This week's New York Times Bestsellers (May 27th)

In hardcover:

George R. R. Martin's Fire and Blood is up five positions, ending the week at number 9. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Ted Chiang's Exhalation maintains its position at number 15.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now get your hands on the digital edition of Elizabeth Moon's Oath of Fealty for only 2.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

For the first time in nearly twenty years, Elizabeth Moon returns to the thrilling realm of her superb Deed of Paksenarrion trilogy.

Thanks to Paks’s courage, the long-vanished heir to the half-elven kingdom of Lyonya has been revealed as Kieri Phelan, a formidable mercenary who earned a title—and enemies—in the neighboring kingdom of Tsaia, where Prince Mikeli suddenly faces the threat of a coup. Acting swiftly, Mikeli strikes at the powerful family behind the attack: the Verrakaien, magelords steeped in death and evil. Mikeli’s survival—and that of Tsaia—depend on the only Verrakai whose magery is not tainted with innocent blood. Two kings stand at a pivotal point in the history of their worlds. For dark forces are gathering against them, knit in a secret conspiracy more sinister and far more ancient than they can imagine.

Quote of the Day

Not even twenty and she had all the confidence that I'd been so assured of at that age. The world takes us, little by little, dream by dream unpicked until you reach the hard stone at the bottom and realise there was never anything else anyway. The illusion of possibility is a trick played on the young..

- ED MCDONALD, Crowfall (Canada, USA, Europe)

More than halfway through and it's pretty good thus far!

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now download Neal Stephenson's Zodiac for only 1.99$ here. There is a price match in Canada.

Here's the blurb:

The second novel from the “hottest science fiction writer in America” and New York Times–bestselling author of Snow Crash and Cryptonomicon (Details).

Meet Sangamon Taylor, a New Age Sam Spade who sports a wet suit instead of a trench coat and prefers Jolt from the can to Scotch on the rocks. He knows about chemical sludge the way he knows about evil—all too intimately. And the toxic trail he follows leads to some high and foul places. Before long Taylor’s house is bombed, his every move followed, he’s adopted by reservation Indians, moves onto the FBI’s most wanted list, makes up with his girlfriend, and plays a starring role in the near-assassination of a presidential candidate. Closing the case with the aid of his burnout roommate, his tofu-eating comrades, three major networks, and a range of unconventional weaponry, Sangamon Taylor pulls off the most startling caper in Boston Harbor since the Tea Party.

Beneath the Twisted Trees

You probably remember that it took everything I had just to go through Twelve Kings in Sharakhai a few years back. Which was mostly due to the fact that the book featured nothing that made Beaulieu's first trilogy such a memorable work of fantasy. Indeed, I gave each installment of Bradley P. Beaulieu's The Lays of Anuskaya a glowing review, claiming that it was one of the most engrossing fantasy series I had read in many a year. Dark, ambitious, complex, and populated with a great cast of characters that leap off the pages, it was everything I wanted it to be.

Needless to say, Twelve Kings in Sharakhai was a major disappointment for me. So much so that I thought The Song of the Shattered Sands just wasn't for me and it took me two years to finally give the second installment a shot. Thankfully, With Blood Upon the Sand was a much better read than its predecessor. I was glad to have given the series another shot, for A Veil of Spears turned out to be just as good. Its endgame and finale set the stage for another compelling read and I was curious to discover what the author had in store for us in this fourth volume. In terms of plot, Beneath the Twisted Trees moves the story forward in surprising ways, but its execution occasionally leaves something to be desired. And in the end, though it is an interesting novel which builds on the storylines of its predecessors, it failed to live up to the potential of the last two installments.

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 . . .

Personally, I felt that one of the shortcomings that sunk Twelve Kings in Sharakhai was that the author kept his cards way too close to his chest as far as the worldbuilding was concerned. Beaulieu plunged his readers into the heart of the tale without offering a whole lot in terms of explanation or information. There were hints of hidden depth throughout, yet we as readers were mostly left in the dark about most facets of the plot. Beaulieu definitely elevated his game in both With Blood Upon the Sand and A Veil of Spears. A panoply of revelations were made and secrets were unveiled regarding the kings, the Moonless Host, the gods, the asirim, and so much more. With a great amount of groundwork already laid out in the first three volumes, in Beneath the Twisted Trees Beaulieu continues to build on those plotlines and adds more layers to a plot that resounds with more and more depth with each new novel. This bodes well for the two installments to come. His Middle Eastern environment remains particularly well-realized and continues to create an arresting imagery.

In terms of characterization, Twelve Kings in Sharakhai was a world away from Beaulieu's previous series. The Lays of Anuskaya trilogy was all shades of gray. It was, in my humble opinion, adult fantasy the way it should be. Nothing clear-cut or juvenile about it, nothing so simple as good vs evil. The relationships between characters were complex and morally ambiguous, the way they normally are in real life. In the first installment of The Song of the Shattered Sands, there was no depth to speak of when it came to the main protagonists. Everything was black and white through and through, with not a single shade of gray anywhere within the storylines. Çeda was too badass for her own good, and I found it impossible to care for or root for her. With such a hardcore character, I was expecting Beaulieu to use our own preconceptions against us, the way he has often done in the past, and surprise and shock us when we least expected it. Alas, that was not to be. Previously, his protagonists, though not flamboyant, were always solid, genuine, and three-dimensional men and women that remain true to themselves. Not so in Twelve Kings in Sharakhai.

Fortunately, I found Çeda to be far more engaging and likeable in the following two installments and the same can be said of Beneath the Twisted Trees. Once more, the character development in this fourth volume made a big difference and Bradley P. Beaulieu found yet more ways to elevate his game in this aspect of his writing. Emre, who gradually fell under the yoke of the Moonless Host, was another decidedly black and white character with no depth early on. But he was also further fleshed out in the last couple of books. The same can be said of the Moonless Host and how it operates, the kings, the gods, and a whole lot more. The characterization, which was so weak in the first volume, has evolved considerably and is now comprised of a quality cast of characters. In addition, secondary protagonists such as Brama, Ramahd, Alina, and Davud play more important roles in this novel and its obvious that their respective storylines will have bigger repercussions in the greater scheme of things.

