Blaze of Memory
Roundabout Book 4 in Nalini Singh’s Psy-Changeling series, I decided the magic was lost and stopped anticipating new installments. My main concerns were the possessive natures of contemporary men explained away by animal genetics, and the neediness of the women who, though thankfully never stupid, were always in danger and so required saving (and ultimately, that possession).
Blaze of Memory features characters who were, for me, the most possessive male lead and neediest female lead of the series. Despite this, I liked their story well enough.
Devraj Santos is the director of Shine, the organization in charge of protecting the interests of The Forgotten: Psy who had defected in the 70s when Silence was first implemented. Dev has reached this position of control by being rough and ruthless in his campaign to protect the innocent, young Forgotten – many of whom do not realize they are Psy, not human.
The Forgotten, after having mixed with humans for the past three decades, have begun to manifest strong powers and abilities unique to their status as Psy functioning outside of the Net. They now fiercely guard this information against the evil minds of the Psy Councilors who would view the Forgotten as a threat to their world dominance.
Katya Haas is a Psy scientist who is dropped at the door of the Shine Foundation, unconscious and abused. When she awakes, it is to the realization that she has lost her memory. Everyone – including Katya herself – believes she has been mentally compromised by Ming, one particular Councilor, to act as Dev’s assassin. Because Katya helped to free children who were being experimented on at Psy labs, Dev does not pre-empt his possible murder by killing her. Instead he decides to keep her close at hand.
Early on in the book, when they’ve barely just met, Katya asks Dev to kill her if she has been too broken by Ming to recuperate. And so begins the first step on Katya’s path to becoming Dev’s full responsibility. The language in this installment is typical of Singh’s treatment of her Changeling males, which was odd to me as Dev is genetically a Psy. He has a lot of “wild fury” our Dev, particularly when it comes to seeing Katya touched by other males – even doctors who tend to her health. He himself admits that his behavior is not rational, but he never wonders what to do about it, which is probably because Katya likes when he takes “total possession”.
I describe Katya as the neediest heroine under this series because she’s literally dying for most of it and it’s a race against time scenario to release her from Ming’s bonds before death takes her. In the end, neither Death nor Ming gets her, but Dev does.
So far, I suppose my description of their relationship has not been too complimentary. But Katya, though physically weak, is for the most part mentally strong, and she has a serious support network around her, unconnected to Dev. For Dev’s part, he has a weakness as well that Katya is meant to build up through her love. His need to protect and her need to be protected, though perhaps overplayed when looking at the romance genre in the round, is explained and believable here, even touching when Singh hits the notes just right, which she does on occasion.
The world Singh has created is so great that I feel as if I could read a Psy-Changeling book where political drama and intrigue are the focus and romance the secondary story. For that reason, I can’t call Blaze of Memory an average read because we learn more about the changing dynamics within the council, more about the Ghost and more about the Arrows.
I don’t think I’ve returned to the state of eagerly anticipating Psy-Changeling installments, but my antennae will be a little more sensitive now to additions to this series. I don’t recommend making this your first read of the entire series, however. There are too many past characters who not only have significant roles, but entire scenes of their own. Their canoodling won’t make you feel warm and fuzzy and their conversations may well be cryptic, so instead of delighting a reader who has been in this world from the beginning, it may more likely annoy someone new. But if you are current with the series, this one is worth a look.