Sunday, August 21, 2011

Bastard Reaction: Spectyr by Philippa Ballantine

Last year I was seeing a lot of positive reaction to the book Geist first of Books of the Order series by Philippa Ballantine. I usually do a lot of research before deciding to buy a book, but I saw the cover and said "Oh, lions!" and thought it looked like it could be a very cool Urban Fantasy. I'm sure I'm not the only one that made that assumption (I hope I'm not).

When the book arrived I realized that I was not reading an Urban Fantasy, but a secondary world fantasy, which  is all right with me as I enjoy those too. Keeping the story short, I enjoyed the book but was left with some reservations. I felt the world building wasn't all there, the magic though interesting needed a bit of work, and the romance subplot got a bit of too much focus for my tastes during some portions of the book. As I'm usually surrounded by people who like read Martin, Rothfuss, Lynch, Weeks, Abercrombie and those types of books (they're a picky bunch) I hesitated to recommend it even though there was plenty to like. It had compelling characters, some good twists, plenty of action, and an overall interesting plot and setting. Sorcha is one kickass/badass character. What I thought was going to be the endgame plot, was actually the "climax" of the first half of the novel which I found quite appealing, since more goodness was to be had. With that said, the book has resonated well with Urban Fantasy readers for some reason, so I made recommendations to UF readers to check this book out.

Moving forward, the sequel Spectyr came out a couple of months ago, and I just managed to read it last week. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed this book. Highlighting the improvements: the romance was more interesting, subtle, and subdued, the creepiness factor was increased exponentially (seriously, some very messed up scenes in here), the world building is much better as the world details are shaping up, and the twists keep coming with some cruel/cold execution. The action I thought was about the same as the first; quick paced plot. We even get a dosage of sci-fi which adds to the interest factor of world building. I still would like a better picture of the magic system, but I'm sure it'll come in time.

If I have one grivance with the Spectyr is that I wanted to see more Sorcha throwing her weight around and being more confrontational. Part of it is her partner, Merrick, reigning her in a bit, but I thought we didn't get that many scenes in which she had the option and opportunity to do so. I thought we could have used a bit less travel time and a bit more scenes of the investigation. But one thing's for sure, once the real action begins it's non-stop until the end and very violent. We're left with a bit of a cliffhanger and a great setup for the next book which I'm taking it to mean that Miss Ballantine wants Mr. Bastard to buy her next book. Well, I'm sure I'll fall into the trap as I'll be getting it and reading it for sure.

Spectyr has convinced me of Philippa Ballantine's skill as a writer and will surely recommend people to read her books. I have not read any of her other books, but I'm hearing good things about them. From what I can tell she has some sci-fi and steampunk books out there which have been well received. So if Books of the Order doesn't seem appealing to you, make sure to check her other material as I'm sure she has something for everyone.

Also, for those interested, congratulations to Jason Chan, who did the cover art for Geist and Spectyr,since he just won the 2011 Chesley Award for Best Cover Paperback Art for his Geist cover which I think is well deserved considering that it did its job in making me buy the book:

Where to buy:
Geist Mass Paperback from The Book Depository
Spectyr Mass Paperback from The Book Depository

Get more information of Philippa Ballantine by visiting her website. While we're at it, go take a look at Jason Chan's blog.


  1. I think Scorcha seemed a little off in this book. She was more subdued to her normal self. Almost like she is broken some. Sounds strange. She seemed not as strong as she was in first book. But I was taken by Merrick and his history, and the history he clued us into. Wonderful world building in this book.

  2. I guess I was not the only one that noticed it with Sorcha, I think part of it is that she didn't have many opportunities to get into it with people. For example, when she's interviewing the concubines it was great. I wanted to see more of that.

    I also want Sorcha to be a bit more powerful, I don't know how I feel about Merrick being this strong and Sorcha becoming a bit of 2nd fiddle. But there have been clues about Sorcha, about her past and ancestry, looking forward to those reveals.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...