Extract from Steven Erikson's THE GOD IS NOT WILLING

Steven Erikson just posted the prologue of the forthcoming The God is Not Willing on his website! =)

Follow this link to read it. . .

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

Today only, all the installments of C. S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia are 1.99$ each here. There is a price match in Canada.

Here's the blurb for the first volume:

Don’t miss one of America’s top 100 most-loved novels, selected by PBS’s The Great American Read.

Narnia . . . a land frozen in eternal winter . . . a country waiting to be set free.

Witness the creation of a magical land in The Magician's Nephew, the first title in C. S. Lewis's classic fantasy series, which has captivated readers of all ages for over sixty years.

On a daring quest to save a life, two friends are hurled into another world, where an evil sorceress seeks to enslave them. But then the lion Aslan's song weaves itself into the fabric of a new land, a land that will be known as Narnia. And in Narnia, all things are possible.

This ebook contains the complete text and art. Illustrations in this ebook appear in vibrant full color on a full-color ebook device and in rich black-and-white on all other devices.

This is a stand-alone novel, but if you want to journey back to Narnia, read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, the second book in The Chronicles of Narnia.

One Word Kill

I've been quite curious ever since Mark Lawrence made the announcement for his upcoming science fiction novel, One Word Kill. With nine fantasy yarns under his belt and a well-deserved reputation as one of the best SFF authors writing today, I wondered if Lawrence could make the jump to science fiction and wow readers in a different subgenre. After all, very few writers have been truly successful in this endeavor over the years, and I was wondering why none of the big SFF imprints elected to sign Lawrence to a book deal for this new series.

Well, ye of little faith and all that crap, I should have known better. True, it's a very short work and time will tell if Lawrence can maintain this level of quality and originality throughout the series, but suffice to say that One Word Kill delivers on basically all fronts. So it's mission accomplished as far as this novel is concerned.

Here's the blurb:

In January 1986, fifteen-year-old boy-genius Nick Hayes discovers he’s dying. And it isn’t even the strangest thing to happen to him that week.

Nick and his Dungeons and Dragons-playing friends are used to living in their imaginations. But when a new girl, Mia, joins the group and reality becomes weirder than the fantasy world they visit in their weekly games, none of them are prepared for what comes next. A strange—yet curiously familiar—man is following Nick, with abilities that just shouldn’t exist. And this man bears a cryptic message: Mia’s in grave danger, though she doesn’t know it yet. She needs Nick’s help—now.

He finds himself in a race against time to unravel an impossible mystery and save the girl. And all that stands in his way is a probably terminal disease, a knife-wielding maniac and the laws of physics.

Challenge accepted.

If you've been following the Hotlist for a while, you probably know that cancer has hit my family pretty hard a number of times in the last decade or so. My mom is a breast cancer survivor, but two other people who were dear to me sadly weren't so fortunate and passed away. I also have a young cousin battling cancer as we speak and the jury's still out as to whether or not he will make it. Hence, every scene featuring Nick coping with the Big C as he put it had a big effect on me. Particularly the scenes taking place at the hospital during chemo treatments and all that they encompass, physically, psychologically, and emotionally. Those were extremely powerful and can hit you pretty hard. Mark Lawrence captured the essence of the disease and its effects on the patient and everyone around him close to perfection.

As is usually the author's wont, worldbuilding is only there to provide the tale's backdrop and doesn't intrude on the storytelling. Quantum physics, the multiverse theory, and time traveling are at the heart of One Word Kill, but this is no hard scifi work. Indeed, it's probably Lawrence's most accessible title thus far. The author does his best to dumb down the science involved and I'd say he succeeded in doing so.

Both the blurb and reviews claim that One Word Kill is akin to Stranger Things and I reckon that the TV series likely was an inspiration. And yet, I feel that the characterization has more to do with the members of the losers' club in Stephen King's It. As a former player, it was easy to relate to Nick's Dungeons and Dragons gang. Unfortunately, only Nick, the protagonist whose first person POV drives the story, and Mia, the mysterious goth girl who joins their little group unexpectedly, are well-drawn. Given that this novel is barely 200 pages long, I wish that Lawrence had taken a bit more time to further flesh out Simon, Elton, and John a little more. I understand that it's Nick and Mia's tale for the most part, but in the end everyone has a part to play for things to work out. Which is why I feel that they all deserved to be in the spotlight a little more. Having said that, your heart goes out to that bunch of geeks time and time again. And not just because of the drama or the violent episodes. One of the most memorable scenes of One Word Kill has to do with dancing lessons.

This is a decidedly short science fiction work, one you wish turned out to be quite longer. As such, the pace is never an issue. This compelling story makes for a quick read and I went through it in only three sittings. It's a good thing we'll get the two sequels in 2019 and won't have to wait long between each installment.