So what are those execution glitches that I've alluded to? In their attempt to free Sehid-Alaz, Çeda and her allies must find a way to try to bond with the asirim in order to weaken or break the connection they already share with the kings of Sharakhai. And though Beaulieu came up with a fascinating concept to do just that, how the process occurred sort of came out of left field. The same thing goes for the two mustering enemy forces arrayed against Sharakhai. There was no reason for them to delay this long to engage, but the plot demanded that certain events take place beforehand and hence everything feels clumsily contrived in that regard. The kings themselves, who have ruled ruthlessly for more than four centuries, continue to prove to be rather petty, arrogant, stupid, and ineffectual. So much so that it makes you wonder how a bunch of incompetent people who are seemingly so unfit to rule could have held power for so long. They also die rather easily, which cheapens the whole thing somewhat. Thus far, every time there has been a showdown between the twelve kings and those who oppose them, be they good guys or bad guys, they have pretty much lost every encounter. One would think that they would be a lot harder to defeat or kill. I'm well aware that with Beaulieu elevating his game and adding layers to the plot in Beneath the Twisted Trees, these execution glitches may not matter as much to some readers. So your mileage may vary. . .

Not surprisingly, as with most Bradley P. Beaulieu novels, there are a few pacing issues throughout. This fourth volume may not be a page-turner, but I felt that there was a nice balance between the various perspectives and that the plot progressed at a good clip. The first portion of the book may be a little too slow-moving in terms of rhythm, but other than a few rougher sequences here and there, for the most part the pace is never really a problem. In any event, readers who have made it this far have come to know what to expect.

It feels as though the author now has strategically placed all his pieces on the board and is setting the stage for the endgame that will lead us to the resolution of The Song of the Shattered Sands. With the proverbial shit ready to hit the fan, there should be plenty of fireworks. And even though Beneath the Twisted Trees wasn't as captivating as the last two installments, Bradley P. Beaulieu continues to move the story forward in an intriguing fashion, weaving his plotlines into a great tapestry that promies a lot of great things to come. Looking forward to the forthcoming When Jackals Storm the Walls.

The final verdict: 7/10

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

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now get your hands on the digital edition of Samantha Shannon's The Mime Order for only 1.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

In the New York Times bestselling second novel in the epic Bone Season series, Paige Mahoney may have broken out of prison, but neither the government nor her prison guards are going to let her escape so easily.

It is a dark time for clairvoyants in London. Scion, the ruling government, is in league with the Rephaim, an extraordinarily powerful, otherworldly race that intends to make humans its slaves.

Paige Mahoney may have succeeded in leading a mass break-out from the brutal camp, Sheol I, where she and other clairvoyants were systematically imprisoned, but she hasn't truly escaped. As Scion turns its all-seeing eye on page, and the ruthless leader of the Rephaim sets out in pursuit, Paige must find safety in a London underworld and a clairvoyant community that is beginning to crumble.

You can also download N.K. Jemisin's The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms for only 2.99$ here. There is a price match in Canada.

Here's the blurb:

Yeine Darr is an outcast from the barbarian north. But when her mother dies under mysterious circumstances, she is summoned to the majestic city of Sky. There, to her shock, Yeine is named an heiress to the king. But the throne of the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is not easily won, and Yeine is thrust into a vicious power struggle with cousins she never knew she had. As she fights for her life, she draws ever closer to the secrets of her mother's death and her family's bloody history.

With the fate of the world hanging in the balance, Yeine will learn how perilous it can be when love and hate - and gods and mortals - are bound inseparably together.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now download Ann Leckie's Provenance for only 2.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:



Ann Leckie returns to the world of her record-breaking Imperial Radch trilogy, which won the Hugo, Nebula, and Arthur C. Clarke Awards, with an enthralling novel of power, privilege, and birthright.

A power-driven young woman has just one chance to secure the status she craves and regain priceless lost artifacts prized by her people. She must free their thief from a prison planet from which no one has ever returned.

Ingray and her charge will return to her home world to find their planet in political turmoil, at the heart of an escalating interstellar conflict. Together, they must make a new plan to salvage Ingray's future, her family, and her world, before they are lost to her for good.

This week's New York Times Bestsellers (May 20th)

In hardcover:

Patricia Briggs' Storm Cursed debuts at number 6.

George R. R. Martin's Fire and Blood is down five positions, ending the week at number 14. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Ted Chiang's Exhalation debuts at number 16.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now download Samantha Shannon's The Priory of the Orange Tree for only 1.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

A world divided.
A queendom without an heir.
An ancient enemy awakens.

The House of Berethnet has ruled Inys for a thousand years. Still unwed, Queen Sabran the Ninth must conceive a daughter to protect her realm from destruction--but assassins are getting closer to her door.

Ead Duryan is an outsider at court. Though she has risen to the position of lady-in-waiting, she is loyal to a hidden society of mages. Ead keeps a watchful eye on Sabran, secretly protecting her with forbidden magic.

Across the dark sea, Tané has trained all her life to be a dragonrider, but is forced to make a choice that could see her life unravel.

Meanwhile, the divided East and West refuse to parley, and forces of chaos are rising from their sleep.

Extract from L. E. Modesitt, jr.'s forthcoming THE MAGE-FIRE WAR

The folks at just posted the first three chapters of L. E. Modesitt, jr.'s The Mage-Fire War. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Here's the blurb:

L. E. Modesitt, Jr., continues his bestselling Saga of Recluce with The Mage-Fire War, the third book in a story arc which began with The Mongrel Mage and Outcasts of Order.

Once again, prejudices against the use of chaos magic force Beltur and his companions to flee their refuge in Axalt. The rulers of nearby Montgren have offered them sanctuary and the opportunity to become the Councilors of the run-down and disintegrating town of Haven.

Montegren lacks any mages—white or black—making this seem like the perfect opportunity to start again.

However, Beltur and the others must reinstitute law and order, rebuild parts of the town, deal with brigands—and thwart an invading army.

Follow this link to read the extract.

Extract from Myke Cole's upcoming THE KILLING LIGHT

The folks at just posted the first chapter of Myke Cole's The Killing Light. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Here's the blurb:

The thrilling conclusion to Myke Cole's Sacred Throne trilogy.

