This week's New York Times Bestsellers (March 23rd)

In paperback:

Stephen King's The Outsider maintains its position at number 5 (trade paperback).

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can now get your hands on the digital edition of C. J. Cherryh's Alternate Realities for only 4.99$ by following this Amazon Associate link.

Here's the blurb:

Port Eternity

Their names were Lancelot, Elaine, Percivale, Gawain, Mordred, Lynette and Vivien, and they were made people, clone servants who worked aboard The Maid, an anachronistic fantasy of a spaceship. They had no idea of their origins, from those old storytapes of romance, chivalry, heroism and betrayal, until a ripple in the space-time continuum sucked The Maid and her crew into a no-man’s land from which there could be no return, and they were left alone to face a crisis which their ancient prototypes were never designed to master…

Wave Without a Shore

Freedom was an isolated planet, off the main spaceways and rarely visited by commercial spacers. It wasn’t that Freedom was inhospitable, the problem was that outsiders—tourists and traders—claimed that the streets were crowded with mysterious blue-robed aliens. Native-born humans, however, denied that these aliens existed—until a planetary crisis forced a confrontation between the question of reality and the reality of the question…

Voyager in the Night

Rafe Murray, his sister Jillian, and Jillian’s husband Paul Gaines, like many other out-of-luck spacers, had come to newly built Endeavor Station to find their future. Their tiny ship, Lindy, had been salvaged from the junk heap, and fitted to mine ore from the mineral-rich rings which circled Endeavor. But their future proved to be far stranger than any of them imagined, when a “collision” with a huge alien vessel provided them with the oddest first contact experience possible!


You can also download The Book of Magic, an anthology edited by Gardner Dozois, for only 4.99$ by following this Amazon Associate link.

Here's the blurb:

A new anthology celebrating the witches and sorcerers of epic fantasy—featuring stories by George R. R. Martin, Scott Lynch, Megan Lindholm, and many others!

Hot on the heels of Gardner Dozois’s acclaimed anthology The Book of Swords comes this companion volume devoted to magic. How could it be otherwise? For every Frodo, there is a Gandalf . . . and a Saruman. For every Dorothy, a Glinda . . . and a Wicked Witch of the West. What would Harry Potter be without Albus Dumbledore . . . and Severus Snape? Figures of wisdom and power, possessing arcane, often forbidden knowledge, wizards and sorcerers are shaped—or misshaped—by the potent magic they seek to wield. Yet though their abilities may be godlike, these men and women remain human—some might say all too human. Such is their curse. And their glory.

In these pages, seventeen of today’s top fantasy writers—including award-winners Elizabeth Bear, John Crowley, Kate Elliott, K. J. Parker, Tim Powers, and Liz Williams—cast wondrous spells that thrillingly evoke the mysterious, awesome, and at times downright terrifying worlds where magic reigns supreme: worlds as far away as forever, and as near as next door.

FEATURING SIXTEEN ALL-NEW STORIES:

“The Return of the Pig” by K. J. Parker
“Community Service” by Megan Lindholm
“Flint and Mirror” by John Crowley
“The Friends of Masquelayne the Incomparable” by Matthew Hughes
“The Biography of a Bouncing Boy Terror: Chapter Two: Jumping Jack in Love” by Ysabeau S. Wilce
“Song of Fire” by Rachel Pollack
“Loft the Sorcerer” by Eleanor Arnason
“The Governor” by Tim Powers
“Sungrazer” by Liz Williams
“The Staff in the Stone” by Garth Nix
“No Work of Mine” by Elizabeth Bear
“Widow Maker” by Lavie Tidhar
“The Wolf and the Manticore” by Greg Van Eekhout
“The Devil’s Whatever” by Andy Duncan
“Bloom” by Kate Elliott
“The Fall and Rise of the House of the Wizard Malkuril” by Scott Lynch

Plus George R. R. Martin’s classic story “A Night at the Tarn House” and an introduction by Gardner Dozois.