My only complaint would have to be that the endgame was inexplicably rushed. Given the size of One Word Kill, I have no idea why. Especially since a dramatic event occurs right at the end, one that is more or less glanced over, and which robs the ending of the emotional impact Lawrence wished to convey. Other than that and the fact that it's too short and I wanted more, I enjoyed everything about this book.

I also wish a responsible adult had given me the most important piece of advice you can give a teenager: Kiss the girl. So simple, yet so profound.

Looking forward to Limited Wish, the second volume in the Impossible Times series! Mark Lawrence proves yet again that he is not a one-trick pony and comes up with another captivating read in a new subgenre. This bodes well for the rest of this trilogy and whatever the author works on next. One Word Kill will be released in a few weeks and I commend this one to your attention. Especially since the digital edition will be quite affordable. And if you have yet to give Mark Lawrence a shot, this is the perfect opportunity to do so!

The final verdict: 7.75/10

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

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now download Michael J. Sullivan's Theft of Swords for only 2.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

Royce Melborn, a skilled thief, and his mercenary partner, Hadrian Blackwater, make a profitable living carrying out dangerous assignments for conspiring nobles-until they are hired to pilfer a famed sword. What appears to be just a simple job finds them framed for the murder of the king and trapped in a conspiracy that uncovers a plot far greater than the mere overthrow of a tiny kingdom.

Can a self-serving thief and an idealistic swordsman survive long enough to unravel the first part of an ancient mystery that has toppled kings and destroyed empires?

And so begins the first tale of treachery and adventure, sword fighting and magic, myth and legend

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now download Margaret Weis' The Lost King for only 1.99$ here. These space opera books were a big hit when they were published inthe 90s and I've always had a soft spot for them. They've been described as Battlestar Galactica meets Game of Thrones, and I guess that's a good description.

Here's the blurb:

A galactic revolution has toppled the Starfire dynasty, and swept into power the harsh Democratic Republic. To support the murdered king is now punishable by death. But on distant worlds, the few surviving Guardians carry a dangerous secret: Somewhere in the galaxy, they shield the rightful heir to the throne.

Stalking the hidden king is the warlord, a ruthless Republican general who wields the bloodsword. Only a few brave rebels dare to oppose him: young Dion who fights to find his destiny: the mercenary Tusk, the outlaw commander Dixter, and the beautiful Lady Maigrey, the only person alive who can match the the Warlord's cunning. Theirs is the ultimate battle against a star-spanning corruption – the ultimate sacrifice for the glory of the lost king's throne.

Ghost Story

I ran out of superlatives regarding Jim Butcher's The Dresden Files a long time ago. This series has definitely become one of my favorite SFF reads and Changes was the very best one yet!

As mentioned in past reviews, if Dead Beat turned out to be the point where the Dresden Files shifted into high gear, for its part Proven Guilty did build on the storylines introduced in basically every other volume and pushed the envelope even further. Far from losing steam like so many other speculative fiction series, the Dresden Files continued to grow in size, scope, and inventiveness. Having matured as an author with each new book, Jim Butcher has definitely hit his stride and he definitely became more confident, more ambitious. And with so many plot threads coming together to form an impressive tapestry, the potential for what came next was indeed enormous. But with the bar being raised with each new volume, the possibility that Butcher would somehow lose control of his tale, or allow himself to lose focus and simply milk his popularity for all it's worth, remained risks that could become all too real if he did not avoid certain pitfalls that had plagued some of his peers also writing bestselling urban fantasy sequences.

White Night had lofty expectations to live up to. But even if it was a fun and entertaining read in its own right, it was not as good as its last few predecessors. The novel was not as intricately plotted and satisfying as Dead Beat and Proven Guilty turned out to be, yet it nonetheless set the stage for another chapter in the Dresden Files. One that would undoubtedly raise the series to another, deeper and more complex, level. And Small Favor was definitely a return to form for Jim Butcher. The book elevated the series to an even higher level, with several hints of an even bigger and more ambitious story arc that is gradually becoming more and more discernible. Given its predecessor's quality, Turn Coat had big shoes to fill. But Butcher upped his game yet again and came up with his best effort thus far.

Changes proved to be the culmination of all these interwoven plotlines. It raised the bar higher than ever before and nothing will ever be the same for poor Harry Dresden from here on out. Doubtless, this would turn out to be a major turning point for the series and its characters. In many ways, Ghost Story felt like a transition novel meant to bridge what happened before with whatever will come next. And though it couldn't possibly be as great as Changes was, it set the stage for whatever Jim Butcher has in store for us in the future.

And if the ending of Ghost Story is any indication, it appears that the endgame of the Dresden Files will provide plenty of drama and fireworks.

