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REVIEW: Heart of Obsidian by Nalini Singh

PLEASE NOTE: It is impossible to summarize the plot of this book without disclosing some spoilers, including the identities of the main characters. Readers who prefer to avoid spoilers are advised not to read this review.

Heart of Obsidian by Nalini Singh

Dear Ms. Singh,

Since his introduction back in Visions of Heat, we’ve learned many things about former Councilor Kaleb Krychek. Kaleb is cold, ruthless, and lethal. He has been searching for someone, or something, for years. And he is capable of anything – but does that include love?

When we last saw him in Tangle of Need, Kaleb had at last found what he was looking for. And it was indeed a someone – a woman. Now, at the beginning of Heart of Obsidian, Kaleb and the woman he has rescued, or perhaps merely transported from one prison to another, face off.

What Kaleb demands of her is reasonable enough – that she eat, drink and shower. But the woman refuses, crouching and hissing at Kaleb instead. Her arms are scratched, her hair a tangle, her mind a shifting snarl of a maze, and the person she once was no longer there.

Still, she does seem to possess intelligence, and she does eat and drink after Kaleb samples the food and the beverage. Kaleb realizes he must negotiate with her, and provide, as much as he can, the illusion that he is giving her freedom. This despite the fact that Kaleb knows he has no intention of ever letting her go.

Though Kaleb’s captive recognizes exactly how dangerous he is, some part of her mind feels oddly safe, and it is this sense of safety that restores order to her thoughts by dissolving the maze she had created to thwart anyone who tried to control her psychically.

Kaleb has brought his quarry to an isolated but peaceful and calming environment, a large house that seems to have been thoughtfully designed, though Kaleb himself does not inhabit most of its rooms. He confines himself to a couple, and allows the woman he brought here to roam. As she does, she finds that objects in the house seem strangely familiar, though she cannot place them.

She does, however, eventually recall some parts of her past, including who she is – Sahara Kyriakus, of the Nightstar PsyClan. As she comes into greater awareness of herself, of who she is and what she wants, Sahara understand that she is attracted to Kaleb, and that this attraction could be her undoing.

That Kaleb wants her is clear – but does he want her for herself, or for the secret ability she has hidden, which, in the wrong hands, could make her the ultimate weapon?

Kaleb, realizing that Sahara is drawn to him, allows her to touch him. He knows that Sahara’s Silence is broken, and that sex can bond two people. It is a calculated decision for Kaleb to risk his own Silence by sleeping with Sahara, if such an opportunity presents itself, because a physical bond may make it harder for her to attempt to leave him.

But Sahara recognizes that the day when she is strong enough to leave will arrive, and that when it comes, she must be prepared. Kaleb, as the serial-killing Santano Enrique’s protégé, may have committed heinous crimes. Nor is Kaleb averse to doing away with the Psy race altogether – if certain conditions demand it.

Why, then, does Sahara feel safe with Kaleb? Why does part of her mind, which has memory gaps, insist he would never hurt her? Sahara was only sixteen when her earlier captors took her, and Kaleb would have been twenty-two at the time, so they would likely not have been lovers. Did they share some kind of connection, and if so, what was it?

Complicating Sahara and Kaleb’s relationship are attacks by the renegade group Pure Psy; attacks which Kaleb does what he can to counter. Is he doing so for reasons of his own, for ulterior motives, or is he in fact behind Pure Psy’s actions?

While Sahara agonizes over these questions, Kaleb waits for the other shoe to drop – for Sahara to remember the role he played in her earlier life. For when she does, Kaleb is certain she will not forgive his past actions, and he will then have to face her judgment – and her ability, which is the only one that can match and perhaps even outmatch his own.

I’ve been eagerly awaiting the release of Heart of Obsidian and in most regards, this book does not disappoint. Stark, romantic, and satisfying, the novel hinges on its hero’s dark magnetism.

The storyline is well plotted, entertaining and exciting. Because Kaleb is such an important figure in the Psy/changeling world, he features in the Psy politics subplots of this book as well as in the romantic main storyline. I’ll discuss the subplots first.

Of course, the question of whether or not Kaleb is the Ghost is answered in this novel, but while I have some caveats about how this is dealt with, I will not go into them here so as not to spoil the answer, which comes late in the novel.

It is refreshing that we spend little time with the changelings in this book, but their cameos are significant enough to the plot events that I did not mind their absence from the first half of the book. Rather, it was great to read a Psy/Psy romantic relationship, which feels less familiar and more interesting at this point.

There are some wonderful scenes with Aden and Vasic which reveal their strengths and their vulnerabilities, their loyalty to each other and their isolation and loneliness. I am looking forward to spending more time in the company of these characters in future books.

Heart of Obsidian feels more cohesive than most of the Psy/changeling books, with very few excursions away from the main characters. The fact that Kaleb and/or Sahara are in almost every scene allows for a close focus on the romance, while at the same time forwarding the Psy/changeling world political plotline, with some big developments on the latter front.

(Although I have to ask: am I the only one who would prefer to see free, democratic elections replace the Psy Council?)

In this book, the two aspects of the series – romance and political tensions — are woven together so tightly they are almost inseparable, something I really appreciated. But because of that, when the Kaleb/Sahara arcs are disrupted by the rare scene spent with Pure Psy or with a news bulletin, I was irritated and anxious to get back to the main characters.

About those main characters. The deeper development of Kaleb reveals a duality in him, the outward exterior of perfect Silence which conceals a “flaw” that could be his downfall. With Sahara, Kaleb is an enigma, ruthlessly pragmatic one moment, dangerously passionate the next, and calm and cool in the following instant. All this makes him a puzzle both Sahara and the reader would like to solve, and the pieces of this puzzle are only gradually filled in.

While I’m not convinced Sahara is Kaleb’s equal in strength and power, she is nonetheless no wilting violet, and I see her as a good match for him, someone who balances out his coldness and dangerous ambition with by grounding him in her warmth and stability.

That Sahara, who begins the book approximating a madwoman, is the one to serve this function is ironic, interesting, and a testament to her essential health and wholeness.

I found myself questioning whether someone who spent over seven years in captivity under horrifying circumstances could ever be as healthy as Sahara is presented (I felt her traumas were overshadowed by Kaleb’s), but I never doubted that Sahara was good for Kaleb.

Nor did I doubt that Kaleb was good for Sahara, which is quite a feat considering his effed up childhood, his twisted actions in adulthood, his warped propensity to contemplate destroying the Net, and his admission that where most people are concerned, he is incapable of empathy.

The thing is, though, that from the beginning, Kaleb is unfailingly thoughtful to Sahara, focused on her, honest with her, and shows her every concern. I did wonder, though, that the messed up aspects of Kaleb didn’t give Sahara even more of a pause.

Not many people are incapable of empathy for 99% of sentient beings. If I were contemplating spending the rest of my life with someone, I would want that person to be able to care about the people I care about.

It is also mentioned in Sahara’s thoughts that Kaleb didn’t rise to the Council without getting his hands dirty, but the details of these killings are conveniently glossed over. And then there is the fact that destroying the PsyNet, an idea Kaleb takes quite seriously, is, not to put too fine a point on it, nothing less than genocide.

There is a point in the story in which Sahara thinks that Kaleb is not as bad as he believes, and another in which she tells him that while she would not condone some of the things he did or considered doing, because she too did something morally ambiguous once, she would never judge him for his own moral missteps. Neither one of these statements convinced me to share Sahara’s opinions of Kaleb.

Ultimately, I concluded that this book wants to have it both ways: On the one hand, we are intended to love the fact that Kaleb is such a badass that he could conceivably lay waste to most of his own race. On the other hand we are also meant to agree with Sahara that Kaleb isn’t really a bad guy after all.

If this works in the context of the novel, it’s because like Sahara, the reader is caught up in Kaleb’s power, magnetism, consideration and protectiveness, and in the romance of Sahara being a rare and precious exception to Kaleb’s general lack of empathy and inability to connect with other people.

Isn’t it most people’s fantasy, in some small, secret, immature part of the soul, to be loved to the exclusion of all other considerations? This book taps into that fantasy.

And if we fully buy into that fantasy while reading Heart of Obsidian, then it doesn’t matter that Kaleb is basically a sociopath with an asterisk next to the word: *Sahara Kyriakus and perhaps a few others exempted. It doesn’t matter because the novel makes it damned romantic.

That in itself is disturbing. But the fact is, I enjoyed reading about Kaleb and Sahara’s love, and even about the lengths they were willing to go to for each other. Philosophical and moral qualms aside, Heart of Obsidian was quite a compelling read. I rate it a B+.

Sincerely,

Janine

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Janine Ballard loves well-paced, character driven novels in historical romance, fantasy, YA, and the occasional outlier genre. Recent examples include novels by Katherine Addison, Meljean Brook, Kristin Cashore, Cecilia Grant, Rachel Hartman, Ann Leckie, Jeannie Lin, Rose Lerner, Courtney Milan, Miranda Neville, and Nalini Singh. Janine also writes fiction. Her critique partners are Sherry Thomas, Meredith Duran and Bettie Sharpe. Her erotic short story, “Kiss of Life,” appears in the Berkley anthology AGONY/ECSTASY under the pen name Lily Daniels. You can email Janine at janineballard at gmail dot com or find her on Twitter @janine_ballard.

72 Comments

  1. Brie
    Jun 05, 2013 @ 12:38:34

    Warning: SPOILERS!
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    I feel like my reaction to the book is so tangled with the anticipation, with how intrigued I was about Kaleb, and with the interesting experience of waiting for the book and sharing the wait with so many people, that I’m not sure I can give an opinion that’s more than a bunch of emotional responses.

    In the past two books I was more invested in the world-building than in the romance, but in HoO it was the main relationship that had my whole attention. And I love how the way it ends sets up the books to come and makes me feel like there’s still life in it.

    I had some issues, though. The heroine fixed herself; the Ghost revelation was underwhelming and almost silly; and the repetition of certain words (entombed, adamantine, etc.) as well the way she phrases some lines (she slept in the bed that was her own; she kissed the psy who was her lover) was so distracting that it pull me out of a story that was quite riveting. Also, her womb kept clenching!