You can also get your hands on the digital edition of Wild Cards I, the book that started it all, for only 2.99$ by following this Amazon Associate link. There is a price match in Canada.

Here's the blurb:

The first volume of George R. R. Martin's WILD CARDS shared-world series, back in print after a decade―and expanded with new, original material.

There is a secret history of the world―a history in which an alien virus struck the Earth in the aftermath of World War II, endowing a handful of survivors with extraordinary powers. Some were called Aces―those with superhuman mental and physical abilities. Others were termed Jokers―cursed with bizarre mental or physical disabilities. Some turned their talents to the service of humanity. Others used their powers for evil. Wild Cards is their story.

Originally published in 1987, Wild Cards I includes powerful tales by Roger Zelazny, Walter Jon Williams, Howard Waldrop, Lewis Shiner, and George R. R. Martin himself. And this new, expanded edition contains further original tales set at the beginning of the Wild Cards universe, by eminent new writers like Hugo–winner David Levine, noted screenwriter and novelist Michael Cassutt, and New York Times bestseller Carrie Vaughn.

Now in development for TV!

Rights to develop Wild Cards for TV have been acquired by Universal Cable Productions, the team that brought you The Magicians and Mr. Robot, with the co-editor of Wild Cards, Melinda Snodgrass as executive producer.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can now download J. R. R. Tolkien's The Children of Húrin for only 2.99$ by following this Amazon Associate link.

Here's the blurb:

Painstakingly restored from Tolkien’s manuscripts and presented for the first time as a fully continuous and standalone story, this illustrated paperback of the epic tale of The Children of Húrin will reunite fans of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings with Elves, dragons, Dwarves and Orcs, and the rich landscape and characters unique to Tolkien.

It is a legendary time long before The Lord of the Rings, and Morgoth, the first Dark Lord, dwells in the vast fortress of Angband in the North; and within the shadow of the fear of Angband, and the war waged by Morgoth against the Elves, the fates of Túrin and his sister Niënor will be tragically entwined.

Their brief and passionate lives are dominated by the elemental hatred that Morgoth bears them as the children of Húrin, the man who dared to defy him to his face. Against them Morgoth sends his most formidable servant, Glaurung, a powerful spirit in the form of a huge wingless dragon of fire, in an attempt to fulfil the curse of Morgoth, and destroy the children of Húrin.

Begun by J.R.R. Tolkien at the end of the First World War, The Children of Húrin became the dominant story in his later work on Middle-earth. But he could not bring it to a final and finished form. In this book Christopher Tolkien has constructed, after long study of the manuscripts, a coherent narrative without any editorial invention.

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

In paperback:

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

Andrzej Sapkowski's The Last Wish returns at number 13.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can now download Brian Ruckley's Winterbirth, the opening chapter in one of the best grimdark series out there, for only 4.99$ by following this Amazon Associate link.

Here's the blurb:

An uneasy truce exists between the thanes of the True Bloods. Now, as another winter approaches, the armies of the Black Road march south, from their exile beyond the Vale of Stones. For some, war will bring a swift and violent death. Others will not hear the clash of swords or see the corpses strewn over the fields. Instead, they will see an opportunity to advance their own ambitions. But soon, all will fall under the shadow that is descending. For while the storm of battle rages, one man is following a path that will awaken a terrible power in him -- and his legacy will be written in blood.

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

In paperback:

Stephen King's The Outsider maintains its position at number 3 (trade paperback).

Andrzej Sapkowski's Sword of Destiny returns at number 15.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can now get your hands on the digital edition of Steven Erikson's Willful Child for only 2.99$ by following this Amazon Associate link. There is a price match in Canada.

Here's the blurb:

From the New York Times Bestselling author Steven Erikson comes a new science fiction novel of devil-may-care, near calamitous and downright chaotic adventures through the infinite vastness of interstellar space.

These are the voyages of the starship A.S.F. Willful Child. Its ongoing mission: to seek out strange new worlds on which to plant the Terran flag, to subjugate and if necessary obliterate new life-forms, to boldly blow the...

