In the end, they’d all grown up under a regime that attempted to turn them into tools for the use of others—tools meant to be discarded once they passed their use-by date.
First, I must confess that this is my first Psy-Changeling book. Ms. Singh’s work has been on my “to read” list for quite some time, but I simply haven’t had the opportunity to read any of her works. When Penguin Books gave me the opportunity to read Shield of Winter I literally jumped at the chance. What a great excuse to move it to the top of my reading pile!
Going into the story I was well aware of the fact that this is Lucky 13 in the Psy-Changeling series, (actually, there are also quite a few “shorts” and novellas also extant in this world) so I feared that I couldn’t expect to really understand what was going on. However, I must say, I was wrong about that. Looking at the long list of characters in the front of the book, I worried that I would be lost or confused, but Ms. Singh is such a brilliant writer that before the first chapter was over I was completely riveted.
This is a deeply layered series, with one of the more unusual premises extant in the UF genre. In the world of the Psy there is no emotion – no love, no hate, only mercilessly unemotional characters, driven a slavish obsession with perfection in all things. There is only The Silence, controlled by the NetMind and DarkMind, the twin entities that knew every corner of the vast psychic network that connected all Psy on the planet
Now, however, that link is broken, the Silence is no more. But all is not well, as the cold, emotionless Psy struggle to live in a new reality, where emotion is not a crime to be punished by devastating psychic brain wipes. Silence was a deeply flawed construct – but a necessary one, as cruel as it may have been. And now a deadly contagion is whipping through the Psy population with deadly result. In order to save the Psy population, changes must be made, and the Empaths, nearly wiped from existence in the past, may be the only beings who can save the world.
The first step is finding and bringing in Ivy, an Empath who, though she was subjected to the brutality of a mind wipe as a child, gives hope that she may actually be a savior. Sent to find her and bring her back is Vasic, a sort of “super soldier assassin” on a par with the Terminator.
Now, I understand that Ms. Singh’s works are based more in the “Paranormal Romance” end of the Contemporary Fantasy genre, and I can work with that. However, I will admit to having an overwhelming problem with Ivy. She was an unpleasant character to my way of thinking. Needy and clinging don’t do it for me in a heroine and Ivy has that in spades. Vasic was a much more empathetic character. He has done horrific things in his life, things he understands to be unforgivable, even though he did these things under the control of a sort of “hive mind. His pain and sense of hopelessness, and his attempts to do the right thing even though he doesn’t feel worthy of living touched me on a visceral level and kept me reading just a much as the amazing world that I was learning.
Unlike other readers of the series (I have read the reviews) I was not as interested in the “romantic” side of the story, so my problems with Ivy didn’t overwhelm my sheer enjoyment of a well built world, a stunning concept, and great writing. Overall, I am looking forward to starting the series at the first book and learning about how this new situation has come to pass.