This week's New York Times Bestsellers (June 6th)

In hardcover:
 
V.E. Schwab's The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is up one position, ending the week at number 11.

The Desert Prince


I'm quite behind on Peter V. Brett's Demon Cycle series and I have no excuses to account for that sad state of affairs. So when I was asked if I'd like an early read of his forthcoming The Desert Prince, I knew I couldn't say no. Especially given the fact that the novel is supposedly a good starting point for new readers to jump in.

In retrospect, Brett's latest work shares a lot of similarities with his debut, The Warded Man. As such, it is an introduction to what appears to be a much bigger and multilayered story arc. Time will tell if this new trilogy will manage to live up to the potential generated by the Demon Cycle. This is not readily apparent based on this first installment, but little did people know that the author's first series would reach such heights.

Here's the blurb:

Fifteen years have passed since the end of the war with demons, creatures of darkness who have hunted the night and plagued humanity since time out of mind. The heroes of mankind’s hour of need have become legend, and those who remain struggle to escape their shadows.

Olive Paper and Darin Bales have grown up in this new peaceful world. Demons have been all but destroyed, but dangers still lurk for the children of heroes.

Olive, Princess of Hollow, has her entire life planned out by her mother, Duchess Leesha Paper: a steady march on a checklist to prepare her for succession. The more her mother writes the script, the more Olive rails against playing the parts she is assigned.

Darin faces challenges of a different kind. Though free to choose his own path, the weight of legacy hangs heavy around his shoulders. It isn’t easy being the son of the man people say saved the world. Everyone expects greatness from Darin, but the only thing he’s ever been great at is hiding.

But when Olive and Darin step across the wards one night, they learn the demons are not all gone, and those that remain hunger for revenge. Events are set in motion that only prophecy can foresee as Olive and Darin seek to find their own places in the world in time to save it again.


So is this the perfect opportunity for new readers to jump in? Well, yes and no. A lot of efforts were made to make sure readers unfamiliar with the original series would understand what's going on. Other than missing out on certain nuances, The Desert Prince stands very well on its own. It does spoil the Demon Cycle rather thoroughly, however. For someone like me, who had yet to read the whole thing, it made me realize how much I have missed. And how I can't really go back and enjoy these books as much as I should have. Hence, it's up to you to decide whether or not you want to begin with Brett's newest offering, or go back and start with his international bestselling sequence beforehand.

Long-time fans will relish the opportunity to return to Brett's universe and get reacquainted with characters from the first series and be introduced to their offspring and new faces. I was surprised how similar in style and tone The Desert Prince was compared to The Warded Man. Both are character-driven novels, first and foremost. Which means that the worldbuilding essentially remains in the background throughout most of the tale. In that regard, fans who have read the Demon Cycle might get a bit more out of the story than newbies. As I mentioned, this book is an introduction meant to set the stage for what comes next and readers get few answers to the many questions that come to mind as one reads on. For the most part, I felt that Brett lays the groundwork for a lot of things to come. But like the protagonists, until the end we are left in the dark regarding most of what goes on. The story is never dull, mind you. It just makes you want to read the sequel ASAP.

In style and tone, The Desert Prince is YA through and through. So much so that I contacted Brett to see if this was a YA series. Way back when in 2008, during our first interview, the author addressed the "dreaded" YA moniker in regards to his work. He understood how his writing style, along with the fact that the early parts of The Warded Man dealt with the protagonists’ childhoods, could make the book appear to be meant for a younger audience. But his target readers were always adults. The author felt that he dealt frankly with a lot of harsh adult themes and topics, and tried to engage the reader directly with them. He showcased characters in their childhoods to let the reader share the pivotal moments of their lives that shape their characters and adult motivations, not as an attempt to market to young readers. Brett told me that it was the same with his latest work. He and his publishers are treating it as adult fiction and it will be interesting to see what the upcoming installments will bring in terms of character growth and maturity. God knows the Demon Cycle was no YA series by any stretch of the imagination. Having said that, The Desert Prince doesn't really show any signs that its sequels will veer toward adult fiction. Indeed, it's chock-full of teenage angst, black-and-white views, and often dumb decisions. You may or may not find that off-putting. Your mileage will vary in that regard and will likely influence how much you like/dislike this book.