And so we join the not-terribly-bright but exceedingly cock-sure Captain Hadrian Sawback and his motley crew on board the Starship Willful Child for a series of devil-may-care, near-calamitous and downright chaotic adventures through ‘the infinite vastness of interstellar space.’

The New York Times bestselling author of the acclaimed Malazan Book of the Fallen sequence has taken his lifelong passion for Star Trek and transformed it into a smart, inventive, and hugely entertaining spoof on the whole mankind-exploring-space-for-the-good-of-all-species-but-trashing-stuff-with-a-lot-of-high-tech-gadgets-along-the-way, overblown adventure. The result is an SF novel that deftly parodies the genre while also paying fond homage to it.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can now download Guy Gavriel Kay's The Lions of Al-Rassan for only 1.99$ by following this Amazon Associate link.

Here's the blurb:

The ruling Asharites of Al-Rassan have come from the desert sands, but over centuries, seduced by the sensuous pleasures of their new land, their stern piety has eroded. The Asharite empire has splintered into decadent city-states led by warring petty kings. King Almalik of Cartada is on the ascendancy, aided always by his friend and advisor, the notorious Ammar ibn Khairan -- poet, diplomat, soldier -- until a summer afternoon of savage brutality changes their relationship forever.

Meanwhile, in the north, the conquered Jaddites' most celebrated -- and feared -- military leader, Rodrigo Belmonte, driven into exile, leads his mercenary company south.

In the dangerous lands of Al-Rassan, these two men from different worlds meet and serve -- for a time -- the same master. Sharing their interwoven fate -- and increasingly torn by her feelings -- is Jehane, the accomplished court physician, whose own skills play an increasing role as Al-Rassan is swept to the brink of holy war, and beyond.

Hauntingly evocative of medieval Spain, The Lions of Al-Rassan is both a brilliant adventure and a deeply compelling story of love, divided loyalties, and what happens to men and women when hardening beliefs begin to remake -- or destroy -- a world.

The Girl and the Stars


I've said it before and I'll say it again. With well over a million copies sold worldwide and four quality series under his belt, there's no question that Mark Lawrence now deserves to be ranked among the very best SFF authors out there. He has continued to make a name for himself with each new release, pushing the envelope further and further with storylines that always grew in depth and scope. It's evident that "That thorn guy," as George R. R. Martin referred to him at a convention a few of years ago, has come a long way since Prince of Thorns was first published back in 2011.

Although quite different in style and tone, The Broken Empire and The Red Queen's War series shared the same universe. The same can be said of the Book of the Ancestor and the Book of the Ice trilogies. It's too early to tell whether or not these last two series will ever overlap the way their predecessors did, but you can rest assured that you can fully enjoy The Girl and the Stars even if you are a newbie. To all ends and purposes, though they occur on the same planet, this marks the beginning of a brand new story arc, with new protagonists, a new setting, and new plotlines.

And like all of Lawrence's first installments, The Girl and the Stars is the opening chapter of what should be another compelling trilogy.

Here's the blurb:

In the ice, east of the Black Rock, there is a hole into which broken children are thrown.

On Abeth the vastness of the ice holds no room for individuals. Survival together is barely possible. No one survives alone.

To resist the cold, to endure the months of night when even the air itself begins to freeze, requires a special breed. Variation is dangerous, difference is fatal. And Yaz is not the same.

Yaz is torn from the only life she’s ever known, away from her family, from the boy she thought she would spend her days with, and has to carve out a new path for herself in a world whose existence she never suspected. A world full of difference and mystery and danger.

Yaz learns that Abeth is older and stranger than she had ever imagined. She learns that her weaknesses are another kind of strength. And she learns to challenge the cruel arithmetic of survival that has always governed her people.

Only when it’s darkest you can see the stars.

