More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now download Iain M. Banks' The Player of Games for only 2.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

The Culture--a humanoid/machine symbiotic society--has thrown up many great Game Players. One of the best is Jernau Morat Gurgeh, Player of Games, master of every board, computer and strategy. Bored with success, Gurgeh travels to the Empire of Azad, cruel and incredibly wealthy, to try their fabulous game, a game so complex, so like life itself, that the winner becomes emperor. Mocked, blackmailed, almost murdered, Gurgeh accepts the game and with it the challenge of his life, and very possibly his death.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

Today only, you can download N. K. Jemisin's How Long 'til Black Future Month for only 4.99$ here. There is a price match in Canada.

Here's the blurb:

Three-time Hugo Award winner and NYT bestselling author N. K. Jemisin sharply examines modern society in her first collection of short fiction.

N. K. Jemisin is one of the most powerful and acclaimed authors of our time. In the first collection of her evocative short fiction, which includes never-before-seen stories, Jemisin equally challenges and delights readers with thought-provoking narratives of destruction, rebirth, and redemption.

Spirits haunt the flooded streets of New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In a parallel universe, a utopian society watches our world, trying to learn from our mistakes. A black mother in the Jim Crow South must save her daughter from a fey offering impossible promises. And in the Hugo award-nominated short story "The City Born Great," a young street kid fights to give birth to an old metropolis's soul.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now get your hands on the digital edition of Susanna Clarke's Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell for only 1.99$ here. There is a price match in Canada.

Here's the blurb:

Two magicians shall appear in England.

The first shall fear me; the second shall long to behold me...

The year is 1806. England is beleaguered by the long war with Napoleon, and centuries have passed since practical magicians faded into the nation's past. But scholars of this glorious history discover that one remains: the reclusive Mr Norrell whose displays of magic send a thrill through the country. Proceeding to London, he raises a beautiful woman from the dead and summons an army of ghostly ships to terrify the French. Yet the cautious, fussy Norrell is challenged by the emergence of another magician: the brilliant novice Jonathan Strange. Young, handsome and daring, Strange is the very opposite of Norrell. So begins a dangerous battle between these two great men which overwhelms the one between England and France. And their own obsessions and secret dabblings with the dark arts are going to cause more trouble than they can imagine.

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

In hardcover:

George R. R. Martin's Fire and Blood is up one position, ending the week at number 2. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Stephen King's Elevation is up three spots, finishing the week at number 10. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Nora Roberts' Of Blood and Bone is down eight positions, ending the week at number 12.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now download Ernest Cline's worldwide bestseller Ready Player One for only 2.99$ here. There is a price match in Canada.

Here's the blurb:

Nominated as one of America’s best-loved novels by PBS’s The Great American Read.

The worldwide bestseller—now a major motion picture directed by Steven Spielberg.

In the year 2045, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he's jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade's devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world's digital confines—puzzles that are based on their creator's obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them.

But when Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade's going to survive, he'll have to win—and confront the real world he's always been so desperate to escape.

You can also get your hands on the digital edition of Terry Brooks' Street Freaks for 4.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

It begins with a dire call-right before his father disappears and his skyscraper home's doors explode inward. It is the kind of thrilling futuristic story only Terry Brooks can tell.

"Go into the Red Zone. Go to Street Freaks." his father directs Ashton Collins before the vid feed goes suddenly silent. The Red Zone is the dangerous heart of the mega-city of Los Angeles; it is a world Ash is forbidden from and one he knows little about. But if he can find Street Freaks, the strangest of aid awaits-human and barely human alike. As Ash is hunted, he must unravel the mystery left behind by his father and discover his role in this new world.

Brooks has long been the grandmaster of fantasy. Now he turns his hand to science fiction filled with what his readers love best: complex characters, extraordinary settings, exciting action, and a page-turning story. Through it, Brooks reimagines his bestselling career yet again.

Rejoice, A Knife to the Heart

I was pleased when I learned that Steven Erikson fans would be getting two science fiction titles from the author in 2018. With the Kharkanas trilogy on hold due to poor sales and the Witness trilogy still in production, there would be no Malazan offering this year, so I was looking forward to these two novels.

The Willful Child installments, as fun to read as they are, remain Star Trek spoofs, an homage showcasing Erikson's sense of humor and his love for the TV series. But they're not real science fiction fare, so to speak. Rejoice, A Knife to the Heart, on the other hand, felt like it would be the author's first true foray into the genre.

And yet, there were issues that promised to be problematic. A First Contact tale without contact? An alien arrival story without any aliens? It appeared that Rejoice, A Knife to the Heart would be unlike any other scifi yarns on the market. This probably explains why it's being published by an imprint not known for releasing SFF titles, which implies that most speculative fiction publishers elected to pass on it. Still, I was curious and wanted to discover what Erikson had in store for his readers.

Here's the blurb:

Imagine a First Contact without contact, and an alien arrival where no aliens show up.

Imagine the sudden appearance of exclusion zones all over the planet, into which no humans are allowed. Imagine an end to all violence, from the schoolyard bully to nations at war. Imagine an end to borders, an end to all crime. Imagine a world where hate has no outlet and the only harm one can do is to oneself.

Leaders of governments are not in the loop. Scientists have no answers. The military’s hardware has stopped working. We’re calling, but ET’s not answering.