Here's the blurb:

Chicago wizard Harry Dresden gets a taste of the dead life in this novel in the #1 New York Times bestselling series.

In his life, Harry’s been shot, stabbed, sliced, beaten, burned, crushed, and tortured. And after someone puts a bullet through his chest and leaves him to die in the waters of Lake Michigan, things really start going downhill.

Trapped between life and death, he learns that his friends are in serious trouble. Only by finding his murderer can he save his friends and move on—a feat which would be a lot easier if he had a body and access to his powers. Worse still are the malevolent shadows that roam Chicago, controlled by a dark entity that wants Harry to suffer even in death.

Now, the late Harry Dresden will have to pull off the ultimate trick without using any magic—or face an eternity as just another lost soul…

It is safe to say that Harry Dresden's life was complicated. If ever there was someone who deserved to rest in peace, it was Harry. Unfortunately, he will soon discover that the afterlife isn't all it's cracked up to be. By destroying the Red Court, he left an enormous vacuum that countless supernatural bad guys are now trying to fill. Hard to believe given the wizard's misadventures, but his sole presence apparently kept many a paranormal threat out of Chicago. With him gone, factions are now fighting to take control of the city. Even worse, before he can be allowed to rest in peace, he must find the identity of his murderer, or else the people he loves will suffer. No, for Harry Dresden at least, the afterlife is no walk in the park.

As always, the novel features the first person narrative of Harry Dresden. His voice as the only POV, even caught between life and death, continues to be witty and irreverent, filled with dark humor that makes you chuckle every couple of pages or so. As has been the case with the majority of the last few Dresden Files volumes, it's the supporting cast that helps make this one another memorable read. Especially the unexpected appearances from familiar faces we haven't seen in a while. Harry's death had a profound impact on those who were close to him, especially Murphy, Thomas, and Molly Carpenter. There are some truly touching moments involving them. Like he did in Changes, Jim Butcher played the emotional impact card rather well on a number of occasions, which really made you feel for Harry and the rest of the gang.

Changes was hands down the most convoluted installment so far. It began as a relatively straightforward mission but quickly turned into another extremely complicated and intricately plotted ensemble of storylines that linked that novel with plotlines from basically every other volume that came before. It did take a while for everything to come together, yet no other book in the series was this complex and unveiled that many secrets which kept readers begging for more. Revelations about the White Council, the Red Court, the Winter Court, other deities and immortals, the war, and Harry's past make for some compulsive reading. As a transition novel, Ghost Story is no less convoluted, but the plot revolves more about finding the identity of Harry's killer. As a matter of course, Harry finds out a lot more than what he's bargained for. Hints have always been there, yet it now evident that he is a pawn in a game played by higher powers.

Changes delivered on all fronts and it was a tough act to follow. The unanticipated ending signaled that the series would take an abrupt turn from here on out. I know that some fans were not as enthused by Ghost Story, but I'm not sure that anything could live up to the potential showcased in Changes. Ghost Story is probably the most divisive book in the series thus far. And yet, it proved to be a good read in its own right and it sets the stage for bigger and likely not better things for Harry Dresden.

And since Cold Days is considered to be one of Butcher's fans' favorites, it appears that a transition novel like Ghost Story was a necessary evil to help elevate the Dresden Files to yet another level.

The final verdict: 8/10

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

This week's New York Times Bestsellers (March 18th)

In hardcover:

George R. R. Martin's Fire and Blood is down five positions, ending the week at number 15. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now download Matthew Woodring Stover's Heroes Die for only 1.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:


But Caine's no hero. He's an assassin.

Renowned throughout the land of Ankhana as the Blade of Tyshalle, Caine has killed his share of monarchs and commoners, villains and heroes. He is relentless, unstoppable, simply the best there is at what he does. He is free.

At home on Earth, Caine is Hari Michaelson, a superstar whose adventures command an audience of billions. Yet he is shackled by a rigid caste society, bound to ignore the grim fact that men die on a far-off world for the entertainment of his own planet--bound to keep his rage in check.

But now Michaelson has crossed the line. His estranged wife, Pallas Rill, has mysteriously disappeared in the slums of Ankhana. To save her, he must confront the greatest challenge of his life: a lethal game of cat and mouse with the most treacherous rulers of two worlds.

Matthew Woodring Stover has created a spectacular, page-turning epic where a Jackal-type assassin maneuvers through a vivid Tolkienesque world. With a plot as driven as its main character and drawn against a setting as vivid as the very best in fantasy, Heroes Die is a brilliant feat of the imagination.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now download Alastair Reynolds' scifi classic, Revelation Space, for only 2.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

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

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

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

You can also get your hands on the digital edition of Brent Weeks' The Way of Shadows for only 2.99$ here. There is a price match in Canada.

