Author: Philippa Ballantine
Published: November 2010
By: Ace Fantasy
First line: It was good weather for a riot.
Last line: “You know where to find me, have you a need.”
Fave line: “Don’t you dare open Teisyat,”
bellowed at her while the geist began to squeeze in on the shield of fire…
“I don’t like you that much,” Sorcha screamed in return.
This book was a bit of a find for me. While searching for books on Amazon, it came up as a suggested read. Usually I ignore them, but something struck me about the book, so I foolishly bought it not really expecting anything. Actually, I think I bought it because it was cheap, as I bought the sequels (Spectyr and Wraith) at the same time! When it arrived, it was an unprepossessing book; smaller in height than your average YA, with a mud-green cover that didn’t instil any sense of confidence in me. However, I was hooked after the first three pages…
In the city of
home to the new Emperor of Arkayam, lies the Abbey. The Abbey’s residents are
the ‘Deacons’ who use runes to detect and control ‘Geist’ activity; the leaking
of spirits from the Otherworld, who enter the world and create havoc amongst
Deacon’s are split into two types; Actives and Sensitives, who work in pairs. The Sensitives have the ability to detect Geist-activity, while the Actives battle the Geists, sending them back to the Otherworld. Very few Deacons have the ability to wield both Active and Sensitive powers.
Deacon Sorcha Faris is one of the Abbey’s strongest and most experienced Actives. A seasoned warrior, she regularly uses nine of the ten Active runes to battle Geists. The final rune, Teisyat, is rarely used, as it opens a large door to the Otherworld, so potentially Geists could enter the world through the Teisyat door. Sorcha is paired with her Sensitive husband, Kolya; the pairing makes them one of the most valuable and effective assets of the Abbey in controlling Geist-activity.
One day, Kolya detects major Geist movement in the city. Sorcha tries to reach him, but does not arrive in time. The Geist attacks Kolya (an attack against a Sensitive is almost unheard of), and Sorcha must open Teisyat to save him. Even so, Kolya is badly injured in the attack.
The leader of the Abbey, Arch Abbot Hastler, hears of major, unusual Geist-activity in Ulrich; a remote town of the Empire. He must send his strongest Deacons to investigate the incidents. As Kolya is still in hospital, he pairs Sorcha with an extremely talented, (although Novice) Sensitive Deacon, Merrick Chambers. Sorcha and Merrick set off on their mission, armed with the ten runes of the Active and the seven runes of the Sensitive. But
Merrick has some secrets, and not just those of the
The old Emperor of Arkayam was banished years before, but his only grandson still lives; Raed, the ‘Young Pretender’ to the throne. There is a price on Raed’s head, so he must keep constantly on the move. His preferred mode of transport is by boat for reasons known only to himself and his selected confidents. Raed is in desperate need of supplies and to conduct repairs to his ship. He too makes his way to the remote town of
What I like most about the book is two of the main characters and the way the book is written. This sounds obvious I know, but Sorcha is not your usual YA heroine; she’s a cigar-smoking, slightly cynical, rune-wielding warrior in her 30s. Instead of viewing the story through her eyes, we are led through the plot by the Novice Merrick, discovering Sorcha’s world as he does.
Merrick is our narrator in the third-person, but is also
part of the audience, as we are.