There is no question that Mark Lawrence's novels have always been character-driven works. Still, worldbuilding often played a somewhat important role in his three fantasy series. The Book of the Ancestor trilogy featured a dying sun and a planet left with only a 50-mile wide corridor running along the length of its surface heated by a focus moon that allows mankind to survive from the encroaching ice that covers the globe throughout both hemispheres. The Girl and the Stars occurs hundreds, or even thousands of miles to the north, where the corridor and things we take for granted like trees are either unheard of or the stuff of legends. When I inquired last year, the author was still unsure whether or not this new tale takes place before or after Nona's story. Time will tell, I reckon.

Little was known and/or remembered of what is trapped under the ice in the Book of the Ancestor, with only hints of hidden and nefarious powers from the deep coming into play. And though it raises new questions, The Girl and the Stars offers some tantalizing answers about what lies under the ice. We learned in the last trilogy that the world of Abeth was colonized ages before by four different alien races known as the Gerant, the Hunska, the Marjal, and the Quantal. Descendants from these four "tribes" may have inherited special powers or abilities associated with each bloodline. Mixed bloods can potentially be even more powerful. But before the coming of these alien races and before the coming of the vast ice sheets which now cover the continents, the fabled Missing held sway. What ultimately happened to them and why they left is unknown. But confined under the ice are the remains of some of their cities and technology. Which means that, as was the case in the previous three trilogies, it seems that age-old technology might play a role in the Book of the Ice as well. As is usually his wont, Lawrence keeps his cards pretty close to his chest throughout this first volume. Yet it is evident that there is much more to The Girl and the Stars than meets the eye. Time will tell if this new series will echo with as much depth as its predecessors, but I have learned to have faith in Mark Lawrence. He hasn't left me down yet.

Unlike The Broken Empire and The Red Queen's War series, in which readers were thrown into an ongoing story, with flashback scenes filling in the blanks along the way, like the trilogy that preceded it The Girl and the Stars follows a more traditional format, with a young and more or less clueless main protagonist learning about the world and the plotlines at the same pace as the reader. As a child of the Ictha, Yaz's existence has always revolved around survival and superstition. There is no place for anything else out on the ice. Surviving a fall to the bottom of the Pit of the Missing will bring her face to face with a new world unlike anything she has ever imagined. Her time among the Broken will make her question her former life and the lies underpinning the laws that govern the tribes up on the surface. Her hitherto unknown talents will allow her to unveil ancient secrets that will make her see the regulator and the priests of the Black Rock in a new light.

Yaz of the Ictha is the main protagonist through whose eyes we witness events unfold. And though there are similitudes regarding their respective plights, she is a world away from the POV character from the Book of the Ancestor trilogy. Forsaken and friendless, Nona Grey was a tough nut to crack. She didn't open up easily, to other people as well as to the readers. Although it was easy to root for her, given that all the odds appeared stacked against her, it was nevertheless difficult to relate to Nona. After following the misadventures of the easy-going and likeable Jalan, it definitely took a while to finally get used to Nona and her quirks. Yaz is more empathic and a bit of a do-gooder at heart, which makes it easier to relate to her. That sensitivity will come to plague her and put her in perilous situations, but Yaz remains true to herself throughout the book. The supporting cast is comprised of a bunch of misfits, most of them thrown down the Pit of the Missing and miserably trying to eke out a living trapped under countless feet under the ice.

The pace is never an issue and remains relatively fluid throughout The Girl and the Stars. There are a few battle scenes that felt repetitives and could probably have been cut out without readers losing anything important in the process. I found the endgame to be interesting, but could have done without the cliffhanger ending. Thankfully, we're talking about Mark Lawrence and not GRRM or Patrick Rothfuss and we know that the sequel has already been written. Which means that a year from now, we know for sure that we'll discover what happens next. Having said that, I would have preferred for this novel to be more self-contained and to end with more resolution. Some may find this off-putting, while others won't have any problem with that. You mileage may vary in that regard, and this may understandably influence your overall satisfaction rating.