    Other than that, I adored this book (although I would have loved to see more flashbacks). There was one revelation I didn’t see coming, the romance was swoony, there were almost no changelings and no wolves (I was getting tired of the changelings and dying for a psy/psy couple), and I think it was the book the series –and the readers– needed. As many issues as I had, my interest in the series has been thoroughly renewed.

    I have many things I want to discuss, but I’ll save them for the book club.

  2. Susan
    Jun 05, 2013 @ 12:51:53

    Is this book going to be the June bookclub pick?

  3. Kat
    Jun 05, 2013 @ 12:53:34

    Janine, you always give me something new to think about — what a great review. Unlike you, I didn’t feel that Kaleb lacked empathy, but that he was able to compartmentalise his emotions, partly because it was necessary in order to appear Silent, but also as a coping mechanism during his childhood. I imagined that, over time, the ability to make ‘logical’ bigger-picture decisions would have become easier because it was untempered by any other (emotional) driving forces and, probably, also driven by his determination to find Sahara. That’s my justification, anyway. :-) Their dynamic felt a lot like a Harlequin Presents, but with much higher stakes.

    I loved their romance, and it’s amazing to me that I love this book more than Hawke’s (I never warmed to Kaleb until now) and that it’s book 12 of the series, yet I genuinely want to read the next book, not just to see how loose ends are tied up but because I want to see what Nalini can do next.

  4. Janine
    Jun 05, 2013 @ 13:07:16

    @Brie:

    SPOILERS
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    I had some issues, though. The heroine fixed herself;

    I didn’t have a problem with her ability to unravel the maze-like tangle in her mind, but it did bother me that her seven years in captivity had so little impact on her emotionally. Also, much of the focus of the book was on Kaleb’s trauma, at the expense of Sahara’s trauma.

    [spoiler]For that reason I waited for Sahara’s memory to return in full, so that we could see more of a reaction to her trauma, but when that happened, the focus was still Kaleb’s trauma. And the revelation there felt a little anti-climactic for that reason.[/spoiler]

    the Ghost revelation was underwhelming and almost silly

    Yes, and I really wanted more Ghost/Judd interaction. I have more to say about this that I will save for the book club discussion because by then more people will have finished reading the book.

    and the repetition of certain words (entombed, adamantine, etc.) as well the way she phrases some lines (she slept in the bed that was her own; she kissed the psy who was her lover) was so distracting that it pull me out of a story that was quite riveting. Also, her womb kept clenching!

    I find that repetition of words, phrasings and sentence structures characteristic of Nalini Singh’s writing. I can’t think of a single book of hers where that hasn’t been an issue. The degree to which it distracts me is often in opposite proportion to the degree the story absorbs me. With this book, I was pretty absorbed, so I wasn’t as distracted as I frequently am.

    Other than that, I adored this book (although I would have loved to see more flashbacks).

    Flashbacks to what? I’m curious. I really like the flashbacks, but I didn’t feel the need for more of them.

    There was one revelation I didn’t see coming,

    I’m curious — was it the one that came toward the end? If it’s the same one I’m thinking of, I didn’t see it coming either but I have mixed feelings about it. In some ways, it was great, but in others, a bit of a copout.

    the romance was swoony,

    This. It was easily one of her most romantic books.

    there were almost no changelings and no wolves (I was getting tired of the changelings and dying for a psy/psy couple)

    Hear hear.

    and I think it was the book the series –and the readers– needed. As many issues as I had, my interest in the series has been thoroughly renewed.

    Me too.

    ETA:

    I have many things I want to discuss, but I’ll save them for the book club.

    I wrote up some interview questions for Jane to put to Nalini Singh in the book club post, and I’m really looking forward to her answers. And to the book club discussion, too. I have so many thoughts about this book that I didn’t have room to include even in this lengthy review.

  5. Praxidike
    Jun 05, 2013 @ 13:12:47

    @Brie:

    the repetition of certain words (entombed, adamantine, etc.) as well the way she phrases some lines (she slept in the bed that was her own; she kissed the psy who was her lover) was so distracting that it pull me out of a story that was quite riveting. Also, her womb kept clenching!

    Singh does this constantly and it is highly, highly irritating. I always say I am not going to buy the new book, and then I buy it, and then I end up hating myself mid-way through the book because I can’t stand how poorly these books are edited.

    This is a grammatical tic that her editor should deal with, but doesn’t (for some reason). And it’s just poor writing: “the bed that was her lover’s” should be easily translated to “her lover’s bed”, which is more concise and grammatically correct.

  6. Janine
    Jun 05, 2013 @ 13:16:58

    @Susan: Yes, that’s my understanding! I am really looking forward to it.

    @Kat: Thanks! Re. the empathy issue, well, it is Kaleb who says that he doesn’t feel empathy for most people, and I took him at his word. I can understand interpreting it to mean that he compartmentalizes his emotions, though. With the upbringing he had, his ability to emotionally bond with anyone is miraculous — maybe that was why I believed him when he made this statement. That, and his willingness to consider doing away with the Psy race.

    Long ago I heard (and I can’t recall where, so this could be wrong) that children need to receive love before age five to be able to reciprocate it, so I thought Kaleb’s youth and the role Sahara played in his past were especially interesting in light of that.

  7. Lisa J
    Jun 05, 2013 @ 13:51:59

    I devoured this book. After finishing it this morning, I really want the next book to be here. The world is fascinating and it will be interesting to see where it goes from here.

    At first, it seemed to me Sahara healed/trusted a bit too quickly, but I thought it was explained through the flashbacks and I was satisfied with that.

    I agree, this is definitely one of the most romantic of the series and I would have liked to see more interaction with Judd. The Ghost reveal was very anticlimactic and a bit disappointing, but the rest of the story muted the disappointment.

    Overall, the grade you gave seems fair and I would put it at a strong B+, too.

    Am I the only one who wants Vasic to find his someone? He’s a character who stands out to me in each of the books he’s been in.

  8. Janine
    Jun 05, 2013 @ 14:01:40

    @Praxidike: I think you and I have discussed Singh’s stylistic tics in the past. Basically, I agree with you but I’ve taught myself to (mostly) tune out her repetitions (and the same is true for me with Balogh’s repetitions). Both authors are acquired tastes for me and I read their books for the plots and characters (and in Singh’s case, the worldbuilding) rather than the prose.

    @Lisa J: Yes, it will be very interesting to see where the Psy/Ch world goes after this. I still wish they had democratic elections and got to choose their leaders.

    I didn’t have that much of an issue with Sahara’s trust of Kaleb. He treated her like a queen and was always honest with her. My issue is more that I feel being cut off from most of humanity for seven years would create emotional issues that I didn’t see her exhibit. She was so well-adjusted. I understood her repsonse to the childhood years that were shown in the flashbacks but her lack of trauma from the captivity years still feels unexplained to me.

    Am I the only one who wants Vasic to find his someone? He’s a character who stands out to me in each of the books he’s been in.

    LOL, I’ve been saying on Twitter that I crave some good Vasic/Aden slash. That is even more true after reading this book.

  9. Lynnd
    Jun 05, 2013 @ 14:12:32

    @Janine: Great review! I loved this book. I’m going to try to circumspect to avoid spoiling anything, but what I say may be considered spoilers.

    I din’t take Kaleb at his word about his ability to feel empathy, I believe that his belief is that he can’t feel empathy, or that he can feel empathy only in respect of Sahara, is not entirely true – I think that Sahara demonstrates to him through0ut the book that his self-perception is not always correct. Additiionally, throughout the series there have been instances where he has shown that he can be empathetic (Bonds of Justice comes to mind)) and in this book, his reaction to the damage to innocents and, particularly children, in the PurePsy attacks and his reaction to the things he was made to do when he was younger also shows that there is some empathy. He believes he is a monster because of what he was forced to do and feels guilt – I don’t believe that a person totally lacking in empathy would feel those things. I did believe that his empathy was compromised and that his conscience was selective – I just didn’t believe that he was completely lacking in either. My own feeling was that his thoughts of destroying the PsyNet came from the place of a little boy who went through what he did lashing out at the entity, and those who control it, which allowed what happened to him to happen – the difference between him and those who shake their fist at heaven is that he had the power to carry out his threats and that had he been utterly rejected by everyone, the threat that he would have destroyed the Net was very real My five cents on an initial read – I will have to go back and re-read it more slowly. I look forward to the book club discussion.

    @Brie: The womb clenching thing really needed to be editted out – just not sexy! I think I actually laughed when I read that (unfortunately there were several references one after another so it was really hard to just let it pass).

  10. Janine
    Jun 05, 2013 @ 14:27:26

    @Lynnd: Thanks!

    I did believe that his empathy was compromised and that his conscience was selective – I just didn’t believe that he was completely lacking in either.

    I agree with you on that. Clearly he felt empathy with Sahara so he is not incapable of the emotion. But if he doesn’t feel it for the majority of people (adults at least), that is still a serious issue IMO. Especially when coupled with a selective conscience.

    SPOILERS
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    My own feeling was that his thoughts of destroying the PsyNet came from the place of a little boy who went through what he did lashing out at the entity, and those who control it, which allowed what happened to him to happen

    I read this differently. To me his reaction was tied to what happened to Sahara even more than what happened to him. It was on her say so that he was willing to do it, and it was only after her disappearance that he started contemplating it. All of which makes me wonder what he would do, if, say, someone killed her? Of course this being a novel with a HEA, that won’t happen, but for the sake of hypothesis, supposing it did? Would he or would he not be tempted to lash out once again?

    To me this ties directly into his inability to bond (I don’t mean this in the Psy/Ch sense of the word, I mean it the way we use the word bond in our own lives) with most human beings. If he were able to form emotional connections more easily, a threat to Sahara wouldn’t cause him to consider killing millions. It’s his isolation that makes her so important to him, and other people’s lives, by comparison, so much less relevant. That is romantic, but it is also problematic.