Heloise and her allies are marching on the Imperial Capital. The villagers, the Kipti, and the Red Lords are united only in their loyalty to Heloise, though dissenting voices are many and they are loud.

The unstable alliance faces internal conflicts and external strife, yet they’re united in their common goal. But when the first of the devils start pouring through a rent in the veil between worlds, Heloise must strike a bargain with an unlikely ally, or doom her people to death and her world to ruin.

Follow this link to read the extract.

Quote of the Day

You can grow used to anything if you live with it long enough. I was living testimony to that.

- ED MCDONALD, Crowfall (Canada, USA, Europe)

Tiamat's Wrath

It's not exactly breaking news, I know, but James S. A. Corey's Hugo-nominated and New York Times-bestselling Expanse sequence is the very best ongoing science fiction series out there. No doubt about it, this continues to be space opera on a grand scale and as good as anything written by celebrated genre powerhouses like Peter F. Hamilton, Iain M. Banks, Ian McDonald, and Alastair Reynolds.

Given that Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck, the two authors behind this pseudonym, have often stated that the Expanse would likely be comprised of nine installments, it felt as though Babylon's Ashes marked the end of the series' first story arc and that everything which would come after would take us toward a promising endgame. Considering the amount of disparate storylines involved, I was curious to see how the authors would bridge the gap between the two arcs in Persepolis Rising. And like most readers, I was shocked to realize that the seventh volume occurred three decades into the future. There was a brief moment of panic at the beginning, but each new chapter demonstrated that this jump ahead in the timeline had been necessary. And when all was said and done, Persepolis Rising turned out even better than Nemesis Games, which up until that point had been my favorite book thus far!

Tiamat's Wrath is another action-packed and dramatic novel, the culmination of a panoply of multilayered storylines that come together at last to set the stage for what should be a memorable grand finale. And believe you me: It doesn't get much better than this!

Here's the blurb:

The eighth book in the NYT bestselling Expanse series, Tiamat’s Wrath finds the crew of the Rocinante fighting an underground war against a nearly invulnerable authoritarian empire, with James Holden a prisoner of the enemy. Now a Prime Original series.

Thirteen hundred gates have opened to solar systems around the galaxy. But as humanity builds its interstellar empire in the alien ruins, the mysteries and threats grow deeper.

In the dead systems where gates lead to stranger things than alien planets, Elvi Okoye begins a desperate search to discover the nature of a genocide that happened before the first human beings existed, and to find weapons to fight a war against forces at the edge of the imaginable. But the price of that knowledge may be higher than she can pay.

At the heart of the empire, Teresa Duarte prepares to take on the burden of her father’s godlike ambition. The sociopathic scientist Paolo Cortázar and the Mephistophelian prisoner James Holden are only two of the dangers in a palace thick with intrigue, but Teresa has a mind of her own and secrets even her father the emperor doesn’t guess.

And throughout the wide human empire, the scattered crew of the Rocinante fights a brave rear-guard action against Duarte’s authoritarian regime. Memory of the old order falls away, and a future under Laconia’s eternal rule — and with it, a battle that humanity can only lose — seems more and more certain. Because against the terrors that lie between worlds, courage and ambition will not be enough…

As I mentioned in my review of Persepolis Rising, we certainly have come a very long way since Leviathan Wakes. Of course, we've always known that everything was connected. That goes without saying. The seventh installment was the first one to weave elements from all previous books into a convoluted tapestry of plotlines. And things that made little or no sense before now played an important role in the overall plot. The same can be said of Tiamat's Wrath, which takes everything a step further. But although this new novel connects more of the dots, it nevertheless raises even more questions as the story progresses. There is a definite sense throughout that Tiamat's Wrath marks the beginning of the end for the Expanse. And à la George R. R. Martin and Robin Hobb, it's obvious that Abraham and Franck don't intend to make it easy for us to say goodbye to these characters. The proverbial shit may have hit the fan in many of these books, yet the authors appear to have quite a lot of fireworks planned for what's coming.

The Laconian Empire now controls the access to the thirteen hundred systems lying beyond the gates. The years of research High Consul Duarte commissioned regarding the protomolecule provided his military forces with the most advanced spacecrafts ever developed, and the man is using that same technology in an attempt to achieve immortality. Having subdued the might of both Earth and Mars seemingly effortlessly, it appears that nothing can stand against Laconia's rule. But mankind is nothing if not resilient and several freedom fighters are bidding their time, waiting for their chance to strike. And when the ancient alien civilization that wiped out the one which created the gates and the strange technological remains they left behind reacts to Laconian acts of aggression against them, this tips the balance and may provide the opportunity the rebels have been waiting for.

As always, the characterization remains the aspect which makes the Expanse such a remarkable read. True, the series is about grand and far-reaching ideas and concepts. But it's the interaction between the protagonists as they deal with what's taking place that elevates these books to another level. In the past, each volume featured a more or less tight focus spread across a limited number of points of view and the same can be said of Tiamat's Wrath. Once again, this allow readers to live vicariously through these perspectives. Old favorites such as James Holden, Bobbie Draper, Alex, and Naomi return as POV protagonists. Another familiar face, Elvi Okoye, makes a comeback and plays a major role in this new volume. Teresa Duarte, the High Consul's young daughter, offers the only new point of view and it's an interesting one. Little do we know that this lonely girl's storyline would become so important down the line. As a matter of course, given the nature of this series it's evident that there will be casualties before we reach its end. So prepare youself for some heartbreaking moments that pack a powerful emotional punch. I had not realized just how attached I had grown to certain characters and losing them hurt more than I expected. And I reckon it will hurt even more before reaching the last page of the final volume.

In terms of rhythm, like its predecessor Tiamat's Wrath is paced to perfection. It's not a fast-paced affair, but the novel remains a true page-turner. It starts slowly and build steadily toward another spectacular endgame and finale. And as much as I loved every minute of it, I couldn't help but feel a bit saddened by the fact that the end is now in sight. As I eagerly gear up for the last installment, a part of me wishes the Expanse wouldn't end. Such compelling SFF series are so few and far between, one would hope that they could last longer. Alas. . .

