Reviewed by E, Has and Marlene
BP Note: Over the years we have developed a standard format we use whenever we review a book which has three or more reviewers and we think it gives each of us a chance to voice our opinion without writing a novel. In this particular case, we have changed up our format because this was truly an ensemble cast story. While there is a relationship and romance is threaded through the story we felt we would do a disservice to the rest of the Psy-Changeling world if we only focused on it. This review will contain spoilers for earlier books in the series.
Thoughts about the series so far
Marlene: I love this series, and I am always eagerly awaiting the next book. That being said, I’ll also admit that I didn’t always love it. The first time I read Slave to Sensation, I bounced off fairly hard. But a friend encouraged me to read it again, and the second time it took. About the series as a whole. I’ve really enjoyed the world-building, the way that each piece and each story builds on everything previous. It’s been pretty obvious, and a bit sad, that the last several books were winding towards some kind of conclusion, which finally happened in Shards of Hope. As the tensions mounted between the Psy, the Changelings, and the Original Recipe Humans, something had to give. It was either come to resolution or descend into chaos. The resolution was terrific, but evil is never completely defeated – it always returns to the shadows to build up for another attack. And here we almost are.
E: So I have to admit I have been a huge fan of this series from the minute I picked up Slave to Sensation and I haven’t looked back. While I haven’t loved every character and relationship as much, the difference is small enough that I find myself periodically rereading the entire series. The entire first arc of this world provided memorable scenes, characters, and drastically changed the world. There were times when I had some serious doubts Silence would fall without destroying everything and times in individual books when I really wondered how the relationship would solidify and each time Singh made it all work. She also managed to make me really enjoy some characters I disliked when they first appeared on page. This does occasionally cause me some concern as I wonder what that says about my mental make-up but it is a very effective lesson that not every action should be taken purely on the surface. I think I could have been satisfied with the fall of Silence but I would have always wondered what happened next so I am delighted we have moved into the next phase. In some ways I think there is even more at risk now because there is a real opportunity and not everyone is wants the opportunity to come to fruition.
Has: I also loved this series straight from the beginning, when I first picked up Slave to Sensation, I fell in love with the worldbuilding and the vivid characters that inhabited it. This series has fast become one of my favourite PNR romances, because I loved the intricate storylines which has kept me guessing on the outcome. Like E and Marlene have stated above, I immensely enjoyed the story arc that led to Silence falling and loving the journeys of the couples that were involved in the conflict and fallout. Some of the couples featured also have become some of my favourite romances that I read and Nalini Singh has never failed to live up to the promise of some of the most mysterious and enigmatic characters that I read, such as Kaleb Krychek. I also loved that even though Silence had fallen, there is still new dangers and enemies in the shadows and I am looking forward to where the new story will lead to.
General thoughts of Allegiance of Honor
Marlene: Allegiance of Honor feels like the eye of the storm. This world has passed through so much, but now we have a temporary calm. That doesn’t mean that the threat is over, only that everyone has a chance to take a breath before the battle joins anew. Which it surely will.
Shards of Hope was the end of a long arc, and Allegiance of Honor is the pause before the next arc truly begins. Unlike the previous books in the series, there is no central romance here. Instead, we have a net of connections, like the Netmind in the series, holding things together.
E: I completely agree with Marlene about Allegiance of Honor feeling like the eye of the storm. I was worried at first this would be a summary of past events but I once again found myself sucked into this world. I really enjoyed catching up with people and how they didn’t remain static as the world changed. Singh also introduced a new wrinkle in the efforts to stabilize the world while keeping up the pressure and threat of the Consortium. One of the other things I really enjoyed about this story was seeing exactly how interconnected the world has become and on what levels. The change from almost strict isolation or limited agreements to what has grown so organically as seen in Allegiance of Honor is striking.
Has: I also agree with you both that this felt like the quiet before the storm, but I think we needed to see the aftermath and the emerging new threats that is waiting to pounce to attack the new trinity accord. I also enjoyed revisiting the characters and catching up to what they were doing as well as dealing with the aftermath and new tensions emerging from different factions. I also loved the glimpses of the new Black Sea Changeling pack, which Nalini left some interesting new details and clues. I really hope we get a more in-depth look into their world in future books. But it was fantastic to see the slices of life with some of my favourite characters such as Lucas and Sascha, Hawke and Sienna and Kaleb and Sahara. Nalini Singh has created a complex and intertwined plots and the last few books have really shown what a fantastic and multi-dimensional world this is.
