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4.3 out of 5 stars
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4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 30 August 2011
Firstly this is one of the most beautiful covers i've ever seen in my life. The art is just plain amazing and totally makes you want to read the story without even looking the summary!

On the book now. Is it as good as its cover? Oh my...yes yes it is! Philippa Ballantine creates an original new world which gets you in from the first chapters. A story with mystery, lots of action, romance, friendship. There are so many books out there in fantasy worlds and most of them are around the same concept of heroes, and prophecies, and elves, and orcs, wizards,etc so Geist is definitely a nice change into those worlds with a combination ghosts,bits of steampunk and paranormal fantasy. There are no huge epic battles but there is some serious exciting action scenes with many twists though the story.

Another thing that i liked is how the characters are not teens who are new to the geist things but adults with lots of history behind. I liked how i learned the history of the world by learning more about their own history at the same time. And there is a character for everyone to like, a kick ass woman, a cute and bit shy at times but really strong (mentally and physically) guy, a hot exiled prince (who is actually pretty much awesome for more than his hotness!), a mysterious girl and many other secondary characters.

Even though the book is more of an introduction for the things to come, with many unanswered questions at the end, it totally stands alone as great novel. The first 2-3 chapters (how much i love when books start with an action scene!) where you meet everyone through some events are bit confusing since you don't know anything about this new world but it's actually really easy to adjust and remember everything.

The only thing i didn't like about the book is that i didn't pick it up earlier! Easy one of my favorite fantasy adventures which i can read again and again and stay with me through time!
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on 7 May 2013
I found this an interesting read, mainly for two reasons: the usage of magic and the paranormal is different from anything I have read before, and most of the characters are older - thirty-ish, rather than precocious teens or early twenty-somethings - which also feels different. I like the three main characters and found the conspiracy interesting, as was the kind of steampunk feel to parts of it.

Why I bought the book:
- I'm looking for new authors, and this book had a pretty high rating
- It came up in my recommendations
- I was intrigued by the sample; the opening has some action and a complex relationship
- Strong female character

Why I had to give it 3 stars:
- Despite the interesting use of magic and the potential of the character relationships, the writing could be MUCH better. I found myself re-reading a few passages 2 or 3 times, still not being able to make sense of what was written, and moving on feeling slightly annoyed. I could grasp what the author was getting at through context some of the time, but sometimes it felt like an explanatory sentence (or paragraph) had been dropped, or that the author was writing something out for herself (and had the rest in her head).

- More detail and description about the people and places would be nice - the book could safely be a bit longer without being dull, and I found myself a bit frustrated at the 300-odd page length and feeling that a bit more meat would have helped.

- The repetition. By the end of the book, reading "the Young Pretender" and a few other phrases over and over again was doing my head in.

- The romance bit was awkward - I actually felt uncomfortable, rather than titillated or drawn in.

Despite this I went ahead and got the second book, mainly to see how some story elements from the first book would be continued, but I'm really hoping that the writing improves.
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on 18 April 2011
I can't remember when or where I first heard of Geist, but I do know that after I did, the book quickly went on my wish list, as the premise sounded like good old, traditional fantasy. Which it wasn't and which certainly in the first couple of chapters made it hard for me to settle into the story. The book is a hodgepodge of traditional epic fantasy and steampunk elements. However the steampunk elements felt sort of tacked in and were at times jarring. For example, Sorcha smokes cigars, but for some reason the word 'cigar' kept jumping out at me and shaking me from the narrative. Partly, this was probably caused by my unfamiliarity with steampunk, but the fact that nothing in the flap text indicated this isn't just a straight traditional fantasy setting might play a part too, as I wasn't expecting the modern-ish things such as cigars, dirigibles and rifles.

At the start of the story the book seemed laced with genre tropes, such as, for example, the exceptional partnership between Sorcha and Merrick, the noble cursed prince and the Order militant to protect the realm, but Ballantine quickly twists these and makes them her own. Said partnership turns out to be special for an unexpected reason, the noble prince is noble, but his curse stays a curse and the Order militant isn't exactly as clerical as one might expect from their titles! Ballantine succeeds in using tropes without letting them slip (too far) into cliché and I wasn't bored with them at any point.

I enjoyed the characters. I loved Sorcha's marital problems, or rather the way they are part of the story, but not a gimmick. While you might quibble at her eventual infidelity, and the way there wasn't much soul-searching over it, at least not as far as we're shown, in a way the circumstances could be considered extenuating; trapped in a loveless marriage, convinced she's probably not going to make it through this last crisis of the realm, I can see why she just gets on with it, without sparing her husband more than a few moments of thought. I also liked how there were plenty of clues given for Nynnia's true identity. I knew something was up with her as this is broadcast pretty clearly from the moment we meet her, I just couldn't figure out what until the reveal and then all the pieces fell into place. The three-way bond, with Sorcha as the linchpin, was also a nice conceit and not only creates solutions, but tensions as well. A character that was most interesting as well, though we only see him as an active point of view for a few scenes, was the Rossin. I found the Beast fascinating, since he's supposed to be evil, but there does seem to be some honour there.

