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

In hardcover:

Nora Roberts' The Rise of Magicks debuts at number 1.

Stephen King's The Institute is up three positions, ending the week at number 6. For more info about this title, follow these Amazon Associate links: Canada, USA, Europe.

Margaret Atwood's The Testaments is up five positions, ending the week at number 9. For more info about this title, follow these Amazon Associate links: Canada, USA, Europe.

Erin Morgenstern's The Starless Sea is down one spot, finishing the week at number 14.

In paperback:

Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale is up two positions, ending the week at number 10 (trade paperback).

Stephen King's It returns at number 12 (trade paperback).

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can now download Myke Cole's The Armored Saint for only 2.99$ by following this Amazon Associate link. There is a price match in Canada.

Here's the blurb:

Myke Cole, star of CBS's Hunted and author of the Shadow Ops series, debuts the Sacred Throne epic fantasy trilogy with The Armored Saint, a story of religious tyrants, arcane war-machines, and underground resistance that will enthrall epic fantasy readers of all ages.

In a world where any act of magic could open a portal to hell, the Order insures that no wizard will live to summon devils, and will kill as many innocent people as they must to prevent that greater horror. After witnessing a horrendous slaughter, the village girl Heloise opposes the Order, and risks bringing their wrath down on herself, her family, and her village.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can now get your hands on the digital edition of R. F. Kuang's The Dragon Republic for only 2.99$ 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.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

All of Orbit's 2019 SFF debuts are 2.99$ until December 16th! =) You can purchase them by following this Amazon Associate link. There is a price match in Canada.


- The Rage of Dragons by Evan Winter.

Game of Thrones meets Gladiator in this debut epic fantasy about a world caught in an eternal war, and the young man who will become his people's only hope for survival.

The Omehi people have been fighting an unwinnable war for almost two hundred years. The lucky ones are born gifted. One in every two thousand women has the power to call down dragons. One in every hundred men is able to magically transform himself into a bigger, stronger, faster killing machine.

Everyone else is fodder, destined to fight and die in the endless war.

Young, gift-less Tau knows all this, but he has a plan of escape. He's going to get himself injured, get out early, and settle down to marriage, children, and land. Only, he doesn't get the chance.

Those closest to him are brutally murdered, and his grief swiftly turns to anger. Fixated on revenge, Tau dedicates himself to an unthinkable path. He'll become the greatest swordsman to ever live, a man willing to die a hundred thousand times for the chance to kill the three who betrayed him.

The Rage of Dragons launches a stunning and powerful debut epic fantasy series that readers are already calling "the best fantasy book in years."


- The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow.

In the early 1900s, a young woman embarks on a fantastical journey of self-discovery after finding a mysterious book in this captivating and lyrical debut.

In a sprawling mansion filled with peculiar treasures, January Scaller is a curiosity herself. As the ward of the wealthy Mr. Locke, she feels little different from the artifacts that decorate the halls: carefully maintained, largely ignored, and utterly out of place.

Then she finds a strange book. A book that carries the scent of other worlds, and tells a tale of secret doors, of love, adventure and danger. Each page turn reveals impossible truths about the world and January discovers a story increasingly entwined with her own.

Lush and richly imagined, a tale of impossible journeys, unforgettable love, and the enduring power of stories awaits in Alix E. Harrow's spellbinding debut--step inside and discover its magic.


- The Gutter Prayer by Gareth Hanrahan.

A group of three young thieves are pulled into a centuries old magical war between ancient beings, mages, and humanity in this wildly original debut epic fantasy.

Enter a city of saints and thieves . . .

The city of Guerdon stands eternal. A refuge from the war that rages beyond its borders. But in the ancient tunnels deep beneath its streets, a malevolent power has begun to stir.

The fate of the city rests in the hands of three thieves. They alone stand against the coming darkness. As conspiracies unfold and secrets are revealed, their friendship will be tested to the limit. If they fail, all will be lost, and the streets of Guerdon will run with blood.

The Gutter Prayer is an epic tale of sorcerers and thieves, treachery and revenge, from a remarkable new voice in fantasy.


- The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep by H. G. Parry.

For his entire life, Charley Sutherland has concealed a magical ability he can't quite control: He can bring characters from books into the real world.