Imagine a world transformed, but with no guidance and no hint of what’s coming next. What would you do? How would you feel? What questions can you ask – what questions dare you ask – when the only possible answers come from the all-too-human face in your mirror?

On the day of First Contact, it won’t be about them. It will be about us.

For his first full-length science fiction novel, Steven Erikson decided to take on one of the genre's biggest and most popular trope; first contact. But the angle he elected to use to explore this cliché is totally new and unheard of. Many a Malazan fan keep hoping for the Bridgeburners in space, yet it's obvious that the author has no desire to write that sort of book. At least for the time being. Rejoice, A Knife to the Heart is a world away from that sort of space opera blockbuster yarn. This is more of an old school throught-provoking novel, something akin to the type of titles published in the golden age era of science fiction. Which is why this work may not appeal to a big chunk of author's readership. It's completely different from anything else Erikson has written in the past. The closest thing to it would have to be The Devil Delivered novella and I get the feeling that few Malazan aficionados have read it.

The story begins with the abduction in broad daylight of Canadian scifi writer Samantha August by aliens. Due to her literary and political background, the woman was selected by an artificial intelligence representing mysterious alien civilizations to be mankind's representative for what's coming. Known as Adam, while she considers the aliens' offer the AI puts into motion measures meant to save the planet and its ecosystems from humanity and its destructive ways. One of the core concepts of the novel is that violence against others, in any shape or form, becomes virtually impossible. While intriguing, this takes away any possible tension and prevents the story from gaining any momentum. Food and water are provided to anyone who can't get them. The world's natural resources are now protected. A clean energy source is provided and so is space-age technology to all countries which couldn't afford such a thing in the past. Borders become meaningless, and the socio-political tapestry that held the world together gradually unravels.

Rejoice, A Knife to the Heart is a novel that asks the difficult questions. This work explores thought-provoking themes such as post-scarcity society, post-capitalism, climate change, the importance of religions and spirituality, the planet as a living and breathing entity, and many more. The main problem is that, with the absence of any kind of tension, the story progresses through a variety of philosophical discussions between the main characters. The book features a decidedly diverse and disparate cast, but none of them other than Samantha August really stand out. There are fictional analogs to public figures such as Donald Trump, Elon Musk, and the Koch Brothers. Oddly enough, Justin Trudeau, our schoolboy PM big on symbolism and low on substance, has been replaced by a no-nonsense woman. Putin has been replaced by a wise old wolf and so has the Chinese head of state. The UN Secretary-General is straight out of the Expanse. Sadly, the characterization was often a bit subpar. Especially where the world leaders are concerned.

The aliens' main objective is to save the planet from mankind. But they also wish to spare humanity for a reason, one that takes a while to become apparent. But it does elevate the story to another level when it does. The Chinese mission to the moon is a particularly powerful sequence in that regard. Overall, Rejoice, A Knife to the Heart is a very optimistic work. It exposes all the darker elements of our world and how they affect each and everyone of us, and suggests that mankind, by uniting regardless of race, creed, nationality, yada yada yada, could overcome all these man-made barriers and become something more. To a certain extent, it's exactly the sort of scifi novel that "the future that liberals want" crowd yearns for. Having said that, more cynical readers may find it much harder to get into.

In the end, space opera fans into authors such as Peter F. Hamilton, James S. A. Corey, Ian McDonald, and Alastair Reynolds might find this one extremely slow-moving and somewhat boring. But for readers interested in science fiction that is not afraid to ask the hard questions and which explores big ideas and concepts, Rejoice, A Knife to the Heart will definitely be an interesting read.

The final verdict: 7.5/10

For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now get your hands on the digital edition of Anne McCaffrey's The Dragonriders of Pern, an omnibus comprised of Dragonflight, Dragonquest, and The White Dragon, for only 2.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • Together in one volume—the first three books in the world’s most beloved science-fiction series!


On a beautiful world called Pern, an ancient way of life is about to come under attack. Lessa is an outcast survivor—her parents murdered, her birthright stolen—a strong young woman who has never stopped dreaming of revenge. But when an ancient threat reemerges, Lessa will rise—upon the back of a great dragon with whom she shares a telepathic bond more intimate than any human connection. Together, dragon and rider will fly, and Pern will be changed forever.


Since Lessa and Ramoth, her golden queen dragon, traveled into the past to bring forward a small army of dragons and riders to save their world from deadly alien spores, fear and desperation have spread across the land. But while the dragonriders struggle with threats both human and otherworldly, a young rider named F’nor and his brown dragon, Canth, hatch a bold plan to destroy the alien scourge at its source—the baleful Red Star that fills the heavens and promises doom to all.


Never in the history of Pern has there been a dragon like Ruth. Mocked by other dragons for his small size and pure white color, Ruth is smart, brave, and loyal—qualities that he shares with his rider, the young Lord Jaxom. Unfortunately, Jaxom is also looked down upon by his fellow lords, and by other riders as well. His dreams of joining the dragonriders in defending Pern are dismissed. What else can Jaxom and Ruth do but strike out on their own, pursuing in secret all they are denied? But in doing so, the two friends will find themselves facing a desperate choice—one that will push their bond to the breaking point . . . and threaten the future of Pern itself.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now download Yoon Ha Lee's Ninefox Gambit for only 0.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

To win an impossible war Captain Kel Cheris must awaken an ancient weapon and a despised traitor general.