  11. Lisa J
    Jun 05, 2013 @ 15:08:04

    @Janine:
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    I read this differently. To me his reaction was tied to what happened to Sahara even more than what happened to him. It was on her say so that he was willing to do it, and it was only after her disappearance that he started contemplating it. All of which makes me wonder what he would do, if, say, someone killed her? Of course this being a novel with a HEA, that won’t happen, but for the sake of hypothesis, supposing it did? Would he or would he not be tempted to lash out once again?

    I totally agree with your statement. It seemed to me, the world would need to look out if something happened to Sahara. If she had not survived captivity, he would have ended the Net and most likely the world. When you think of it that way, it’s less romantic and more psycho stalker.

  12. CD
    Jun 05, 2013 @ 15:36:58

    Skimmed through your review very quickly as I don’t want to be too spoilt but it looks amazing. However, you mentioned TANGLE OF NEED. Would you recommend reading this to fully understand HEART OF OBSIDIAN? I also tried to read KISS OF SNOW but got pissed off by Hawke and didn’t finish – should I try again?

    On sociopathic * heroes, I have mentioned Stephanos from Michelle West THE SUNDERED series (fantasy) a few times. He actually goes beyond sociopathic to evil (and I’m not one to use that word lightly) but the love story still managed to work. That fantasy is bloody scary but somehow still so enticing. I think it appeals to the teenager in us all…

  13. MissE
    Jun 05, 2013 @ 15:40:13

    I found this book to be one of my least favorite in the series. I was really excited about a Psy/Psy relationship and the potential for seeing much more of the Arrows. Sadly, I didn’t get enough Arrows. Two things bothered me and lessened my enjoyment. I thought Sahara was too perfect. I found that I just didn’t buy that someone who had been captive/tortured for years could just get over it so quickly. I don’t care how she had supposedly protected her mind (and I thought it was clear that the “labyrinth” protection wasn’t created overnight). And her almost immediate trust in a ruthless man like Kaleb was too much for me.

    The other issue was the isolation from the rest of the world. Obviously, as Psy, both had always maintained a pretense of Silence, but that meant that there was very little opportunity to see a real interaction with anyone other than each other. It made it hard for me to get a read on Kaleb outside of his life with Sahara.

  14. Janine
    Jun 05, 2013 @ 15:53:48

    @CD: Thanks, I hope you come back (either here or to our book club discussion later this month) and weigh in after you’ve read the book.

    I loved Kiss of Snow (though Hawke was annoying) and while Tangle of Need wasn’t my favorite in the series I though the way it dealt with the mating bond made it worth reading. With that said, if you want to go straight to this book, I think you can.

    If you decide to do that, and you still have Kiss of Snow on hand, you could skim to the parts that pertain to Kaleb, the Arrows, and the Ghost. I really recommend doing that if you’re not going to read the book. After that, you can also read some Tangle of Need spoilers in the epic joint review of that book that I did with Jennie. She raised some excellent points about the series there that I think might appeal to you.

    I purchased the first book in that Michelle West series on your recommendation but I still haven’t read it. I think I’m a little afraid to.

  15. Janine
    Jun 05, 2013 @ 16:01:06

    @MissE: Good points. I would have loved more Arrows, and you know I agree with you that Sahara was too healthy. I wouldn’t use the word “perfect” though — I saw her as flawed in her willingness to overlook Kaleb’s flaws and warnings she got from others because he loved her and made her happy.

    And yeah, I would have loved to see Kaleb interact more with others (I’ll say more about this at the Book Club discussion), but at the same time I think that was part of the point of the book, that he didn’t feel much of a bond with most people and couldn’t really relate to them the way he did to Sahara.

    Disappointment isn’t fun, but I’m glad you shared yours. Many readers in the blogosphere have been outspoken about adoring this book unreservedly so I think it’s good to for a different opinion to be shared as well.

  16. cleo
    Jun 05, 2013 @ 16:06:03

    Yay. I’m so glad to read the review today. I read it in one go yesterday. I agree w the review and grade.

    I hadn’t thought about the lack of democracy, but now that you mention it, it would be nice. Although the psy may not be ready for full democracy yet.

    I was also a little disturbed by how romantic I found Kaleb. Normally I’m not a fan of sociopathic murderer type heroes but somehow, in context, it worked for me.

    I liked Sahara’s development from crazy woman to saner than Kaleb but I agree she seemed a little too well adjusted at the end. Her re-entry into the world and her family seemed way too easy. It did keep the focus on her and Kaleb but it seemed a little off to me.

    Technical question. I was confused by the fact that Sahara seemed to able to live without being part of the psynet. I eventually decided that she was always plugged in to the net but shielded, first by her captors amd then by Kaleb, so that no one else could see her. And that’s why she couldn’t accesss any data on the net. Did anyone else interpret it that way?

  17. Auraya
    Jun 05, 2013 @ 16:08:22

    I really liked this book. It is one of the best books in the series and it was time we got a psy/psy pairing

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    I agree with several others here that Sahara’s trauma was completely overshadowed by Kaleb’s. Presumably she spent a lot of time healing with the cats (and espessially Sasha) but I would have liked it if more of that time was shown. I also have trouble figuring out how long she was there. The timeline in my head is completely screwed up.

    I also missed having other people commenting on their relationship. Vaughn does it once, immediatly accepts it and nothing further is said. He is the only one that outright mentions it. Given the fact that Sahara’s father, uncle and cousin are in the book, I find that a bit unbelievable. It may have been a secret, but still.

  18. cleo
    Jun 05, 2013 @ 16:15:07

    @Auraya: Exactly. I was surprised no one warned Kaleb off – especially since warning off suitors is something that happened in other books in the series.

  19. Janine
    Jun 05, 2013 @ 16:43:05

    @cleo:

    Technical question. I was confused by the fact that Sahara seemed to able to live without being part of the psynet. I eventually decided that she was always plugged in to the net but shielded, first by her captors amd then by Kaleb, so that no one else could see her. And that’s why she couldn’t accesss any data on the net. Did anyone else interpret it that way?

    You know, I was confused by that too, but I later got distracted by other concerns so I didn’t think to mention it in my review. Your explanation seems possible but if so I wish it had been shared in the book.

    I also wondered how Sahara was able to conceal her broken Silence well enough even as a child. It seemed unlikely to me given the difficulties Sascha had doing the same thing.

    Another thing I wondered about was how Kaleb was able to break Silence with such relative ease. In Caressed by Ice I think it was, Judd says (if I’m not mistaken) that the more dangerous the power, the more pain the person will suffer each time they try to break Silence. But Kaleb didn’t have a pain problem due to that.

    [spoiler]And I wondered why those sex-triggered earthquakes weren’t treated as a problem, the way Judd’s inadvertent breaking of things with his Tk ability was. Even if they are small earthquakes, I would think that if they happen over and over in the same geographic region, it could become a problem. [/spoiler]

    @Auraya & @cleo: I thought Anthony more or less served that role. He was just more careful about it than a changeling would have been — one would have to be more careful, with someone as dangerous as Kaleb.

  20. CD
    Jun 05, 2013 @ 16:45:15

    @Janine:

    Thanks – I’ll have a quick skim read of KISS OF SNOW then before I tackle OBSIDIAN. I’ll try to skip everything that Hawke says and does [God, he's SO annoying] in the meantime.

    And thanks for linking to the epic review of TANGLE OF NEED. I’m obviously going to have to cyberstalk Jennie as she completely put her finger on the main problems I’ve had with the series for a while in terms of the sexual dynamics and the over-the-top emotionalism.

    And yes – want me some Vasic/Aden slash!!!! Pretty please?

  21. MissE
    Jun 05, 2013 @ 17:23:43

    @Janine: With regards to Kaleb’s ease in breaking Silence – I think Judd’s issue with breaking Silence had to do with the pain protocols that activated during high emotion. He hadn’t tried to remove the protocols because he believed they were required to keep him from harming anyone with his abilities and he hadn’t been in much pain because he had remained largely emotionally detached. Once he realized they weren’t necessary for him (and also understood that Sienna’s change in temperament was because she was also in pain due to the protocols), he worked to remove them and created a trip wire to keep himself from killing. It was stated in HoO that Kaleb had deactivated his pain protocols many years earlier. Thus, his lack of pain in feeling emotion and failing Silence.

  22. Liz
    Jun 05, 2013 @ 17:26:54

    Hi! I liked your review but I feel like Kaleb will grow as a person. I believe this is only the beginning. Yes he is twisted but can you blame him? I believe the bond created with Sahara and the light in the darkness is a symbol of that. He states that he will never have a conscience but I beg to differ, he does not think himself capable of many things but I believe that that will change as the series evolves. He will not be perfect or a saint but there will be healing involved. I agree with what you say about Sahara healing and being whole after so many years of torture but I believe that can be justified by how she was able to protect her mind and her ability to place Kaleb before her needs, after all is that not what true love is about? She doesn’t have a “poor me” attitude which is what makes her strong in my opinion. Anyways, that is just my two cents. P.S. I do believe in time that the psy will build to a democracy, they are just not ready yet, they are in process ;)

  23. Janine
    Jun 05, 2013 @ 18:21:06

    @CD: Glad you enjoyed. I had a feeling you would like what Jennie had to say.

    @MissE: Thanks, I missed that.

    @Liz: You make a good point — Kaleb may very well grow as a person in the future. What unsettles me though is the point I made above in comment #10 — that if someone were to kill Sahara before Kaleb had time to grow, I’m not sure the world would be safe from Kaleb’s wrath. Innocent people might pay for something like that with their lives. I guess that’s my way of saying that I would have liked to see a bit more of Kaleb’s growth in this book.

    With regard to Sahara’s well-being, I’ll agree to disagree. I understand she could protect her mind from intrusions, but not how she could protect her emotions from post traumatic issues.

  24. cleo
    Jun 05, 2013 @ 18:34:51

    @CD @Janine: Yes! An Aden/Vasic pairing would totally make up for the lack of queer folk in the series thus far. (I know it’s an alt history version of No Cal, but come on, there have to be some gays in San Francisco.)

