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 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 darkness…
I have been trying to review this book for a long time now. Honestly, this draft was started in 2019 (the last time I re-read). But it’s been a rough couple of years. Spontaneously re-reading this year has brought joy back to my life – as Nalini always does.
Shield of Winter follows immediately on the heels of Heart of Obsidian. It’s a hard book to follow. Heart of Obsidian is, in a lot of ways, the climax of the first story-arc in the Psy-Changeling world. Silence has fallen. Now the Psy have to figure out what to do in the aftermath. How to save their race.
There are just as many crisises happening in this book as the previous; it was never going to be easy to make such a momentous change. But it feels a bit quieter for some reason. The focus on hope and redemption. Even if Vasic doesn’t think he deserves it.
Ivy, being one of the awakening Empaths, is charged with saving the Psy. It’s a tall order, but Es are more than stubborn enough to figure out how to do it. Which is why they need the shield of the Arrows. It’s a perfect combination. The Arrows can finally start to be brought into the light, doing more than just erasing people, more than just killing people.
I’ve always loved Aden and Vasic’s relationship. The friendship is bone-deep, developed in the horrific childhood as they were trained to become Arrows. Vasic may have given up on himself, not believing himself worthy of life and wanting only an eternal rest, but Aden hasn’t. Aden will never give up on Vasic and continues to do everything to try and save him.
We’ve known about the Es, even if the majority of Psy haven’t, since Slave to Sensation – book one – but I really love how Nalini develops the nuance of the designation here. It’s clear there is a lot more for us, and them, to learn as they continue on. I expected to like Ivy, but I really ended up loving her. She has a strength of will that makes her the perfect person to lead the experiment to determine if the Es can actually save the Net, or if Kaleb will end up having to break it into pieces to try and save some, but not all.
As the Psy continue to be affected by the tendrils of madness within the very PsyNet itself, the clock is ticking ever closer to an unspeakable result. Ivy and Vasic are on a deadline, working with no guidebook, trying to do the near-impossible. The first time I read this book I was rushing through to see how it could possibly have a good outcome. I knew Nalini wouldn’t let me down, and she didn’t, but the tension is high until the very end. Both on the large PsyNet scale, and a more personal level.
Shield of Winter is one of my favorite books in this series. Despite the issues the Psy still face, the ending is incredibly satisfying, eminently uplifting, and makes me excited for what’s going to come next in this world.