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Saturday, November 26, 2011

Spectyr by Philippa Ballantine (Reviewed by Mihir Wanchoo)

Order “SpectyrHERE
Read the first chapter HERE
Read FBC’s review of Geist
Read FBC interview with Phillipa Ballantine
AUTHOR INFORMATION: Philippa Ballantine was born and brought up in New Zelaland. Shen then graduated from Victoria University of Wellington with a BA in English and Political Science. She also holds a Bachelor of Applied Science in Library Studies from The Open Polytechnic of New Zealand. She is an avid Podcaster and has often released podcasts of her own books. Her podcasts have been short listed for the Parsec Awards, and won a Sir Julius Vogel award. She has had three books published before this one. She is married to Tee Morris, the co-author of the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences series. They both currently reside in Virginia.

OFFICIAL SYNOPSIS: Though one of the most powerful Deacons, Sorcha Faris has a tarnished reputation to overcome. She and her partner, Deacon Merrick Chambers, find themselves chasing down rumors of geists, but long for a return to real action. So they jump at the chance to escort a delegation sent to negotiate the terms of the Emperor’s engagement. Their destination: the exotic city of Orinthal.

But a string of murders has Orinthal on edge, and Sorcha and Merrick are asked to investigate. Meanwhile the Emperor’s sister has unwittingly released a cruel and vengeful goddess, one who it bent on destroying her enemies, including the geistlord who resides inside the shapeshifting rival to the throne—Sorcha’s lover….

FORMAT/INFO: Spectyr is 310 pages long divided over thirty numbered/titled chapters. Narration is in the third-person omniscient view via Sorcha Faris, Merrick Chambers, the Young Pretender Raed Rossin, Grand Duchess Zofiya, the Goddess Hatipai and the Rossin. Spectyr is the second book in the Chronicles of the Order and contains a lot of references to its predecessor hence its important to read it only after Geist.

June 28, 2011 marked the North American paperback and e-book publication of Geist via ACE books. Cover art is done by Jason Chan.

ANALYSIS: After thoroughly enjoying Geist , the first book in the Chronicles of the Order by Philippa Ballantine. I was eagerly looking forward to Spectyr and since I had bought both books together, it wasn’t a long wait at all. The book's blurb promised another exotic journey and further revelations in to the world of Arkaym and for me the expectations were heightened.

The story begins with Grand Duchess Zofiya, sister to the new Emperor Kaleva, who is a follower of one of the small Gods. Her object of worship is a entity known as Hatipai. Zofiya had a crucial role to play in the climax of Geist and now ascends to the status of POV character. She however feels a metaphysical pull and soon is introduced to the person whom all her prayers are directed to. Hatipai deems her mortal appearance necessary to save this world from the Rossin and all other Geistlords. She demands that the Rossin and his mortal shell must die and Zofiya is to be her instrument through which the evil will be vanquished. Sorcha Faris and Merrick Chambers return hardened and wiser from their previous sojourn, however Sorcha is surprised to find her husband recovering and willing to claim his spousal status. To add to this complicated point, Raed Rossin finds himself forced to do what he hasn’t done before and try to regain his family as someone is trying to gain revenge on the Rossin family. Lastly to add to it all, the Emperor is also seeking a bride and princess Chioma of Orinthal is the most eligible contender, so the stage shifts to the city of Orinthal and it will be here that the fate of worlds, past and present will be decided.

To begin with Spectyr is easily the better book than its predecessor. It again has a twisted storyline that serves surprise after surprise and in the end manages to end on a terrific note making sure that readers will be left anticipating Wrayth desperately. The pace is also another strength which adds to the story as it never loses its zip. Making sure that the reader is constantly surging ahead. A crucial part of the story also deals with a certain character who appeared in Geist and also makes this story a prequel and sequel at the same time. This part of the story was something which made tremendous sense and also gives a rather long look into the past of the world which deepens the dangers inherent within. The cover art again is by Jason Chan and is possibly better than his freshman effort, we get another close look at the lead pair and this time it’s the turn of another rune, possibly one which is close to Sorcha’s heart. Lastly the magic system as well as the world history is better explained and this only serves to raise the stakes for the next two books.

In the last book, I thought that the characterization wasn’t up to the its optimal standard, however the characterization in this book is degrees better and of course helps the reader gain a closer understanding of the characters and their motivations. Another funny point which I noticed was that the Rossin has made appearances in both books and has never properly shown his true potential in crucial situations exactly. In both books there have been instances wherein the Rossin passes the buck to Raed and I hope this trend doesn’t continue in the remaining two books as well. To better put it, its like watching the Hulk make an appearance and just when you hope that he does what he does best, all you get is Bruce Banner, this confusion might seem feasible a couple of times but should it occur any more, it could be considered as a narrative weakness. This book was an excellent page turner and it was very hard for me to point deficiencies in this one.

CONCLUSION: Spectyr further raises the standards first encountered in Geist. It’s a page turner and a book which will make the wait for the next one a bit harder. Philippa Ballantine’s Chronicles of the Order is a series which is action packed, cleverly plotted and an entertaining one as well. Give it a try if you are a fan of thrilling action and an enticing plot.


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