First-person narratives are always tricky. It can be even trickier to capture the imagination of adult readers and suck them into your tale when your main protagonists are all teenagers. We witness events through the perspectives of two characters: Olive Paper and Darin Bales. Both are well-drawn and three-dimensional, and I felt that there was a good balance between the two POVs. I understand that there was no way to dodge the bullet and we had to go through the feeling of the "ugh-I'm-so-misunderstood-what-is-life?" part of adolescence with both protagonists. But I must admit that it grated on my nerves from time to time. I would have liked to have a third point of view, an adult perspective, to help dilute all that teenage angst. Thankfully, the supporting cast comprised of old and new characters helps with that. I just wish one of them could have had his or her own POV. Micha's especially, who was a personal favorite of mine. 

Kudos to Peter V. Brett for taking one hell of a chance with one of the protagonists. This is something I would have expected from someone like Jacqueline Carey, who is no stranger to such things. Brett did something that will take certain readers far out of their comfort zone and it remains to be seen how this will be received by his fans. When asked about it, Brett explained that sensitivity reads made him feel that he handled it rather well and that as an author it's his job to take readers out of their comfort zone. Time will tell if that's the case or not. I don't want to spoil this and I hope no advance reviews will do so. But I'm curious to see how readers will react and how it will affect the story in the subsequent volumes. Because it's kind of a big deal. . . A very big deal, actually!

The YA tone ensures that the language will not shock virgin ears. Indeed, The Desert Prince would receive the Brandon Sanderson seal of approval. I mean, I swear more and let fly more expletives when I bang my toe on something than what you get in the 600+ pages of this novel. In terms of action, Peter V. Brett can give Sanderson and Salvatore a run for their money and his latest is full of choreographed battle scenes.

The pace can be quite uneven, especially in the early portions of the book. But once it gets rolling, there's no denying that The Desert Prince maintains a good rhythm from here on out. The finale and the ending, in particular, are thrilling. Revelations come late, alas, but they do leave the door open for what should be an interesting set of sequels. Hopefully, as was the case with the Demon Cycle, character growth and maturity will make our protagonists easier to root for.

The final verdict: 7.5/10

For more info about this title, check out these Amazon Associates links: Canada, USA, Europe.

This week's New York Times Bestsellers (May 30th)

In hardcover:
 
V.E. Schwab's The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue maintains its position at number 12.

In paperback:

Stephen King's Later is down seven positions, ending the week at number 12 (trade paperback).

This week's New York times Bestsellers (May 23rd)

In hardcover:
 
V.E. Schwab's The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is down three positions, ending the week at number 12.

In paperback:

Stephen King's Later is down two positions, ending the week at number 5 (trade paperback).

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can now download N. K. Jemisin's The City We Became for only 3.99$ by following this Amazon Associate link. There is a price match in Canada.

Here's the blurb:

Three-time Hugo Award-winning and New York Times bestselling author N.K. Jemisin crafts her most incredible novel yet, a story of culture, identity, magic, and myths in contemporary New York City.

In Manhattan, a young grad student gets off the train and realizes he doesn't remember who he is, where he's from, or even his own name. But he can sense the beating heart of the city, see its history, and feel its power.

In the Bronx, a Lenape gallery director discovers strange graffiti scattered throughout the city, so beautiful and powerful it's as if the paint is literally calling to her.

In Brooklyn, a politician and mother finds she can hear the songs of her city, pulsing to the beat of her Louboutin heels.

And they're not the only ones.

Every great city has a soul. Some are ancient as myths, and others are as new and destructive as children. New York? She's got six.