In the end, Tiamat's Wrath is another sprawling novel that is vast in scope and vision. The Expanse sequence, with its passionate and captivating characters, with its textured, detailed, and thoroughly imagined worlds, continues to be the most satisfying science fiction saga on the market and is shaping up to be one of the very best space opera series of all time. Perhaps the best.

And unless George R. R. Martin and/or Patrick Rothfuss surprise us by publishing the highly anticipated next installment in their respective series, Tiamat's Wrath will be the SFF book to read in 2019. As things stand, this novel sits comfortably in pole position and it will take something really special to dethrone it.

The final verdict: 9.5/10

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

US cover art for Joe Abercrombie's A LITTLE HATRED

The folks at Orbit just unveiled the US cover art for Joe Abercrombie's A Little Hatred.

The art is by Sam Weber and the design is by Lauren Panepinto.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can get your hands on the digital edition of Jack McKinney's The Macross Saga: Battlecry, the omnibus comprised of the first three Robotech books, for only 5.99$ here.

Here's the blurb for the first novel, Genesis:

The Global Civil War was about to make Humankind extinct, when the stupendous Super Dimensional Fortress dispatched to Earth by a dying alien genius changed all that forever. Humanity's only hope lay in a corps of untried young men and women gifted with powers they didn't fully understand. Then the most feared conquerors in the universe attacked, determined to destroy them for no reason they could comprehend.

The second omnibus is available for the same price here. If you've never given the Robotech saga a shot, this is your chance! =)

You can also download C. S. Friedman's excellent This Alien Shore, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, for only 4.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

It is the second stage of human colonization--the first age, humanity's initial attempt to people the stars, ended in disaster when it was discovered that Earth's original superluminal drive did permanent genetic damage to all who used it--mutating Earth's far-flung colonists in mind and body. Now, one of Earth's first colonies has given humanity back the stars, but at a high price--a monopoly over all human commerce. And when a satellite in Earth's outer orbit is viciously attacked by corporate raiders, an unusual young woman flees to a ship bound for the Up-and-Out. But her narrow escape does not mean safety. For speeding across the galaxy pursued by ruthless, but unknown adversaries, this young woman will discover a secret which is buried deep inside her psyche--a revelation the universe may not be ready to face....

Quote of the Day

The end of the world as we know it does things to people. Everyone forgets who they were, abandons their past life and tries to align themselves with the new state of things, tries to form new connections with people, tries to unearth some new version of themselves. Some change a little, most change a lot.

Not Nigerians, though, especially Lagosians. The end of the world hasn’t changed them much. They are still unruly, uncouth, unabashedly rude, and disinterested in any sense of community or structure. Or maybe this is just the same way every end-of-civilization is.

- SUYI DAVIES OKUNGBO, David Mogo, Godhunter. Follow this link for more info about this title.

Interesting read thus far by a Nigerian author known for writing stories featuring African gods, starships, monsters, detectives and everything in-between.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

Not sure for how long, but each installment of David Weber's bestselling Safehold series is 2.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

Humanity pushed its way to the stars – and encountered the Gbaba, a ruthless alien race that nearly wiped us out. Earth and her colonies are now smoldering ruins, and the few survivors have fled to distant, Earth-like Safehold, to try to rebuild. But the Gbaba can detect the emissions of an industrial civilization, so the human rulers of Safehold have taken extraordinary measures: with mind control and hidden high technology, they’ve built a religion in which every Safeholdian believes, a religion designed to keep Safehold society medieval forever. 800 years pass. In a hidden chamber on Safehold, an android from the far human past awakens. This “rebirth” was set in motion centuries before, by a faction that opposed shackling humanity with a concocted religion. Via automated recordings, “Nimue” – or, rather, the android with the memories of Lieutenant Commander Nimue Alban – is told her fate: she will emerge into Safeholdian society, suitably disguised, and begin the process of provoking the technological progress which the Church of God Awaiting has worked for centuries to prevent.

Nothing about this will be easy. To better deal with a medieval society, “Nimue” takes a new gender and a new name, “Merlin.” His formidable powers and access to caches of hidden high technology will need to be carefully concealed. And he’ll need to find a base of operations, a Safeholdian country that’s just a little more freewheeling, a little less orthodox, a little more open to the new. And thus Merlin comes to Charis, a mid-sized kingdom with a talent for naval warfare. He plans to make the acquaintance of King Haarahld and Crown Prince Cayleb, and maybe, just maybe, kick off a new era of invention. Which is bound to draw the attention of the Church…and, inevitably, lead to war. It’s going to be a long, long process. And David Weber’s epic Off Armageddon Reef is can’t-miss sci-fi.

Safehold Series 1. Off Armageddon Reef 2. By Schism Rent Asunder 3. By Heresies Distressed 4. A Mighty Fortress 5. How Firm A Foundation 6. Midst Toil and Tribulation 7. Like A Mighty Army 8. Hell’s Foundations Quiver 9. At the Sign of Triumph.

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

Musical Interlude

A little shot of Van Halen to brighten up your Victoria Day! =)

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now get your hands on the digital edition of Neal Stephenson's excellent Quicksilver for only 4.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

Quicksilver is the story of Daniel Waterhouse, fearless thinker and conflicted Puritan, pursuing knowledge in the company of the greatest minds of Baroque-era Europe, in a chaotic world where reason wars with the bloody ambitions of the mighty, and where catastrophe, natural or otherwise, can alter the political landscape overnight.

It is a chronicle of the breathtaking exploits of "Half-Cocked Jack" Shaftoe -- London street urchin turned swashbuckling adventurer and legendary King of the Vagabonds -- risking life and limb for fortune and love while slowly maddening from the pox.

And it is the tale of Eliza, rescued by Jack from a Turkish harem to become spy, confidante, and pawn of royals in order to reinvent Europe through the newborn power of finance.

A gloriously rich, entertaining, and endlessly inventive novel that brings a remarkable age and its momentous events to vivid life, Quicksilver is an extraordinary achievement from one of the most original and important literary talents of our time.

And it's just the beginning ...

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now download John Gwynne's Malice for only 2.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

Young Corban watches enviously as boys become warriors, learning the art of war. He yearns to wield his sword and spear to protect his king’s realm. But that day will come all too soon.

