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

In hardcover:

Stephen King's The Institute maintains its position at number 8. For more info about this title, follow these Amazon Associate links: Canada, USA, Europe.

Erin Morgenstern's The Starless Sea is down six spots, finishing the week at number 9.

Margaret Atwood's The Testaments returns at number 11. For more info about this title, follow these Amazon Associate links: Canada, USA, Europe.

In paperback:

Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale maintains its position at number 9 (trade paperback).

Stephen King's Doctor Sleep is down six positions, ending the week at number 13 (trade paperback).

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

For a limited time, you can download Deborah Harkness' A Discovery of Witches for only 1.99$ by following this Amazon Associate link.

Here's the blurb:

Deep in the stacks of Oxford's Bodleian Library, young scholar Diana Bishop unwittingly calls up a bewitched alchemical manuscript in the course of her research. Descended from an old and distinguished line of witches, Diana wants nothing to do with sorcery; so after a furtive glance and a few notes, she banishes the book to the stacks. But her discovery sets a fantastical underworld stirring, and a horde of daemons, witches, and vampires soon descends upon the library. Diana has stumbled upon a coveted treasure lost for centuries-and she is the only creature who can break its spell.

Debut novelist Deborah Harkness has crafted a mesmerizing and addictive read, equal parts history and magic, romance and suspense. Diana is a bold heroine who meets her equal in vampire geneticist Matthew Clairmont, and gradually warms up to him as their alliance deepens into an intimacy that violates age-old taboos. This smart, sophisticated story harks back to the novels of Anne Rice, but it is as contemporary and sensual as the Twilight series-with an extra serving of historical realism

C. S. Friedman made a name for herself with the amazing Coldfire trilogy. Indeed, these books established the author as a master of dark fantasy during the 90s. Sadly, the Magisters trilogy, although awesome, flew so low under the radar that very few people seem to have read it. If more and more people actually gave these books a shot, we might soon refer to the Coldfire trilogy as the Friedman's other fantasy series. Yes, it's that damn good!

And you can once again get your hands on the digital edition of the first volume, Feast of Souls, for only 2.99$ here. This trilogy deserves the highest possible recommendation!

Here's the blurb:

At the end of her bestselling Coldfire trilogy, C.S. Friedman challenged readers to imagine what a world would be like if sorcery required the ultimate sacrifice-that of life itself. Now, in Feast of Souls, she introduces us to a terrifying world in which the cost of magic is just which the fuel for sorcery is the very fire of the human spirit, and those who hunger for magical power must pay for it with their lives. In this epic tale of nightmarish shadows and desperate hope, the greatest threat of all may not be that of ancient enemies returned, or ancient wars resumed, but of the darkness that lies within the hearts of men.

Here's a link to my review from 2007.

Salvation Lost

If you've been hanging around in these parts for a while, then you are aware that I own every single book Peter F. Hamilton has published over the years. But other than the stand-alone novels I'm really far behind when it comes to his series. When Salvation was released last year, I was happy that from now on I'd finally be able to read and review installments of a new Hamilton sequence as they hit the shelves.

In the end, Salvation was another quality space opera featuring rich worldbuilding and complex characters. On its own, the book was not as self-contained as it could have been and that turned out to be detrimental to both the plotlines and the rhythm of the novel. Still, I felt that it was a satisfying read that would likely get better and better when the sequels came out.

And now that I've read Salvation Lost, I'm glad to report that this science fiction yarn of epic scope is even better than its predecessor.

Here's the blurb:

All the best in humanity rises to meet a powerful alien threat in the sequel to Salvation—part of an all-new trilogy from “the owner of the most powerful imagination in science fiction” (Ken Follett).

The comparative utopia of twenty-third-century Earth is about to go dreadfully awry when a seemingly benign alien race is abruptly revealed to be one of the worst threats humanity has ever faced. Driven by an intense religious extremism, the Olyix are determined to bring everyone to their version of God as they see it. But they may have met their match in humanity, who are not about to go gently into that good night or spend the rest of their days cowering in hiding. As human ingenuity and determination rise to the challenge, collective humanity has only one goal—to wipe this apparently undefeatable enemy from the face of creation. Even if it means playing a ridiculously long game indeed.

