasic and Ivy’s relationship blossoms into something neither ever thought possible and Ivy fights to bring Vasic out of the shadows and into the light, but with the net collapsing and self-destructive decisions Vasic had made prior to meeting Ivy, their relationship finds itself in uncertain waters as they fight for the survival of not only their people but of one another. I absolutely loved this story and was captured by the chemistry between Vasic and Ivy from the very beginning. You often wonder if when you hit book thirteen in a series, if the series will go stagnant. For this particular series, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Each time I pick up a psy-changling book I experience an emotional roller coaster of a story with exceptional character development. I’ve been waiting for Vasic’s story just as after reading earlier books I had been waiting for Kalebs. As you fall in love with Nalini’s main characters, you find yourself craving the story of another character. After reading Shield of Winter, I now very badly want to learn more about Aden, want him too to be pulled from the shadows. Thankfully I won’t have to wait too long since Shards of Hope, book 14 is coming out June 2nd 2015. I’d also like to see where Jaya and Abbot’s relationship goes. The author has a way of pulling you into her world so completely that you can never have enough of them Without a doubt, a must read for any paranormal romance fan. Heck, who am I kidding. This is just a must read for absolutely everyone.
Lost sleep one night cause I couldn't put the book down. Very exiting. Very flowing.