Only when he loses those he loves will he learn the true price of courage. The Banished Lands has a violent past where armies of men and giants clashed in battle, the earth running dark with their heartsblood. Although the giant-clans were broken in ages past, their ruined fortresses still scar the land. But now giants stir anew, the very stones weep blood and there are sightings of giant wyrms.

Those who can still read the signs see a threat far greater than the ancient wars. Sorrow will darken the world, as angels and demons make it their battlefield. Then there will be a war to end all wars. High King Aquilus summons his fellow kings to council, seeking an alliance in this time of need. Prophesy indicates darkness and light will demand two champions, the Black Sun and the Bright Star. They would be wise to seek out both, for if the Black Sun gains ascendancy, mankind’s hopes and dreams will fall to dust.

This week's New York Times Bestsellers (May 13th)

In hardcover:

George R. R. Martin's Fire and Blood maintains its position at number 9. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now get your hands on the digital edition of Nnedi Okorafor's The Book of Phoenix for only 4.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

The Book of Phoenix is a unique work of magical futurism. A prequel to the highly acclaimed, World Fantasy Award-winning novel, Who Fears Death, it features the rise of another of Nnedi Okorafor’s powerful, memorable, superhuman women.

Phoenix was grown and raised among other genetic experiments in New York’s Tower 7. She is an “accelerated woman”—only two years old but with the body and mind of an adult, Phoenix’s abilities far exceed those of a normal human. Still innocent and inexperienced in the ways of the world, she is content living in her room speed reading e-books, running on her treadmill, and basking in the love of Saeed, another biologically altered human of Tower 7.

Then one evening, Saeed witnesses something so terrible that he takes his own life. Devastated by his death and Tower 7’s refusal to answer her questions, Phoenix finally begins to realize that her home is really her prison, and she becomes desperate to escape.

But Phoenix’s escape, and her destruction of Tower 7, is just the beginning of her story. Before her story ends, Phoenix will travel from the United States to Africa and back, changing the entire course of humanity’s future.

Luna: Moon Rising

If you've been following the Hotlist for a while, you are aware that every single Ian McDonald adult novel I've read since creating this blog has ended up in my Top 10 for that year. Hence, I was pretty excited when I learned that he was taking a break from his foray into the YA market to return to the more hardcore science fiction works that made him an award-winning author. And yet, although Luna: New Moon was another quality read, it wasn't quite as captivating as books such as River of Gods, Brasyl, or The Dervish House. As the first installment in a promising two-book cycle, it wasn't as self-contained and satisfying as those stand-alone novels.

Imagine my disappointment when I learned--after finishing reading Luna: Wolf Moon, it must be said--that this series was now a trilogy. I was expecting a thrilling endgame and a great finale. Not a middle book. Still, McDonald definitely upped the ante and that second volume set the stage for what could be a memorable finale.

Which brings us to Luna: Moon Rising, the final chapter in this series. I had high expectations for this one, it goes without saying. And unfortunately, suffering from the same shortcomings that plagued its predecessor, the book failed to live up to the potential generated by the first two installments. It's a good book, mind you. Trouble is, Ian McDonald has accustomed us to great scifi works, not merely good ones.

Here's the blurb:

The continuing saga of the Five Dragons, Ian McDonald's fast-paced, intricately plotted space opera pitched as Game of Thrones meets The Expanse.

A hundred years in the future, a war wages between the Five Dragons—five families that control the Moon’s leading industrial companies. Each clan does everything in their power to claw their way to the top of the food chain—marriages of convenience, corporate espionage, kidnapping, and mass assassinations.

Through ingenious political manipulation and sheer force of will, Lucas Cortas rises from the ashes of corporate defeat and seizes control of the Moon. The only person who can stop him is a brilliant lunar lawyer, his sister, Ariel.

Witness the Dragons' final battle for absolute sovereignty in Ian McDonald's heart-stopping finale to the Luna trilogy.

Understandably, Tor Books continues to market these novels as Game of Thrones on the moon. With rivalries between families/corporations at the heart of the story, to a certain extent it is an apt description. But it is much more than that. To all ends and purposes, it has more to do with rival mafia families than competing corporate entities, so in many ways it is more The Godfather than Game of Thrones. Like George R. R. Martin's bestselling A Song of Ice and Fire, it's an extremely devious and cutthroat environment where absolutely anything can happen. There is no law on the moon. Everything can be negotiated. And in the end, everything is.

As always, Ian McDonald's worldbuilding is incredible. Using the moon as a backdrop, the author managed to capture the essence of what living and thriving in such harsh conditions entail. His prose once again brought the moon and its inhabiants to life in vivid fashion. His eye for details creates an imagery and an atmosphere that is nothing short of stunning. Whatever the premise of his novels, McDonald's narrative always makes you feel as though you're part of the action. In that regard at least, Luna: Moon Rising features the same kind of superior worldbuilding that made River of Gods and The Dervish House such amazing reads.

Once more, characterization was the aspect of this book that left the most to be desired. The multi-perspective narrative habitually works well for Ian McDonald. Still, one has to wonder if there was need for so many POV characters in Luna: New Moon and Luna: Wolf Moon. Too often in this trilogy, it feels as though lots of scenes and/or points of view turn out to be extraneous material that bring little or nothing to the storylines. The enormous cast of characters is comprised of disparate protagonists and you can never tell how these multilayered plotlines will come together at the end. As always, there is the usual confusion of not really understanding where the author is taking the plot. If you are an Ian McDonald fan, that comes with the territory, no matter what book you're reading. And when the various threads come together and you finally understand what is actually going on, it is usually awesome. Problem is, the Luna novels are a veritable mess of POVs. And since most of the names sound the same, too often was I forced to go to the back of the book to peruse the Dramatis Personae. As a big Malazan fan, numerous protagonists/plotlines have never been a problem for me. But when it's hard to differentiate them from one another, regardless of what family they're from, it becomes a serious issue. Ultimately, I felt that Luna: Moon Rising would have benefited from a more limited amount of perspectives.

In terms of rhythm, Ian McDonald more or less followed the same blueprint he used for the first two volumes. The pace is relatively slow for the first 2/3 of the book, and then things pick up and the endgame turned out to be quite unpredictable. The finale was compelling and closed the show with style. Still, as was the case with its predecessors, a more balanced rhythm would have made Luna: Moon Rising more enjoyable.