But when literary characters start causing trouble throughout the city and threatening to destroying the world, he learns he's not the only one with his ability. Now it's up to Charley and his reluctant older brother, Rob, to stop them--hopefully before reach The End.


- Queen of the Conquered by Kacen Callender.

An ambitious young woman with the power to control minds seeks vengeance against the royals who murdered her family, in a Caribbean-inspired fantasy world embattled by colonial oppression.

Sigourney Rose is the only surviving daughter of a noble lineage on the islands of Hans Lollik. When she was a child, her family was murdered by the islands' colonizers, who have massacred and enslaved generations of her people -- and now, Sigourney is ready to exact her revenge.

When the childless king of the islands declares that he will choose his successor from amongst eligible noble families, Sigourney uses her ability to read and control minds to manipulate her way onto the royal island and into the ranks of the ruling colonizers. But when she arrives, prepared to fight for control of all the islands, Sigourney finds herself the target of a dangerous, unknown magic.

Someone is killing off the ruling families to clear a path to the throne. As the bodies pile up and all eyes regard her with suspicion, Sigourney must find allies among her prey and the murderer among her peers... lest she become the next victim.


- Legacy of Ash by Matthew Ward.

Legacy of Ash is an unmissable fantasy debut--an epic tale of intrigue and revolution, soldiers and assassins, ancient magic and the eternal clash of empires.

A shadow has fallen over the Tressian Republic.

Ruling families -- once protectors of justice and democracy -- now plot against one another with sharp words and sharper knives. Blinded by ambition, they remain heedless of the threat posed by the invading armies of the Hadari Empire.

Yet as Tressia falls, heroes rise.

Viktor Akadra is the Republic's champion. A warrior without equal, he hides a secret that would see him burned as a heretic.

Josiri Trelan is Viktor's sworn enemy. A political prisoner, he dreams of reigniting his mother's failed rebellion.

And yet Calenne Trelan, Josiri's sister, seeks only to break free of their tarnished legacy; to escape the expectation and prejudice that haunts the family name.

As war spreads across the Republic, these three must set aside their differences in order to save their home. Yet decades of bad blood are not easily set aside. And victory -- if it comes at all -- will demand a darker price than any of them could have imagined.


- Velocity Weapon by Megan E. O’Keefe.

Dazzling space battles, intergalactic politics, and rogue AI collide in Velocity Weapon, the first book in this epic space opera trilogy by award-winning author Megan O'Keefe.

Sanda and Biran Greeve were siblings destined for greatness. A high-flying sergeant, Sanda has the skills to take down any enemy combatant. Biran is a savvy politician who aims to use his new political position to prevent conflict from escalating to total destruction.

However, on a routine maneuver, Sanda loses consciousness when her gunship is blown out of the sky. Instead of finding herself in friendly hands, she awakens 230 years later on a deserted enemy warship controlled by an AI who calls himself Bero. The war is lost. The star system is dead. Ada Prime and its rival Icarion have wiped each other from the universe.

Now, separated by time and space, Sanda and Biran must fight to put things right.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can now download Jim Butcher's Side Jobs for only 1.99$ by following this Amazon Associate link. There is a price match in Canada.

Here's the blurb:

With tales ranging from the deadly serious to the absurdly hilarious—including an original story for this volume—Side Jobs is a must-have collection for every devoted Harry Dresden fan.

As Chicago’s only professional wizard, Harry Dresden has had cases that have pitted him against insane necromancers, power-hungry faerie queens, enigmatic dark wizards, fallen angels—pretty much a “who’s who” of hell and beyond—with the stakes in each case ranging from a lone human soul to the entire human race. But not every adventure Harry Dresden undertakes is an epic tale of life and death in a world on the edge of annihilation.

Here, together for the first time in paperback, are the shorter works of #1 New York Times bestselling author Jim Butcher—a compendium of cases that Harry and his cadre of allies managed to close in record time.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can now get your hands on the digital edition of Robin Hobb's Fool's Assassin for only 3.99$ by following this Amazon Associate link!