More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can now download The Dreaming Kind: Short Stories and Fantasies, a new collection of short fiction by C. S. Friedman, for only 2.99$ by following these Amazon Associate links: Canada, USA, Europe.

Here's the blurb:

Acclaimed Science Fiction and Fantasy author C. S. Friedman invites you to take eight journeys into the deliciously disturbing worlds of her imagination.

A bank clerk struggles to deal with malware inside his head…A woman is required by law to let her dying mother take over her body…A writer meets the man of her dreams (or perhaps her nightmares)…A time traveler seeks scalped tickets to the Sermon on the Mount…A telepath must abandon her humanity to negotiate with alien predators…A visiting extraterrestrial chooses a down-and-out junkie for its first human contact…

From humorous to dark, witty to lyrical, these stories showcase the versatile talent of one of the genre’s most creative writers. If you're not already a fan of C. S. Friedman, you soon will be. And if you're already a fan, you'll enjoy reading these rarely-seen shorter works.


More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can now get your hands on the digital edition of R. F. Kuang's The Dragon Republic for only 1.99$ by following this Amazon Associate link. There is a price match in Canada.

Here's the blurb:

Rin’s story continues in this acclaimed sequel to The Poppy War—an epic fantasy combining the history of twentieth-century China with a gripping world of gods and monsters.

The war is over.

The war has just begun.

Three times throughout its history, Nikan has fought for its survival in the bloody Poppy Wars. Though the third battle has just ended, shaman and warrior Rin cannot forget the atrocity she committed to save her people. Now she is on the run from her guilt, the opium addiction that holds her like a vice, and the murderous commands of the fiery Phoenix—the vengeful god who has blessed Rin with her fearsome power.

Though she does not want to live, she refuses to die until she avenges the traitorous Empress who betrayed Rin’s homeland to its enemies. Her only hope is to join forces with the powerful Dragon Warlord, who plots to conquer Nikan, unseat the Empress, and create a new republic.

But neither the Empress nor the Dragon Warlord are what they seem. The more Rin witnesses, the more she fears her love for Nikan will force her to use the Phoenix’s deadly power once more.

Because there is nothing Rin won’t sacrifice to save her country . . . and exact her vengeance.

This week's New York Times Bestsellers (May 16th)

In hardcover:
 
V.E. Schwab's The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is down one position, ending the week at number 9.

Timothy Zahn's Thrawn Ascendancy: Greater Good debuts at number 10.

Kazuo Ishiguro's Klara and the Sun is down two spots, finishing the week at number 13.

Martha Wells' Fugitive Telemetry debuts at number 14.

In paperback:

Stephen King's Later is up one position, ending the week at number 3 (trade paperback).

This week's New York Times Bestsellers (May 9th)

In hardcover:

V.E. Schwab's The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is up two positions, ending the week at number 8.

Kazuo Ishiguro's Klara and the Sun is up four spots, finishing the week at number 11.

In paperback:

Stephen King's Later is down one position, ending the week at number 4 (trade paperback).

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can download Katherine Addison's The Goblin Emperor for only 2.99$ by following this Amazon Associate link. There is a price match in Canada.

Here's the blurb:

The youngest, half-goblin son of the Emperor has lived his entire life in exile, distant from the Imperial Court and the deadly intrigue that suffuses it. But when his father and three sons in line for the throne are killed in an "accident," he has no choice but to take his place as the only surviving rightful heir.

Entirely unschooled in the art of court politics, he has no friends, no advisors, and the sure knowledge that whoever assassinated his father and brothers could make an attempt on his life at any moment.

Surrounded by sycophants eager to curry favor with the naïve new emperor, and overwhelmed by the burdens of his new life, he can trust nobody. Amid the swirl of plots to depose him, offers of arranged marriages, and the specter of the unknown conspirators who lurk in the shadows, he must quickly adjust to life as the Goblin Emperor. All the while, he is alone, and trying to find even a single friend . . . and hoping for the possibility of romance, yet also vigilant against the unseen enemies that threaten him, lest he lose his throne–or his life.

