Monday, August 8, 2016

Allegiance of Honor

Allegiance of Honor (Psy-Changeling Novel, A) by [Singh, Nalini]

Allegiance of Honor (Psy/Changeling #15)- Nalini Singh
Penguin Group
Release Date: June 14, 2016

Rating (out of 5):

Warning: Spoilers Below!

Synopsis: A staggering transformation has put the Psy, humans, and changelings at a crossroads.  The Trinity Accord promises a new era of cooperation between disparate races and groups.  It is a beacon of hope held together by many hands: old enemies, new allies, wary loners. But a century of distrust and suspicion can't be so easily forgotten, and it threatens to shatter Trinity from within at any moment. As rival members vie for dominance, chaos and evil gather in the shadows and a kidnapped woman's cry for help washes up in San Francisco, while the Consortium turns its murderous gaze toward a child who is the embodiment of change, of love, of piercing hope: a child who is both Psy . . . and changeling.
To find the lost and protect the vulnerable- and to save Trinity- no one can stand alone.  This is a time of loyalty across divisions, of bonds woven into the heart and should, of heroes known and unknown standing back to back and holding the line.  But is an allegiance of honor even possible with traitors lurking in their midst?

The latest Psy/Changeling adventure by Nalini Singh, Allegiance of Honor, acts to, in Singh's own words, "see how far the world and its characters have come since Slave to Sensation" as she closes "season 1" and begins "season 2" of the Psy/Changeling saga.  It continues to explore how the world is changing on every level, and does that in the best and most all encompassing way possible- through the eyes of many people instead of one main couple.  DarkRiver and SnowDancer sit at the heart of the book, as they have of the series, but the definition of what it means to be DarkRiver or SnowDancer has changed.  Both packs have expanded, connecting with not only other changelings but Psy and human, Arrow and civilian as well.

The world itself has both expanded and become more connected.  We get to see more of the mysterious BlackSea water changelings and watch their changing attitudes towards connecting with the outside world.  When a message in a bottle begs for help from a kidnapped member of BlackSea, it is a combination of changeling, human, and Psy who put their connections and their abilities to use in order to rescue her.  When Sascha and Lucas' daughter Naya is endangered both changelings and Psy act to protect her.  Naya is a symbol of the change in the world and is fast becoming a magnet for those both for and against that change.

It was great to "catch up" with so many characters. Seeing how so many of our book friends are becoming friends themselves was a lot of fun.  Lucas and Hawke have become friends as well as allies, and the connections between the packs are perfectly symbolized by the party at the end of the book to celebrate the birth of Mercy and Riley's pupcubs. Since I can't say enough good things about the party scenes I won't even try, except to say that it was a perfect way to close what Singh has called "season one" before moving on to whatever adventures come next.  Relationships are deepened, some unanswered questions receive surprising answers, and the whole thing was perfect.

I also loved the scenes where we get to see how various Psy are learning to cope in a post-Silence world.  The Arrows especially were great to see as they start to learn from the changelings how to be both structured and fun, and start experimenting with partying.  Kaleb's development may have been the most fun to watch- largely because he still denies any change at all.  Is that true or just the image he wants to project to the world? Always hard to tell with him, but Sahara is doing her best to drag him into, as he puts it, "having more people".  There's also a great scene between Nikita and Sascha that makes me want to reread some of the earlier books, especially Slave to Sensation, with it in mind.  The relationship between Nikita and Anthony remains a big question mark, but like Sascha and Faith we have to ask ourselves if we're ready to find out the answer? Always assuming of course, that Nikita and Anthony know.  They are great examples of different ways parents considered Silent still protected their children under Silence, and are now struggling to balance a post-Silence world with present dangers.

Singh also uses Allegiance to give us clues to where the series may be going in the future.  At some point you have to figure we'll get a book with a member of BlackSea as a main character.  At the very least she's going to have to stop teasing us and let us find out for sure what kinds of shifters Miane and Malachai are!  There are changes happening among the Forgotten that will have to be explored more in depth, although that may not be quite ready to get a full book just yet.  We have to figure out how Trinity will grow stronger and weed out the Consortium spies.  We're going to have to deal with the Architect and his/her Consortium and Ming LeBon is still a threat- although Hawke and Judd have developed some entertaining new ways of dealing with him.  The main focus, of course, will have to be on how the Psy learn to deal with the fall of Silence.  The PsyNet is still dying and by the end of the book we've figured out the solution- but it is one of the heart and not something that can simply be "fixed".  Psy and humans are going to have to learn to change their approaches to each other but a century of disdain on the Psy end and animosity on the human end won't go away overnight.

Nalini Singh continues to build a wonderful, complex, and colorful world around three species trying to come to terms with how different and similar they actually are.  An all star cast book like this can't have been easy to write but each character is still fully formed and fully themselves from earlier books.  Even characters who only appear briefly like Riaz or Annie don't feel like they're getting short-changed in any way.

Allegiance of Honor is as beautiful as its cover art, answering old questions while asking new ones, reinforcing the bonds of family and pack, and perhaps giving us a new way to look at what family is and how it can change the world.  It celebrates the series, opens new doors, and shows how a few individuals can change not only themselves, but the world. Can't wait to see where this world takes us next!


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