But in a chaotic universe, it is hard to plan for every eventuality, and it is always darkest before the dawn.

Hamilton is renowned for his worldbuilding, which is always vast in scope and vision. Definitely one of the best in the business, if not the best. And Salvation was certainly no exception! By the beginning of the 23rd century, mankind has taken to the stars. Demonstration of quantum spatial entanglement engendered the creation of portals that now connect every place on Earth and every settled planet and asteroid out there. Solar powerwell portals dropped directly into the sun provide the vast amount of energy required to keep everything running. In 2144, as a number of planets are being terraformed, an alien starship approaching our solar system is detected. The extraterrestrial civilization is known as the Olyix and they travel in the arkship Salvation of Life to the End of the Universe to meet their god. The arkship requires enormous amounts of electricity to generate antimatter, so the Olyix begin to trade their superior biotechnology with humans in exchange for the energy they need to continue their endless pilgrimage across the galaxies. When a portal ship arrives in the Beta Eridani system in 2204, it detects a beacon signal coming from a crashed alien spaceship light years away from Earth. And as impossible as it sounds, that ship contains the remains of human victims. An assessment team comprised of powerful and important men and women is sent to investigate, and they'll soon realize that they have more in common than they ever thought possible. And eighty-nine years from their home world, they'll come to realize that Earth might be facing a threat and that no one is aware of the imminent danger.

Salvation Lost begins exactly where the first volume ended. The salvage operation exposed the shocking truth about the Olyix. Realizing that their deception has been unmasked, as mankind attempts to mobilize for this unexpected threat the alien civilization strikes a devastating blow. Yet the human race is nothing if not resilient and will not go down without a fight. Millennia into the future, another storyline follows mankind's descendants as they prepare to spring a trap on the Olyix and hopefully end this war once and for all. But things are not always as they seem and some truths may ultimately turn out to be lies.

Once again, the structure of this novel is split into three ensembles of plotlines. The first one follows the perspectives of the characters from the salvage operation and additional important figures that witness the onset of the war between humanity and the Olyix. The second focuses on a number of small-fry London-based criminals and their activities as life on Earth begins to unravel. These sections felt decidedly discordant with the rest of the storylines and were often a little boring. There is only so much one can take about some guy with a super cock implant. The third timeline occurs in the distant future, in an era when mankind brought their war against the Olyix to the stars.

Peter F. Hamilton always had a knack for creating interesting and genuine characters and the same can be said of the Salvation Lost cast. Building on the groundwork already laid out in the first volume, the author further fleshes out his protagonists while introducing new faces. As I mentioned, I felt that too much air time was given to the crooks comprising the Southwark Legion gang. A few lame attempts to give some of them redeeming qualities and moral complexity kind of fell short. Given the quality of the other storylines and how compelling they are, I'm not sure why Hamilton felt that he had to focus on the London plotline to such a degree.

Although not perfect, Salvation Lost raises the bar higher and sets the stage for what should be a memorable finale. Definitely one of the science fiction books to read this year!

The final verdict: 8/10

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

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now download Alan Smale's Clash of Eagles for only 2.99$ by following this Amazon Associate link. This is a great series that deserve more attention. At this low price, it's the best time to give it a shot!

Here's the blurb:

Perfect for fans of action-adventure and historical fiction—including novels by such authors as Bernard Cornwell, Steve Berry, Naomi Novik, and Harry Turtledove—this stunning work of alternate history imagines a world in which the Roman Empire has not fallen and the North American continent has just been discovered. In the year 1218 AD, transported by Norse longboats, a Roman legion crosses the great ocean, enters an endless wilderness, and faces a cataclysmic clash of worlds, cultures, and warriors.

