Jun 3 2014 11:16am

Nalini Singh’s Shield of Winter Discussion Thread (MAJOR SPOILERS)

Shield of Winter by Nalini SinghToday is finally release day for Nalini Singh’s Shield of Winter, the thirteenth novel-length installment in the Psy-Changeling series. In it, Vasic, one of the most dangerous and cold of the Psy race—and an Arrow assassin—gets his chance to learn to feel when he is charged with protecting the empath, Ivy Jane. Here’s the blurb:

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…

WARNING: This review is made up ENTIRELY of SPOILERS and is intended only as a place for fans to gather and discuss the book AFTER reading it, so if you have yet to finish, steer clear of anything after the jump. Go finish the book, then come back. (There’s a non-spoiler-y First Look of Shield of Winter here as well as a fun speculation post here to whet your appetite!)




  • There is an infection in the Net that has spread much further than anyone could guess. Empaths, however, are immune to the infection. We also learn that anyone empaths care about or make an emotional connection to are also immune.
  • Krycheck believes that the empaths are the key to stopping the infection. He is prepared to cut off parts of the Net to save the whole if the empaths can’t figure out how to save it. Krychek can also direct the infection in the Net.
  • Vasic feels pain when he is in the company of empaths, specifically Sascha Duncan. He agrees to protect Ivy Jane after Aden nudges him along.
  • Krychek brings several empaths to a remote area of Snow Dancer-Dark River territory in order to help wake them up and allow them to face the infection. This doesn’t work well because the infection stays away from them all.
  • Vasic’s last name is Duvnjak, but he is Zie Zen’s great grandson. Vasic considers Zie Zen his only family and has the utmost respect for Zie Zen.
  • In one of my favorite moments, Vasic tells the story of how he was born: he actually teleported out of the womb and into the arms of a waiting nurse.
  • Zie Zen has a prominent role in Shield of Winter and is determined to save Vasic, the man, as he could not save Vasic, the boy (from Arrow training). Zie Zen is roughly 130 years old. He was 18 years old when Silence went into effect. He once loved an empathy named Sunny. Sunny died 5 years after inception of Silence from a broken heart.
  • Most empaths chose to stay in the Net after Silence believing they could help. Unfortunately, most of the Psy who died as a result were empaths.
  • Much like Judd, who breaks furniture, and Kaleb, who causes earthquakes, Vasic can’t control himself when he and Ivy Jane are intimate. Vasic teleports them to various places around the world.
  • Sascha learns that she can make people believe that they are incapable of a specific action. “And she understood why the post-Silence Council had wanted to eliminate empaths from the gene pool. Not simply because they were the personification of emotion, but because an E could strip power from Councilor and beggar alike.”
  • Ivy Jane and the empaths realize that they can indeed cure the infection. They implement the Honeycomb Protocol which creates emotional connections for all Psy to Es. This takes several weeks to implement, but does stop the infection. As Ivy Jane says: “We’re the Band-Aids. …. I get it now. I understand how we can save the Net, why there are so many of us.” The empaths become the glue. As a result, the Psy Net is no longer a starry night, but a much more complicated and beautiful tapestry of vibrant connections.
  • Kaleb creates a Ruling Coalition for the Psy. He still intends to be the power, but is convinced by Sahara that he must delegate and include others in governing. Ivy Jane heads up the empaths when they create the Empathic Coalition. Ivy Jane becomes the empaths voice on the Ruling Council which consists of Krychek, Nikita and Anthony.
  • I adore Aden, and he plays a major role in this book. We learn much about Aden and Vasic’s past – including how they once painted a training room in zebra stripes as children and were never caught. The bond between these two is so strong. Yet, Aden might actually need Vasic more than Vasic needs him.
  • Vasic and Ivy Jane become beacons of hope for all Arrows yearning for more out of life. They also become the public face of the Arrows when Vasic is photographed saving a young child. He becomes the Silent Hero to the world.
  • Vasic has a device implanted on his arm that has fused to his system. It is unstable, and he lives with the threat of death. Once he starts to care for Ivy Jane, he wants to live and starts to look for a way to survive. It isn’t easy and is left until the last minute. Finally the doctor who created it Samuel Rainn has a solution that involves a lengthy surgery. As a result, Vasic loses him arm.
  • Vasic and Ivy Jane marry using Zie Zen and Sunny’s rings.