  25. Bronte
    Jun 05, 2013 @ 18:47:38

    @cleo: Sahara was part of the psynet. It was mentioned in a few places that as a teenager Kaleb had shored up her shields to make it appears as though she was silent when she wasn’t. After she was rescued he protected her with his own shield and made her invisible to the net until she was able to make her own shield that would make her seem silent.

    @Janine Kaleb never went through the protocol so he never had the dissonance controls. Enriqo Santano had him on a psychic “leash” that choked him when he lost control and that was how he learnt silence.

  26. library addict
    Jun 05, 2013 @ 18:49:04

    Although I have to ask: am I the only one who would prefer to see free, democratic elections replace the Psy Council?

    I wouldn’t. The Psy/Changeling world isn’t a democracy.

    I thought Kaleb telling Sahara he couldn’t feel empathy was his view on the matter, but not the whole truth. Even though he wasn’t silent, he had shut down/compartmentalized his emotions. So he kept telling himself he would destroy the net, then he was only going to kill all the adults, but it was talk not action. He wanted to lash out in his pain about Sahara being gone, but he didn’t. Yes, he had killed people in his rise to power, but he didn’t take joy in killing.

    I guess I am in the minority, but I loved the low-key reveal about the Ghost. I thought it was funny. I also liked the reveal about why he had decided at 7 to become a Councilor. So many random pieces of information we had finally came together in this book.

    SPOILERS!
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    I do wonder if when Kaleb took control of the net he managed to merge the DarkMind and NetMind.

    End SPOILERS!

    And after so many SnowDancer books in a row, I thought it was refreshing to be mostly in the Psy world. Though I do hope the next book goes back to having a mix.

    I think this may be my favorite book of the series. Time will tell, but it’s definitely in my top 3.

  27. Janine
    Jun 05, 2013 @ 19:05:17

    I wouldn’t. The Psy/Changeling world isn’t a democracy.

    Yes, but what is the reasoning for that? In the Changeling world, they are part animal, and people are born with varying degree of dominance. Some have alpha status from birth, and others recognize that and allow those people to be their leaders, voluntarily.

    But in the Psy world, they are not ruled by emotion, but are more cerebral. The rationale for dictatorship here has been nothing more that the Councillors are power-hungry. Where the Changelings choose to allow other Changelings to lead them, the Psy don’t seem to have much choice about it. It is a fear based system there, and rising to power among the Psy is a sign of nothing more than ruthless ambition.

    Call me weird, but I think it’s one thing for people to choose a particular leader, and another to have that person’s leadership imposed on them through power plays. The latter is dicatorship, no better than Vladimir Putin or Kim Jong Un’s rise to power.

    If the books were set in a fantasy world based on our past, this would be easier to accept. There was a time, centuries ago, when feudalism was the order of the day in the vast majority of the world. But the world they are set in is based on our present and chronologically the story is said to take place in the future, so I really don’t see a good rationale for that.

    The idea that the Psy are “not ready” for democracy has been suggested in this thread, but that assumes there is such a thing as a benevolent dictatorship; that people can live in servitude and subservience yet still have freedom. I find that cognitively dissonant, myself.

    ETA:

    Yes, he had killed people in his rise to power, but he didn’t take joy in killing.

    Do you get the feeling that it bothered or upset him to kill people, though? Because I never got that sense.

    after so many SnowDancer books in a row, I thought it was refreshing to be mostly in the Psy world. Though I do hope the next book goes back to having a mix.

    I thought it was refreshing too, as I said in the review. As for the next book, I’m still betting on Alice Eldridge being paired with one of the Arrows, but we’ll see…

  28. library addict
    Jun 05, 2013 @ 19:54:04

    If the books were set in a fantasy world based on our past, this would be easier to accept.

    I suppose that’s the way I’ve read them. As much as the Ghost/rebellion plot line has been about overthrowing the Council because they were corrupt, I never got the idea that there had been elected officials in the past. So they weren’t fighting to get back to that.

    Do you get the feeling that it bothered or upset him to kill people, though? Because I never got that sense.

    I think he saw it as necessary. In the same way Lucas and Hawke feel it’s necessary and have never been bothered by killing people they felt broke the rules and deserved to die. I don’t get the sense that Kaleb went out and killed indiscriminately. And while in real life I would take issue with all of this, so far most of the heroes (and a few heroines) in this fictional world have served as judge, jury, and executioner at one time or another.

    I do think Kaleb is adept at thinking on a global scale, and what he sees as an acceptable loss ratio for instance in taking control of the PsyNet means he doesn’t see people as individuals in that instance. Does this make him a bad person? In some ways yes, but he’s trying to save the Psy race as a whole. Was him leaving subject 8-91 alone to monitor his situation knowing the man couldn’t be saved an act of evil or an act or pragmatism? We’ve seen Kaleb save many more people in these books than we have seen/heard he killed.

    I never got the feeling Kaleb wanted to control the net to exercise his power over everyone. He wanted it to remove the corrupt council and end silence which was destroying them from within, all so that primarily he and Sahara could be free. Everyone else being free to live their own lives is just a byproduct of that. And he was the only one on the planet powerful enough to take over. So far he hasn’t told everyone they have to do what he says, when he says, and how he says (other than leaving the net alone). I think we shall have to wait and see what he does with the position now that he has it.

  29. KT Grant
    Jun 05, 2013 @ 22:16:43

    I felt like I was watching a play at times because the focus was mainly on Kaleb and Sahara. This book could just have dialogue between these two and no explosive action and I would have still been enthralled.

    Kaleb literally made the earth move for his love. Doesn’t get much more romantic than that.

    The one thing I’m confused about is why Kaleb and Sahara didn’t have the typical Psy traits, aka that coldness even when they were children when the first met? Was it because they were children and not adults? They seemed too open with their feelings for one when they were alone.

  30. Janine
    Jun 05, 2013 @ 22:19:52

    @library addict:

    As much as the Ghost/rebellion plot line has been about overthrowing the Council because they were corrupt, I never got the idea that there had been elected officials in the past. So they weren’t fighting to get back to that.

    With the information, education, material wealth, technology, and media the people in this world have access to, it’s enormously difficult for me to buy that they couldn’t come up with a democratic process and no one has suggested trying one — unless they are actively being oppressed. I suppose it’s possible to view that as a hole in the world building, rather than a philosophical/political issue, but I think it’s both.

    I think he saw it as necessary. In the same way Lucas and Hawke feel it’s necessary and have never been bothered by killing people they felt broke the rules and deserved to die. I don’t get the sense that Kaleb went out and killed indiscriminately. And while in real life I would take issue with all of this, so far most of the heroes (and a few heroines) in this fictional world have served as judge, jury, and executioner at one time or another.

    True, that. I too have an issue with it (in other books in this series as well as here). At the same time, I see a big area that falls in between killing those one feels “deserve to die” and killing “indiscriminately.” Those who “deserve to die” presumably committed a crime, but doesn’t Kaleb all but admit to Sahara that he would kill anyone who got a hold of her DNA or treated her medically, even if that person was innocent of any crime?

    This didn’t give me any confidence that he’d limited himself to killing only those he felt “deserved to die.” With that kind of attitude, I see it as more likely that he killed anyone who happened to stand in the way of his goals, whether or not that person was an innocent bystander who stumbled on the wrong information.

    Was him leaving subject 8-91 alone to monitor his situation knowing the man couldn’t be saved an act of evil or an act or pragmatism?

    I didn’t have any problem whatsoever with that admittedly morally ambiguous act because its moral ambiguity got more acknowledgement as such in the text than bigger sins Kaleb had committed.

    I don’t at all mind dark or morally ambiguous characters in books, especially if their moral issues are acknowledged and there is a serious attempt at atonement and moral repair. It was the absence of the latter two things that bugged me here, especially since the book invokes genocide.

    Even if Kaleb never meant it when he said he was thinking of destroying the PsyNet, why was the mention of destroying the PsyNet made in this book (and in earlier books) as often as it was, if not to make us readers fascinated with Kaleb’s darkness? Even the blurb capitalizes on it with “A love story so dark, it may shatter the world itself.”

    I find that troubling precisely because there is no attempt in the text for Kaleb to atone for this. Sure, he’s wonderful to Sahara, and he saves lives, too, but he never admits the wrongness of what he wanted to do and doesn’t seem sorry that he contemplated it.

    I never got the feeling Kaleb wanted to control the net to exercise his power over everyone. He wanted it to remove the corrupt council and end silence which was destroying them from within, all so that primarily he and Sahara could be free. Everyone else being free to live their own lives is just a byproduct of that.

    People don’t rise to such heights of power without also wanting power for its own sake. And Kaleb acknowledges that he wanted power, whereas when the Ghost says to Judd (in Kiss of Snow) “You could’ve ruled” Judd says, “I never wanted it.” I think Kaleb hasn’t done all this solely so he and Sahara could be free. That motive was a driving one, certainly, but he also wants to wield the enormous power that he possesses.

    The book (and Sahara) go to some lengths to excuse or brush off these things, so that the reader will too. This is easily one of the most romantic books in the series. I had a great time reading it, and I’m recommending it to readers. I’m just explaining why I had some moral and philosophical issues, too.

  31. library addict
    Jun 05, 2013 @ 22:35:07

    @KT Grant: Yeah, silence never took with either of them. In Kaleb’s case because of the things Santano did to his mind. Sahara’s silence is described as being “brittle” when she is 7. Then he teaches her ways to hide it so it wasn’t as much as issue as it otherwise would have been. Neither of them had to actually break from silence because they’d each only been faking it since they were children.

  32. library addict
    Jun 05, 2013 @ 22:48:37

    @Janine: I totally get what you’re saying and agree on some of it. I’m just giving the characters in the series more of a “free pass” on some of these moral/philosophical issues because their world is not really our world.

    I think Kaleb thinks to himself he’d harm anyone who posed a danger to Sahara (such as a lab tech or whomever), but thinking and doing are two different things. I think the author purposefully wrote Kaleb in previous books and throughout much of this book in such a way that we are meant to worry about his true motivations and believe the possibility he could be the ultimate evil, but then shows through his actual actions that is not truly the case. And that is certainly not the way Sahara sees him. But that’s just the way I read it. I might be wrong.