Ever hungry for land and gold, the Emperor has sent Praetor Gaius Marcellinus and the 33rd Roman Legion into the newly discovered lands of North America. Marcellinus and his men expect easy victory over the native inhabitants, but on the shores of a vast river the Legion clashes with a unique civilization armed with weapons and strategies no Roman has ever imagined.

Forced to watch his vaunted force massacred by a surprisingly tenacious enemy, Marcellinus is spared by his captors and kept alive for his military knowledge. As he recovers and learns more about these proud people, he can’t help but be drawn into their society, forming an uneasy friendship with the denizens of the city-state of Cahokia. But threats—both Roman and Native—promise to assail his newfound kin, and Marcellinus will struggle to keep the peace while the rest of the continent surges toward certain conflict.

You can also 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…

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now get your hands on the digital editions of all three installments of Brandon Sanderson's The Stormlight Archive, The Way of Kings, Words of Radiance, and Oathbringer for only 7.92$ by following this Amazon Associate link. There is a price match in Canada.

Each volume is on sale and can be purchased separately.

Here's the blurb of the third installment:

In Oathbringer, the third volume of the New York Times bestselling Stormlight Archive, humanity faces a new Desolation with the return of the Voidbringers, a foe with numbers as great as their thirst for vengeance.

Dalinar Kholin’s Alethi armies won a fleeting victory at a terrible cost: The enemy Parshendi summoned the violent Everstorm, which now sweeps the world with destruction, and in its passing awakens the once peaceful and subservient parshmen to the horror of their millennia-long enslavement by humans. While on a desperate flight to warn his family of the threat, Kaladin Stormblessed must come to grips with the fact that the newly kindled anger of the parshmen may be wholly justified.

Nestled in the mountains high above the storms, in the tower city of Urithiru, Shallan Davar investigates the wonders of the ancient stronghold of the Knights Radiant and unearths dark secrets lurking in its depths. And Dalinar realizes that his holy mission to unite his homeland of Alethkar was too narrow in scope. Unless all the nations of Roshar can put aside Dalinar’s blood-soaked past and stand together—and unless Dalinar himself can confront that past—even the restoration of the Knights Radiant will not prevent the end of civilization.

Quote of the Day

History's tragedies reveal great men: but those tragedies are provoked by the mediocre.

- MAURICE DRUON, The King Without a Kingdom.

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

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can download every installment of James S. A. Corey's excellent The Expanse series for only 2.99$ to 5.99$ by following this Amazon Associate link. This is your chance to get your hands on what could well be the best space opera sequence ever written at very low prices!

Here's the blurb for the first volume, Leviathan Wakes:

Welcome to the future. Humanity has colonized the solar system – Mars, the Moon, the Asteroid Belt and beyond – but the stars are still out of our reach.

Jim Holden is XO of an ice miner making runs from the rings of Saturn to the mining stations of the Belt. When he and his crew stumble upon a derelict ship, The Scopuli, they find themselves in possession of a secret they never wanted. A secret that someone is willing to kill for – and kill on a scale unfathomable to Jim and his crew. War is brewing in the system unless he can find out who left the ship and why.

Detective Miller is looking for a girl. One girl in a system of billions, but her parents have money and money talks. When the trail leads him to The Scopuli and rebel sympathizer, Holden, he realizes that this girl may be the key to everything.

Holden and Miller must thread the needle between the Earth government, the Outer Planet revolutionaries, and secretive corporations – and the odds are against them. But out in the Belt, the rules are different, and one small ship can change the fate of the universe

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

In hardcover:

Erin Morgenstern's The Starless Sea debuts at number 3.

Stephen King's The Institute maintains its position at number 8. For more info about this title, follow these Amazon Associate links: Canada, USA, Europe.

In paperback:

Stephen King's Doctor Sleep maintains its position at number 7 (trade paperback).

Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale is up one position, ending the week at number 9 (trade paperback).