Did I miss some spoilers? What did you think of Shield of Winter? Any surprises?


Jennifer Porter, a mild-mannered librarian by day, runs the review site Romance Novel News and is a compulsive romance reader. She has a tendency to live tweet her craziest reads as @JenniferRNN

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Diane DF
1. Diane DF
Hey, thanks for this! I am printing this out and using it as my guide as I read the book. It wouldn't let me post the link but there is a 2011 UCSanDiego study refuting the claim that spoilers "ruin" books or movies. On the contrary, they improve my enjoyment of the book since I catch every little nuance first time through. And, I like to defy authority. I had to read them after you told us not to! ;-)
2. JenniferPorter
LOL! I am also an avid fan of spoilers. I find knowing what happens allows me to enjoy the book more!! Glad to have been able to help. Enjoy the book.
cmndrs cmndr
3. cmndrs
I don't particularly like spoilers, but to each their own, as long as you don't shove any of the spoilers in my face. :) But that said, I did read SoW as soon as I got my hands on a copy and I enjoyed it very much. I thought it was a good followup to all the events that happened in HoO. And there were many bits of interesting information about the Arrows and the E designation.

I never interpreted it as Vasic experiencing pain whenever he was around empaths. I thought he was just uncomfortable as if it was an itch or sandpaper. He theorizes that it's a hidden ability for Tk-V individuals since his trainer, Patton, also experiences it. However, the feeling eventually goes away the longer he's with Ivy so perhaps it's mitigated by establishing emotional bonds.

As for Sasha learning to stop other people from using their abilities, I think it's related to creating what Alice called a "terminal field." Apparently, only cardinal E psy have this ability. And speaking of E psy abilities, I also thought it was interesting that we got to see the subdesignations of E at work, just as there are subdesignations of other types of psy.

Also one thing you missed: Ming is still running around. The SnowDancers had to postpone their plans because taking him out would destabilize the PsyNet. And Ming plotted to kidnap Vasic and permanently reset him with Jax so he could be his own personal Tk-V. This is still a loose end, but I bet it's going to play a larger role in the next book.
4. bandersnatch
I have been waiting for Vasic's story for ages, and it did not disappoint. This is definitely one of my favorites.

I know that in the past Nalini Singh has said that while she will continue writing books set in the Psy-Changeling world, there would be a definite end point to the series arc. Does anyone know if this book counts as that end point? Because I felt we got a LOT of closure in this one. Especially considering we started with Sascha becoming the first E to awaken, and this book culminated with the Es saving the Psy race and finding their place in the world. It's like everything has come full circle. Pretty much the only loose end is the fact that Ming is still running around.
Lege Artis
5. LegeArtis
@bandersnatch- I belive there is still a story to be told.
SoW brought clousure to contagion issue.
But I think there is something else that needs to be done regarding DarkMind.

"The DarkMind. According to Kaleb Krychek, she is created of all the emotions our race sought not to feel and attempted to suppress out of existence. He believes the infection was born from the same festering soup."
Shield of Winter, Nalini Singh

According to Kyleb, "infection and DarkMind are kin."
And the ending also hinted something like that. Ivy and Vasic are discussing that their world is not yest stable and that it has yet to go.
"That night, she dreamed of a woman of infinite darkness. Her rage and loneliness was a crushing weight on Ivy’s chest, but Ivy wasn’t afraid. No, she was just sad. Holding out her hand, she felt the darkness brush past her senses with a malevolence that stole her breath . . . but it did her no harm."

Empaths may be immediate cure for contagion, but DarkMind needs something else and I belive there is a story there.

Also, it's easy to focus on what does fall of Silence means for Psy race, but I was also wondering on larger scale what it means for everyone. In prologue of Slave to Sensation it's said that "They (Psy) are the leaders of government and business, eclipsing both humans and changelings, races that allow their animal natures to rule them."
All races collaborated when it comes to contagion, but maybe this needs to become permanenet governing for new world.

(Obviously, i am obssesed. :P)
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