Captain Kel Cheris of the hexarchate is disgraced for using unconventional methods in a battle against heretics. Kel Command gives her the opportunity to redeem herself by retaking the Fortress of Scattered Needles, a star fortress that has recently been captured by heretics. Cheris's career isn't the only thing at stake. If the fortress falls, the hexarchate itself might be next.

Cheris's best hope is to ally with the undead tactician Shuos Jedao. The good news is that Jedao has never lost a battle, and he may be the only one who can figure out how to successfully besiege the fortress.

The bad news is that Jedao went mad in his first life and massacred two armies, one of them his own. As the siege wears on, Cheris must decide how far she can trust Jedao--because she might be his next victim.

You can also get your hands on the two sequels, Raven Stratagem and Revenant Gun, for the same price! An incredible deal for a series that has garnered a lot of rave reviews!

This week's New York Times Bestsellers (December 17th)

In hardcover:

George R. R. Martin's Fire and Blood is down one position, ending the week at number 3. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Nora Roberts' Of Blood and Bone debuts at number 2.

Stephen King's Elevation is down two spots, finishing the week at number 13. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

More than 50% off on the Dungeons and Dragons Core Rulebooks

You can now get your hands on the Dungeons and Dragons Core Rulebooks for about half price!

- Player's Handbook
- Dungeon Master's Guide
- Monster Manual

Don't know for how long this sale will last, so you might want to jump on these!

Speculative Fiction Top 10 of 2018

It's that time of year again! Here are my favorite reads among SFF works published in 2018. Simply click on the title of each novel to read its review. The one for Steven Erikson's Rejoice, A Knife to the Heart is coming soon.

As always, this shortlist won't satisfy everyone out there. But it features what I consider to be this year's most compelling reads! =)

1- Apocalypse Nyx by Kameron Hurley (Canada, USA, Europe)

Here's the blurb:

Move over Mad Max—here comes Nyx.

Ex-government assassin turned bounty-hunter Nyx is good at solving other people’s problems. Her favorite problem-solving solution is punching people in the face. Then maybe chopping off some heads. Hey—it’s a living.

Her disreputable reputation has been well earned. To Nyx’s mind, it’s also justified. After all, she’s trying to navigate an apocalyptic world full of giant bugs, contaminated deserts, scheming magicians, and a centuries-long war that’s consuming her future. Managing her ragtag squad of misfits has required a lot of morally-gray choices.

Every new job is another day alive. Every new mission is another step toward changing a hellish future—but only if she can survive.

Apocalypse Nyx is the much-anticipated print edition of Kameron Hurley’s five newest Nyx novellas, as well as the first e-book collection of her gritty, exciting adventures.

2- The Freeze-Frame Revolution by Peter Watts (Canada, USA, Europe)

Here's the blurb:

She believed in the mission with all her heart.

But that was sixty million years ago.

How do you stage a mutiny when you're only awake one day in a million? How do you conspire when your tiny handful of potential allies changes with each shift? How do you engage an enemy that never sleeps, that sees through your eyes and hears through your ears and relentlessly, honestly, only wants what best for you?

Sunday Ahzmundin is about to find out.

3- Grey Sister by Mark Lawrence (Canada, USA, Europe)

Here's the blurb:

In Mystic Class Nona Grey begins to learn the secrets of the universe. But so often even the deepest truths just make our choices harder. Before she leaves the Convent of Sweet Mercy Nona must choose her path and take the red of a Martial Sister, the grey of a Sister of Discretion, the blue of a Mystic Sister or the simple black of a Bride of the Ancestor and a life of prayer and service.

All that stands between her and these choices are the pride of a thwarted assassin, the ambition of a would-be empress wielding the Inquisition like a blade, and the vengeance of the empire’s richest lord.

As the world narrows around her, and her enemies attack her through the system she has sworn to, Nona must find her own path despite the competing pull of friendship, revenge, ambition, and loyalty.

And in all this only one thing is certain.

There will be blood.

4- Thin Air by Richard Morgan (Canada, USA, Europe)

Here's the blurb:

Richard Morgan has always been one of our most successful SF authors with his fast-moving and brutal storylines, blistering plots and a powerful social conscience behind his work.

And now he's back, with his first SF novel for eight years . . . and it promises to be a publication to remember.

An ex-corporate enforcer, Hakan Veil, is forced to bodyguard Madison Madekwe, part of a colonial audit team investigating a disappeared lottery winner on Mars. But when Madekwe is abducted, and Hakan nearly killed, the investigation takes him farther and deeper than he had ever expected. And soon Hakan discovers the heavy price he may have to pay to learn the truth.

5- Time Was by Ian McDonald (Canada, USA, Europe)

Here's the blurb:

A love story stitched across time and war, shaped by the power of books, and ultimately destroyed by it.

In the heart of World War II, Tom and Ben became lovers. Brought together by a secret project designed to hide British targets from German radar, the two founded a love that could not be revealed. When the project went wrong, Tom and Ben vanished into nothingness, presumed dead. Their bodies were never found.

Now the two are lost in time, hunting each other across decades, leaving clues in books of poetry and trying to make their desperate timelines overlap.