The King Without a Kingdom

As was the case with many other speculative fiction readers, I reckon it's thanks to George R. R. Martin that I discovered the excellent The Accursed Kings by French author Maurice Druon. As the main inspiration for A Song of Ice and Fire, I was eager to find out more about this series. The first two volumes were very good, but the third installment failed to live up to the expectations generated by its predecessors. The Royal Succession was a return to form for the author and I was looking forward to see if the fifth book would offer the same satisfying reading experience.

Ultimately, The She-Wolf didn't stand as well on its own as I thought it would. Druon continued to weave a vast number of threads in what is a great tapestry of men, women, and events that will shake the foundations of the kingdom of France and the rest of Europe. That hasn't changed. And yet, focusing more on the demise of King Edward II instead of the intrigues of the King of France's court, the fifth volume felt like some sort of interlude and was a bit discordant in the greater scheme of things. The following book, The Lily and the Lion, turned out to be more history textbook than novelization, and as such it was a disappointment.

Still, with family rivalries, politicking, betrayals and back-stabbings, ASOIAF fans will find a lot to love about Maurice Druon's The Accursed Kings. And given the fact that these books were first published back in the 50s, they have definitely aged well and are as easy to read as any contemporary novels on the market today. I was curious to see how the author would close the show in the final volume. Alas, Druon elected to change narrative form and this more or less killed The King Without a Kingdom from the get-go. It is by far the weakest in the series so far.

So much so that, like Glen Cook's recent Black Company novel, I suggest that readers simply skip it. It's a shame, but I now understand why it took so long for them to translate this final installment in English.

Here's the blurb:

Available for the first time in English, THE KING WITHOUT A KINGDOM is the seventh and final volume of The Accursed Kings series.

The reign of the Capetian kings has ended and John II, ‘The Good’, takes the throne.

Under the leadership of this vain, cruel, incompetent monarch The Hundred Years War escalates and England and France begin to tear each other apart. Warring factions plunder the land, famine threatens the people and the Black Death spreads far and wide. France is bleeding to death around the new king…

The structure of these novels has always revolved around a number of disparate POVs which allow readers to witness events through the eyes of a variety of protagonists. This helped generate more emotional impact, as you saw the web of scandal and intrigue weaving itself throughout all the storylines. This was what made the series so memorable, no question. Sadly, Druon decided to forgo this tried and true recipe and he went for a completely different narrative form. One that is so divergent and off-putting that it makes you want to throw the book across the room just a few chapters in.

Indeed, instead of going for an omiscient narrator, this time around the author opted for the first-person perspective of pompous Cardinal Talleyrand-Périgord, who recounts the catastrophic reign of John II and the escalation of the Hundred Years War. The narrative is little more than the vapid and pretentious recollections the cardinal shares with his newphew as his grand entourage travels toward Metz. Although the events elaborated upon are fascinating, the papal legate's monotonous monologues often make you want to open your veins in frustration.

As always, I found the translation to be quite good. As was the case with the other installments, it is at times too literal, creating occasional odd turns of phrase. But other than that, there's absolutely nothing to complain about. Instead of relying on info-dumps, Druon once again elected to go for footnotes sending you to the back of the novel for more historical background and clarification. In the past, this usually maintained a fluid pace throughout.

Unfortunately, The King Without a Kingdom failed to deliver on basically all fronts. To a certain extent, this seventh installment is a bit of a travesty, an inferior work that doesn't deserve to be part of The Accursed Kings.

The final verdict: 4/10

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

Peter F. Hamilton contest winner!

This lucky gal will get her hands on my advance reading copy of Peter F. Hamilton's Salvation Lost. For more info, follow these Amazon Associate links: Canada, USA, Europe.

The winner is:

Christine Thompson, from Lebanon, New Hampshire, USA

Many thanks to all the participants!

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now download Kay Kenyon's At the Table of Wolves for only 1.99$ by following this Amazon Associate link. There is a price match in Canada.

Here's the blurb:

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy meets X-Men in a classic British espionage story. A young woman must go undercover and use her superpowers to discover a secret Nazi plot and stop an invasion of England.