    ETA:

    I find that troubling precisely because there is no attempt in the text for Kaleb to atone for this. Sure, he’s wonderful to Sahara, and he saves lives, too, but he never admits the wrongness of what he wanted to do and doesn’t seem sorry that he contemplated it.

    I don’t think he is sorry for contemplating it. But I also don’t think he’s in the same mental space anymore. And he had changed his mind about killing all of the children because he realized through his conversations with Judd that would be wrong which to me proves he has the capacity to change. I thought there was another point in the book where he admitted to himself he was wrong, but I’m not finding it.

  33. Janine
    Jun 05, 2013 @ 23:15:51

    @KT Grant: Sahara’s Silence was broken when they first met, and Kaleb noticed it. Not sure about why Kaleb wasn’t Silent.

    @library addict: Agree he is not in the same mental space anymore by the end of the book.

    I probably sound more bothered by this stuff than I actually am. Debating has a way of doing that to me! I mostly give the characters in this series a pass while I’m reading too, it is only afterward that these things start to niggle. And then it’s less an issue with the characters and more with some of the author’s choices.

  34. Lavender
    Jun 06, 2013 @ 00:14:30

    I have mixed feelings about the book. Anticipation, excitement, impatience makes for a heady mix, but I feel that the book did not live up to the hype. For one, Kaleb’s love interest, Sahara, seemed… un-human. Besides the fact that she recovered with almost no scars from her sever years of captivity, how could she trust Kaleb on an instinctive level, yet doubt him when it matters? Also, the grand reveal about the actual night she was taken (which Ms Singh really hyped up) was flat. In short, I waited a long time for this book, and I’m completely crushed that it didn’t live up to the hype. If I had to rate this book, I’ll give it a C+.

  35. library addict
    Jun 06, 2013 @ 00:33:22

    @Janine: I don’t think you sound bothered or too nitpicky. It’s fun to be able to discuss the details of books.

    I can no longer edit, but I remembered something I had wanted to say on the issue of Kaleb having no empathy for anyone but Sahara

    SPOILERS!
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    Why then does he hold Vasquez’s hand while he is dying? I took this to show he had empathy even though he believed himself to be incapable of it.

  36. MikiS
    Jun 06, 2013 @ 02:17:38

    This was probably my favorite book (at this moment) in this series. I loved all the flashbacks and reminders of incidents from earlier books that gave a different side to what you were originally lead to believe. Despite some of the horrible things that happen, I found myself grinning like an idiot as I read it – either because something was so bloody sweet or because there was some real vengeance enacted (and I was evil enough to cheer at the way one of the antagonists is handled).

    Usually when one of my autobuy authors go to hardback, the build-up usually ends up creating such unrealistic expectations that I’m invariable disappointed in that book (Kenyon, Brockmann, more). Often, it’s actually the book that changes an auto-buy to a borrow author for me…but that’s most definitely not true with this one. I am *so* looking forward to the next one.

    I also think a lot of Kaleb’s thoughts about himself (about not being able to develop empathy, for example) were more a case of the “unreliable narrator” than being true – or entirely true.

    I think Singh is doing the same with a lot of Nikita’s internal thoughts (“why am I spending on this money on an e-Psy book – must be the power”) when it later becomes obvious in some hidden part of her mind, she’s loved her daughter.

    The democracy angle didn’t really occur to me….it’s never been part of this book’s rhetoric about what was evil (democracy vs. any other political system), other than to say there were no longer checks-and-balances built into the Psy Council system. There was a place in HoO where it’s mentioned that not only are some Psy becoming evil, but some are becoming more innocent/child-like. So I can see the continuation of a council while the Psy “find their feet”. And we’re told by Kaleb (yes, I just said he wasn’t entirely reliable) that Sahara will serve as his conscience. I don’t think she’ll allow him to go all power mad on the Psy-ass.

    Two more thoughts:

    First, I have been starting to wonder if Singh hasn’t been hinting at a MM romance for Aden/Vasic. Aden takes such care of Vasic, it’s hard to imagine Vasic’s life being possible without Aden’s support. Maybe they wouldn’t be the main couple in a book (like Walker’s story with Lara), or maybe she would write it in a novella. I don’t know. I made a joke somewhere else that maybe Aden and Vasic could find a set of twins, which would keep them bound together as family. But the best-friends-meet-twins concept seems a bit too much like a porn trope!

    Regarding the repetitiveness, I think someone mentioned (basically, not exactly) that they only notice it if the story isn’t engrossing. I think that’s often true for me, too, with the exception of stupid things I can’t stop noticing (like when someone uses “bring” and it should be “take”). But I’ve been listening to a lot of audiobooks lately, and I find it’s harder – no matter how much I’m enjoying a book – to tune out things like that. I swear, by the time I got to Tangle of Need that if I heard "predatory changeling male" (specifically as short-hand to excuse asinine behavior from one of the men) one more time I was going to scream! And after the constant fighting and similar "dominant changeling female" shorthand from the "strong women", I was so very glad to get away from the predators for a-frickin'-while.

    Oops, one more thing. (Yikes, this is long). Am I the only one that had to roll their eyes at least once that two Psy would be so very good at sex from right out of the gate?? Do we all remember our first encounters? Not so good. I thought it would have been a nice touch of humor to have the first time or two be a bit awkward between them (although I did laugh out loud when Kaleb said he looked it up on the internet and there were a million hits!)

  37. CathyKJ
    Jun 06, 2013 @ 09:15:31

    I liked this book quite a bit. Something that has always bothered me about this series is that, despite whatever is written on the page, the relationship is always heavily dominated by the male half. I felt that was slightly less the case in this story, and that Sahara was more able to stand up to and/or exert her will with Kaleb.

    I agree with others, I’d really like to see an Aden/Vasic story. I’d also like to see something like a human male/ dominant changeling female pairing, or a story with a submissive changeling male. Also, if there are maternal changelings, where are the paternal ones?

  38. Janine
    Jun 06, 2013 @ 10:21:16

    @Lavender: Sorry that it didn’t work for you. I didn’t have an issue with Sahara’s moment of doubt and even though it hurt Kaleb, he survived it.

    SPOILER
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    Also, the grand reveal about the actual night she was taken (which Ms Singh really hyped up) was flat.

    I have mixed feelings about that. On the one hand, it was anticlimactic, so I get where you are coming from. On the other, if the author had gone a different route, it would have made the book even darker, maybe too much so. That conflict would have been tough to resolve and the book wouldn’t have ended on such an upbeat note.

    In short, I waited a long time for this book, and I’m completely crushed that it didn’t live up to the hype. If I had to rate this book, I’ll give it a C+.

    That is a bummer. Even with the issues I had, I liked it very much, but I sympathize.

    @library addict: That is a great quote to pull. I remember reading it but it didn’t change my opinion that Kaleb doesn’t empathize with more than at most a limited few people.

    SPOILER
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    I believe the reason given for his empathy for Vasquez was that Vasquez goals’ weren’t so different from Kaleb’s plan to destroy the PsyNet. That all the more convinced me that Kaleb knew he could have done that, that he was capable of it. So it had the opposite of the desired effect.

    @MikiS:

    I also think a lot of Kaleb’s thoughts about himself (about not being able to develop empathy, for example) were more a case of the “unreliable narrator” than being true – or entirely true.

    I think Singh is doing the same with a lot of Nikita’s internal thoughts (“why am I spending on this money on an e-Psy book – must be the power”) when it later becomes obvious in some hidden part of her mind, she’s loved her daughter.

    That’s a great example. I do agree that Kaleb’s thoughts aren’t entirely true. The question is how much is true? Since we don’t know with certainty we have to guess based on other indications. I do agree that the book wants us to think he’s not a bad guy, but I think we’re also supposed to believe he was capable of destroying the PsyNet and might have done so had Sahara died before he could find her. For me those two things aren’t congruent.

    There was a place in HoO where it’s mentioned that not only are some Psy becoming evil, but some are becoming more innocent/child-like. So I can see the continuation of a council while the Psy “find their feet”.

    That sounds like a rationale that dictators in our own world could use to justify their rule, so it doesn’t really do it for me.

    And we’re told by Kaleb (yes, I just said he wasn’t entirely reliable) that Sahara will serve as his conscience. I don’t think she’ll allow him to go all power mad on the Psy-ass.

    It’s not about whether or not he goes power mad but about whether or not a non-democratic system of government can ever be fair to its citizens. I don’t believe it’s healthy to have a leader who was not chosen by the people. It makes the citizenry subservient without giving them the freedom to choose who it is they are subservient to.

    @MikiS:

    But I’ve been listening to a lot of audiobooks lately, and I find it’s harder – no matter how much I’m enjoying a book – to tune out things like that. I swear, by the time I got to Tangle of Need that if I heard “predatory changeling male” (specifically as short-hand to excuse asinine behavior from one of the men) one more time I was going to scream!

    I think Jennie made that exact same point when we reviewed Tangle of Need (I posted a link to that review in comment #14 of this thread).

    I thought it would have been a nice touch of humor to have the first time or two be a bit awkward between them (although I did laugh out loud when Kaleb said he looked it up on the internet and there were a million hits!)

    That could’ve been nice. Judd (virgin) and Brenna (sexual assault survivor) also had surprisingly proficient sex so Kaleb and Sahara’s hot sexxoring didn’t surprise me, and I enjoyed it quite a bit.

    @CathyKJ:

    I’d also like to see something like a human male/ dominant changeling female pairing, or a story with a submissive changeling male.

    Shuzluva also wanted a submissive changeling story (when she reviewed Play of Passion), IIRC. I’ll be honest and say I’m not sure I want to read one of those, at least not if the submissiveness will be portrayed the same way Grace’s submissiveness was in the novella about Grace and Cooper (her wolf was terrified of Cooper). I would love to read about a changeling that isn’t quite so dominant though. He wouldn’t have to be submissive, just more reasonable.