6- Serpent in the Heather by Kay Kenyon (Canada, USA, Europe)

Here's the blurb:

Now officially working for the Secret Intelligence Service, Kim Tavistock is back to solve another mystery—this time a serial killer with deep Nazi ties—in the sequel to At the Table of Wolves.

Summer, 1936. In England, an assassin is loose. Someone is killing young people who possess Talents. As terror overtakes Britain, Kim Tavistock, now officially employed by England’s Secret Intelligence Service, is sent on her first mission: to the remote Sulcliffe Castle in Wales, to use her cover as a journalist to infiltrate a spiritualist cult that may have ties to the murders. Meanwhile, Kim’s father, trained spy Julian Tavistock runs his own parallel investigation—and discovers the terrifying Nazi plot behind the serial killings.

Cut off from civilization, Sulcliffe Castle is perched on a forbidding headland above a circle of standing stones only visible at low tide. There, Kim shadows a ruthless baroness and her enigmatic son, plying her skills of deception and hearing the truths people most wish to hide. But as her cover disguise unravels, Kim learns that the serial killer is closing in on a person she has grown to love. Now, Kim must race against the clock not just to prevent the final ritual killing—but to turn the tide of the looming war.

7- Salvation by Peter F. Hamilton (Canada, USA, Europe)

Here's the blurb:

Humanity's complex relationship with technology spirals out of control in this first book of an all-new trilogy from "the owner of the most powerful imagination in science fiction" (Ken Follett).

In 2204, humanity is expanding into the wider galaxy in leaps and bounds. A new technology of linked jump gates has rendered most forms of transporation--including starships--virtually obsolete. Every place on earth, every distant planet mankind has settled, is now merely a step away from any other. And all seems wonderful...until a crashed alien spaceship is found on a newly-located world 89 light years from Earth, harboring seventeen human victims. And of the high-powered team dispatched to investigate the mystery, one is an alien spy...

Bursting with tension and big ideas, this standalone series highlights the inventiveness of an author at the top of his game, as the interweaving story lines tell us not only how humanity arrived at this moment, but also the far-future consequences that spin off from it.

8- A Veil of Spears by Bradley P. Beaulieu (Canada, USA, Europe)

Here's the blurb:

The third book in The Song of Shattered Sands series–an epic fantasy with a desert setting, filled with rich worldbuilding and pulse-pounding action.

Since the Night of Endless Swords, a bloody battle the Kings of Sharakhai narrowly won, the kings have been hounding the rebels known as the Moonless Host. Many have been forced to flee the city, including Çeda, who discovers that the King of Sloth is raising his army to challenge the other kings’ rule.

When Çeda finds the remaining members of the Moonless Host, now known as the thirteenth tribe, she sees a tenuous existence. Çeda hatches a plan to return to Sharakhai and free the asirim, the kings’ powerful, immortal slaves. The kings, however, have sent their greatest tactician, the King of Swords, to bring Çeda to justice for her crimes.

But the once-unified front of the kings is crumbling. The surviving kings vie quietly against one another, maneuvering for control over Sharakhai. Çeda hopes to use that to her advantage, but whom to trust? Any of them might betray her.

9- Ravencry by Ed McDonald (Canada, USA, Europe)

Here's the blurb:

For Ryhalt Galharrow, working for Crowfoot as a Blackwing captain is about as bad as it gets - especially when his orders are garbled, or incoherent, or impossible to carry out.

The Deep Kings are hurling fire from the sky, a ghost in the light known only as the Bright Lady had begun to manifest in visions across the city, and the cult that worship her grasp for power while the city burns around them.

Galharrow may not be able to do much about the cult - or about strange orders from the Nameless - but when Crowfoot's arcane vault is breached and an object of terrible power is stolen, he's propelled into a race against time to recover it. Only to do that, he needs answers, and finding them means travelling into nightmare: to the very heart of the Misery.

10- Rejoice, A Knife to the Heart (Canada, USA, Europe)

Here's the blurb:

Imagine a First Contact without contact, and an alien arrival where no aliens show up.

Imagine the sudden appearance of exclusion zones all over the planet, into which no humans are allowed. Imagine an end to all violence, from the schoolyard bully to nations at war. Imagine an end to borders, an end to all crime. Imagine a world where hate has no outlet and the only harm one can do is to oneself.

Leaders of governments are not in the loop. Scientists have no answers. The military’s hardware has stopped working. We’re calling, but ET’s not answering.

Imagine a world transformed, but with no guidance and no hint of what’s coming next. What would you do? How would you feel? What questions can you ask – what questions dare you ask – when the only possible answers come from the all-too-human face in your mirror?

On the day of First Contact, it won’t be about them. It will be about us.

A German Requiem

Back in the summer of 2015, needing something different for my trip to Chicago, as a lover of history I bought used copies of the first Bernie Gunther trilogy by Philip Kerr and I brought them along for the ride. Read the first two during my vacation and realized that these historical murder mysteries were just what I needed. With the first two volumes of the Berlin Noir series under my belt, I was looking forward to discovering where the author would take his stories and protagonist next!

And for some reason, the third installment, A German Requiem, just sat there on the coffee table in my living roomfor the next three years. Not sure why, but every time I looked at it I knew I needed to read that novel ASAP. I finally did and now I feel like a fool for waiting this long. And with over a dozen books featuring Bernie Gunther in print, I have a feeling I'll be reading more about him and his investigations in the future.

