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Geist (A Book of the Order) Mass Market Paperback – October 26, 2010

4.4 out of 5 stars 77 customer reviews
Book 1 of 4 in the Book of the Order Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Wonder Woman, make way for flame-haired Deacon Sorcha Faris, skilled and ruthless enough to defeat an enormous geist (German for "ghost") about to envelop humankind at the outset of Balantine's (Digital Magic) latest cluttered fantasy. Sorcha's expertise finds her soon ordered to Ulrich, a small community in a remote part of the kingdom "overrun with the unliving." Accompanying her is a new deacon partner whose Sensitive skills will balance her Active gifts. En route they must combat the destruction wrought by the unliving; about to lose a desperate battle with them, they're rescued by Raed Rossin, captain of an Ulrich-bound ship. Raed is Pretender to the throne and plagued with a "Curse" that draws the unliving to him like moths to a flame. When they reach Ulrich, they discover that evil emanates from the Priory itself, permeating the town and determined to destroy everyone in it. Balantine clogs her epic tale with battle after battle, introduces villains with bewildering frequency, and sustains such an unrelenting tension that the exhausted reader finally succumbs to indifference by her story's end. (Oct. 26)
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I especially liked the characters, they were all distinct and Sorcha, the main female character, was tough but BELIEVABLE, she never tried to hard to be competent: she just WAS. Everyone's personality was well balanced against each other, and I definitely rooted for them to succeed!
--Felicia Day

Part of the entertainment in this novel is putting the pieces together to get a picture of the complicated political situation, the period (they have magic airships!), and the nature of the geists and the Deacons' powers. Things get pretty grim, with monsters and treachery everywhere, but plenty of magic-blasting action keeps things lively for a rousing start to this new series.-Locus

Ballantine has created 3- dimensional characters that ring true; they have flaws like the rest of us, and she throws in a bit of romance for fun. This novel is a promising start to a unique series, and I'm eagerly awaiting the next installment in 2011.-Fresh Fiction

...will appeal to urban fantasy fans willing to venture into a wholly invented world, and to high fantasy fans that don't mind a story that's a little sexy. I thoroughly enjoyed this character-driven novel that isn't quite like anything else I've read.-Fantasy Literature

The world of Geist is an intriguing blend of fantasy, paranormal and history. It's not really any more of one genre than another, nor is any of it emphasized above each other. Fans of history may be able to spot all the historical references that were slightly skewed to fit in with the world, while fans of fantasy will be able to spot the magic's used and fans of the paranormal will marvel over the 'undead' that Sorcha and co. fight. It has a little something of everything in other words.-Night Owl Reviews

"Geist is one of the most vividly original books I've read this year."
-Nalini Singh

"An incredibly "rich" story...Absolutely not to be missed."
-Barb Hendee, co-author of the Noble Dead Saga

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Product Details

  • Series: A Book of the Order (Book 1)
  • Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Ace; Original edition (October 26, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0441019617
  • ISBN-13: 978-0441019618
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.8 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (77 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,003,160 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Originally from New Zealand, Philippa Ballantine, is a fantasy and steampunk author.
She has multiple series--Books of the Order, the Shifted World, the Chronicles of Art, and the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences (co-written with her husband Tee Morris) .
Her works have won an Airship, a Parsec, an RT Book Review Readers Choice, and a Sir Julius Vogel Award. They have also appeared in the Locus Bestseller list, and been in the Goodreads Top Science Fiction books.
She currently resides in Manassas, Virginia with her husband, her daughter, and a mighty clowder of cats. Visit her online at pjballantine.com or follow her on Twitter @PhilippaJane.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
GEIST is one of those books that straddles the line between a number of different genres. It reads like a mix between Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series and Illona Andrews Kate Daniels series (and not just because of the werelion). A number of paranormal creatures thrown into a high fantasy setting and time period with a splash a steampunk. Let's call it paranormal fantasy.