Mostly known for his stand-alone science fiction works, given the smaller wordcount Ian Mc Donald has always excelled within a more constraining framework. Writing a trilogy meant that he could really open things up and it appears that the author may have gone a little too over-the-top with the characterization. Which, in the end, certainly didn't work as well as I thought it would.

As I mentioned, the Luna trilogy is a good series, but not as gripping and engrossing as some of his previous works. As such, if you are not yet acquainted with the author, these books may not be the best jumping point for new readers. I'd recommend reading the aforementioned science fiction titles by Ian McDonald before giving his latest series a shot.

The final verdict: 7.5/10

For more info about this title, please follow this link.

Amazon links

Hey guys,

Amazon recently came up with a OneLink process that supposedly works in Canada, the USA, the UK, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Japan, and other neighboring countries. Which means that whenever you click on a link on the Hotlist, technically you are supposed to be redirected to the Amazon site of your region.

We'll see how it works, but from now on I'll only post a single link in reviews, giveaways, etc.

Please let me know if it works the way it's supposed to for you. It does for me, as any time I click on an American link I'm redirected to the Canadian Amazon website.



More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now get your hands on the digital edition of Daniel Abraham's The Dragon's Path for only 2.99$ here. There is a price match in Canada.

Here's the blurb:

Marcus' hero days are behind him. He knows too well that even the smallest war still means somebody's death. When his men are impressed into a doomed army, staying out of a battle he wants no part of requires some unorthodox steps.

Cithrin is an orphan, ward of a banking house. Her job is to smuggle a nation's wealth across a war zone, hiding the gold from both sides. She knows the secret life of commerce like a second language, but the strategies of trade will not defend her from swords.

Geder, sole scion of a noble house, has more interest in philosophy than in swordplay. A poor excuse for a soldier, he is a pawn in these games. No one can predict what he will become.

Falling pebbles can start a landslide. A spat between the Free Cities and the Severed Throne is spiraling out of control. A new player rises from the depths of history, fanning the flames that will sweep the entire region onto The Dragon's Path -- the path to war.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now download Adrian Tchaikovsky's Children of Time, the 2016 winner of theArthur C. Clarke Award, for only 2.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

Winner of the 30th anniversary Arthur C. Clarke Award for Best Novel.

Adrian Tchaikovksy's critically acclaimed, stand-alone novel Children of Time, is the epic story of humanity's battle for survival on a terraformed planet.

Who will inherit this new Earth?

The last remnants of the human race left a dying Earth, desperate to find a new home among the stars. Following in the footsteps of their ancestors, they discover the greatest treasure of the past age - a world terraformed and prepared for human life.

But all is not right in this new Eden. In the long years since the planet was abandoned, the work of its architects has borne disastrous fruit. The planet is not waiting for them, pristine and unoccupied. New masters have turned it from a refuge into mankind's worst nightmare.

Now two civilizations are on a collision course, both testing the boundaries of what they will do to survive. As the fate of humanity hangs in the balance, who are the true heirs of this new Earth?

You can also download Dan Koboldt's The Rogue Retrieval for only 0.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

Sleight of hand…in another land.

Stage magician Quinn Bradley has one dream: to headline his own show on the Vegas Strip. And with talent scouts in the audience wowed by his latest performance, he knows he’s about to make the big-time.

What he doesn’t expect is an offer to go on a quest to a place where magic is all too real.

That's how he finds himself in Alissia, a world connected to ours by a secret portal owned by a powerful corporation. He’s after an employee who has gone rogue, and that’s the least of his problems. Alissia has true magicians…and the penalty for impersonating one is death. In a world where even a twelve-year-old could beat Quinn in a swordfight, it's only a matter of time until the tricks up his sleeves run out.

Scientist and blogger Dan Koboldt weaves wonder, humor, and heart into this debut novel, The Rogue Retrieval. Fans of Terry Brooks and Terry Pratchett will find this a thrilling read.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now get your hands on the digital edition of Paul Kearney's excellent A Different Kingdom for only 3.03$ here.

Here's the blurb:

Michael Fay is a normal boy, living with his grandparents on their family farm in rural Ireland. In the woods—once thought safe and well-explored—there are wolves; and other, stranger things. He keeps them from his family, even his Aunt Rose, his closest friend, until the day he finds himself in the Other Place. There are wild people, and terrible monsters, and a girl called Cat.

When the wolves follow him from the Other Place to his family’s doorstep, Michael must choose between locking the doors and looking away—or following Cat on an adventure that may take an entire lifetime in the Other Place. He will become a man, and a warrior, and confront the Devil himself: the terrible Dark Horseman...

And the two sequels are also available for the same low price! =)

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now get your hands on the digital edition of Kate Elliott's King's Dragon for only 2.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

Set in an alternate Europe where bloody conflicts rage, the first book of the Crown of Stars epic fantasy series chronicles a world-shaking conflict for the survival of humanity.

It begins with civil war....

For though King Henry still holds the crown of Wendar, his reign has long been contested by his sister Sabella. There are many eager to flock to her banner, and there are ways to make even the most unwilling lord into a weapon pointed at the heart of Henry’s realm.

Torn by internal strife, Wendar also faces deadly raids from the north by an inhuman race, the Eika. And now terrifying portents are being seen; old ruins restored to life under the light of the full moon and peopled by the long-vanished Lost Ones; dark spirits walking the land in broad daylight.

And suddenly two innocents are about to be thrust into the middle of the conflict.

Liath, who has spent her early years fleeing from unknown enemies, is a young woman with the power to change the course of history if she can only learn to master her fear and seize what is rightfully hers.

While Alain, a young man who may find his future in a vision granted by the Lady of Battles, must first unravel the mystery of who he is—whether the bastard son of a noble father, the half-breed child of an elfin lord, the unwanted get of a whore, or the heir to a proud and ancient lineage. For only when he discovers the truth can he accept the destiny for which he was born.

Liath and Alain, each trapped in a personal struggle for survival, both helplessly being drawn into a far greater battle, a war in which sorcery not swords will determine the final outcome, and the land itself may be irrevocably reshaped by the forces unleashed....