Here's the blurb:

Post-World War 2, Bernie Gunther investigates the murder of an American Nazi-hunter amongst the ruins of the Third Reich in this riveting thriller in Philip Kerr’s bestselling historical mystery series.

Vienna, 1947. Bernie Gunther had his first brush with evil as a policeman in 1930s Berlin and came to know it intimately as a private eye under the Nazis, when each case drew him deeper into the enormities of the regime. Now the war is over and Bernie is in Vienna, trying to clear an old friend and ex-Kripo colleague of the murder of an American officer. Amid decaying imperial splendor Bernie traces concentric circles of evil that lead him to a former head of the Gestapo and to a legacy that makes the atrocities of the war seem lily-white in comparison…

As was the case with the first two installments, it's the historical backdrop that gives the book its unique flavor. Though on occasions he is forced to rely on info-dumps to convey lots of elements, the author once again did a fantastic job recreating that particular period. It sets the mood and captures the political and social tension perfectly. A German Requiem occurs in 1947. The legacy of Nazism has left Berlin in ruins and the city is now under the administration of the French, the British, the Americans, and the Soviets. A lot of citizens live in abject poverty, and prostitution and black marketing are rampant. Eastern Europe lies under the yoke of the USSR and it's the dawn of the Cold War.

As I mentioned in my reviews of March Violets and The Pale Criminal, Bernhard Gunther is a tough, wise-cracking, and cynical private investigator. In the tradition of Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe, he could be nothing else. Sadly, too often in the first volume the narrative got bogged down in Chandleresque similes that brought nothing to the story and were just distracting, or even groan-inducing. I understand that, to a certain extent at least, these books are supposed to be some sort of homage to the classic hardboiled noir detective novels. But sometimes Philip Kerr pushed this a little too far and it cheapened the whole thing somewhat. The man can craft classic noir plots, full of complexity and tension, in a setting that sets his stories apart from his peers. Hence, I felt that Kerr could do without these similes and still shine. Kerr gave us a more well-defined protagonist in the second installment, and the same can be said regarding A German Requiem.

As I said before, Bernie is a man of his time, made even harder by the demands of his profession and the fact that he was cast out of the police force because he didn't support Hitler's regime. The man is not always the most likeable of fellows. And yet, he remains the perfect protagonist to solve the cases on which he investigates, and you can't help but to root for the guy. His first person narrative continues to be one of the very best aspects of this series.

In A German Requiem, investigating in Vienna in order to prove the innocence of an old acquaintance arrested for the murder of an American officer, Kerr explores the hypocrisy of the American military forces. On the one hand, they are hunting down Nazi war criminals and on the other they are recruiting them to use them as spies. It was interesting to see how key elements of the Nazi regime supposedly died at the end of the war, but changed their identities and disappeared. The better part of this novel takes place in Vienna and Kerr's portrayal of how Austria fared during and after WWII was particularly well-done.

The pace remains crisp throughout the book and in true noir detective novel tradition, likes its predecessors A German Requiem is another page-turner that keeps you going, chapter after chapter, unable to stop yourself. This novel is another compelling blend of historical fiction and hardboiled murder mystery which is hard to put down. I probably won't be waiting this long to read a new Bernard Gunther case.

The final verdict: 7.75/10

For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe. You can also get this one as part of the Berlin Noir omnibus, which contains Kerr's first three Bernhard Gunther novels: Canada, USA, Europe.

Deborah Harkness contest winner!

This lucky guy will get his hands on a copy of Deborah Harkness' Time's Convert, compliments of the folks at Viking Books. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

The winner is:

Bobby V. Berry, Jr., from Highlands Ranch, Colorado, USA

Many thanks to all the participants!

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now download The Book of Swords, edited by Gardner Dozois, for only 1.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

New epic fantasy in the grand tradition—including a never-before-published Song of Ice and Fire story by George R. R. Martin!

Fantasy fiction has produced some of the most unforgettable heroes ever conjured onto the page: Robert E. Howard’s Conan the Barbarian, Michael Moorcock’s Elric of Melniboné, Fritz Leiber’s Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser. Classic characters like these made sword and sorcery a storytelling sensation, a cornerstone of fantasy fiction—and an inspiration for a new generation of writers, spinning their own outsize tales of magic and swashbuckling adventure.

Now, in The Book of Swords, acclaimed editor and bestselling author Gardner Dozois presents an all-new anthology of original epic tales by a stellar cast of award-winning modern masters—many of them set in their authors’ best-loved worlds. Join today’s finest tellers of fantastic tales, including George R. R. Martin, K. J. Parker, Robin Hobb, Scott Lynch, Ken Liu, C. J. Cherryh, Daniel Abraham, Lavie Tidhar, Ellen Kushner, and more on action-packed journeys into the outer realms of dark enchantment and intrepid derring-do, featuring a stunning assortment of fearless swordsmen and warrior women who face down danger and death at every turn with courage, cunning, and cold steel.