GEIST is set in a lush high fantasy world were a dedicated Order of essentially mages protect humanity from demons (aka geists) who attempt to possess and destroy the world. The Order is made up of two complimentary types of mages: Actives (who wield magic) and Sensitives (who can `see' the Otherside) who enter into a psychic Bond together.

This type of magic system and the religious/political order who train and dogmatize the deacons from childhood is very reminiscent of Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series. Unfortunately, at just over 300 pages, I felt like GEIST barely scratched the surface of this necessarily complex society. I'm sure there will be more about The Order in future books, but as it was in the first book, we got the abridged version which remained too shallow for me to really connect with.

The characters were an entirely different matter, specifically Raed Rossin, Pretender to the throne. He is a wonderfully tormented man who brandishes his bitterness and pride like the weapons they are. Sorcha, meanwhile, is a walking legend as the most powerful Active The Order has. She is revered and feared by those around her, save for her indifferent husband and Sensitive partner, Kolya. After an injury, the young and idealistic Merrick is assigned to Sorcha in his stead.

I did like GEIST, but it had the potential to make me love it, and that miss has me disappointed.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Geist really had me from the first chapter. In it we see Deacon Sorcha Faris and her husband, Kolya trying to find and get rid of a geist in a crowd of civilians. Sorcha is an Active of the Order, a fierce combatant who uses gauntlets inscribed with powerful runes in order to fight the undead. Her husband, and Bonded partner, Kolya, is a Sensitive who are equipped with a Strop around their eyes and are there to guide their Active partners. I really loved this aspect of the world building. There are evil paranormal forces that are watched and dispelled by these Deacons of the Order, who are stationed around the land. They are forces of good in a world where geists can erupt from the Otherside at any moment. The story takes place in a familiar setting of a medieval-like time but progressed enough to have pistols and dirigibles. I enjoyed that part too. It was familiar yet different from what I've seen in other fantasy novels.

After a terrible and shocking geist attack leaves her husband badly injured, Sorcha is given a new temporary partner, Merrick Chambers, to work with on the mystery of the unusual geist attacks. Chambers is a young, newly ordained Sensitive who is Bonded to Sorcha despite his reservations. I really liked Merrick; he offered a fresh and interesting perspective, being so new to the world of the Deacons as we are. He does go through some ups and downs in the story, but by the end, I really liked him.

On Sorcha and Merrick's mission to the town of Ulrich, they are met by a captain named Raed and his crew who are not what they seem. They find their fates attached when they make it to Ulrich and find trouble waiting for them.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I have two reviews to give for Philippa Ballantine's book Geist.

The first is the short review. The cave man version, as given by my slightly hairier Cro-Magnon alter ego Thag: "Geist good! Thag like! You buy!"

Thag is a man of few words.

The second was a lot harder to write, simply because writing a really good review that sounds honest is a lot harder than writing a man one. That's my excuse for taking this long to write a review anyway.

Make no mistake, Geist is good, really good. Ballantine has found a way to make Ghosts scary again. As I mentioned in my review of Unholy Ghosts, ghosts usually play second fiddle to something far uglier, but the geists of Philippa Ballantine's world are entirely nasty enough without being cheesy. While of course there is more going on than an infestation of the undead, I never felt like a geist attack was something the characters could brush off.

If you haven't read Geist already, then you might be unprepared for Deacon Sorcha Farris, Geist's hard drinking, cigar smoking, ass kicking and ghost banishing protagonist. I say protagonist rather than hero because when you first meet Sorcha, you might not actually like her that much. Stick with her though, and you soon see there is far more to the deacon than her exterior would let on.

Balancing Sorcha is the junior deacon Merrick, who backs up Sorcha's abilities at banishing with his own ghost sensing powers and a far more (at least initially) laid back approach to life. Merrick serves as an excellent foil to Sorcha and as a team they are a very believable (not to mention extremely readable) ghost fighting team.

Raed, known as the Young Pretender, is a pirate captain who rounds out the narrative from his perspective.
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