  39. LauraB
    Jun 06, 2013 @ 10:54:39

    @Janine:

    LOL, I’ve been saying on Twitter that I crave some good Vasic/Aden slash. That is even more true after reading this book.

    OMG yes… I can’t see Vasic bonding with anyone other than Aden unless they developed into a threesome.

  40. cleo
    Jun 06, 2013 @ 16:00:31

    Re whether or not killing people bothered him -

    Spoiler

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    Santano’s murders bothered him, as did his (unwilling) role in them. And he actively resists becoming the serial killer that he feels Santano trained him to be. Interesting that he doesn’t equate his ruthless, pragmatic killing with Santano’s pointless murders.

    That’s one thing I think needed to be developed more. I understood Sahara’s absolving him, since he was coerced, but I’m not sure Brianna or Judd or Riley would be as reasonable.

  41. Janine
    Jun 06, 2013 @ 20:55:54

    @cleo:

    SPOILER
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    I agree — he hated what Santano made him do and was in no way, shape or form a serial killer. That doesn’t answer the question about how he felt about killing when he did it out of his own choice, though — whether it would have pricked his conscience to get rid of a lab tech if one had innocently collected Sahara’s DNA.

    With regard to Judd and Brenna, I wondered about that too. Brenna’s memories of captivity and torture at Santano’s hands began returning toward the end of Caressed by Ice. I wondered if she remembers Kaleb’s role in her torture, and if so, has she told Judd? If Judd knows, does he realize Kaleb was a victim too?

  42. sya
    Jun 06, 2013 @ 21:44:07

    @Janine:

    On the question of killing, I think Kaleb justified it to himself as having an actual reason to do it and not just because he could or had any pleasure in doing it (like Enrique). The reasons he gives himself may not be morally sound, but then again, that’s not surprising. Of course his view on ethics would be completely screwed up after living with someone like Enrique.

    I didn’t get the impression that Kaleb was actually involved in Brenna’s captivity. Sure, in response to Sahara’s question on whether he helped murder Enrique’s victims, he said he “was there for every second of their torture and deaths” (page 100). But later on, he says that in the final years Enrique “found amusement in telepathing his atrocities” to Kaleb (page 186). So yes, Kaleb knew about it, but I doubt he was even in the same area as Brenna. He was just an unwilling mental audience.

  43. Janine
    Jun 06, 2013 @ 21:56:33

    @sya: That’s an excellent catch! I missed that nuance, thanks for posting it.

  44. Cate
    Jun 07, 2013 @ 05:31:05

    I think that heart this book is esssentially a two-hander. The emphasis is very firmly with Kaleb and Sahara, with the other characters and plot coming in just to move the overall arc along.
    What I loved about it, was the little Rowlingesque reveals – so we finally know WHO the young Tk at Annies accident was – and they’re done with such grace that you nearly miss them .
    As much as I adore the Changelings ,the last two books have been very Changelingcentric,
    so, it’s a nice change to be Psy centred for a while – as for the Ghost reveal – YES! I knew it !
    That Kaleb is teetering on the edge of sociopathy is not a surprise, but the fact that Sahara is, in essence, his conscience, gives him the potential to become a better, more empathic man. And, we do see the start of that (- dare I say it -) emotional journey.
    This is the book where everything begins to change , but I do hope we get to see Vasic, Aden, Xavier – and the Sleeping Beauty’s (!) stories sooner, rather than later .

  45. Lynnd
    Jun 07, 2013 @ 08:34:36

    @Cate: It would be surprising if Kaleb wasn’t a borderlime sociopath given what Santano did to him. Had he never met Sahara or had Sahara died while in captivity, I think that, yes, he would have slipped over that edge. Like you, I think that this is the beginning of his journey of emotional development (as it is for the whole Psy race). It will be interesting to see how Ms. Singh.

    In reference to my comment above, I wanted to clarify that the way I read it was that the taking of Sahara was indeed the catalyst that gave rise to the idea of destroying the Net. However, I don’t think that what was done to Sahara was the only or even the primary reason for his desire to destroy the Net. Rather I thought that his desire comes from what was done to him by her taking – the monster used her torture, captivity and whether she lived or died to maintain the leash on Kaleb and to strip away his one link to “humanity”, empathy and love – it was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. The fact that meeting Judd and Xavier causes him to revise his plans somewhat (save the children) in my mind speaks to this.

    With respect to his thoughts of eliminating the lab tech who might hurt her, I didn’t see this as being any different from the thoughts Lucas, Hawke and almost every other hero in this series has had with respect to the safety/protection of their mates (and all of the mates have had to fight against this type of thinking as Sahara does).

    With respect to the issue of democracy, it never even occurred to me. The book ends on the morning after the fall of Silence after they have gone through a brutal civil war. In a society that was the subject of an absolute and brutal dictatorship for at least 100 years or more (were councils pre-Silence democratically elected?) and given that the Changelings and the Human Alliance aren’t democratic either, I wouldn’t expect that democracy would happen overnight – given the history of revolutions in our own world, I would find that completely and utterly unrealistic. I expect that the next 2 -3 books which Ms. Singh says will follow this one will deal with all of the bumps on the road to creating the new world order and I hope it will be an interesting ride.

    Sorry for the long post, I just realized that I am going to be away without internet access when the book club takes place :(. I look forward to reading all of the discussion when I get back.

  46. Heather Greye
    Jun 07, 2013 @ 10:09:15

    Devoured the book last night and can finally read this review. Yay!

    It was interesting to see what caught everyone’s attention. I have to admit, I’ve never considered democracy for the Psy. Will be interesting to see if Singh does.

    For all I had tiny little niggles, they were completely overpowered by Kaleb. I’ve been looking forward and dreading his book at the same time, with that worry that when you’re really looking forward to something, it might not live up to your expectations. Didn’t happen with HoO. Kaleb is just after (before?!) Judd as one of my favorite heros. I think it’s that tough/broken guy learning to love trope and it just isn’t the same with the changelings.

    And Kaleb is one of those guys that in real life you would totally run from…but in a book when he’s willing to destroy the world if you aren’t in it…swoon. (Yeah, that probably says some disturbing things about me ;-) )

    I think Singh is one of the best when it comes from worldbuilding, especially considering the heroine who was mentioned maybe twice in the book 2. Amazing catch for the people who called her as the heroine early on. I loved, too, that we didn’t jump to 50 million people for the story.

    I loved reading more about Arrows — I re-read the series in anticipation of the this book and focused a lot more on them and Kaleb in the re-reading, rather than the rest of the story. While I could totally get behind an Aden and Vasic pairing, I’d be just as happy with them set up with someone else. I’ve actually been thinking one of them might get Alice, especially as she knew Zaid. I just can’t decide whether it would be Aden, the healer, or Vasic, the just as/maybe more so broken as her one.

    I was surprised that the ghost bit took as long as it did. And more interaction with Judd would have been awesome. But, I ended the book with a smile on my face and a demand for the next one to immediately appear in my hands. Didn’t happen, where’s Kaleb when you need him?

    I’m looking forward to seeing where she takes the story and her world. I just hate waiting that long.

    (Sorry, for the long rambly, pre-caffeine, stream of conscious post!)

  47. Cate
    Jun 07, 2013 @ 12:20:06

    @Lynnd: We know this is a man on the edge – in fact ( to unashamedly pinch a line from the Big Bang Theory) – He’s one lab accident away from becoming a Super Villain !
    Curse that redemptive true love thingummy ! It’s going to keep this ticking bomb from going all Stalin on the Psy/Changeling world ;)

  48. Janine
    Jun 07, 2013 @ 12:28:16

    @Cate & @Lynnd: It’s not that I find Kaleb’s sociopathic tendencies suprising, or that I think the reasons why he is the way he is are missing from the story. What surprises me is that Sahara wasn’t more concerned about them than she was.

    Some readers felt that she was too trusting. I don’t see this as a trust issue between them though, because he was always trustworthy with her. He always treated her well. I see it as an issue of how he treats other people, and I think that’s something that should have mattered to both of them more than it did.

    I think the popularity of this book shows that there is a hunger for flawed and dark characters. That doesn’t surprise me because I’m drawn to those types of characters myself.

    But what I find interesting is that it seems we’ve replaced the flawed hero who mistreated the heroine with a flawed hero who treats the heroine wonderfully but is willing to destroy much of the world.

    The underlying message I see in a book like this (and in other books, too) is that as long as the hero treats the heroine well, we shouldn’t judge him for his flaws — even if they include cold-blooded killings and /or even if he seems capable of genocide.

    The first kind of story, where a hero mistreats the heroine, is often now judged as beyond the pale, but this type of story, where a hero mistreats and possibly even murders other innocent people, is celebrated.

    I find this interesting, and somewhat disturbing. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy the book, or that I don’t love flawed heroes. Rather, it’s the disparity in these attitudes that gets under my skin.

  49. Cate
    Jun 07, 2013 @ 12:42:37

    @Janine: I see your point, but I think NS walked a very fine line between scary monster and someone who could potentially be a fairly good man.
    The danger in the book – for me – was : would he become one of those abusive ” I love you so much that no-one else and nothing else will love you as I do “, or, as happened , that the opening to love, and the physical and emotional interraction with Sahara , actually started an emotional growth that was as unexpected as it was humanizing .

  50. Janine
    Jun 07, 2013 @ 12:49:48

    @Heather Greye:

    I loved reading more about Arrows — I re-read the series in anticipation of the this book and focused a lot more on them and Kaleb in the re-reading, rather than the rest of the story. While I could totally get behind an Aden and Vasic pairing, I’d be just as happy with them set up with someone else. I’ve actually been thinking one of them might get Alice, especially as she knew Zaid. I just can’t decide whether it would be Aden, the healer, or Vasic, the just as/maybe more so broken as her one.

    I would love an Aden/Vasic pairing, but I don’t think it will happen. I have also conjectured that one of them will end up with Alice Eldridge. I wonder if an Aden/Alice romance will develop while the two of them try to help Vasic. That could make for a good story.