In 1936, there are paranormal abilities that have slowly seeped into the world, brought to the surface by the suffering of the Great War. The research to weaponize these abilities in England has lagged behind Germany, but now it’s underway at an ultra-secret site called Monkton Hall.

Kim Tavistock, a woman with the talent of the spill—drawing out truths that people most wish to hide—is among the test subjects at the facility. When she wins the confidence of caseworker Owen Cherwell, she is recruited to a mission to expose the head of Monkton Hall—who is believed to be a German spy.

As she infiltrates the upper-crust circles of some of England’s fascist sympathizers, she encounters dangerous opponents, including the charismatic Nazi officer Erich von Ritter, and discovers a plan to invade England. No one believes an invasion of the island nation is possible, not Whitehall, not even England’s Secret Intelligence Service. Unfortunately, they are wrong, and only one woman, without connections or training, wielding her talent of the spill and her gift for espionage, can stop it.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

For a limited time, you can get your hands on the digital edition of Tim Powers' Dinner at Deviant's Palace for only 1.99$ by following this Amazon Associate link.

Here's the blurb:

Winner of the Philip K. Dick Award: In a nuclear-ravaged California, a humble musician sets out on a dangerous quest to rescue his lost love from the clutches of a soul-devouring religious cult.

In the twenty-second century, the City of Angels is a tragic shell of its former self, having long ago been ruined and reshaped by nuclear disaster. Before he was in a band in Ellay, Gregorio Rivas was a redeemer, rescuing lost souls trapped in the Jaybirds cult of the powerful maniac Norton Jaybush. Rivas had hoped those days were behind him, but a desperate entreaty from a powerful official is pulling him back into the game. The rewards will be plentiful if he can wrest Urania, the official’s daughter and Gregorio’s first love, from Jaybush’s sinister clutches. To do so, the redeemer reborn must face blood-sucking hemogoblins and other monstrosities on his way to discovering the ultimate secrets of this neo-Californian civilization.

One of the most ingeniously imaginative writers of our time, Tim Powers dazzles in an early work that displays his unique creative genius. Alive with wit, intelligence, and wild invention, Dinner at Deviant’s Palace is a mad adventure across a dystopian future as only Tim Powers could have imagined it.

This ebook features an original introduction by the author.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now download Jonathan Maberry's The Dragon Factory for only 2.99$ by following this Amazon Associate link. There is a price match in Canada.

Here's the blurb:

Joe Ledger and the DMS (Department of Military Sciences) go up against two competing groups of geneticists. One side is creating exotic transgenic monsters and genetically enhanced mercenary armies; the other is using 21st century technology to continue the Nazi Master Race program begun by Josef Mengele. Both sides want to see the DMS destroyed, and they've drawn first blood. Neither side is prepared for Joe Ledger as he leads Echo Team to war under a black flag.

You can also get your hands on the next installment, The King of Plagues, for only 2.99$ by following this Amazon Associate link. There is a price match in Canada.

Here's the blurb:

Saturday 09:11 Hours: A blast rocks a London hospital and thousands are dead or injured… 10:09 Hours: Joe Ledger arrives on scene to investigate. The horror is unlike anything he has ever seen. Compelled by grief and rage, Joe rejoins the DMS and within hours is attacked by a hit-team of assassins and sent on a suicide mission into a viral hot zone during an Ebola outbreak. Soon Joe Ledger and the Department of Military Sciences begin tearing down the veils of deception to uncover a vast and powerful secret society using weaponized versions of the Ten Plagues of Egypt to destabilize world economies and profit from the resulting chaos. Millions will die unless Joe Ledger meets the this powerful new enemy on their own terms as he fights terror with terror.

Finally, you can download Isaac Asimov and Robert Silverberg's Nightfall for only 1.99$ by following this Amazon Associate link. There is a price match in Canada.

Here's the blurb:

On a planet with six suns, night is about to fall for the first time in two thousand years . . .