Here's the blurb:

The first novel in the Night Angel trilogy, the breakneck epic fantasy from New York Times bestselling author Brent Weeks.

For Durzo Blint, assassination is an art--and he is the city's most accomplished artist.

For Azoth, survival is precarious. Something you never take for granted. As a guild rat, he's grown up in the slums, and learned to judge people quickly--and to take risks. Risks like apprenticing himself to Durzo Blint.

But to be accepted, Azoth must turn his back on his old life and embrace a new identity and name. As Kylar Stern, he must learn to navigate the assassins' world of dangerous politics and strange magics--and cultivate a flair for death.

Devour this blockbuster tale of assassination and magic by Brent Weeks, which has delighted readers all over the world--with over one million copies in print!

Musical Interlude

A classic from Beck!

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

For a limited time only, you can download Helene Wecker's excellent The Golem and the Jinni for only 2.99$ here!

Here's the blurb:

Helene Wecker's dazzling debut novel tells the story of two supernatural creatures who appear mysteriously in 1899 New York. Chava is a golem, a creature made of clay, brought to life by a strange man who dabbles in dark Kabbalistic magic. When her master dies at sea on the voyage from Poland, she is unmoored and adrift as the ship arrives in New York Harbor. Ahmad is a jinni, a being of fire, born in the ancient Syrian Desert. Trapped in an old copper flask by a Bedouin wizard centuries ago, he is released accidentally by a tinsmith in a Lower Manhattan shop.

Struggling to make their way in this strange new place, the Golem and the Jinni try to fit in with their neighbors while masking their true natures. Surrounding them is a community of immigrants: the coffeehouse owner Maryam Faddoul, a pillar of wisdom and support for her Syrian neighbors; the solitary ice cream maker Saleh, a damaged man cursed by tragedy; the kind and caring Rabbi Meyer and his beleaguered nephew, Michael, whose Sheltering House receives newly arrived Jewish men; the adventurous young socialite Sophia Winston; and the enigmatic Joseph Schall, a dangerous man driven by ferocious ambition and esoteric wisdom.

Meeting by chance, the two creatures become unlikely friends whose tenuous attachment challenges their opposing natures, until the night a terrifying incident drives them back into their separate worlds. But a powerful menace will soon bring the Golem and the Jinni together again, threatening their existence and forcing them to make a fateful choice.

Marvelous and compulsively readable, The Golem and the Jinni weaves strands of folk mythology, historical fiction, and magical fable into a wondrously inventive and unforgettable tale.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now get your hands on the digital edition of Robert R. McCammon's Boy's Life, winner of the World Fantasy and the Bram Stoker Awards, for only 1.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

An Alabama boy’s innocence is shaken by murder and madness in the 1960s South in this novel by the New York Times–bestselling author of Swan Song.

It’s 1964 in idyllic Zephyr, Alabama. People either work for the paper mill up the Tecumseh River, or for the local dairy. It’s a simple life, but it stirs the impressionable imagination of twelve-year-old aspiring writer Cory Mackenson. He’s certain he’s sensed spirits whispering in the churchyard. He’s heard of the weird bootleggers who lurk in the dark outside of town. He’s seen a flood leave Main Street crawling with snakes. Cory thrills to all of it as only a young boy can.

Then one morning, while accompanying his father on his milk route, he sees a car careen off the road and slowly sink into fathomless Saxon’s Lake. His father dives into the icy water to rescue the driver, and finds a beaten corpse, naked and handcuffed to the steering wheel—a copper wire tightened around the stranger’s neck. In time, the townsfolk seem to forget all about the unsolved murder. But Cory and his father can’t.

Their search for the truth is a journey into a world where innocence and evil collide. What lies before them is the stuff of fear and awe, magic and madness, fantasy and reality. As Cory wades into the deep end of Zephyr and all its mysteries, he’ll discover that while the pleasures of childish things fade away, growing up can be a strange and beautiful ride.

You can also download Stephen R. Donaldson's The Wounded Land for only 0.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

Four thousand years have passed since Covenant first freed the Land from the devastating grip of Lord Foul and his minions. The monstrous force of Evil has regained its power, once again warping the very fabric and balance of the Land. Armed with his stunning white gold, wild magic, Covenant must battle not only terrifying external forces but his own capacity for despair and devastation. His quest to save the Land from ultimate ruin is exciting and heroic as ever.

Quote of the Day

Death should be a learning experience, after all, or what's the point?

- JIM BUTCHER, Ghost Story (Canada, USA, Europe)

Even dead, it a pleasure to follow Harry Dresden's misadventures!

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now download Jack Vance's Tales of the Dying Earth omnibus for only 2.99$ here. There is a price match in Canada.