    @Cate: I see your point too. It was a very good book and highly romantic.

    I forgot to ask you earlier, who is the Sleeping Beauty? (There are so many characters in these books, I occasionally lose track of one or two).

  51. Lynnd
    Jun 07, 2013 @ 13:10:41

    @Janine: I think that this particular trope speaks to the fantasy that we can “fix” our tortured and damaged heroes. Speaking for myself, if a hero mistreats the heroine, then I really wonder why should even want to bother; however, if the hero treats the heroine like gold, then I can buy into the fantasy that there is something worth redeeming. I thought that Ms. Singh actually did have Sahara question her feelings about Kaleb (the Hong Kong fire for example and she does address his intentions to destroy the Psy Net – she asks him not to do it ever – no matter what hapened to her)) and at one point she does say that she expects that he will think about doing very bad things and she will fight him with everything that she has – I never really got the impression that she didn’t knows exactly what she was getting herself into or that she was too trusting of Kaleb’s nature. Towards the end she tells him to think about what he does because every action he takes carries her name.

  52. Janine
    Jun 07, 2013 @ 13:28:04

    @Lynnd:

    I think that this particular trope speaks to the fantasy that we can “fix” our tortured and damaged heroes.

    This pinpoints part of my issue actually. I don’t mind the heroine serving as a catalyst but I want to feel the hero is the one who changes himself. I don’t want her to be his conscience, I want him to have (or develop) one of his own. Maybe this is why sometimes a book where one of them hurts the other can (if there is a lot of effort at atonement) work for me — because something like that can serve to awaken a conscience, and there is a stronger message that that action was wrong. I see your point about “why would the heroine bother” and it’s absolutely true that sometimes there’s not a strong enough motive there and that can be a big problem too.

    Re. Sahara — I think I wanted a different kind of wariness from her — NOT mistrust or unfounded suspicions about Kaleb, but concerns that were actually real (since there were real things to be concerned about — like Kaleb’s bloody rise to the Council, his threat to the lab tech, etc.). By having her suspicions turn out to be unfounded, the book sort of dismissed these issues, didn’t it?

    Also, while you’re right that she told him his actions would carry her name on them, I felt she talked out of both sides of her mouth, in saying that (because she once lashed out at one of her captors) she would never judge Kaleb for anything.

    Maybe in terms of his morality, empathy and conscience Kaleb couldn’t have been written any differently and still have been true to the Kaleb we’ve known from earlier books. But then I would have liked to see his flexible morality, limited empathy and selective conscience examined more thoughtfully and thoroughly.

  53. Cate
    Jun 07, 2013 @ 13:43:42

    @Janine: Sorry – it’s my nickname for Alice :)

  54. Joy
    Jun 07, 2013 @ 13:43:59

    @Janine – It’s interesting to me that you mention you love that the focus never veers very far from the two main characters alone together, working out their pasts and what they feel for each other. I do see you what mean – it’s distracting in many of the other books to suddenly get a scene, for example, about Sascha and Lucas or Hawke and Sienna “being in love” in the middle of someone else’s story.
    However, I really thought it would have been a better book if Kaleb had been forced to ask for help from someone else powerful – Judd, Hawke, Max, Sienna, Sascha – in order to help Sahara or to progress in his relationship with her. The time Sahara spends with Darkriver addresses this a little bit, but I did think it was a bit strange that neither of them really seems to need anyone else but each other to heal.

  55. Janine
    Jun 07, 2013 @ 13:54:50

    @Cate LOL, gotcha!

    @Joy:

    SPOILER
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    I would have loved to see more interaction between Judd and the Ghost from Kaleb’s POV. It would have helped me get a feel for what Kaleb was like when he was the Ghost. It didn’t occur to me, but you make a great point re turning to others for help. Also, if he had had to turn to Judd for help that would have made a lovely parallel to the time Judd had to ask the Ghost’s help for Sienna’s sake. It would have been good to see Kaleb emerge from his isolation in such a way, and be drawn into a community. I wonder now if that could have allayed my concern about Kaleb’s limited ability to bond with other people, too.

    But what I loved was the tight focus on the romance without much intrusion (for the first half at least) from other subplots. It raised the romantic intensity that Kaleb and Sahara were all about each other. His total focus was on her, and hers was on him, in a way that shut out the rest of the world. It’s both a niggle, and at the same time, part of what made the romance so swoon-worthy.

  56. Lynnd
    Jun 07, 2013 @ 15:00:38

    @Janine: I wonder though – given the way this world has been constructed, if some of Kaleb’s actions would be “normal” to Sahara – just part of Psy power politics. We have been told more than once throughout the series that Anthony (the head of her clan) also “gets his hands dirty” and that it is expected that anyone who wants to rise to the council will be ruthless and brutal in crushing and eliminating opposition and it has also been mentioned that he is ruthless in defending NightStar from any and all threats. With the premise that the ruthlessness of Psy power politics is the norm and that disposing of one’s opponents is just part of what one has to do to get to the top in that society or to protect one’s clan or business, then it makes some sense to me that she would be more concerned that he had crossed even that line with attacks like Hong Kong.

    @Joy – I think that I would have liked to see a bit more interaction between Sahara and the DarkRiver folks while she was there. It is hinted that she was doing a great deal of work with Sacha regarding her shields I do agree that because we didn’t see any of it happen, her recovery just seemed too easy.

  57. Silvia
    Jun 07, 2013 @ 18:38:41

    Spoilers ——————

    Spoilers–
    This book really worked for me, though I too really wanted more Judd. I hope that we’ll get a bit more Kaleb and Judd friendship in the next book, like we followed up on Hawke and Sierra and their friendships in Tangle of Need. The romance arc was my favorite of the last few books and its funny how some of Singh’s typical alpha male characterizations bothered me so much less coming from Kaleb. I’m like, yeah, he’s psychotic. That’s been well established. LOL. Unlike with many of the men in the series who start acting this way when they get attracted to a woman, the extreme possessiveness, obsessive control, and hair trigger rage made intrinsic sense to me. It was more sympathetic and less off putting to see him behaving in those ways with a love interest because of how much his antisocial personality disorder makes sense from someone raised by and trained to be a serial killer. And I really appreciated how at the end of the day he always put her need for self determination and freedom above his desires for control. Paradoxically, I felt like Sahara had to fight less for her own choices than many other series heroines.

    I personally liked that Kaleb mostly retained his lack of empathy (I think he has a smidge there that he doesn’t realize), while we did see him display affection and love… And even some heroics. My biggest fear about a Kaleb book is that in order to give him his HEA Singh would rewrite him to be someone completely different. I felt like she did a great job with expanding him beyond who we were given before without watering down too far. I’ve been disappointed in the past by seeing that done to dark minor characters once they are raised to major status.

    Sahara was very well realized, with empathy and kindness that I absolutely believed in, and I would love to see her appear again in the books, especially in a friendship with Vasic.

  58. Silvia
    Jun 07, 2013 @ 19:03:26

    Since another commenter brought it up, I have to mention that I kept thinking that its really too bad that Singh didn’t give Aden or Vasic a female gender because if she had then Aden and Vasic would doubtless get book 13 or 14 together as a couple. I’m sure if either get a book I will still enjoy it, because I find them so interesting, but not as much as I would for a relationship that’s been a subplot over several novels. It would just have more emotional and dramatic weight. Oh well, I realize this series is way too hetrocentric for it to happen with them both male. I at least hope that any love interest for either is another Arrow, as we know some are female. I don’t want to see their loyalty torn from the group.

  59. Janine
    Jun 07, 2013 @ 19:18:07

    @Silvia:

    its funny how some of Singh’s typical alpha male characterizations bothered me so much less coming from Kaleb. I’m like, yeah, he’s psychotic. That’s been well established. LOL. Unlike with many of the men in the series who start acting this way when they get attracted to a woman, the extreme possessiveness, obsessive control, and hair trigger rage made intrinsic sense to me. It was more sympathetic and less off putting to see him behaving in those ways with a love interest because of how much his antisocial personality disorder makes sense from someone raised by and trained to be a serial killer. And I really appreciated how at the end of the day he always put her need for self determination and freedom above his desires for control. Paradoxically, I felt like Sahara had to fight less for her own choices than many other series heroines.

    Those are great points. I agree 100% and I think that was a lot of what made the book as romantic as it was. His possessiveness was also not excused as being a part of a healthy animal nature as it is with the changelings, but rather shown for what it really is — a neediness that stems from a dysfunctional upbringing at Enrique Santano’s hands.

    I personally liked that Kaleb mostly retained his lack of empathy (I think he has a smidge there that he doesn’t realize), while we did see him display affection and love… And even some heroics. My biggest fear about a Kaleb book is that in order to give him his HEA Singh would rewrite him to be someone completely different. I felt like she did a great job with expanding him beyond who we were given before without watering down too far. I’ve been disappointed in the past by seeing that done to dark minor characters once they are raised to major status.

    That’s the best argument I’ve seen in favor of an empathy-challenged Kaleb. I can’t disagree with it at all!

    Sahara was very well realized, with empathy and kindness that I absolutely believed in, and I would love to see her appear again

    Me too. And I agree her empathy and kindness were very well done. Did it bother you that she recovered from the trauma of captivity as quickly and easily as she did, or was it a non-issue for you?

  60. Silvia
    Jun 07, 2013 @ 20:53:32

    @Janine:
    // I think that was a lot of what made the book as romantic as it was//
    I completely agree with this.

    //Did it bother you that she recovered from the trauma of captivity as quickly and easily as she did, or was it a non-issue for you? //

    I did feel like she recovered overly fast from her trauma but I it worked for me because (a) the whole mind-labyrinth plot device helped me gloss over it and (b) the interesting contrast it made with Kaleb. I just wrote it off as Sahara had used her special mental abilities to do a “backup” of her real, full self, locking her memories and personality in the vaults, and then shredded everything to remain untouchable… thus allowing herself to remain mostly undamaged once it was safe to “reboot” and fully restore/reintegrate herself again piece by piece.

