I am extremely character driven. World building seems to have turned into the rage these days. Many authors spend so much time creating the universe t...moreI am extremely character driven. World building seems to have turned into the rage these days. Many authors spend so much time creating the universe the characters live in, the forget to make those same characters breath.
For me, this is obvious in stories like (prepare for blasphemy) Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series. After reading all but the last book of the series, I realized I had no desire to complete them because while the world lived and breathed, the characters hadn’t developed sufficiently to keep me interested beyond the second or third book.
Ms. Ballantine does create a firm mythos that encapsulates the motivations driving her characters towards their objectives. However, she does this whilst keeping the focus on the characters and letting the mythos build along the way. This is a lesson I think many writers need to learn.
Ms. Ballantine's characters are worth knowing. Her strong female lead is unique. Sorcha Faris is a strong, powerful, mature, attractive woman. She is direct, almost brutally blunt at times. She enjoys a good cigar and is truthful with herself. She is easily the driving character in the story and she exudes potential development in subsequent stories. She might not be the easiest person to know, but she would be someone that would be worth that effort.
Raed Rossin enters the story relatively early on (the second chapter) but remains outside of the main storyline, moving parallel, for the first part. Raed is a member of the once ruling family, now a sea nomad doing his best to stay alive. He hides his inner qualities behind a course (though not unrefined) exterior. He effortlessly claims loyalty from those that follow him. He is a prince among men and a pirate at heart.
Merrick Chambers completes the starring cast. He is a young but powerful idealist partnered, against their wishes, with Sorcha. Along the way they learn to trust and rely on one another. It is neither an easy or enjoyable path for them at times, but it does make for a very good story.
Geist is much more than another quest fantasy. Geist has elements of fantasy, horror and romance all rolled into one action packed adventure spanning continents where loyalties are called into question, rogues can be heros and heros can be idealists.
At a purchase price of under $8 US, this is a story you shouldn’t hesitate in buying. This book begs you to lock the doors, get comfortable in your favorite chair, turn down the lights and read. I encourage you to do the same. You won’t be disappointed.(less)
When this book hit the shelves, I was eager to have it in my hands, so I hurriedly went to my nearest retailer (sorry Amazon, immediate gratification...moreWhen this book hit the shelves, I was eager to have it in my hands, so I hurriedly went to my nearest retailer (sorry Amazon, immediate gratification needed here) and purchased two copies. (My wife loves fantasy as well, and I don’t always share nicely).
While as a child, I had been a huge fan of Jules Verne, I had never been a huge fan of steampunk before. To be truthful, it was because all of my previous encounters with steampunk had been mashups with other genres. Here at last was a true steampunk novel. Something Verne or Wells might have imagined. Well, if those luminaries were a little less stuffy that is.
You see, Phoenix Rising, is a madcap romp through Victorian England that is a perfect blend of laughs and gasps. Wellington and Eliza have been compared to The Avengers Emma Peal and John Steed. I can definitely see the resemblance. The intrepid duo spar with each other and with the villains in a perfect blend of humour and action and the books finale comes much too quickly.
The characters, beyond a shadow of a doubt, make this story need to be the first in a series. The story in itself is quite delightful and self contained. But you can simply feel the characters pushing at the bindings waiting to jump into the next novel in the set.
Wellington Books is an Archivist (please, don’t call him a librarian) for the clandestine Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences. If Moulder had lived and worked in Victorian England, he would have been an agent of the Ministry. Books finds himself in a scrape at the beginning of the novel. A scrape best handled with the liberal administration of black powder and explosives. These items are willingly and ably applied by Eliza Braun. Eliza is as bombastic as Wellington is demure. Perfect foils and imminent partners.
Pheonix Rising tells the story of their teaming (although unwillingly) and their triumphant conclusion to a threat that would have ended in failure if either had attempted on their own.
For just a moment, lets return to steampunk. The reason this story made steampunk so enjoyable, was that it isn’t about steampunk. It’s about two wonderful characters that inhabit a steampunk world. The story is not about the devices, but the devices are inherent to the story. Authors, if you want to write steampunk well, here’s your primer.
Mr. Morris and Ms. Ballantine have cowritten a story here that is unlike anything I’ve ever heard or read by either of them. It is seamless in a way that few cowritten stories I’ve ever read are able to achieve. The story simply flows and you’re never aware that two cooks have been playing in the sauce.
Simply stated, Phoenix Rising really should be on your “must read” list. (less)
Deacons of the Order, Sorcha Farris and Merrick Chambers travel to a distant kingdom where Merrick comes face to face with his past and his future. So...moreDeacons of the Order, Sorcha Farris and Merrick Chambers travel to a distant kingdom where Merrick comes face to face with his past and his future. Sorcha tries to save the world around her as she reconnects with Raed Rossin, the Young Pretender that has a geistlord living inside him. Together these heroes will not only take on the world, they take on a god.
Ms. Ballantine delivers. Again. Her writing grabs you in a way that is visceral. It hits early. It hits repetitively. It hits hard. No cheap shots are taken. None are needed. You see, Ms. Ballantine knows how to write characters that make you care. Regardless of whether Sorcha, Merrick or Raed turns out to be your favorite, you're going to find plenty to like and your favorite will live for you.
Spectyr is a thrill packed adventure full of everything that makes a good book great. As you realize you're heading in to the last fifty pages, you ask yourself how Ms. Ballantine can hope to pull this story together. Don't worry. She does.
And then leaves you wanting more. Wrayth (the next Book of the Order) can't be released soon enough.(less)