Katherine Addison's The Goblin Emperor is an exciting fantasy novel, set against the pageantry and color of a fascinating, unique world, is a memorable debut for a great new talent.

This week's New York Times Bestsellers (May 2nd)

In hardcover:

V.E. Schwab's The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is down two positions, ending the week at number 8.

Kazuo Ishiguro's Klara and the Sun is down four spots, finishing the week at number 11.

In paperback:

Stephen King's Later is up one position, ending the week at number 3 (trade paperback).

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can now download Nnedi Okorafor's Binti: The Complete Trilogy for only 1.99$ by following this Amazon Associate link.

Here's the blurb:

Includes a brand-new Binti story!

Collected for the first time in an omnibus edition, the Hugo- and Nebula-award-winning Binti trilogy, the story of one extraordinary girl's journey from her home to distant Oomza University.

In her Hugo- and Nebula-winning novella, Nnedi Okorafor introduced us to Binti, a young Himba girl with the chance of a lifetime: to attend the prestigious Oomza University. Despite her family's concerns, Binti's talent for mathematics and her aptitude with astrolabes make her a prime candidate to undertake this interstellar journey.

But everything changes when the jellyfish-like Medusae attack Binti's spaceship, leaving her the only survivor. Now, Binti must fend for herself, alone on a ship full of the beings who murdered her crew, with five days until she reaches her destination.

There is more to the history of the Medusae--and their war with the Khoush--than first meets the eye. If Binti is to survive this voyage and save the inhabitants of the unsuspecting planet that houses Oomza Uni, it will take all of her knowledge and talents to broker the peace.

Collected now for the first time in omnibus form, follow Binti's story in this groundbreaking sci-fi trilogy.


More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can now download Alastair Reynolds' scifi classic, Revelation Space, for only 2.99$ by following this Amazon Associate link. There is a price match in Canada.

Here's the blurb:

The highly-acclaimed first novel in the Revelation Space universe.

When human colonists settled the Amarantin homeworld, few of them bothered to question the disappearance of its native population almost a million years before. But in the year 2551, one man, Dan Sylveste, is convinced that solving the riddle of the Amarantin is vital to human survival. As he nears the truth, he learns that someone wants him dead. Because the Amarantin were destroyed for a reason. And if that reason is made public, the universe—and reality itself—could be forever altered. This sprawling operatic novel ranges across vast gulfs of time and space to arrive at a terrifying conclusion.

Alastair Reynolds, who holds a Ph.D. in Astronomy, has written a vivid and action-packed story that will linger in the minds of its readers.

This week's New York Times Bestsellers (April 26th)

In hardcover:

V.E. Schwab's The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is up two positions, ending the week at number 6.

Kazuo Ishiguro's Klara and the Sun is up four spots, finishing the week at number 7.

In paperback:

Stephen King's Later is down one position, ending the week at number 4 (trade paperback).

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can now get your hands on the digital edition of the Baroque Cycle omnibus by Neal Stephenson, comprised of Quicksilver, The Confusion, and The System of the World, for only 2.99$ by following this Amazon Associate link. There is a price match in Canada. That's 3505 pages for less than 3$!!!

Here's the blurb:

Get all three novels in Neal Stephenson's New York Times bestselling "Baroque Cycle" in one e-book, including: Quicksilver, The Confusion, and The System of the World. This three-volume historical epic delivers intrigue, adventure, and excitement set against the political upheaval of the early 18th century.

This week's New York Times Bestsellers (April 19th)

In hardcover:

V.E. Schwab's The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is down two positions, ending the week at number 8.

Kazuo Ishiguro's Klara and the Sun is down five spots, finishing the week at number 10.

In paperback:

Stephen King's Later is down one position, ending the week at number 3 (trade paperback).