Friday, February 20, 2009

Psy-Changeling Series by Nalini Singh

This series was highly recommended across so many outlets I added it to my TBR pile last year but for one reason or another it simply did not jump off the shelf to get read. Even though I had not read the book I actually recommended it to my daughter who had the same reaction that I did.. egh.

This year the next installment is coming out and I'm sure I will hear everyone raving over the darn series once again and I'll be wondering what the hoopla is all about, so I was determined to read the darn thing!! I have consumed three doses of Singh's Psy-Changeling pairings since the beginning of the year and I'm actually quite hooked.

To give you a bit of a background, the series takes place in an alternate universe where the races are subdivided between the humans, the Psy and the Changelings. Humans are easy to define, they are humans. Changelings can be divided into different categories depending on the animal they have the capacity to change into (wolf, leopards, jaguars, deers, hyenas, etc), and they all share that animals special trait (strong sense of smell, great night vision, speed, stealth, etc). They live in a pack like society and seldom relate to other packs, yet they share a common dislike for the Psy.

The Psy is the top of the food chain. It is a race of beings who have had all traces of emotions wiped. They developed a conditioning called Silence which eradicates all feelings from the individual creating less emotion driven reactions in their culture. At first this was done to erase violent behavior that was triggered by uncontrolled emotions but they noticed that emotions could also affect their judgment in business and politics, so it became a society trait. To make this world a bit more complex, the Psy can also be sub-classified based on their additional 'gifts'. These designations can range from an M-Psy (healers/ scientist), F-Psy (foreseers), Tk-Psy (telekinesis), Tp-Psy (telepathic), E-Psy (empath), etc. When you have highly developed abilities you have a specific designation called Cardinals. If you are a Cardinal you are prized w/in the Psy society. The Psy are interconnected by the PsyNet where everyone's subconscious is linked in a Matrix-like environment which is governed by a council of Cardinals. The Council's word is law and they are not judged by any one. They make the decisions that rule this unusual society.

Complicated enough? In an effort to save some time I'm going to give just a short run down of the three books I've read until now.

Slave to Sensation (A) : The first in the series tells the story of Sascha Duncan, a Cardinal of the Psy world who is fighting an internal battle to hide the fact that her emotions are not as 'Silent' as they should be. She has been told all her life that she is 'flawed' and fears that if anyone discovers that she is actually 'feeling' she will be sent in for rehabilitation (which leaves the rehabilitated in a vegetative state). She is put in a more difficult position when she is put in charge of the first Psy-Changeling business venture and has to work closely with one of the most passionate men she has ever met.

Lucas Hunter is on the prowl. The Alpha of the Dark River leopard pack is hunting a serial killer amongst the Psy and the business venture that brings a Psy Cardinal to his door is the best way to infiltrate the closely guarded ranks of the higher Council (Sascha's mother is a Council member). What he didn't expect was that the Psy in question feels more than she lets on and it doesn't take long before the alpha in Lucas wants to claim her as his own. When another female is abducted from the Snow Dancer's pack - a rival wolf changeling group, it become a race against time to discover who is the killer, who is covering for him and if the Psy Lucas has given his heart to can be trusted.

There are some series that really don't need to be read in order. This one is not it. This book is essential to the whole storyline and those that are to follow. We not only get to see the strain between these two races in this book but the events that take place here open a subplot that carries on to all the other books. Similar to the J.R. Ward's Lessers and Kenyon's Dark Hunter plight. The Psy Council wants to be the last one standing and will do anything to stop the flow of information. Sascha needs to find a way to break away from the PsyNet to survive but if she does break free it will punctuate a severe flaw in the Net, one that opens the door for others to rebel. It is with this book that Singh introduces us to her world and those that inhabit it, promising us a wonderful ride into that Psy-Changeling world.

Visions of Heat (A) : This installment takes place a few months after Slave and follows Faith Nightstar as she struggles with similar feelings of instability as Sascha had but with the peculiarity that Faith expects insanity as her fate. As a foreseer (F-Psy) insanity is the final frontier - so to say. She is being considered for a post on the newly vacated seat in the Council but she is hiding the fact that she is seeing visions of death and torture instead of market gains and fluctuations (which is what the foreseers are used for since 'the Psy no longer have crime'). As her senses are very delicate she has lived most of her life in isolation and it is here that Vaughn finds her.

Vaughn is a jaguar that joined the Dark River leopards after suffering a tragedy that marks his life. He has pledged his loyalty to Lucas and his fellow changelings. He is intrigued by Faith and feels drawn to her but he questions her motives in seeking help controlling her visions.

The complexity in this relationship is what put meat on this book. Faith cannot withstand physical stimuli because it overwhelms her mental shields. To do so can lead to complete mental and physical breakdown, yet Vaughn pushes the edge of her boundaries over and over. He is determined to claim her as his own but he has to walk a fine line to extract her from the Psy world intact. And the Psy is not willing to give up Faith as easily as they did Sascha because Faith represents a strong flow of income. All this and another Psy murderer is on the lose but this time the victims are not a random selection but ones that make the killer feel threatened.

I simply loved the push and pull Vaughn had with his 'Red' and Singh didn't bore us with another Psy disappearing from the Net, but figured a way to get Faith out of the Psy's reach in a very believable manner.

Caressed by Ice (B+) : This one was a bit different. The Psy in question is already out of the PsyNet and he has been living as part of the Snow Dancer's pack for a while.

Judd was an Arrow, an elite team of assassins, when part of the Net but he's family was marked for 'rehabilitation' when his sister killed herself showing signs of deteriorating conditioning. It was believed that the problem was genetic and every one of the Lauren's received a sentence of rehab. Judd was not amongst them due to his elite status he was not even acknowledged as a Lauren but he ran to protect his family, a weak sign as it is. the Laurens were the first to discover that the Psy could survive outside of the PsyNet if they can connect to another type of Net that could provide the neurological feedback that is needed for a Psy to function.

Although he has been out side and part of the wolf pack for some time, he is really not accepted because he is not tactile. He refuses to break conditioning, but in many ways he does. He was part of the team that helped Sascha and Lucas bring down the Serial Killer in our first book and it's that female that brings him down.

Brenna was violated in the most horrendous manner for a Changeling. She had her mind raped and her body tortured to a point where she was barely functional when finally rescued, but she has fought her way back. Now there has been a murder in the Den. She had seen the murder take place in her dreams, it made her part of the killer and the death simulates what had been done to her. She finds that the only person that can keep the demons away is Judd. His cold nature does not sugar coat anything for her, but it infuriates the wolf in her.

This book was very closely tied tot he first two books. Judd had some serious issues because he was not only mentally programed in Silence but he was physically attached tot he conditioning where shards of pain would be sent to his body every time he felt anything outside of Silence. He also had a problem WANTING to break Silence because his particular 'abilities' could have him kill without really wanting to. If he felt anger too strongly, or felt any negative emotions he could inadvertently kill who ever was close by. The book itself was slow at the get go but when Judd started to give in to Brenna's insistence the story just took off! There is a lot of development of the subplot here, a lot of foundation put in place for the next few installments of the series so you really can't miss these first few books.

I'm getting ready to start the fourth book Mine to Posses and then Hostage to Pleasure. This will bring me up to date with the series and prepare me for the release of Branded by Fire, a cross over between the Snow Dancer wolf pack and the Dark River leopards, coming out this July.


samantha.1020 said...

I've heard good things about this series but have yet to give it a try. Sounds like I should though :)

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