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

In hardcover:

Greg Weisman's Magic: The Gathering: War of the Spark: Ravnica debuts at number 5.

George R. R. Martin's Fire and Blood is up three positions, ending the week at number 9. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Claudia Gray's Star Wars: Master and Apprentice is down ten spots, finishing the week at number 15.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now download Ian Tregillis' The Mechanical for 2.99$ here. There is a price match in Canada.

Here's the blurb:

My name is Jax.

That is the name granted to me by my human masters.

I am a slave.

But I shall be free.

Set in a world that might have been, of mechanical men and alchemical dreams, the new novel from Ian Tregillis confirms his place as one of the most original new voices in speculative fiction.

You can also get your hands on the digital edition of Frank Herbert's Children of Dune for only 1.99$ here. There is a price match in Canada.

Here's the blurb:

Book Three in the Magnificent Dune Chronicles—the Bestselling Science Fiction Adventure of All Time.

The Children of Dune are twin siblings Leto and Ghanima Atreides, whose father, the Emperor Paul Muad’Dib, disappeared in the desert wastelands of Arrakis nine years ago. Like their father, the twins possess supernormal abilities—making them valuable to their manipulative aunt Alia, who rules the Empire in the name of House Atreides.

Facing treason and rebellion on two fronts, Alia’s rule is not absolute. The displaced House Corrino is plotting to regain the throne while the fanatical Fremen are being provoked into open revolt by the enigmatic figure known only as The Preacher. Alia believes that by obtaining the secrets of the twins’ prophetic visions, she can maintain control over her dynasty.

But Leto and Ghanima have their own plans for their visions—and their destinies....

Final confrontation between Ben Kenobi and Darth Vader reimagined

Hot damn, that was good!

New Guy Gavriel Kay interview

With Guy Gavriel Kay's A Brightness Long Ago (Canada, USA, Europe) about to be published, I had the chance to have a little chat with the author.


- With its pub date just around the corner, what can you tell us about your newest novel, A BRIGHTNESS LONG AGO?

I never work out good soundbites or elevator pitches for the books, I dislike reducing them that way. But this one is inspired by 15th century Italy, specifically the lifelong enmity between two of the greatest military commanders of their day, but filtering that tension through the lives and perceptions of a number of other people who come into contact with them.

- I once asked you what came first when considering your next novel: themes you wished to explore, a setting you're interested in, or characters you wanted to write about? You replied that in general setting precedes theme (which grows out of learning about time and place), then character, and from this process a narrative emerges. But this isn’t set in stone for you, and different books have had different arcs of emergence.


I think setting came first here, it takes place before Children of Earth and Sky (though it is a standalone) as I realized there were more things I wanted to explore in this time and place. The themes (especially memory, and the issue of how much control we have over our lives and how much ‘randomness’ comes into them) emerged.

- When CHILDREN OF EARTH AND SKY was released, were you already aware that you'd be returning to that same part of the world in your next book? If not, how/when did it dawn upon you that it would be the case?

Not at all. I never know what the next book is. With the Sarantium pair, it was in my mind as a diptych from the start, so I don’t see Lord of Emperors as a ’next book’ I pushed straight on into it. This time, as always, there were many things, many settings, that interested me, but my reading and note taking gradually circled down to this one.

- According to George R. R. Martin, most authors are either architects or gardeners. Which type of writer are you?

A single malt whisky distiller in the Highlands. (Joke, but, actually…)

Everyone has their own metaphors, their way of framing creativity, I don’t personally see it as falling into any neat dichotomy. As between these two, I’d be more an architect because the shape of a novel matters a lot to me (as a reader, too). It is one reason (among others) I don’t write multi-volume, in fact.

- Speaking of Martin and Game of Thrones, in late 2017 it was announced that Boat Rocker Studio’s Temple Street secured television rights to The Fionavar Tapestry. There has also been some interest for THE LIONS OF AL-RASSAN. Is there any progress report you can to share with your fans?

This is, as people have probably learned by now with many projects, a long game. But the people involved at Boat Rocker are seriously smart and experienced, and I have a lot of confidence in them. There are also other projects based on my work being explored, but it is too soon to share anything. As a general note for people, one thing GoT on television did was create a very high level of expectation for budgets, production values. That puts a strain on many possible projects. Have a look at what is being budgeted for the Tolkien adaptation...

- In an interview back in 2014, you said: “I’m still proud of the Fionavar Tapestry. The fact I don’t write the same way is as much as anything else the fact a man in his 50s doesn’t write the way a man in his 20s does – or he shouldn’t. We shouldn’t be interested in the same things, we shouldn’t be artistically frozen in amber at the point that we were when we first appeared on the scene. We should evolve. And that’s what it is for me.”

So what interests a more mature and hopefully wiser Guy Gavriel Kay nowadays?

I‘ll agree with that ‘hopefully’ as to wiser, Pat! Readers of this book will see, I suspect, what is engaging me, and has been for a few years (because I live with a book for years). I’m fascinated by how we examine and remember the past — our own and our culture’s, or the world’s — and shape narratives we need or want from that. We tell ourselves stories, and they are immensely important. That whole subject of storytelling, that a novel you read is a story being told to you by someone …

- All your works since your first trilogy have been described as “history with a quarter-turn to the fantastic.” Are there any plans to ever return to your roots and write a bona fide fantasy book/series, or has this train left the station a long time ago?

No train, no station! Never know what might come up next, or next after that, or ...

- Will you be touring during the course of the spring/summer to promote A BRIGHTNESS LONG AGO? If so, are there any specific dates that have been confirmed as of yet?

American stops so far in Seattle on the 17th of May (University Bookstore), and San Francisco on the 18th (Borderlands) in the afternoon, then the evening of the 19th at a fun gig called SF In SF (which will include the great Simon Vance, who does the audiobook of this one, and has done many of mine in the past).

- Anything else you wish to share with your fans?

I always say this, but I always mean it: I am immensely grateful for the gift my readers give me, of being able to take the time to write the books I want to write. It really is a blessing.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now get your hands on the digital edition of Myke Cole's excellent Shadow Ops: Control Point for only 2.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

Army Officer. Fugitive. Sorcerer.