Here's the blurb:

Nearly twenty years ago, Robin Hobb burst upon the fantasy scene with the first of her acclaimed Farseer novels, Assassin’s Apprentice, which introduced the characters of FitzChivalry Farseer and his uncanny friend the Fool. A watershed moment in modern fantasy, this novel—and those that followed—broke exciting new ground in a beloved genre. Together with George R. R. Martin, Robin Hobb helped pave the way for such talented new voices as Scott Lynch, Brandon Sanderson, and Naomi Novik.

Over the years, Hobb’s imagination has soared throughout the mythic lands of the Six Duchies in such bestselling series as the Liveship Traders Trilogy and the Rain Wilds Chronicles. But no matter how far she roamed, her heart always remained with Fitz. And now, at last, she has come home, with an astonishing new novel that opens a dark and gripping chapter in the Farseer saga.

FitzChivalry—royal bastard and former king’s assassin—has left his life of intrigue behind. As far as the rest of the world knows, FitzChivalry Farseer is dead and buried. Masquerading as Tom Badgerlock, Fitz is now married to his childhood sweetheart, Molly, and leading the quiet life of a country squire.

Though Fitz is haunted by the disappearance of the Fool, who did so much to shape Fitz into the man he has become, such private hurts are put aside in the business of daily life, at least until the appearance of menacing, pale-skinned strangers casts a sinister shadow over Fitz’s past . . . and his future.

Now, to protect his new life, the former assassin must once again take up his old one. . .


You can also download Kevin Hearne's Hounded, the first volume in the Iron Druid Chronicles, for only 2.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

The first novel in the Iron Druid Chronicles—introducing a cool, new, funny urban fantasy hero.

Atticus O’Sullivan, last of the Druids, lives peacefully in Arizona, running an occult bookshop and shape-shifting in his spare time to hunt with his Irish wolfhound. His neighbors and customers think that this handsome, tattooed Irish dude is about twenty-one years old—when in actuality, he’s twenty-one centuries old. Not to mention: He draws his power from the earth, possesses a sharp wit, and wields an even sharper magical sword known as Fragarach, the Answerer.

Unfortunately, a very angry Celtic god wants that sword, and he’s hounded Atticus for centuries. Now the determined deity has tracked him down, and Atticus will need all his power—plus the help of a seductive goddess of death, his vampire and werewolf team of attorneys, a bartender possessed by a Hindu witch, and some good old-fashioned luck of the Irish—to kick some Celtic arse and deliver himself from evil.

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

In hardcover:

Stephen King's The Institute is down one position, ending the week at number 9. For more info about this title, follow these Amazon Associate links: Canada, USA, Europe.

Erin Morgenstern's The Starless Sea is down four spots, finishing the week at number 13.

Margaret Atwood's The Testaments is down three positions, ending the week at number 14. For more info about this title, follow these Amazon Associate links: Canada, USA, Europe.

In paperback:

Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale is down three positions, ending the week at number 12 (trade paperback).

The Dark Forest


You may recall that I waited a long time to read Cixin Liu's The Three-Body Problem. Indeed, though the novel had garnered lots of rave reviews, the fact that it was a translation sort of put me off. And as is habitually the case when I wait this long before reading something, I felt like an idiot for not reading the book when it first came out. The opening chapter of the Remembrance of Earth's Past series may not have been perfect, but it was a superior read.

I was curious to see where the author would take the story now that mankind was aware of the alien invasion. And I'm happy to report that The Dark Forest is as good as its predecessor!

Here's the blurb:

This near-future trilogy is the first chance for English-speaking readers to experience this multiple-award-winning phenomenon from Cixin Liu, China's most beloved science fiction author.

In The Dark Forest, Earth is reeling from the revelation of a coming alien invasion-in just four centuries' time. The aliens' human collaborators may have been defeated, but the presence of the sophons, the subatomic particles that allow Trisolaris instant access to all human information, means that Earth's defense plans are totally exposed to the enemy. Only the human mind remains a secret. This is the motivation for the Wallfacer Project, a daring plan that grants four men enormous resources to design secret strategies, hidden through deceit and misdirection from Earth and Trisolaris alike. Three of the Wallfacers are influential statesmen and scientists, but the fourth is a total unknown. Luo Ji, an unambitious Chinese astronomer and sociologist, is baffled by his new status. All he knows is that he's the one Wallfacer that Trisolaris wants dead.