“The Best Man Wins” by K. J. Parker
“Her Father’s Sword” by Robin Hobb
“The Hidden Girl” by Ken Liu
“The Sword of Destiny” by Matthew Hughes
“‘I Am a Handsome Man,’ Said Apollo Crow” by Kate Elliott
“The Triumph of Virtue” by Walter Jon Williams
“The Mocking Tower” by Daniel Abraham
“Hrunting” by C. J. Cherryh
“A Long, Cold Trail” by Garth Nix
“When I Was a Highwayman” by Ellen Kushner
“The Smoke of Gold Is Glory” by Scott Lynch
“The Colgrid Conundrum” by Rich Larson
“The King’s Evil” by Elizabeth Bear
“Waterfalling” by Lavie Tidhar
“The Sword Tyraste” by Cecelia Holland
“The Sons of the Dragon” by George R. R. Martin

And an introduction by Gardner Dozois.

Priest of Bones

Urban fantasy author Peter McLean decided to switch subgenres and to try his hand at grimdark. And to be honest, if not for Mark Lawrence's positive review, chances are I would have passed on Priest of Bones. But when readers started claiming that the novel was Gangs of New York meets The Lies of Locke Lamora, well I knew I just had to give it a shot.

And even though the book suffers from too many shortcomings to be considered a gripping read, Priest of Bones was compelling enough for me to want to find out what happens next.

Here's the blurb:

It's a dangerous thing, to choose the lesser of two evils.

The war is over, and army priest Tomas Piety finally heads home with Lieutenant Bloody Anne at his side. When he arrives in the Stink, Tomas finds that his empire of crime has been stolen from him while at war. With his gang of Pious Men, Tomas will do whatever it takes to reclaim his businesses. But when he finds himself dragged into a web of political intrigue once again, and is forced to work in secret for the sinister Queen's Men, everything gets more complicated.

When loyalties stretch to the breaking point and violence only leads to violence, when people have run out of food, and hope, and places to hide, do not be surprised if they have also run out of mercy. As the Pious Men fight shadowy foreign infiltrators in the backstreet taverns and gambling dens of Tomas's old life it becomes clear; the war is not over.

It is only just beginning.

The worldbuilding is virtually nonexistent in this first installment of the War for the Rose Throne sequence. Pretty much all of the elements that have to do with this aspect are part of the blurb, which is more than a little disappointing. There was a war. Which is supposed to be over, but which isn't. Former gangster turned priest turned gangster again is once more forced to work for the Queen's Men by reclaiming the streets of Ellinburg. Why this is important in the greater scheme of things takes a long time to become evident, and when it does it doesn't ncessarily make for a great endgame. McLean plays his cards extremely close to his chest, which can be quite tricky this early in the game. Especially considering that this is the first volume in a new series from an author not known for writing grimdark. Indeed, if you want readers to show up and purchase the upcoming sequels, as a writer you need to give them reasons to come back. Unfortunately, the plot and its conclusion offer very few answers to the many questions raised by this novel. Time will tell if Peter McLean has done enough for readers to return to give Priest of Lies a chance next summer.

If there's one thing that author did particularly well, it was to come up with a dark and brooding tale that should appeal to the grimdark audience. Morally ambiguous and flawed characters populate this war-torn universe. It can be a dismal and disturbing read at times, with a plot that includes alcohol and substance abuse, graphic violence, torture, juvenile prostitution, pedophilia, and sexual assault. So yes, it can make for a rather bleak read. There is no gallows humor moments à la Joe Abercrombie and Scott Lynch in Priest of Bones. McLean went into full grimdark mode, no doubt about that.

Tomas Piety's perspective is the only POV of the novel, which is not always beneficial. Not that he's not an interesting narrator, but like the author he's not very forthcoming when it comes to sharing information. Unlike the traditional fantasy main protagonist who doesn't know anything and who gradually learns things and connects the dot as the story progresses, the leader of the Pious Men knows a lot more than he lets on. He just doesn't really want to talk about it. Hence, I have a feeling that Priest of Bones would have been a much better novel had it featured additional perspectives, or a third person narrator. Without their own POVs, most of the supporting cast are more or less just nametags and not genuine characters in their own right. Other than Bloody Anne and Billy the Boy, that is.

My main gripe with the plot is that we discover early on that there's more than meets the eye and that the war appears to be far from over. So Tomas Piety as a former crime lord returning to Ellinburg with a group of loyal soldiers under his command who fought beside him in the war and who will now help him reclaim the streets he once ruled over felt like a somewhat generic street gang rivalry plot device that readers are forced to go through so we can move on to bigger and better things. And as such, Priest of Bones often feels like an overlong introduction that lacked enough material to make a full novel and was padded with a number of violent and fairly superfluous scenes. Too bad, because amidst the blood and the viciousness, there are a number of truly poignant moments.

The book suffers from some pacing issues, especially at the beginning and in the middle. Peter McLean can be extremely repetitive in his descriptions, which makes me wonder how theses repetitions survived the editing process. Things pick up in the last third of the novel, with the plot moving forward at a good clip toward an ending that offers little in terms of resolution. And yet, for all of its flaws, Priest of Bones turned out to be intriguing enough for me to want to see what the author has in store for his readers. Here's to hoping that McLean won't play his cards so close to his chest and that he'll elevate his game to another level. As I mentioned, this first installment was little more than an introduction. We'll have to wait and see if the author is ready to open things up and unveil what this series is all about.

Time will tell. . .