    My personal read of the text was that’s how she ended up the most stable one in the relationship — the sad and compelling truth that for all of Kaleb’s massive, planet shattering powers…. he lacked the one power an abused child desperately needed the most, that ability to psychologically backup, scramble/encrypt, restore himself… Thus he is the one permanently crippled, forever scarred by all those years and the torments he went through while she can just walk away and move on from a comparably extreme situation. IMO that’s her real power that makes them balance well as equals.

    That advantage she bears, giving her something that leaves Kaleb contrastingly vulnerable, I think directly leads to the atypical power balance we see in this book. It’s striking how much Sahara controls her own space and location after her personality is restored, almost always dictating where she is, where they will be together… where she will be physically and where they will be emotionally. (She even gets to decide when she will be ready to talk about certain things and thus when they get to discuss key emotional issues. Contrast with stuff like Hawke/Sierra in Kiss of Snow where he frequently controls when and where they will have important emotional discussions.) Kaleb may have the massive Tk power and the teleport capabilities but she is really the one making a majority of those decisions and successfully asserting her opinions and needs. (And never in this way where the hero honoring her requests feels patronizing, where the guy is all, “okay little lady, well just because you’re so sexually enticing with your ~female stubbornness~”.)

    Maybe I’m just reading more into all of this than is there, I don’t know. :)

  61. Janine
    Jun 07, 2013 @ 21:26:41

    @Silvia: I agree that Sahara’s stability and emotional strength gave her a lot of power in the relationship relative to Kaleb’s emotional trauma and anguish. There was something like that in Mercy and Riley’s relationship as well, which I really liked there too. Hawke and Sienna’s (not Sierra) relationship has a very different dynamic, true. Hawke has his appeal but does come across as more bossy than Kaleb and even patronizing at times.

    I would just add that while the mind-labyrinth plot device helped me gloss over Sahara’s quick healing from the initial confusion caused by the labyrinth itself, and from the twin traumas of her kidnapping and the Santano incident (I could see that she protected herself from those via memory loss), what I understand less is how she got over the trauma of being held captive under conditions of isolation and deprivation for seven whole years — since she did remember that part.

    I don’t fully believe it’s possible to recover from that as quickly as she did, but I was willing to suspend disbelief and go with the flow, largely because I liked the relationship dynamic her stability and strength led to, and the way it created that balance of power that you described so well.

    I also think that if she’d had the trauma she should have had, we would have been reading about two people who were both scarred emotionally, and it might have been too much angst and not enough emotional strength to make that relationship work well. So I see the absence of trauma from the years of captivity as a trade-off.

  62. Janine
    Jun 07, 2013 @ 21:36:39

    @Lynnd: Just realized I never replied to this comment. I’m not persuaded that Kaleb’s killings in his rise to the Council would read to Sahara as normal, just a regular day at work. While Anthony does destroy his opponents, it is only by financially ruining them, not by shedding blood.

    Also, when Sahara disappeared, neither Anthony nor Kaleb was a Councillor, so it’s not like she knew any Councillors (except Santano — and she didn’t make excuses for him). She was only sixteen years old at the time and not even Silent. I’m not convinced that seven years of isolation (even if she had access to the minds of her captors) would turn her into someone to whom killing people to rise to the top of the heap would seem normal.

    Most Psy aren’t Councillors and although some are infected by the Dark Mind or otherwise twisted, others are not. We also have the example of Judd in the series, someone who had the potential to rule (so the Ghost says) but “never wanted it” (In Judd’s own words). So clearly people who don’t want the bloodshed that comes with Psy Council politics can find ways to get out of rising to that position.

  63. Lynnd
    Jun 08, 2013 @ 17:26:13

    @Janine. – I think that I recall references in this book and others that Anthony has ” gotten his own hands dirty”. I have always read that as having killed. Certainly there are Psy who avoid the power politics (thank goodness), but I think that Sahara would have been aware of them. Nikita has been a councillor for a decade so Sahara would have known about her rise to power before she was captured. I am not sure whether Ming would also have been a councillor at the time, but she knows who he is.

  64. Janine
    Jun 09, 2013 @ 00:43:37

    @Lynnd: I don’t think it’s clear about Anthony (and as I recall he didn’t even jockey for a councillor position, but was unexpectedly offered one), but we’ll have to wait to find out for sure. If he was the type to kill people I think he would have tried to do that to Sahara’s kidnappers, but instead he chose to send his message by financially ruining Tatiana and her associates.

    Of course Sahara would have known who Nikita and Ming were as a sixteen year old. However, she did not know them personally, and she was only a kid. That’s like you and I knowing who Presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama are. It’s not at all the same as being involved with one of them.

    I may know that Bush and Obama had the NSA listen in on American citizens’ phonecalls, but that doesn’t mean that if I was kidnapped for seven years and immediately after my release, found myself in a relationship with a guy who was the new President, and learned that he taps citizens’ phones too, I would think “Well, it’s normal that my boyfriend has NSA agents eavesdropping on people; that doesn’t phase me one bit, because that’s just what Presidents do.”

    The fact that her new boyfriend was a councillor should have registered as unusual (same as you or I dating the President) and the fact that he killed people to get the position would, I think, be more daunting than just tapping people’s phones.

  65. Dear Author Recommends for June 2013
    Jun 10, 2013 @ 10:01:06

    [...] of Obsidian by Nalini Singh, reviewed and recommended by Janine. Also recommended by Kati and [...]

  66. Kaetrin
    Jun 12, 2013 @ 04:48:56

    I just finished the audiobook. I think the writing tics are more obvious on audio than in print (where I can skim) and the repeated words and phrases are actually emphasised in the audiobook. Also, I kind of expected Kaleb to have a Russian type accent but he didn’t.

    I wondered how Sahara had managed for her 7 years of captivity without access to the PsyNet – I thought Psy were unable to survive without a network – that was the whole thing about Sascha in the first book and the Web of Stars. I saw the comment earlier on this topic and I can accept that maybe Kaleb’s shields protected her once she was rescued (although that wasn’t clear to me) but I didn’t understand how she’d survived her captivity.

    I agree that she seemed to recover from the trauma of being a prisoner and regularly brutalised in one way or another for 7 years, pretty quickly.

    I thought the big reveal re the Ghost was a little underwhelming and I would have liked a lot more interaction between Kaleb and Sahara as a couple with other people because there really was none of that.

    I didn’t like it quite as much as you did Janine, but I did enjoy it.

  67. cleo
    Jun 13, 2013 @ 18:50:59

    @Kaetrin: I think that Sahara was part of the psynet during her captivity, but was shielded by her captors so that no one could see her and so she couldn’t actually access data. But it wasn’t well explained in the book, and I kept wondering about it. It totally took me out of the story.

    You know, I actually SAW Nalini Singh at a book signing / q&a this week and it did NOT occur to me to ask her about it. Argh. (I was too busy arguing with myself about whether or not to ask her why there are almost no queer people in her version of No California – I ultimately decided not ask that)

  68. Kaetrin
    Jun 13, 2013 @ 19:54:21

    @cleo: Actually that doesn’t make much sense to me either because isn’t that what Kaleb does to you know who and doesn’t Sahara say she’ll go mad? Whatever the explanation, I didn’t think it was clear in the book and it took me out of the story too.

  69. Dear Author Book Club: Heart of Obsidian by Nalini Singh
    Jun 16, 2013 @ 10:01:08

    [...] Most of the questions are from Janine who penned the Heart of Obsidian review here. [...]

  70. What Janine was Reading in June and July of 2013
    Aug 07, 2013 @ 14:02:25

    [...] of Obsidian by Nalini Singh, review here To Love and to Cherish by Patricia Gaffney, joint review with Lazaraspaste here To Have and to Hold [...]

  71. Emilye
    Aug 14, 2013 @ 11:03:01

    I’ve enjoyed most of the observations, comments and discussions here, even coming so late to the party. I decided to hop into the fray over a few (somewhat belabored points, IMO) issues that kept resurfacing: democracy in the PsyNet; Kaleb’s emotional development; Sahara and her health/healing on camera; and how refreshing it was that the changelings were so peripheral to HoO. 1)You can’t have it both ways–wanting a psy/psy story AND focus on that couple (re-read some of the commentary on KoS and ToN where folks were bitching about too many updates on the other characters) and then complain when your wants are heard and incorporated.
    2)Part of the otherness of the Psy is the depth of their racial pragmatism that crossed ethnic lines to the commonality of their gifts and stratifying/grading/scaling the same. There is no democracy when existence depends on assigned structure – anchors don’t reject being anchors, because all Psy know how crucial that is to their common existence. NS has shown that the Council has always been their form of governance; only Silence allowed the Councilors the depth of megalomaniacal behavior we entered their world to see. So a demand for idealized democracy in this context seems naive; we don’t operate in a fully democratic system here, in our own real lives. Nor do we fully equate every ethnicity with the evenhanded approach NS has demonstrated with the Psy and in fact all of her world.
    3)I guess I was less troubled by Sahara’s successful reintergration, because the trauma was all mental – she wasn’t physically raped, nor psychically raped, though she was tortured and beaten. That’s not to say the events weren’t traumatic, but we’d seen enough of Sascha in previous stories to know what she would do around Sahara. And it was important that Sahara’s mental state was self-induced/inflicted as part of the pragmatism of being Psy. I feel y’all discounted and dismissed this too readily.
    4)Kaleb’s rapid level of emotional growth was only possible with Sahara intact, and it was rapid! His interactions with her were so beautiful when they were children that it made it much easier to accept the power of her calling them to remembrance reshaping his understanding of himself. That in fact his striving to recover her was to protect that possibility of humaneness in Kaleb, whether he knew or acknowledged that aspect of/in himself.
    Okay, getting off my soapbox now :-) love the books enjoy the discussion

  72. Jane’s Best of 2013
    Dec 15, 2013 @ 17:45:07

    […] by her body issues. She’s smart and unafraid and willing to tackle the brooding Matt. 3) Heart of Obsidian by Nalini Singh. I waited ten books for the answer to who was the Ghost. I posted a long thesis why I thought it […]

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