The planet Kalgash is on the brink of chaos—but only a handful of people realize it. Kalgash knows only the perpetual light of day; for more than two millennia, some combination of its six suns has lit up the sky. But twilight is now gathering. Soon the suns will set all at one—and the terrifying splendor of Nightfall will call forth a madness that signals the end of civilization.

Isaac Asimov's short story “Nightfall” first appeared in 1941. It has since become recognized as a classic, its author a legend. But the short story isn't the whole story. Now, Dr. Asimov has teamed with multiple Hugo and Nebula Award winner Robert Silverberg to explore and expand one of the most awe-inspiring concepts in the history of science fiction.

In this novel, you will witness Nightfall—and much more.

You will learn what happens at Daybreak.

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

In hardcover:

Stephen King's The Institute is up one position, ending the week at number 8. For more info about this title, follow these Amazon Associate links: Canada, USA, Europe.

Margaret Atwood's The Testaments is down three positions, ending the week at number 13. For more info about this title, follow these Amazon Associate links: Canada, USA, Europe.

Leigh Bardugo's Ninth House maintains its position at number 14.

In paperback:

Stephen King's Doctor Sleep is up six spots, finishing the week at number 7 (trade paperback).

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

Nora Robert's Of Blood and Bone debuts at number 11 (trade paperback).

Musical Interlude

The most powerful and haunting piece of what could be the very best movie soundtrack ever produced. Hans Zimmer truly knocked it out of the park.

I'd usually go for the musical score, but I find this live performance to be amazing.

Cold Days

After a number of more straightforward and episodic installments, with Dead Beat the Dresden Files shifted into high gear. Followed by Proven Guilty, White Night, Small Favor, and Turn Coat, Jim Butcher elevated his game with basically every new volume. As I mentioned in previous reviews, 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.

Changes, the very best installment yet, proved to be the culmination of a panoply of interwoven plotlines introduced in previous novels. It raised the bar higher than ever before and nothing will ever be the same for poor Harry Dresden from here on out. A major turning point for the series and its characters, no doubt about it. For its part, Ghost Story felt like a transition novel meant to bridge what happened before with whatever will come next.

And if the plot of Cold Days is any indication, it appears that the Dresden Files has plenty of drama and fireworks left in store for its readers.

Here's the blurb:

You can't keep a good wizard down - even when he wants to stay that way.

For years, Harry Dresden has been Chicago's only professional wizard, but a bargain made in desperation with the Queen of Air and Darkness has forced him into a new job: professional killer.

Mab, the mother of wicked faeries, has restored the mostly-dead wizard to health, and dispatches him upon his first mission - to bring death to an immortal. Even as he grapples with the impossible task, Dresden learns of a looming danger to Demonreach, the living island hidden upon Lake Michigan, a place whose true purpose and dark potential have the potential to destroy billions and to land Dresden in the deepest trouble he has ever known - even deeper than being dead. How messed up is that?

Beset by his new enemies and hounded by the old, Dresden has only twenty four hours to reconnect with his old allies, prevent a cataclysm and do the impossible - all while the power he bargained to get - but never meant to keep - lays siege to his very soul.

Magic. It can get a guy killed.

Right off the bat, though I'm all for authors reminding readers of what has gone before, I feel that Butcher went all out in Cold Days. I mean, this is volume 14, right? True, minor or obscure or distant plot points should be re-introduced so as to not confuse fans who have no reread the whole sequence recently. However, there was no need to remind us of who Bob the skull is. We know about Thomas, Murphy, Molly, etc. There's no need to describe Harry's old apartment and his patched-up VW car. I doubt that newbies are jumping into the Dresden Files by reading the 14th installment. And there is so much good stuff taking place that such redundant info-dumps actually slow down the momentum of the novel. This could be construed as nitpicking, I know, but I just feel that such unecessary sections should have been removed during the editing process.