Here's the blurb:

Jack Vance is one of the most remarkable talents to ever grace the world of science fiction. His unique, stylish voice has been beloved by generations of readers. One of his enduring classics is his 1964 novel, The Dying Earth, and its sequels--a fascinating, baroque tale set on a far-future Earth, under a giant red sun that is soon to go out forever.

This omnibus volume comprised all four books in the series, The Dying Earth, The Eyes of the Overworld, Cugel's Saga and Rialto the Magnificent. It is a must-read for every Science Fiction fan.

At the Publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied.

This week's New York Times Bestsellers (March 11th)

In hardcover:

George R. R. Martin's Fire and Blood maintains its position at number 10. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Samantha Shannon's The Priory of the Orange Tree debuts at number 11.

In paperback

Naomi Alderman's The Power is up two spots, finishing the week at number 12 (trade paperback).

Holy Sister

As I mentioned in my last review, with well over a million copies sold worldwide and two quality trilogies under his belt, Mark Lawrence already deserved to be ranked among the best fantasy authors writing today. With each new book, he continued to make a name for himself, always pushing the envelope a bit further with plotlines that grew in depth and scope. It's no secret that "That thorn guy," as George R. R. Martin referred to him a few years back, has come a long way since Prince of Thorns was first published.

Red Sister turned out to be another good read which set the stage for yet another enjoyable and captivating series. Even better, Grey Sister was one of my favorite Lawrence titles thus far, second only to The Liar's Key in terms of quality and originality.

I was looking forward to discovering if the author could close the show with style and aplomb in this final installment. And though for the most part Holy Sister was pretty much everything readers wanted it to be, I have a feeling that the anticlimactic ending may put off certain people.

Here's the blurb:

They came against her as a child. Now they face the woman.

The ice is advancing, the Corridor narrowing, and the empire is under siege from the Scithrowl in the east and the Durns in the west. Everywhere, the emperor’s armies are in retreat.

Nona faces the final challenges that must be overcome if she is to become a full sister in the order of her choice. But it seems unlikely that Nona and her friends will have time to earn a nun’s habit before war is on their doorstep.

Even a warrior like Nona cannot hope to turn the tide of war.

The shiphearts offer strength that she might use to protect those she loves, but it’s a power that corrupts. A final battle is coming in which she will be torn between friends, unable to save them all. A battle in which her own demons will try to unmake her.

A battle in which hearts will be broken, lovers lost, thrones burned.

The structure of the novel is a bit unusual. Indeed, we follow two separate timelines, one that occurs in the present and another one that recounts the aftermath of Grey Sister three years before. Holy Sister is split more or less evenly between the two timelines. Understandably, the one taking place in the past tends to move faster than the other, for it needs to bring the reader up to speed with the events whose repercussions engendered what is transpiring in real time. And yet, important details which probably deserved more focus were glanced over while others simply don't appear in the narrative because they would have spoiled important plot points. Ultimately, this prevents the timelines from joining one another in seamless fashion when all the threads come together in the last portion of the book. These three years will have a dramatic effect on Nona, forcing her to change somewhat profoundly from the girl we used to know. Trouble is, those changes are not apparent until the very end, which feels decidedly discordant. There are a few hints that Nona has evolved in the the timeline occurring in the present, of course. But not enough, in my humble opinion, for the ending to have the sort of impact that Lawrence likely aimed for.

As mentioned in my reviews of Red Sister and Grey Sister, all of the author's novels to date have been character-driven works. Still, worldbuilding played a relatively important role in both The Broken Empire and The Red Queen's War series, and it felt as though it would be the case in The Ancestor as well. This new trilogy features 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 ever-encroaching ice that covers the globe throughout both hemispheres. I found this fascinating and it was obvious that control of the focus moon would become an integral part in the resolution of this series. Little is known and/or remembered of what has been trapped under tons of ice over the centuries, and I thought it would be interesting to see if the hints of hidden and nefarious powers from the deep will continue to come into play as the tale progresses. As was the case in the previous two trilogies, it appeared that age-old technology would once again come into play before the end. Well, I can now confirm that it is indeed the case, about the focus moon and everything else. When you reach the end of Holy Sister, it's evident that The Ancestor series resounds with as much depth as its predecessors. Which bodes well for the upcoming sequence of books set in the same universe!

As a matter of course, Nona's perspective takes center stage and she is once more the only POV of the story. With war devastating the land and enemy troops appearing on the doorsteps of the Convent of Sweet Mercy, it seems that Nona and her friends may not even get the opportunity to complete their training and choose their orders before facing the inevitable. And yet, Abbess Glass has been playing the long game for decades and has countless pieces strategically positioned on the board. Will it be enough to save the Emperor's dwindling forces from both the Scithrowl and the Durns? With everything on the line, a lot of familiar faces from the first two installments make appearances throughout Holy Sister. I don't want to spoil anything, but this final volume may feature the best supporting cast yet. Needless to say, Lawrence has quite a few surprises up his sleeve.

