Thursday, October 18, 2018

Allegiance of Honour (Psy/Changeling #15) by Nalini Singh

This is book pretty unique in the series. Unlike previous books in this long running series, there’s no central couple. Instead we have nearly everyone here. All the previous couples, all the previous major characters are all here to greater or lesser degrees all focusing on the greater development of the world rather than focusing on a single central romance

And this is absolutely excellent.

This is the fifteenth book in the series - that’s a long long long series. That’s a lot of characters and, while each book has been a romance, there has also been a truly epic and amazing metaplot burning along. The defections from the Psy Council, the greater rebellions against the Council machinations. The establishment of new factions, new networks and webs of alliances through to the massive change of the Fall of Silence and the creation of The Trinity Accord.

A lot has happened and there needs to be a book to address all of this and establish it without having to work it in around another romance.

This gives us the chance not only to establish the world, update us on where it is and further the world building and metaplot but it also lets us catch up on many of the characters who have kind of fallen by the wayside. Like Sascha and Lucas who should be so important in the series but haven’t been prominent for a while after they basically set this in motion (in fact, I think the Leopard pack in general has been neglected compared to the wolf pack). We see more of Faith and see her abilities in use again. Alesha appears again with her scientific skills. Even better, while we revisit a lot of these characters we also see a lot of cross-contact. We see characters talking to each other and forming links that we haven’t necessarily seen before which I think does a really excellent job of bringing these characters together and setting up a greater network and alliance which is what the Trinity Accords are all about. I mean theoretically we know these various characters probably interact but seeing scenes and contacts really underscores the society being developed and remembering all the characters which may have slipped aside.

We also have more development of Black Sea, the Aquatic Shapeshifters who run in a very different way to other organisations while still linked with all the caring and love that characterises a shapeshifter pack for even the weakest and least important members. At the same time I like that this contrasts with a shapeshifter pack that has so completely failed to uphold those basic conditions: because it would be so easy for us to go with the idea that Psy = bad while Changelings = good. Similarly I also like the awareness of what humanity brings to the equation - since they’re so often the “and there’s also this” element, and how they are essential to everyone’s survival as well as providing the creativity for society.

This book just brings so many threads together: while it advances the plot I think the main focus is just to set a baseline after we’ve reached a somewhat new beginning for the series after The Fall of Silence. We began with survival, facing down the Council and now as we’re entering a new era it’s really good for this book to kind of raise a hand and say “This is what we’ve achieved so far!” and recap the vastness of of the last 15 books.

Despite this - the book is really well paced despite not having a singular plot to focus on and move us forwards - I think it’s because after fifteen books I’m more than happy to spend some time exploring this wonderful world and the characters we’ve come to know. It really really works.

And racially this series is very very diverse. Obviously so many of these books have main POC: starting with Sasha and Lucas. The Psy normalise being mixed race. And they’re very open about it - we don’t have ambiguous “olive” or “tan” descriptions- they have express descriptions of their race and their ancestry. And these characters are in such very prominent roles: the sheer number of POC characters in major roles in this series - Sahara, Lucas, Vasic, Savannah, Vaughn, Devraj - I can’t seriously list the sheer number of POC in this large series; it is very very racially diverse

There are no LGBTQ characters - which is true of the whole series and I really cannot stress just how many characters there are in this series - and all of them are straight which is really glaring. One of the problems with erasure is how obvious and problematic it becomes after several books in the series.

I do love this book - it’s different but exactly what this huge, awesome series needed: and just perfect for setting us up for the excellent adventures to come as this world moves into its next era.