All in all, The Girl and the Stars is another multilayered introduction that sets the stage for what should be yet another entertaining and engrossing series!

The final verdict: 7.75/10

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

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can now download Robert Jackson Bennett's Foundryside for only 2.99$ by following this Amazon Associate link.

Here's the blurb:

In a city that runs on industrialized magic, a secret war will be fought to overwrite reality itself–the first in a dazzling new fantasy series from City of Stairs author Robert Jackson Bennett.

Sancia Grado is a thief, and a damn good one. And her latest target, a heavily guarded warehouse on Tevanne’s docks, is nothing her unique abilities can’t handle.

But unbeknownst to her, Sancia’s been sent to steal an artifact of unimaginable power, an object that could revolutionize the magical technology known as scriving. The Merchant Houses who control this magic–the art of using coded commands to imbue everyday objects with sentience–have already used it to transform Tevanne into a vast, remorseless capitalist machine. But if they can unlock the artifact’s secrets, they will rewrite the world itself to suit their aims.

Now someone in those Houses wants Sancia dead, and the artifact for themselves. And in the city of Tevanne, there’s nobody with the power to stop them.

To have a chance at surviving—and at stopping the deadly transformation that’s under way—Sancia will have to marshal unlikely allies, learn to harness the artifact’s power for herself, and undergo her own transformation, one that will turn her into something she could never have imagined.

Win an Advance Reading Copy of Robert Jackson Bennett's SHOREFALL


I'm giving away my advance reading copy of Robert Jackson Bennett's Shorefall to one lucky winner! For more info about this title, follow these Amazon Associate links: Canada, USA, Europe.

Here's the blurb:

As a magical revolution remakes a city, an ancient evil is awakened in a brilliant new novel from the Hugo-nominated author of Foundryside and the Divine Cities trilogy.

A few years ago, Sancia Grado would’ve happily watched Tevanne burn. Now, she’s hoping to transform her city into something new. Something better. Together with allies Orso, Gregor, and Berenice, she’s about to strike a deadly blow against Tevanne’s cruel robber-baron rulers and wrest power from their hands for the first time in decades.

But then comes a terrifying warning: Crasedes Magnus himself, the first of the legendary hierophants, is about to be reborn. And if he returns, Tevanne will be just the first place to feel his wrath.

Thousands of years ago, Crasedes was an ordinary man who did the impossible: Using the magic of scriving—the art of imbuing objects with sentience—he convinced reality that he was something more than human. Wielding powers beyond comprehension, he strode the world like a god for centuries, meting out justice and razing empires single-handedly, cleansing the world through fire and destruction—and even defeating death itself.

Like it or not, it’s up to Sancia to stop him. But to have a chance in the battle to come, she’ll have to call upon a god of her own—and unlock the door to a scriving technology that could change what it means to be human. And no matter who wins, nothing will ever be the same.

The awe-inspiring second installment of the Founders Trilogy, Shorefall returns us to the world Robert Jackson Bennett created in his acclaimed Foundryside . . . and forges it anew.

The rules are the same as usual. You need to send an email at reviews@(no-spam)gryphonwood.net with the header "SHOREFALL." Remember to remove the "no spam" thingy.

Second, your email must contain your full mailing address (that's snail mail!), otherwise your message will be deleted.

Lastly, multiple entries will disqualify whoever sends them. And please include your screen name and the message boards that you frequent using it, if you do hang out on a particular MB.

Good luck to all the participants!

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

In paperback:

Stephen King's The Outsider is down one spot, finishing the week at number 3 (trade paperback).

Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale returns at number 15 (trade paperback).

Kevin Hearne contest winner!

This lucky winner will receive my advance reading copy of Kevin Hearne's A Blight of Blackwings! For more info about this title, follow these Amazon Associate links: Canada, USA, Europe.

The winner is:

Eric Sullivan, from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Many thanks to all the participants!

Quote of the Day

The ship sailed onward, rendering the past a series of memories, carrying us toward a new destiny.