In terms of rhythm, other than the timeline focusing on the past that kept moving a bit too rapidly for its own good, this book did not suffer from pacing issues. There is never a dull moment and the action-packed endgame is thrilling. Which is why some readers might find the anticlimactic ending a little offputting. Following all those battle scenes and the blood and the gore and the sacrifices and destructive magics unleashed, if I'm honest the resolution of the war storyline and all that it encompasses left a little to be desired. Again, some hints foreshadowed such an ending, true, but I still maintain that the timeline transpiring in the past should have elaborated more on the events that altered Nona so deeply.

All in all, though it wasn't quite as good as Grey Sister, this final volume is darker and more ambitious than its predecessors and is a worthy conclusion to a superior fantasy series. Moreover, Holy Sister leaves the door open for so many possibilities that I'm looking forward to the forthcoming series to see what Mark Lawrence now has in store for us.

The final verdict: 8/10

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

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now get your hands on the digital edition of Neal Stephenson's Seveneves for only 1.99$ here. There is a price match in Canada.

Here's the blurb:

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Anathem, Reamde, and Cryptonomicon comes an exciting and thought-provoking science fiction epic—a grand story of annihilation and survival spanning five thousand years.

What would happen if the world were ending?

A catastrophic event renders the earth a ticking time bomb. In a feverish race against the inevitable, nations around the globe band together to devise an ambitious plan to ensure the survival of humanity far beyond our atmosphere, in outer space.

But the complexities and unpredictability of human nature coupled with unforeseen challenges and dangers threaten the intrepid pioneers, until only a handful of survivors remain . . .

Five thousand years later, their progeny—seven distinct races now three billion strong—embark on yet another audacious journey into the unknown . . . to an alien world utterly transformed by cataclysm and time: Earth.

A writer of dazzling genius and imaginative vision, Neal Stephenson combines science, philosophy, technology, psychology, and literature in a magnificent work of speculative fiction that offers a portrait of a future that is both extraordinary and eerily recognizable. As he did in Anathem, Cryptonomicon, the Baroque Cycle, and Reamde, Stephenson explores some of our biggest ideas and perplexing challenges in a breathtaking saga that is daring, engrossing, and altogether brilliant.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now download Katherine Arden's The Bear and the Nightingale for only 1.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

At the edge of the Russian wilderness, winter lasts most of the year and the snowdrifts grow taller than houses. But Vasilisa doesn’t mind—she spends the winter nights huddled around the embers of a fire with her beloved siblings, listening to her nurse’s fairy tales. Above all, she loves the chilling story of Frost, the blue-eyed winter demon, who appears in the frigid night to claim unwary souls. Wise Russians fear him, her nurse says, and honor the spirits of house and yard and forest that protect their homes from evil.

After Vasilisa’s mother dies, her father goes to Moscow and brings home a new wife. Fiercely devout, city-bred, Vasilisa’s new stepmother forbids her family from honoring the household spirits. The family acquiesces, but Vasilisa is frightened, sensing that more hinges upon their rituals than anyone knows.

And indeed, crops begin to fail, evil creatures of the forest creep nearer, and misfortune stalks the village. All the while, Vasilisa’s stepmother grows ever harsher in her determination to groom her rebellious stepdaughter for either marriage or confinement in a convent.

As danger circles, Vasilisa must defy even the people she loves and call on dangerous gifts she has long concealed—this, in order to protect her family from a threat that seems to have stepped from her nurse’s most frightening tales.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now download Guy Gavriel Kay's Children of Earth and Sky for only 1.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

The bestselling author of the groundbreaking novels Under Heaven and River of Stars, Guy Gavriel Kay is back with a new novel, Children of Earth and Sky, set in a world inspired by the conflicts and dramas of Renaissance Europe. Against this tumultuous backdrop the lives of men and women unfold on the borderlands—where empires and faiths collide.

From the small coastal town of Senjan, notorious for its pirates, a young woman sets out to find vengeance for her lost family. That same spring, from the wealthy city-state of Seressa, famous for its canals and lagoon, come two very different people: a young artist traveling to the dangerous east to paint the grand khalif at his request—and possibly to do more—and a fiercely intelligent, angry woman, posing as a doctor’s wife, but sent by Seressa as a spy.

The trading ship that carries them is commanded by the accomplished younger son of a merchant family, ambivalent about the life he’s been born to live. And farther east a boy trains to become a soldier in the elite infantry of the khalif—to win glory in the war everyone knows is coming.

