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Ramblings by Category

Ramblings by Year


Geist (Book of the Order, #1)
by Philippa Ballantine

Between the living and the dead is the Order of the Deacons, protectors of the Empire, guardians against possession, sentinels enlisted to ward off the malevolent haunting of the geists…

Among the most powerful of the Order is Sorcha, now thrust into partnership with the novice Deacon, Merrick Chambers. They have been dispatched to the isolated village of Ulrich to aide the Priory with a surge of violent geist activity. With them is Raed Rossin, Pretender to the throne that Sorcha is sworn to protect, and bearer of a terrible curse.

But what greets them in the strange settlement is something far more predatory and more horrifying than any mere haunting. And as she uncovers a tradition of twisted rituals passed down through the dark reaches of history, Sorcha will be forced to reconsider everything she thinks she knows.

And if she makes it out of Ulrich alive, what in Hell is she returning to? (goodreads.com)

Look at me starting off my reading year with an actual grown-up book and not something in YA. I think I’d like to try and read more adult literature this year. By adult, I mean, grown-up, not, you know, porn.

I’m especially excited that this was a fantasy novel. No paranormalness, no romance (ok, there’s a tiny bit of romance, but it’s just part of how the story unfolds), no teen angst. Just epic fantasy. I need to get back into the fantasy reading groove.

I don’t even recall where I discovered this book. A blog? Someone’s goodreads update? Honestly, I do not remember. It got on my GR wishlist somehow and for that I am thankful.

It took me about a quarter of the book to truly get into the flow of the story. Though I liked Sorcha right from the start, I wasn’t entirely certain what was going on or what would happen. The world building in this book is excellent. However that also ment that I felt like I was tossed right into the middle of an on-going story. I didn’t like that feeling very much, but I will admit that I couldn’t put the book down at all.

For a book that seems tiny, and only clocks in at 294 pages, it certainly took me long enough to read this. The reason? The type-face is TINY. There are so many words on those pages that I think the book was really long. A few times I felt like I had read a ton of pages only to realize I’d only progressed 10 pages from where I had picked it back up!

In no way was that a negative aspect. In fact, I felt that this made it much more EPIC fantasy than I had thought it to be.

One of the things that really stood out to me about the story was its protagonist. Sorcha isn’t some young, flighty woman. She’s “older”, as in somewhere in her 30s, but she’s seen as an older woman. She constant needs a smoke, making me crave cigars as I was reading. Normally fantasy books make me crave hunks of bread and stew, not this book. Sorcha is married and a very strong character. It was almost as if I was reading a book with a male lead. She’s not soft in any way, yet she’s still relatable and enjoyable to read on the page.

Her partner, Merrick was also interestingly written. He was a Novice and a lot less jaded about the way the world works, but he wasn’t an idiot. I loved that Sorcha grew to rely on him in such a short time when she was certain that he would just hold her back. Merrick had a few witty lines and comebacks during their journey and I quickly changed my opinion of him from what I thought he’d be to a character that was much more interesting in the end.

As for the Pirate Prince, Raed was at the start a rather unoriginal contender for the Throne. He seemed like every other threat to the throne with a tortured past and likely love interest for Sorcha. I sort of found him one-dimensional for much of the book but he did make me laugh a few times with his repartee. However, like Merrick, Raed became a little more interesting and likeable. I can’t quite put my finger on why or how, but I started to warm up to him by the last quarter of the story.

His “curse” however, was kind of bland. So he turns into some cat-like creature. Whether or not it’s something that looks like a lion as on the cover of the book, I’m not sure. I found that description somewhat lacking. The only thing I could picture WAS a lion though, thanks to that cover. So a geist shows up and he suddenly turns into this cat-beast that takes down everyone and everything in his path. I’m not so sure how I feel about that, but I liked the main story enough that I am going to get that second book and see how this plays out.

This fantasy story has some steampunk elements to it as well. There are guns and dirigibles (I have to admit I was NOT expecting dirigibles to show up. Then again, whoever expects a dirigible, I ask you?), yet the citizens still wash with a jug and basin. No indoor plumbing I guess. Personally, I’d rather my country look into indoor plumbing and toilets than flying balloons, but that’s just me. I am a creature of comfort and I’d rather it be on the ground. The meshing of high fantasy and steampunk worked for me, I have to say. I truly liked this world that Ballantine dreamed up, though I shall not want to visit it in person until they invent toilets and showers. Just sayin’.

I can assure you that the next book will be bought and read in the very near future. I DO have a birthday coming up after all.

Thanks, Kristi, for this lovely Christmas gift!!

Books of the Order

  1. Geist
  2. Spectyr


5 comments to Geist

  • Sounds interesting. I added it to my wish list. 🙂

  • It does sound good. I’ll put it on my list for when I’m in a fantasy sort of mood. And yes, Cat, I’m sure all the readers of your blog immediately thought porn when you said adult. Hahahaha!

  • I really enjoyed this book when I read it and I’m glad you did, too. I haven’t had a chance to read Spectyr yet so I’m looking forward to hearing what you think, if the birthday faeries are kind! 🙂

  • mwm

    Hi! Delurking here. I dunno if you’re already familiar, but if you enjoyed the sort of mismatched technology aspects here, AND you’re looking for more grown-up stuff, you might really enjoy The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi (a name that is in the running, for me, for Best Names Ever, right up there with Benedict Cumberbatch).

    It’s a really interesting exploration of what happens to our civilization after we run out of oil–so a lot of the things we take for granted don’t work anymore–but we have developed incredibly advanced genetic science, so we can genetically engineer, like, awesome beasts of burden to replace the motors we can’t have anymore. Also, the genetic engineering thing has its downfalls. Anyway, you might enjoy it!

    • Cat

      Thanks for this! I have checked it out on Goodreads and it does sound like something I might like. Yet another book added to my wishlist. 😉