This week's New York Times Bestsellers (February 22nd)

In hardcover:

V.E. Schwab's The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is up one spot, finishing the week at number 6.

Ernest Cline's Ready Player Two is up one position, ending the week at number 13.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now download Naomi Novik's A Deadly Education for only 2.99$ by following this Amazon Associate link. There is a price match in Canada.

Here's the blurb:

I decided that Orion Lake needed to die after the second time he saved my life.

Everyone loves Orion Lake. Everyone else, that is. Far as I’m concerned, he can keep his flashy combat magic to himself. I’m not joining his pack of adoring fans.

I don’t need help surviving the Scholomance, even if they do. Forget the hordes of monsters and cursed artifacts, I’m probably the most dangerous thing in the place. Just give me a chance and I’ll level mountains and kill untold millions, make myself the dark queen of the world.

At least, that’s what the world expects. Most of the other students in here would be delighted if Orion killed me like one more evil thing that’s crawled out of the drains. Sometimes I think they want me to turn into the evil witch they assume I am. The school certainly does.

But the Scholomance isn’t getting what it wants from me. And neither is Orion Lake. I may not be anyone’s idea of the shining hero, but I’m going to make it out of this place alive, and I’m not going to slaughter thousands to do it, either.

Although I’m giving serious consideration to just one.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

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

Here's the blurb:

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

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

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

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

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

This week's New York Times Bestsellers (February 15th)

In hardcover:

V.E. Schwab's The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is up three spots, finishing the week at number 7.

Ernest Cline's Ready Player Two is down five positions, ending the week at number 14.

Win a set of the Poison War novels by Sam Hawke

I'm giving away a set of the Poison War novels by Sam Hawke, compliments of the folks at Bantam Press. The prize pack includes:

- City of Lies (Canada, USA, Europe)
- Hollow Empire (Canada, USA, Europe)

Here's the blurb for the first installment:

I was seven years old the first time my uncle poisoned me . . .

Only a handful of people in Silasta know Jovan’s real purpose in life. To most, he is just another son of the ruling class. The quiet, forgettable friend of the Chancellor’s charming, irresponsible heir. In reality, Jovan has been trained for most of his life to detect, concoct and withstand poisons in order to protect the ruling family.

His sister Kalina is too frail to share in their secret family duty. While other women of the city hold positions of power and responsibility, her path is full of secrets and lies – some hidden even from her own brother.

Until now, peace has reigned in Silasta for hundreds of years. But when the Chancellor succumbs to an unknown poison and an army storms the gates, the so-called Bright City is completely unprepared. It falls to Jovan and Kalina to protect the heir and save their homeland – but first they must make their way through a new world of unexpected treachery, a world where the ancient spirits are rising . . . and angry.

This fabulous epic fantasy debut will appeal to readers of Joe Abercrombie and Terry Brooks, Robin Hobb and Mark Lawrence and all points in between.

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

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

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

Good luck to all the participants!

Fairhaven Rising

Between 2017 and 2019, L. E. Modesitt, jr. released Beltur's story arc in three installments; The Mongrel Mage, Outcasts of Order, and The Mage-Fire War. And though I enjoyed the novels, there's no denying that the plot was padded with a lot of filler material. Beltur's tale and the creation of Fairhaven were worthy additions to the Recluce canon, yet I felt that it would have worked better as the habitual two-installment Recluce project.

Splitting this arc into three separate volumes probably explained why The Mongrel Mage did not stand as well on its own compared to previous entries in the Recluce saga. As expected, given that the manuscript was never meant to be split into two books, Outcasts of Order did suffer from middle book syndrome and it felt a bit incongruous compared to its predecessors.

Still, The Mage-Fire War brought this latest Recluce arc to a satisfying end. One that raised as many questions as the answers it provided. The enormous price paid for Beltur's unforgiving response in the hope to end this war and engender long-term peace to allow Haven to grow would undoubtedly have profound repercussions on the young man and those he cared for. And it was obvious that Taelya's own storyline had barely begun, with a lot more in store for her in the coming years. Back then, I wondered if she'd be the main protagonist in Modesitt's next Recluce offering. Looks like the author wasted no time writing what came next!

Here's the blurb:

Modesitt continues his bestselling Saga of Recluce with his twenty-second book in the long-running series. Fairhaven Rising follows The Mage-Fire War.

Sixteen years have passed since the mage Beltur helped to found the town of Fairhaven, and Taelya, Beltur's adopted niece, is now a white mage undercaptain in the Road Guards of Fairhaven.

Fairhaven's success under the Council has become an impediment to the ambition of several rulers, and the mages protecting the town are seen as a threat.

Taelya, a young and untried mage, will find herself at the heart of a conspiracy to destroy her home and the people she loves, and she may not be powerful enough to stop it in time.

As always, the worldbuilding is one of the most fascinating aspects of any new Recluce offering. Like many other historical figures, though his tale has yet to be told in full, Beltur has already left his own indelible mark upon the Recluce timeline. Modesitt continues to explore the relationship between Order and Chaos. As Beltur and Jessyla did more than a decade before, Taelya trains to become a battlefield healer as well as a warrior, and we learn more about Chaos, Order, and the manners in which they can both be used for healing and for fighting. Speaking of Taelya, it's evident that, like Beltur and Jessyla, she will have her own part to play as Fairhaven grows and welcomes more mages. And given the foreshadowing Modesitt provided in the previous three novels, it appears that the future may not be all that bright for the woman she'll become. It will also be interesting to see how her future storyline will shine some light on how a city founded by Black Mages will some day become a bastion held by the Whites. But Fairhaven Rising focuses on the early years of that city, as Beltur, Taelya, and every other citizen must come together to thwart a conspiracy that would see Fairhaven destroyed by outside forces which have come to envy its growth with each passing year.