Across the country and in every nation, people are waking up with magical talents. Untrained and panicked, they summon storms, raise the dead, and set everything they touch ablaze.

Army officer Oscar Britton sees the worst of it. A lieutenant attached to the military's Supernatural Operations Corps, his mission is to bring order to a world gone mad. Then he abruptly manifests a rare and prohibited magical power, transforming him overnight from government agent to public enemy number one.

The SOC knows how to handle this kind of situation: hunt him down--and take him out. Driven into an underground shadow world, Britton is about to learn that magic has changed all the rules he's ever known, and that his life isn't the only thing he's fighting for.

The Stand

As I mentioned in my review of It a little over a year ago, I was a huge Stephen King fan during my teenage years. Throughout the 80s, I devoured novels such as Carrie, The Shining, 'Salem's Lot, Christine, Pet Sematary, Cujo, and many more. I first read The Stand in 1986 or 1987 and I loved it. And prior to my It reread, I considered The Stand to be the very best Stephen King title out there. That reread put It back into pole position and I was curious to see if rereading The Stand would push it back to the top of the totem pole. It sure did!

As I've said before, rereading old favorites always comes with a certain sense of apprehension for me. Not every book age well and like It I was wondering if The Stand had survived the test of time. This time I read the complete and uncut edition, which contains restored scenes originally cut for brevity, added and revised certain sections, and changed the setting to 1990. Oddly enough, though the novel features quite a few memorable sequences, I had forgotten pretty much everything that has to do about the plot. In the end, there were only two totally innocuous scenes that I could recall; the one in which Fran tells Stu that there are occasional skid marks on his underwear, and the one in which Nadine gives Harold a handjob. Don't ask me why, but these were the only two scenes that stayed with me over the years. It probably doesn't speak well of me, but keep in mind that I was about 13 years old when I first read the book.

Rereading The Stand after all these years was an awesome experience. As was the case with It a few months back, the novel captured my imagination and grabbed hold of me from the very beginning and I found myself going through this 1400+-page doorstopper in just a few days.

Here's the blurb:

Stephen King’s apocalyptic vision of a world blasted by plague and tangled in an elemental struggle between good and evil remains as riveting and eerily plausible as when it was first published.

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

A patient escapes from a biological testing facility, unknowingly carrying a deadly weapon: a mutated strain of super-flu that will wipe out 99 percent of the world’s population within a few weeks. Those who remain are scared, bewildered, and in need of a leader. Two emerge—Mother Abagail, the benevolent 108-year-old woman who urges them to build a peaceful community in Boulder, Colorado; and Randall Flagg, the nefarious “Dark Man,” who delights in chaos and violence. As the dark man and the peaceful woman gather power, the survivors will have to choose between them—and ultimately decide the fate of all humanity.

The book is split into three parts. The first one, titled "Captain Trips," takes place between June 16th and July 4th and focuses on the total breakdown and inexorable collapse of society in the wake of the terrible pandemic triggered by the accidental release of a weaponized strain of influenza known as Project Blue from a secret military laboratory. The narrative features the perspectives of most of the principal protagonists as social order keeps unraveling and they must deal with the emotional impact of witnessing everyone they know dying of the superflu. This portion also shows just how heavy-handed the US military were in their efforts to censor information and in their attempts to contain the threat that brought mankind to near-extinction. The second part is called "On the Border" and occurs between July 5th and September 6th. It focuses on the few survivors gradually finding one another and journeying across the country. Some of them following the dreams of 108-year-old Mother Abagail, who can be found in her home surrounded by corn fields in Nebraska. Others are drawn toward Las Vegas, where the nefarious Randall Flagg has set up shop and is preparing to take over the USA and then the rest of the world. These first two parts are absolutely amazing and just might be Stephen King's best writing ever. I was thoroughly enthralled by this 1150+-page chunk of narrative and to this day it remains some of the most incredible storytelling I have ever read. The last section, "The Stand," takes place from September 7th to January 10th and focuses on the clash between the two communities. The author has always had trouble with endings and this novel is no different. Although the build-up to the endgame was great, the grand finale and its resolution failed to live up to the potential shown earlier. Still, The Stand is a home run. But it could easily have been a grand slam.

The book was originally published in 1978, with a setting date of 1980. The first paperback edition released in 1980 changed the setting date to 1985. And when it was re-released as The Stand: The Complete and Uncut Edition, the setting of the story was once again pushed back to 1990. King updated the novel and added a number of pop culture references. For the most part, this latest edition has aged well. But moving the timeline forward like that created a certain amount of anachronisms that sometimes feel rather weird. Overall, The Stand retains that late 70s vibe which should have been left alone, methinks. These anachronisms don't take anything away from the overall reading experience, but they can feel a bit discordant at times.

The characterization is by far the most astonishing facet of the book. I know I said the same regarding It, but this one definitely features what could well be the very best character development of King's career. A more interesting bunch of characters I'd be hard-pressed to name. There is so much character growth throughout The Stand, so many memorable protagonists. My heart went out to Nick Andros and Tom Cullen, a more unlikely duo you can never hope to find. Sure, men and women like Larry Underwood, Stu Redman, Frances Goldsmith, Harold Lauder, Lloyd Henreid, and the Trashcan Man take center stage throughout the tale, but the supporting cast is what makes this work such an unforgettable read. Other than Nick and Tom, The Stand would never have been the same without Glen Bateman and his dog Kojak, Ralph Brentner, Nadine Cross, and young Joe.

The Stand is another enormous work of fiction. There is no getting around that. Made even bigger with this complete and uncut edition. Understandably, such a big novel will occasionally suffer from rhythm problems. And while it's true that at times the pace can be slow, The Stand is never boring. Other than the addition of the Kid section, that is, which I feel was unnecessary. I found the Trashcan Man's journey to Las Vegas to be quite compelling, but in my opinion the Kid's storyline added very little to the overall reading experience. Regardless of the slow-moving portions which add layers to an already multi-layered plot for the most part, I went though this book in a matter of a few short days, and for me the rhythm was never an issue.

Read The Stand for the first time, or reread it again! Like It, this novel showcases a Stephen King writing at the top of his game and is a extraordinary read. M-O-O-N, that spells awesome! Laws, yes!

The final verdict: 10/10

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