The final verdict: 7.5/10

For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now get your hands on the digital edition of R. A. Salvatore's Timeless for only 2.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

At long last, New York Times bestselling author R. A. Salvatore returns with one of fantasy's most beloved and enduring icons, the dark elf Drizzt Do'Urden, in an all-new trilogy full of swordplay, danger, and imaginative thrills.

Centuries ago, in the city of Menzoberranzan, the City of Spiders, the City of Drow, nestled deep in the unmerciful Underdark of Toril, a young weapon master earned a reputation far above his station or that of his poor house.

The greater nobles watched him, and one matron, in particular, decided to take him as her own. She connived with rival great houses to secure her prize, but that prize was caught for her by another, who came to quite enjoy the weapon master.

This was the beginning of the friendship between Zaknafein and Jarlaxle, and the coupling of Matron Malice and the weapon master who would sire Drizzt Do’Urden.

R. A. Salvatore reveals the Underdark anew through the eyes of Zaknafein and Jarlaxle—an introduction to the darkness that offers a fresh view of the opportunities to be found in the shadows and an intriguing prelude to the intriguing escapes that lie ahead in the modern-day Forgotten Realms. Here, a father and his son are reunited and embark on adventures that parallel the trials of centuries long past as the friends of old are joined by Drizzt, Hero of the North, trained by Grandmaster Kane in the ways of the monk.

But the scourge of the dangerous Lolth’s ambitions remain, and demons have been foisted on the unwitting of the surface. The resulting chaos and war will prove to be the greatest challenge for all three.

You can now download R. F. Kuang's The Poppy War, which many consider the fantasy debut of 2018, for only 1.99$ here. There is a price match in Canada.

Here's the blurb:

A "Best of May" Science Fiction and Fantasy pick by Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Audible, The Verge, SyFy Wire, and Kirkus.

A brilliantly imaginative talent makes her exciting debut with this epic historical military fantasy, inspired by the bloody history of China’s twentieth century and filled with treachery and magic, in the tradition of Ken Liu’s Grace of Kings and N.K. Jemisin’s Inheritance Trilogy.

When Rin aced the Keju—the Empire-wide test to find the most talented youth to learn at the Academies—it was a shock to everyone: to the test officials, who couldn’t believe a war orphan from Rooster Province could pass without cheating; to Rin’s guardians, who believed they’d finally be able to marry her off and further their criminal enterprise; and to Rin herself, who realized she was finally free of the servitude and despair that had made up her daily existence. That she got into Sinegard—the most elite military school in Nikan—was even more surprising.

But surprises aren’t always good.

Because being a dark-skinned peasant girl from the south is not an easy thing at Sinegard. Targeted from the outset by rival classmates for her color, poverty, and gender, Rin discovers she possesses a lethal, unearthly power—an aptitude for the nearly-mythical art of shamanism. Exploring the depths of her gift with the help of a seemingly insane teacher and psychoactive substances, Rin learns that gods long thought dead are very much alive—and that mastering control over those powers could mean more than just surviving school.

For while the Nikara Empire is at peace, the Federation of Mugen still lurks across a narrow sea. The militarily advanced Federation occupied Nikan for decades after the First Poppy War, and only barely lost the continent in the Second. And while most of the people are complacent to go about their lives, a few are aware that a Third Poppy War is just a spark away . . .

Rin’s shamanic powers may be the only way to save her people. But as she finds out more about the god that has chosen her, the vengeful Phoenix, she fears that winning the war may cost her humanity . . . and that it may already be too late.

You can also download Joe Hill's NOS4A2 for only 2.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

NOS4A2 is a spine-tingling novel of supernatural suspense from master of horror Joe Hill, the New York Times bestselling author of Heart-Shaped Box and Horns.

Victoria McQueen has a secret gift for finding things: a misplaced bracelet, a missing photograph, answers to unanswerable questions. On her Raleigh Tuff Burner bike, she makes her way to a rickety covered bridge that, within moments, takes her wherever she needs to go, whether it’s across Massachusetts or across the country.

Charles Talent Manx has a way with children. He likes to take them for rides in his 1938 Rolls-Royce Wraith with the NOS4A2 vanity plate. With his old car, he can slip right out of the everyday world, and onto the hidden roads that transport them to an astonishing – and terrifying – playground of amusements he calls “Christmasland.”

Then, one day, Vic goes looking for trouble—and finds Manx. That was a lifetime ago. Now Vic, the only kid to ever escape Manx’s unmitigated evil, is all grown up and desperate to forget. But Charlie Manx never stopped thinking about Victoria McQueen. He’s on the road again and he’s picked up a new passenger: Vic’s own son.

Finally, you can get your hands on the digital edition of Carrie Vaughn's Bannerless for only 2.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

A mysterious murder in a dystopian future leads a novice investigator to question what she’s learned about the foundation of her population-controlled society.

Decades after economic and environmental collapse destroys much of civilization in the United States, the Coast Road region isn’t just surviving but thriving by some accounts, building something new on the ruins of what came before. A culture of population control has developed in which people, organized into households, must earn the children they bear by proving they can take care of them and are awarded symbolic banners to demonstrate this privilege. In the meantime, birth control is mandatory.