Cixin Liu is the most popular science fiction author in China, but most wondered if the English translation could do justice to this series. Ken Liu's translation of The Three-Body Problem worked well for the most part. The same can be said of Joel Martinsen's translation of The Dark Forest. Sure, there are a few clunky portions here and there, and once again I have a feeling that some things got lost along the way because they could not be translated properly. The same goes for the dialogue, which did not always ring true. I'm glad that like Liu, Martinsen elected to go for footnotes to provide additional information, as there are already too many massive info-dumps throughout the novel. Ultimately, I have a feeling that the English translation is as good as it could be and that certain elements simply couldn't be translated perfectly. As a matter of course, some readers might find that off-putting. And yet, The Dark Forest is another work of big ideas and one soon forgets about these little things.

The vast majority of the science fiction I've read over the years was produced by American and British authors. To get the Chinese point of view regarding world events and witness how the country would react to first contact with an alien civilization was fascinating. Non-Western views were indeed quite refreshing. Given the fact that it's now the entire world reacting to the forthcoming Trisolaris invasion, we do get Western perspectives within the pages of The Dark Forest. And yet, the Chinese viewpoint more or less remains the focus of the tale. Once again, there are a lot of hard scifi concepts involved in the plot and the author did a great job "dumbing" down most of them so that virtually any genre readers can enjoy the story.

The events of this book unfold over the course of two centuries. An overwhelming sense of despair permeates everything as the inevitable defeat against a superior civilization seems assured. The Wallfacers and their strategies turned out to be a decidedly unusual and quite interesting plot device. Moving forward two hundred years into the future also changed the tempo of the novel and key players coming out of hibernation have to adapt to a vastly different world. The Great Ravine changed several aspects of life on Earth decades before. Still, something appears to have been lost along the way and it's those people who went to sleep in the early years following the discovery of the Trisolaran fleet who will play the most important role in the struggle to come.

As was the case with the first installment, the characterization can be a bit uneven. The protagonists are not necessarily deeply realized. Most act as stand-in figures representing the concepts and ideas introduced and elaborated on throughout The Dark Forest. The eccentric Luo Ji is the one who stands out the most, but it's mostly due to his importance in the resolution of the plot and not because he's memorable in any way.

Not surprisingly, like its predecessor this second volume also suffers from pacing problems. Having said that, it was never really an issue for me. The more you begin to put the pieces of the puzzle together, the more fascinating the novel becomes. Eager to discover how Cixin Liu will close the show in the final installment, Death's End.

The final verdict: 8.5/10

For more info about this title, follow these Amazon Associate links: Canada, USA, Europe.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can get your hands on the digital edition of Anthony Ryan's Blood Song for only 2.99$ by following this Amazon Associate link.

Here's the blurb:

“The Sixth Order wields the sword of justice and smites the enemies of the Faith and the Realm."

Vaelin Al Sorna was only a child of ten when his father left him at the iron gate of the Sixth Order—a caste devoted to battle. Vaelin will be trained and hardened to the austere, celibate and dangerous life of a warrior of the Faith. He has no family now save the Order.

Vaelin’s father was Battle Lord to King Janus, ruler of the Unified Realm—and Vaelin’s rage at being deprived of his birthright knows no bounds. Even his cherished memories of his mother are soon challenged by what he learns within the Order.

But one truth overpowers all the rest: Vaelin Al Sorna is destined for a future he has yet to comprehend. A future that will alter not only the Realm, but the world.


You can also download Kate Elliott's Cold Magic for only 3.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

The Wild Hunt is stirring - and the dragons are finally waking from their long sleep...

Cat Barahal was the only survivor of the flood that took her parents. Raised by her extended family, she and her cousin, Bee, are unaware of the dangers that threaten them both. Though they are in beginning of the Industrial Age, magic - and the power of the Cold Mages - still hold sway.

Now, betrayed by her family and forced to marry a powerful Cold Mage, Cat will be drawn into a labyrinth of politics. There she will learn the full ruthlessness of the rule of the Cold Mages. What do the Cold Mages want from her? And who will help Cat in her struggle against them?