Beltur was never an easy protagonist to root for. He probably always knew that the price to pay would be higher than they ever envisioned, but refused to accept that fact. In The Mage-Fire War, it dawned upon him that they would never be left alone as long as the duke of Hydlen could send troopers and wizards against them. And though it went against everything he was and believed in, Beltur had no choice but to be utterly ruthless if Fairhaven stood a chance of ever establishing itself. The ending, in particular, was as surprising as it was uncompromising. Given her difficult upbringing and the death of her father when she was just a child, Taelya, though she doesn't realize it yet, is made of stronger stuff than her uncle and shows a more unbending nature. A do-gooder at heart, the sacrifices she is forced to make in Fairhaven Rising will indubitably change her and I'm curious to see what comes next for her and Fairhaven itself. In many ways, her tale follows Beltur's footsteps, and as such may not have been as original as it could have been. With many returning familiar faces, the supporting cast is engaging, chief among them Tulya, Jessyla, Beltur, and their children, Kaeryla, Althaal, and Dorylt. There is also Gustaan, a captain of the Fairhaven Guard, and Varais, a former Westwind guard. I understand that these books are about emancipation and female empowerment, but I found Valchar and Sheralt to be petulant and lacking backbones when dealing with the Taelya and Kaeryla. They acted more like sullen teenagers than young men training for war. Then again, maturity in younger men, especially when dealing with the fairer sex, is never a given.

L. E. Modesitt's works are never fast-paced affairs and this is true for Fairhaven Rising as well. With the groundwork laid out by the last three books, the author needed less time to establish the various storylines and protagonists. But again, you then have to follow the main character as he or she must learn, experiment, and puzzle out ways to escape a number of predicaments before the endgame can take place. In that respect, this new novel followed the classic Recluce recipe that long-time fans know so well. Hence, not surprisingly, Fairhaven Rising suffers from pacing issues. And sadly, as was the case with the three Beltur installments, there was not enough material to warrant a full novel and Modesitt's latest is padded with lots of extraneous and often superfluous scenes that are totally unnecessary. There are so many scenes featuring characters currying their horses, cleaning the stables, preparing and then eating countless meals, etc. It's obvious that Fairhaven Rising is just the first chapter in Taelya's tale, but in and of itself couldn't fill an entire book.

In the end, Fairhaven Rising is far from perfect. But regardless of its shortcomings, Taelya's story arc should please most Recluce fans out there. I just wish that the novel had been more self-contained. That's four Recluce offerings in a row that don't quite live up to the standards established by past standalone titles and two-volume sequences. Here's to hoping that subsequent installments will be a return to form.

The final verdict: 7/10

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

This week's New York Times Bestsellers (February 8th)

In hardcover:

V.E. Schwab's The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is down two positions, ending the week at number 4.

Ernest Cline's Ready Player Two maintains its position at number 9.

Charles Soule's Star Wars: Light of the Jedi is down five positions, ending the week at number 15.

In paperback:

T. J. Klune's House in the Cerulean Sea is down one spot, finishing the week at number 11 (trade paperback).

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now download Patrick Rothfuss' The Slow Regard of Silent Things for only 1.99$ by following this Amazon Associate link. There is a price match in Canada.

Here's the blurb:

Deep below the University, there is a dark place. Few people know of it: a broken web of ancient passageways and abandoned rooms. A young woman lives there, tucked among the sprawling tunnels of the Underthing, snug in the heart of this forgotten place. Her name is Auri, and she is full of mysteries.

The Slow Regard of Silent Things is a brief, bittersweet glimpse of Auri’s life, a small adventure all her own. At once joyous and haunting, this story offers a chance to see the world through Auri’s eyes. And it gives the reader a chance to learn things that only Auri knows…

In this book, Patrick Rothfuss brings us into the world of one of The Kingkiller Chronicle’s most enigmatic characters. Full of secrets and mysteries, The Slow Regard of Silent Things is the story of a broken girl trying to live in a broken world.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now download Dan Simmons' excellent The Terror for only 3.99$ by following this Amazon Associate link. There is a price match in Canada.

Here's the blurb:

Greeted with excited critical praise, this extraordinary novel-inspired by the true story of two ice ships that disappeared in the Arctic Circle during an 1845 expedition-swells with the heart-stopping suspense and heroic adventure that have won Dan Simmons praise as “a writer who not only makes big promises but keeps them” (Seattle Post-Intelligencer). THE TERROR chills readers to the core.

This week's New York Times Bestsellers (February 1st)

In hardcover:

V.E. Schwab's The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is up five positions, ending the week at number 2.

Ernest Cline's Ready Player Two is up two positions, ending the week at number 9.

Charles Soule's Star Wars: Light of the Jedi is down six positions, ending the week at number 10.

In paperback:

T. J. Klune's House in the Cerulean Sea debuts at number 10 (trade paperback).