Enid of Haven is an Investigator, called on to mediate disputes and examine transgressions against the community. She’s young for the job and hasn't yet handled a serious case. Now, though, a suspicious death requires her attention. The victim was an outcast, but might someone have taken dislike a step further and murdered him?

In a world defined by the disasters that happened a century before, the past is always present. But this investigation may reveal the cracks in Enid’s world and make her question what she really stands for.

Anne Rice contest winner!

This lucky winner will receive my advance reading copy of Anne Rice's Blood Communion! For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

The winner is:

- Kelly Johnson, from Dallas, Texas, USA

Many thanks to all the participants!

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now get your hands on the digital edition of Alex Marshall's A Crown For Cold Silver for only 2.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

"It was all going so nicely, right up until the massacre."

Twenty years ago, feared general Cobalt Zosia led her five villainous captains and mercenary army into battle, wrestling monsters and toppling an empire. When there were no more titles to win and no more worlds to conquer, she retired and gave up her legend to history.

Now the peace she carved for herself has been shattered by the unprovoked slaughter of her village. Seeking bloody vengeance, Zosia heads for battle once more, but to find justice she must confront grudge-bearing enemies, once-loyal allies, and an unknown army that marches under a familiar banner.


You can also download Tasha Suri's Empire of Sand for only 2.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

A nobleman's daughter with magic in her blood. An empire built on the dreams of enslaved gods. Empire of Sand is Tasha Suri's captivating, Mughal India-inspired debut fantasy.

The Amrithi are outcasts; nomads descended of desert spirits, they are coveted and persecuted throughout the Empire for the power in their blood. Mehr is the illegitimate daughter of an imperial governor and an exiled Amrithi mother she can barely remember, but whose face and magic she has inherited.

When Mehr's power comes to the attention of the Emperor's most feared mystics, she must use every ounce of will, subtlety, and power she possesses to resist their cruel agenda.

Should she fail, the gods themselves may awaken seeking vengeance...

Empire of Sand is a lush, dazzling fantasy novel perfect for readers of City of Brass and The Wrath and the Dawn.

This week's New York Times Bestsellers (December 10th)

In hardcover:

George R. R. Martin's Fire and Blood is down one position, ending the week at number 2. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Stephen King's Elevation is down one spot, finishing the week at number 11. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Cover art and blurb for Bradley P. Beaulieu's BENEATH THE TWISTED TREES

The folks at have just unveiled the cover art and blurb for Bradley P. Beaulieu's Beneath the Twisted Trees.

Here's the blurb:

The fourth book in The Song of Shattered Sands series—an epic fantasy with a desert setting, filled with rich worldbuilding and pulse-pounding action.

When a battle to eradicate the Thirteenth Tribe goes awry, the kingdoms bordering the desert metropolis of Sharakhai see the city as weak and ripe for conquest. Çeda, now leader of the Shieldwives, a band of skilled desert swordswomen, hopes to use the growing chaos to gain freedom for Sehid-Alaz, the ancient, undying king of her people. Freeing him is only the beginning, however. Like all the people of her tribe on that fateful night four centuries earlier, Sehid-Alaz was cursed, turned into an asir, a twisted, miserable creature beholden to the kings of Sharakhai—to truly free her king, Çeda must break the chains that bind him.

As Sharakhai’s enemies close in and the assault on the city begins, Çeda works feverishly to unlock the mysteries of the asirim’s curse. But danger lies everywhere. Enemy forces roam the city; the Blade Maidens close in on her; her own father, one of the kings of Sharakhai, wants Çeda to hang. Worst of all, the gods themselves have begun to take notice of Çeda’s pursuits.

When the combined might of Sharakhai and the desert gods corner the survivors of the Thirteenth Tribe in a mountain fastness, the very place that nearly saw their annihilation centuries ago, Çeda knows the time has come. She was once an elite warrior in service to the kings of Sharakhai. She has been an assassin in dark places. A weapon poised to strike from the shadows. A voice from the darkness, striving to free her people.

No longer.

Now she’s going to lead.

The age of the Kings is coming to an end . . .

Follow this link to learn more and to read an interview with the author.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now get your hands on the digital edition of Melanie Rawn's Dragon Prince for only 2.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

First in the bestselling Dragon Prince series, explore a lush epic fantasy world replete with winged beasts, power games of magical treachery, and a realm of princedoms hovering on the brink of war • “Marvelous!”—Anne McCaffrey.

When Rohan became the new prince of the Desert, ruler of the kingdom granted to his family for as long as the Long Sands spewed fire, he took the crown with two goals in mind. First and foremost, he sought to bring permanent peace to his world of divided princedoms. And, in a land where dragon-slaying was a proof of manhood, Rohan was the sole champion of the dragons, fighting desperately to preserve the last remaining lords of the sky and with them a secret which might be the salvation of his people...

Sioned, the Sunrunner witch who was fated by Fire to be Rohan’s bride, had mastered the magic of sunlight and moonglow, catching hints of a yet to be formed pattern which could irrevocably affect the destinies of Sunrunners and ordinary mortals alike. Yet caught in the machinations of the Lady of Goddess Keep, and of Prince Rohan and his sworn enemy, the treacherously cunning High Prince, could Sioned alter this crucial pattern to protect her lord from the menace of a war that threatened to set the land ablaze?

Stronghold, the first volume in the second trilogy, is also 2.99$ here.