As these lives entwine, their fates—and those of many others—will hang in the balance, when the khalif sends out his massive army to take the great fortress that is the gateway to the western world…

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

Today only, you can download Jacqueline Carey's Starless for only 2.99$ here. There is a price match in Canada.

Here's the blurb:

Jacqueline Carey is back with an amazing adventure not seen since her New York Times bestselling Kushiel’s Legacy series. Lush and sensual, Starless introduces us to an epic world where exiled gods live among us, and a hero whose journey will resonate long after the last page is turned.

Let your mind be like the eye of the hawk…Destined from birth to serve as protector of the princess Zariya, Khai is trained in the arts of killing and stealth by a warrior sect in the deep desert; yet there is one profound truth that has been withheld from him.

In the court of the Sun-Blessed, Khai must learn to navigate deadly intrigue and his own conflicted identity…but in the far reaches of the western seas, the dark god Miasmus is rising, intent on nothing less than wholesale destruction.

If Khai is to keep his soul’s twin Zariya alive, their only hope lies with an unlikely crew of prophecy-seekers on a journey that will take them farther beneath the starless skies than anyone can imagine.

This week's New York Times Bestsellers (March 4th)

In hardcover:

George R. R. Martin's Fire and Blood is down two positions, ending the week at number 10. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

In paperback

Naomi Alderman's The Power returns at number 14 (trade paperback).

New inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now get your hands on the digital edition of Guy Gavriel Kay's The Summer Tree for only 2.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

The Summer Tree is the first novel of Guy Gavriel Kay’s critically acclaimed fantasy trilogy, The Fionavar Tapestry. Five university students embark on a journey of self-discovery when they enter a realm of wizards and warriors, gods and mythical creatures--and good and evil…

It all began with a lecture that introduced five university students to a man who would change their lives, a wizard who would take them from Earth to the heart of the first of all worlds--Fionavar. And take them Loren Silvercloak did, for his need--the need of Fionavar and all the worlds--was great indeed.

And in a marvelous land of men and dwarves, of wizards and gods, five young people discovered who they were truly meant to be. For they are a long-awaited part of the pattern known as the Fionavar Tapestry, and only if they accepted their destiny would the armies of the Light stand any chance of surviving the wrath the Unraveller and his minions of darkness intend to unleash upon the world…

You can also download Alastair Reynolds' Elysium Fire for only 2.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

Elysium Fire is a smoldering tale of murderers, secret cultists, tampered memories, and unthinkable power, of bottomless corruption and overpowering idealism from the king of modern space opera.

Ten thousand city-state habitats orbit the planet Yellowstone, forming a near-perfect democratic human paradise.

But even utopia needs a police force. For the citizens of the Glitter Band that organization is Panoply, and the prefects are its operatives.

Prefect Tom Dreyfus has a new emergency on his hands. Across the habitats and their hundred million citizens, people are dying suddenly and randomly, victims of a bizarre and unprecedented malfunction of their neural implants. And these "melters" leave no clues behind as to the cause of their deaths...

As panic rises in the populace, a charismatic figure is sowing insurrection, convincing a small but growing number of habitats to break away from the Glitter Band and form their own independent colonies.

Finally, you can also get your hands on the digital edition of Julian May's Conqueror's Moon for only 2.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

From the author of The Many-Colored Land comes the saga of a land beyond the horizon, where the quest for power is eternal, where magic and mystery are feared above all, and one man sought to reign.

On a remote island, far in the Boreal Sea, four kingdoms have struggled against one another since time out of mind. Most mysterious is the marshland kingdom of Moss—feared by the others and ruled by the Sorcerers. Soon, all will be put in peril’s way.

In recent years, three of the kingdoms have suffered fearsome volcanic eruptions that choke crops, famine among people, and an ailing leader on his deathbed. Only Moss, poverty-stricken and desolate at the best of times, seems untroubled.

But Prince Conrig of Cathra, who waits patiently as his father, the king, wastes slowly away, is in league with his lover, the seductive sorceress Princess Ullanoth of Moss. And if their secret alliance succeeds in its goal, the warring kingdoms of High Blenholme will be united once and for all—under the iron hand of one supreme rule.

Game of Thrones, Season 8, Official Trailer

Given how crappy season 7 turned out to be, I'm not sure how I feel about this one. . . :/

Quote of the Day

Words spoken should not be a death sentence, but they can be, they have been.

- GUY GAVRIEL KAY, A Brightness Long Ago, (Canada, USA, Europe)

Needless to say, you can safely pre-order this one. . . =)


Very rarely, there comes a novel so vast in scope, so rich in historical details, so vibrant, so engrossing, that you basically lose track of everything else around you. James Clavell's international bestselling masterpiece Shogun was one such novel. Indeed, it made for the ultimate reading experience. Awesome doesn't even begin to describe the book.