Favorite Character/Scene (limited spoilers)
Marlene: My favorite scenes involve all of the speculation about the number and nature of Riley and Mercy’s pupcubs. The betting game going on among the members of both clans was great fun, and shows just how far they’ve come from their initial rivalry and distrust. And the scene involving Teijan nearly brought me to tears.
E: Oh those were great scenes! I think my favorite scenes involve Walker because he was shown in such great and complex light. I still want to know more about his particular mental abilities but seeing how much of a father he was even under the constrictions of Silence *happy sigh*. Oh yeah and umm Nikita *wicked grin*.
Has: You both have mentioned some of my favourite scenes! But I wont go into detail with the scene that really stood out for me but it involves Nikita and Sascha and I thought it was a wonderful circle with how the first book started off the events and led to this personal moment between them and about wider world and issues they still have to face.
What did you think about the central relationship?
Marlene: We’re all going to have different thoughts about this one. I don’t think there is one central relationship in this story, I think there are three. One tent-pole of this book is Lucas and Sascha’s relationship, and their reaction to the probable threat to their daughter Naya’s life and freedom. Their fierce protection of their little girl, and the gathering of forces to protect her and neutralize the threat were a great way to show how much Lucas has changed, and how strong the interconnected webs between the Psy, the Changelings and the humans have become.
The second tent-pole is the much lighter story about Riley and Mercy and their imminent pupcubs. Wolves or cats or some of each? The joy surrounding the impending birth, not just among the clans but shared by all those we have come to know and love throughout the series provided just the right dose of joy and a bit of comic relief to an often serious story.
That third thread, at least for me, was Father Xavier’s quest for his Nina. We read the letters that he writes to his lost love as he searches for her. As he writes, none of us know whether his quest will be successful or not. But it was lovely to see inside the man who befriended Aden and Kaleb, and who is one of the unsung heroes of the new world.
E: This is a hard one. I agree Marlene pulled out some very interesting and central romantic threads. I loved Father Xavier’s trek and how it was told along with the worry his fellow conspirators had for him and his success. In so many ways he was the voice of reason/emotion/empathy so I was extremely anxious over his chance at finding happiness in addition to the peace he so often gave others.
I also found Nikita and her relationship(s) with others to be of great interest and some serious mental speculation on my part. She has become more and more complex as this series has continued and I eagerly look for information about her.
Has: I agree that first central relationship which is fitting to be Sascha and Lucas, especially since their relationship and baby is kicking off new tensions with certain factions. I also agree about Nikita and I have feeling she will unveil new depths in the future. I also think Father Xavier had a lovely subplot, and I was glad he finally found his lost love, although I felt that was a bit rushed at the end. But in a lot of ways, I felt this book had fun and great moments of slices of life of the previous characters as well as them working on the problems and issues that was threatening the new allegiances and Trinity accord.
What are you most looking forward to in future books?
Marlene: I just want to see this series continue and to get better and better. I think there is going to be a lot more politicking, and that can be fascinating if it is done well. I hope that Alice Etheridge finally gets her happily ever after, and I want a solution to the implant catastrophe. But mostly I just hope for more good stuff. There have been other series that have extended past their natural ending, and it does not always go well. I have high hopes that the Psy-Changeling series will.
In conclusion, I loved Allegiance of Honor. I couldn’t put it down, and read it in one glorious binge. My concerns about what may or may happen in future books do not dim my joy in the present one.
I give Allegiance of Honor an enthusiastic A.
E: I am looking forward to so many things. The reveal of leader of the Consortium, I have a guess. Seeing more of the other Changeling Groups, The Forgotten, The Human Alliance, and some of the characters who have played distinct roles in defining others but haven’t received a story yet. And I can’t forget how the most recent problem or discovery works out while continuing to deal with longer standing issues.
I can’t wait for the ride!
I give Allegiance of Honor an A+
Has: I loved the new characters that were introduced and the glimpses and updates of the previous characters that appeared. This book was much quieter in tone and pace but I think we needed to see how the aftermath affected people and fallout which has created new threats emerge. I have a feeling that the next few books will ante up the tension and drama and I suspect there will be more surprised twists and turns especially with the little clues left in the book!
I give Allegiance of Honour a B.