I found the book got better and better by the chapter and I really liked the characters and the twists to the tale. Once I got into it, it was a quick read as well. In all, Geist is a fine read, with a solid story, which I enjoyed enough to make me enthusiastic to read more. Luckily, Spectyr, the second instalment of the Book of the Order is due out on June 28th and, to tide you over in the meantime, you can find several audio short stories set in the same world on the author's website.
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on 18 December 2010
Hi

If you are planning on reading Geist please do!!! You won't regret it. I ordered it off Amazon and was meant to let my partner read it first but couldn't wait.

I read it in two days and couldn't put the book down. I felt hungry for more at end of the book and have actually pre-ordered the sequel tonight which is out next year I think.

The characters had plenty of depth and it was easy to be pulled into the world and enjoy hearing about feisty Sorcha and the mayhem that seems to emerge around her as the story progresses. The fantasy world came alive and I was disappointed to put the book down. I now have of course by finishing it so speedily and enjoyably allowed the book to be read shortly by my partner.

I discovered Philippa by listening to Weavers Web which I would also highly recommend!

Happy Reading!
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on 6 December 2013
It takes a lot for a fantasy writer to create a world with its own rules, characters and society to pull the reader in smoothly without requiring a huge prologue full of history and politics and I must say Philippa has pulled this off spectacularly well. She plunged the reader into the conflicted world of the living and the dead, the Actives and the Sensatives, the aristorcratic rulers and the powerful Deacons. And yet all bound up in the magical power struggle that radiates through it all from the first page to its epic climax of intense proportions, is a human story. Of a failing marriage and partnership, of the tenderness of facing challenges alone and relying on those you hardly know, of allowing yourself to trust and encourage trust in return, of upholding honour and truth in a world that becomes ever darker with lies and betrayal. And this is all beautifully explored through the ethereal power of the Bond between three very different characters that are drawn together through fate or traps and are ultimately relied on to save the lives of many. The action, tension, intrigue and emotions increase chapter by chapter and the middle section almost lets the reader think that finally things have been set right but its a classic 'they think it's all over moment' as events take another drastic turn as more truth is uncovered from the lies and deciets. I can't wait to start reading the second in the series, Spectyre to see what other jaw-dropping challenges these amazing characters face.
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on 9 March 2012
I bought this book for my Kindle on the basis of doing some research - I wanted a new fantasy series to get into and YES!!! What a win...I really like the strong heroine figure and the seemingly weak-willed assistant. I think what made this stand out for me, was that there wasn't a vampire of werewolf in sight - arguably towards the end with various transformations but it's a really interesting take on the genre. I recommend this for people who are looking for a break from the somewhat overdone dark romance that's become trendy. I also like that the main characters are wonderfully normal - they have problems and issues and in short it's sorta believable. Go read it!!!
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on 29 September 2014
I've not finished the book. In fact I'm only a couple of chapters in but felt I must do a review.

The reason for this is the font/typeface used is very, very small in the paperback and detracts hugely from any pleasure I am getting from the tale. I regret buying all 3 books because of this - should have stuck to the Kindle version.

If you were self publishing Philippa, then I understand why you chose such a miniscule font... but please don't do it again. If not, then your publisher needs a good talking to.

Really disappointing and yes, I have seen other self-published books that are miles better than this.

Could do better on that score.

I may return to review the tale later. Maybe I won't. Sorry.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 8 February 2013
'Geist' is the first in Philippa Ballantine's 'A Book of the Order' trilogy (followed by Spectyr: A Book of the Order and Wrayth (Book of the Order)) and is a refreshing new entry to the fantasy genre.

The book revolves around a pair of 'deacons' - an order battling otherwordly creatures (ghostbusters of a late 19th century steampunk variety would describe it fairly well) - who find themselves drawn into a complicated plot, where the common rules no longer apply. Paired with a Pretender to the throne, and a mysterious young lady, the adventure begins and one has to say he author truly manages to keep it going at a good pace throughout.

The protagonist - Deacon Sorcha - is a prickly lady, full of sarcastic remarks and quick to anger. She certainly does not fit into a classical fantasy role model and is more the independent of the late 20th / early 21st century in her character. The other characters are also drawn along more modern lines, which makes the book easy to read but may leave more traditional fantasy readers sceptical.

While the love stories are obvious from miles away, it is only towards the end that the author pushes one of them - in my opinion - in a direction it really did not need to go.

The one criticism I would level at the book is that the author appears overly fond of certain expressions and then proceeds to repeat them over and over again. The number of times one reads of Sorcha being prickly like a desert cactus really does seem excessive, and there are some others I will leave to the reader to discover.

Irrespective of that, the book is a very good debut and I can certainly see myself going for the following two in the trilogy. If you can contemplate a ghostbusters meet steampunk type fantasy novel, and are not put off by characters which hardly fit into a faux 19th century environment, the book is an excellent choice.
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on 29 April 2013
I had not read any books by this author, read the reviews and decided to buy. I enjoyed the storyline even though I am more used to reading heavier plots but as I read a lot of scfi fantasy I am always on the look out for different authors. I will read the next book and see If Sorcha and Merrick live up to the roles created.
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on 24 July 2013
This is the first book I had read by this author, and I will certainly be looking for more. I quickly bought and read the whole series. I loved how the characters developed during the course of the story. There were some moments of real interest and excitement, and also some great descriptive passages. Definitely worth buying.
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