Welcome back to my blog, I hope you have been doing okay during this quarantine period.
Today I want to make a little detour to another series by Nalini Singh called Psy-changeling. The series is about three different races co-existing on a precarious balance that could be toppled by the slightest action.
There are about eighteen books in the series so far and I will read and review them in twos. The first two are reviewed in the subheadings below.
Slave to Sensation
This is the first book in the psy-changeling series and published in 2006, it was first published in the Great Britain in 2010. Nalini created a futuristic world for three races, the Psy, the Changeling and of course humans. The Psy are just like humans except they are without emotions and have extraordinary powers in their mind like telekinesis and telepathy amongst other powers, because of this strength they rule majority of the world populace.
To be Psy means to be in total control of your mind and feel no emotion or your gift would overwhelm you and drive you mad. The inordinate incidents of insanity and violence in the Psy population made their ruling Council pass a law that all Psys had to be conditioned not to feel any emotion and any who showed signs of emotion was sent to a rehabilitation centre for reconditioning or total mind wipe.
The changelings are animal shape-shifters; they are full of emotions that could sometimes hinder cooperation between parties. The Changelings and humans are considered second class citizens by the Psy and this is where the story begins.
Sascha Duncan is a cardinal Psy with no gift designation (at least that is what she has been told since her childhood) and because of this she has always considered herself defective but she has to hide her flaws, if discovered she will be sent for rehabilitation. She is the daughter of Counsellor Nikita who is feared for her gift of mind virus and ascended to Council position at a young age which shows her ruthless grasp of power. Sascha is nothing like her mother in both appearance and personality but because of the position that her mother holds Sascha is expected to act her role as the perfect Psy and progress the Duncan business. Nikita and Sascha initiate the first equal collaboration with a changeling pack called DarkRiver and their alpha is the formidable Lucas Hunter.
Lucas Hunter is a panther changeling hunting for a way into the psy world in pursuit of a serial killer. Lucas views the psy as the enemy but from the moment he met Sascha his animal half was intrigued by her.
“You don’t have those privileges.”
Chuckling, he let the plait run through his hand. She stepped away the second it hit her back. Playtime was over. “I chose this land,” he said, answering her earlier question, “because of its closeness to nature. Though most changelings live a civilised life, we’re as animal as we are human – the need to roam the wild is in our blood.”
“What do you think of yourself as?” she asked. “Human or animal?”
“One must dominate.” A frown of concentration marred the perfection of her face.
A frown? On a Psy? It was gone a second later but he’d seen. “No. We’re one. I’m as panther as I am human.”
“I thought you were a leopard.”
“Black panthers exist in several feline families. It’s the colour of our fur that makes us panthers, not our species.”
I cannot imagine living in fear for my life everyday like Sascha had to and finding love and acceptance when you thought your end is inevitable.
I loved reading this book so much and I didn’t want it to end, I am delighted that it is a series and not a single novella. This book made me want to be courageous enough to work on my relationships and build them to a point where you just have to look at each other to understand.
Visions of Heat
This is the second book in the psy-changeling series and published in 2007.
The Protocol. Silence. A choice made generations ago to wipe out violence, but that had also succeeded in wiping out joy, laughter, and love. It had made the Psy an emotionless, robotic race that excelled in business and technology but produced no forms of art, no great music, no works of literature.
Faith Nightstar is a cardinal F-Psy, which is one of the rare gift designations of the Psy and it means she can see the future.
The number one cause of death for the F-Psy before Silence.
Death by insanity? For the F-Psy, it was very much a harsh reality. They became lost in the visions of the future their minds created – so lost that they forgot to eat, forgot to drink, and, in extreme cases, forgot to make their hearts beat. The Psy are their minds, and once those minds are lost, their bodies can no longer function.
But the dead were the fortunate ones. Those who broke under the pressure of the visions and yet survived were no longer sentient, no longer anything close to sentient, their minds locked in a world where the past, present, and future clashed and splintered over and over. As time fractured, so did they.
Due to Silence Faith’s skills have only been used to make business predictions and never the dark visions her ancestors saw. Faith is content in her world (if a little bored) and then she starts seeing darker visions that she does not understand. These visions are accompanied by feelings she does not understand until she is informed of the death of her younger sister death which is when she realises that the cause of her sister’s death is similar to the visions she was having. This pushes faith to seek answers from the only Psy who she believes will not tell her lies, Sascha Duncan (we met Sascha in the previous book reviewed above). In her quest to find Sascha, Faith meets Vaughn.
Vaughn D’Angelo is a jaguar changeling and one of DarkRiver’s sentinels (we also met him briefly in the previous book). Vaughn had always been alone and he accepted that aside from his pack he would always be alone, he didn’t want to be attached to anyone emotionally but from the minute he meets Faith his jaguar has been drawn to her. They go through the mating dance and we discover that pain is used as one of the tools for conditioning emotions out of the Psy.
The blocks couldn’t be so easily bypassed. Yes, she’d somehow skirted the upper levels of prohibition, been able to bear some touch, experience some emotion. But the second she’d tried to go deeper, she’d been punished with vicious swiftness.
It was now starkly clear to her that of course pain had to have been built into the conditioning for it to hold. It was a classic Pavlovian technique – pain for ‘bad’ behavior, rewards for good. As an adult she could reason out the method, but as a child she would’ve been vulnerable to an extent that was unimaginable.
The idea of hurting babies is just repulsive but that is how Silence was achieved and maintained.
Vaughn’s account of his parents and sister’s death is truly heart breaking, people are so vulnerable to influence that can be destructive and I hate the idea of cults (there is a more rounded reasoning for my personal preference but we’ll leave that topic for another time or you can contact me directly for more discussions after reading the book).
Unlike Sascha, Faith had the option of choosing to remain in the PsyNet or leave because she is a valuable foreseer (all fingers are not equal, such is life) but she is only seen as a highly valuable commodity albeit with a high price tag but a price tag nonetheless.
After Silence was initiated it seems that the Psy didn’t couple with the other races, Lucas and Sascha being the first we know of so far and now Vaughn and Faith. We learn that the changelings can sense those who are completely immersed in Silence and those who aren’t. Those who are completely immersed in Silence smell ‘metallic’ to the changelings which is considered as a bad thing.
There is so much information about this Psy-changeling world imbedded in the books but it is done very cleverly because while Nalini is laying the foundation for how this world operates we aren’t taken too far out of the stories of the characters. I am positively brimming with excitement to read the next instalments.
The first resistance to Silence and the Council has started tentatively, who will move with the change and who will be left behind?
Please keep up with my blog for the coming reviews of the other sixteen books and more on the Guild hunter series.