Harry Dresden's life has always been complicated. If ever there was someone who deserved to rest in peace, it was Harry. Unfortunately, he immediately discovered that the afterlife wasn't all it's cracked up to be. And if the afterlife was no walk in the park, coming back to life will come with even more challenges. Assuming the mantle of the Winter Knight could potentially change Harry and turn him into a monster like his predecessor. As if that wasn't enough, he must now find a way to kill an immortal while various factions are trying to kill him. Oh and he has about 24 hours to save the world from a magical threat that could wipe out the entire American Midwest. No pressure.

As a matter of course, Cold Days features the first person narrative of Harry Dresden. His voice as the only POV continues to be witty and irreverent, filled with dark humor that makes you chuckle in every chapter. And yet, as has been the case with the majority of the last few Dresden Files installments, it's the supporting cast that helps make this one another great read. Harry's death had a profound impact on those who were close to him, and his coming back to life will come as a shock to many of them. Once again, there are some truly touching moments involving them. Like he did in Changes and Ghost Story, 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.

Cold Days 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. Revelations about the Summer Court, the Winter Court, Merlin, the Demonreach island, the Outsiders, other deities and immortals, and lots of other things make for some compulsive reading. Hints have always been there, yet in Ghost Story it became evident that Harry was a pawn in a game played by higher powers. We see evidence of that again in this 14th volume.

Convoluted and entertaining, Cold Days elevates the Dresden Files to yet another level and opens the door for so much more. Looking forward to Skin Game!

The final verdict: 8.5/10

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

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

In hardcover:

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

Margaret Atwood's The Testaments is down two positions, ending the week at number 10. For more info about this title, follow these Amazon Associate links: Canada, USA, Europe.

Brent Weeks' The Burning White debuts at number 11.

Leigh Bardugo's Ninth House is down five spots, finishing the week at number 14.

In paperback:

Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale is up one position, ending the week at number 4 (trade paperback).

Stephen King's It is up four positions, ending the week at number 10 (trade paperback).

Stephen King's Doctor Sleep is down one spot, finishing the week at number 13 (trade paperback).

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can get your hands on Suyi Davies Okungbowa's fantasy debut, David Mogo, Godhunter, for only 3.77$ by following this Amazon Associate link.

Here's the blurb:

Nigerian God-Punk - a powerful and atmospheric urban fantasy set in Lagos.

Since the Orisha War that rained thousands of deities down on the streets of Lagos, David Mogo, demigod, scours Eko’s dank underbelly for a living wage as a freelance Godhunter. Despite pulling his biggest feat yet by capturing a high god for a renowned Eko wizard, David knows his job’s bad luck. He’s proved right when the wizard conjures a legion of Taboos—feral godling-child hybrids—to seize Lagos for himself. To fix his mistake and keep Lagos standing, David teams up with his foster wizard, the high god’s twin sister and a speech-impaired Muslim teenage girl to defeat the wizard.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now get your hands on the excellent The Briar King by Greg Keyes for only 2.99$ by following this Amazon Associate link.

Here's the blurb:

Two thousand years ago, the Born Queen defeated the Skasloi lords, freeing humans from the bitter yoke of slavery. But now monstrous creatures roam the land—and destinies become inextricably entangled in a drama of power and seduction. The king’s woodsman, a rebellious girl, a young priest, a roguish adventurer, and a young man made suddenly into a knight—all face malevolent forces that shake the foundations of the kingdom, even as the Briar King, legendary harbinger of death, awakens from his slumber. At the heart of this many-layered tale is Anne Dare, youngest daughter of the royal family . . . upon whom the fate of her world may depend.

This week's New York Times Bestsellers (October 28th)

In hardcover:

Stephen King's The Institute maintains its position at number 5. For more info about this title, follow these Amazon Associate links: Canada, USA, Europe.

Margaret Atwood's The Testaments maintains its position at number 8. For more info about this title, follow these Amazon Associate links: Canada, USA, Europe.

Leigh Bardugo's Ninth House is down five spots, finishing the week at number 9.

In paperback:

Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale maintains its position at number 5 (trade paperback).

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

Stephen King's It is down four positions, ending the week at number 10 (trade paperback).

Musical Interlude

Blast from the past!