I prayed that for once, the gods would be merciful.

But I doubted it.

- JACQUELINE CAREY, Naamah's Blessing (Canada, USA, Europe)

I have a feeling that things will get worse before they get better. . .

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can now get your hands on the digital edition of Nicholas Eames' Bloody Rose for only 2.99$ by following this Amazon Associate link. There is a price match in Canada.

Here's the blurb:

A band of fabled mercenaries, led by the infamous Bloody Rose, tour a wild fantasy landscape, battling monsters in arenas in front of thousands of adoring fans, but a secret and dangerous gig ushers them to the frozen north, and the band is never one to waste a shot at glory . . . even if it means almost certain death.

Live fast, die young.

Tam Hashford is tired of working at her local pub, slinging drinks for world-famous mercenaries and listening to the bards sing of adventure and glory in the world beyond her sleepy hometown.

When the biggest mercenary band of all, led by the infamous Bloody Rose, rolls into town, Tam jumps at the chance to sign on as their bard. It’s adventure she wants – and adventure she gets as the crew embark on a quest that will end in one of two ways: glory or death.

It’s time to take a walk on the wyld side.

Quote of the Day

The wounds an honest tongue can open sometimes take a lifetime to heal.

- MARK LAWRENCE, The Girl and the Stars.

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

This week's New York Times Bestsellers (February 24th)

In hardcover:

Stephen King's The Institute returns at number 14. For more info about this title, follow these Amazon Associate links: Canada, USA, Europe.

In paperback:

Stephen King's The Outsider is up three spots, finishing the week at number 2 (trade paperback).

Andrzej Sapkowski's Sword of Destiny returns at number 8.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can now get your hands on the digital edition of Daryl Gregory's Spoonbenders for only 2.99$ by following this Amazon Associate link.

Here's the blurb:

Teddy Telemachus is a charming con man with a gift for sleight of hand and some shady underground associates. In need of cash, he tricks his way into a classified government study about telekinesis and its possible role in intelligence gathering. There he meets Maureen McKinnon, and it’s not just her piercing blue eyes that leave Teddy forever charmed, but her mind—Maureen is a genuine psychic of immense and mysterious power. After a whirlwind courtship, they marry, have three gifted children, and become the Amazing Telemachus Family, performing astounding feats across the country. Irene is a human lie detector. Frankie can move objects with his mind. And Buddy, the youngest, can see the future. Then one night tragedy leaves the family shattered.

Decades later, the Telemachuses are not so amazing. Irene is a single mom whose ear for truth makes it hard to hold down a job, much less hold together a relationship. Frankie’s in serious debt to his dad’s old mob associates. Buddy has completely withdrawn into himself and inexplicably begun digging a hole in the backyard. To make matters worse, the CIA has come knocking, looking to see if there’s any magic left in the Telemachus clan. And there is: Irene’s son Matty has just had his first out-of-body experience. But he hasn’t told anyone, even though his newfound talent might just be what his family needs to save themselves—if it doesn’t tear them apart in the process.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can now download Tad Williams' Tailchaser's Song for only 4.99$ by following this Amazon Associate link.

Here's the blurb:

Meet Fritti Tailchaser, a ginger tom cat of rare courage and curiosity, a born survivor in a world of heroes and villains, of powerful feline gods and whiskery legends about those strange furless, erect creatures called M’an.

“The hour of Unfolding Dark had begun, and the rooftop where Tailchaser lay was smothered in shadow. He was deep in a dream of leaping and flying when he felt an unusual tingling in his whiskers. Fritti Tailchaser, hunterchild of the Folk, came suddenly awake and sniffed the air. Ears pricked and whiskers flared straight, he sifted the evening breeze. Nothing unusual. Then what had awakened him? Pondering, he splayed his claws and began a spine-limbering stretch that finally ended at the tip of his reddish tail.”

Join Tailchaser on his magical quest to rescue his catfriend Hushpad on a quest that will take him all the way to cat hell and beyond.