Unfortunately, Tai-Pan, the second installment in the Asian Saga, did not live up to the lofty expectations generated by its predecessor. Though it was a good and entertaining read, it failed to capture my imagination the way Shogun did. Which is why, I reckon, it took me so long to finally read the third volume.

Gai-Jin was released in 1993. And though chronologically it is the third book in the sequence, it was the last to be published before Clavell's death. The tale unfolds about two decades following the events of Tai-Pan and it chronicles the story of Malcolm Struan, the eldest son of Culum and Tess Struan.

Here's the blurb:

The heir to the magnificent English trading company, the Noble House…the direct descendant of the first Toranaga Shogun battling to usher his country into the modern age…a beautiful young French woman forever torn between ambition and desire…Their lives intertwine in an exotic land newly open to foreigners, gai-jin, torn apart by greed, idealism, and terrorism. Their passions mingle with monarchs and diplomats, assassins, courtesans and spies. Their fates collide in James Clavell’s latest masterpiece set in nineteenth-century Japan—an unforgettable epic seething with betrayal and secrets, brutality and heroism, love and forbidden passions.

Malcolm Struan is a protagonist based on the real-life Jardine tai-pan William Keswick. The Noble House is based on Jardine Matheson and Co., a major Scottish trading company which was known as the Jardine Matheson Holdings at the time of the founding of Hong Kong. As was the case with both Shogun and Tai-Pan, the narrative is filled with a wealth of historical details. Once more, the author managed to imbue Gai-Jin with an encyclopedic knowledge pertaining to the culture and history of 19th century Japan. The novel starts with a fictional rendition of the Namamugi Incident. The main theme explored throughout the book has to do with the hostility Westerners faced everywhere in Japan, hence the title. Gai-Jin means "foreigner" in Japanese. The multilayered political intrigue is based on the Namamugi Incident and its aftermath, which will lead to the subsequent Anglo-Satsuma War. Political and social upheavals in England and elsewhere in the Empire also have repercussions throughout the tale. In terms of worldbuilding, even though it is almost as dense and sprawling a novel as Shogun and Tai-Pan, which turned out to be a vast, dramatic, and marvelously crafted works of fiction, Gai-Jin doesn't work as well as its predecessors. The plot and the characterization are subpar, and no amount of historical details can save this novel.

In the past, James Clavell had a veritable knack for creating memorable characters. As is usually the author's wont, a panoply of points of view from several characters, great and small, add layers upon layers to a very complex story. Trouble is, this time around the characterization is particularly weak and comprised of a lot of lame protagonists. The recipe that worked so well in other books fails rather spectacularly in Gai-Jin. The main characters suck for the most part, which makes this novel a slog to get through. Angélique Richaud, especially, who begins as a clueless dumbass bimbo, and becomes a devious force to be reckoned with in the space of a chapter or two. It often felt as though Clavell wasn't even trying to come up with authentic and genuine men and women. Rampant sexism aside, which was a sign of the times, the storylines are decidedly flat and lackluster.

Weighing in at 1236 pages, Gai-Jin is another huge book. One would have thought that previous Clavell titles would have suffered from occasional pacing issues. And yet, there was enough suspense and unexpected surprises to keep you hooked from start to finish. No doubt about it, Gai-Jin is another door-stopper work. Sadly, it is often tediously boring and uninspired. Truth be told, at least a third of the pagecount could likely have been excised without losing anything important as far as the plot is concerned. Things do get better in the last 200 or 300 pages, but it's a case of too little, too late. By then the harm is done and there was no way to save this book.

As was the case with Tai-Pan and King Rat, the ending is anticlimactic. The lack of resolution leaves you hanging high and dry, which makes for a big disappointment.

Gai-Jin is by far the weakest of the four Asian Saga installments that I've read thus far. An unworthy sequel, to say the least.

The final verdict: 6/10

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

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now download Jim Butcher's Death Masks for only 1.99$ here. There is a price match in Canada.

Here's the blurb:

Harry Dresden, Chicago’s only practicing professional wizard, should be happy that business is pretty good for a change. But now he’s getting more than he bargained for.

A duel with the Red Court of Vampires’ champion, who must kill Harry to end the war between vampires and wizards…

Professional hit men using Harry for target practice…

The missing Shroud of Turin…

A handless and headless corpse the Chicago police need identified…

Not to mention the return of Harry’s ex-girlfriend Susan, who’s still struggling with her semivampiric nature. And who seems to have a new man in her life.

Some days, it just doesn’t pay to get out of bed. No matter how much you’re charging.

This week's New York Times Bestsellers (February 25th)

In hardcover:

George R. R. Martin's Fire and Blood is up one position, ending the week at number 8. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Jasper Fforde's Early Riser debuts at number 10.