More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now get your hands on the digital edition of Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman's Dragons of Winter Night for only 1.99$ by following this Amazon Associate link. There is a price match in Canada.
Here's the blurb:

Return to the mystical world of Krynn, where the heroic Companions continue their fantastical adventures—and face their greatest challenge yet.

With the return of the dragon minions of Takhisis, the Queen of Dragons, the land of Krynn has become more dangerous than ever. But as the nations of Krynn prepare to fight for their homes, their lives, and their freedom, longstanding hatreds and prejudices interfere. When fighting breaks out among the races, it seems the battle is lost before it even begins.

Meanwhile, the heroic Companions have been torn apart by war. A full season will pass before they meet again—if they meet again. Raistlin has made an ominous prediction, one that implies not all of the Companions will survive the fight. His warning, along with sinister dreams, haunt the friends as they search for the weapons that will stop the Dark Queen in her tracks: the mysterious Dragon Orbs and legendary Dragonlance.

Another riveting tale in the Dragonlance Chronicles, Dragons of Winter Night is an action-packed adventure in which the true value of love and friendship is measured against the backdrop of a catastrophic war between good and evil.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

Once again, you can download Christopher Buehlman's The Blacktongue Thief for only 2.99$ by following this Amazon Associate link. There is a price match in Canada.

This one's supposed to be a very entertaining read. I kind of regret not requesting an ARC when the publisher offered me an early read.

Here's the blurb:

Kinch Na Shannack owes the Takers Guild a small fortune for his education as a thief, which includes (but is not limited to) lock-picking, knife-fighting, wall-scaling, fall-breaking, lie-weaving, trap-making, plus a few small magics. His debt has driven him to lie in wait by the old forest road, planning to rob the next traveler that crosses his path.

But today, Kinch Na Shannack has picked the wrong mark.

Galva is a knight, a survivor of the brutal goblin wars, and handmaiden of the goddess of death. She is searching for her queen, missing since a distant northern city fell to giants.

Unsuccessful in his robbery and lucky to escape with his life, Kinch now finds his fate entangled with Galva's. Common enemies and uncommon dangers force thief and knight on an epic journey where goblins hunger for human flesh, krakens hunt in dark waters, and honor is a luxury few can afford.

You can also download the entire Mistborn trilogy by Brandon Sanderson for only 4.99$ here.

Here's the blurb from the first volume:

Brandon Sanderson, fantasy’s newest master tale spinner, author of the acclaimed debut Elantris, dares to turn a genre on its head by asking a simple question: What if the hero of prophecy fails? What kind of world results when the Dark Lord is in charge? The answer will be found in the Mistborn Trilogy, a saga of surprises and magical martial-arts action that begins in Mistborn.

For a thousand years the ash fell and no flowers bloomed. For a thousand years the Skaa slaved in misery and lived in fear. For a thousand years the Lord Ruler, the “Sliver of Infinity,” reigned with absolute power and ultimate terror, divinely invincible. Then, when hope was so long lost that not even its memory remained, a terribly scarred, heart-broken half-Skaa rediscovered it in the depths of the Lord Ruler’s most hellish prison. Kelsier “snapped” and found in himself the powers of a Mistborn. A brilliant thief and natural leader, he turned his talents to the ultimate caper, with the Lord Ruler himself as the mark.

Kelsier recruited the underworld’s elite, the smartest and most trustworthy allomancers, each of whom shares one of his many powers, and all of whom relish a high-stakes challenge. Only then does he reveal his ultimate dream, not just the greatest heist in history, but the downfall of the divine despot.

But even with the best criminal crew ever assembled, Kel’s plan looks more like the ultimate long shot, until luck brings a ragged girl named Vin into his life. Like him, she’s a half-Skaa orphan, but she’s lived a much harsher life. Vin has learned to expect betrayal from everyone she meets, and gotten it. She will have to learn to trust, if Kel is to help her master powers of which she never dreamed.

Readers of Elantris thought they'd discovered someone special in Brandon Sanderson. Mistborn proves they were right.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now download Peter F. Hamilton's Salvation for only 1.99$ by following this Amazon Associate link.

Here's the blurb:

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

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

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

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

In hardcover:

Diana Gabaldon's Go Tell the Bees That I am Gone returns at number 15.

In paperback:

Emily St. John Mandel's Station Eleven is down one spot, finishing the week at number 12.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now download Graham Hancock's Fingerprints of the Gods for only 2.99$ by following this Amazon Associate link.

Here's the blurb:

Could the story of mankind be far older than we have previously believed? Using tools as varied as archaeo-astronomy, geology, and computer analysis of ancient myths, Graham Hancock presents a compelling case to suggest that it is.

“A fancy piece of historical sleuthing . . . intriguing and entertaining and sturdy enough to give a long pause for thought.”—Kirkus Reviews

In Fingerprints of the Gods, Hancock embarks on a worldwide quest to put together all the pieces of the vast and fascinating jigsaw of mankind’s hidden past. In ancient monuments as far apart as Egypt’s Great Sphinx, the strange Andean ruins of Tihuanaco, and Mexico’s awe-inspiring Temples of the Sun and Moon, he reveals not only the clear fingerprints of an as-yet-unidentified civilization of remote antiquity, but also startling evidence of its vast sophistication, technological advancement, and evolved scientific knowledge.

A record-breaking number one bestseller in Britain, Fingerprints of the Gods contains the makings of an intellectual revolution, a dramatic and irreversible change in the way that we understand our past—and so our future.

And Fingerprints of God tells us something more. As we recover the truth about prehistory, and discover the real meaning of ancient myths and monuments, it becomes apparent that a warning has been handed down to us, a warning of terrible cataclysm that afflicts the Earth in great cycles at irregular intervals of time—a cataclysm that may be about to recur.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now download Octavia E. Butler's Lilith's Brood: The Complete Xenogenesis trilogy for only 2.99$ by following this Amazon Associate link. There is a price match in Canada.

Here's the blurb:

Three novels in one volume: the acclaimed science fiction trilogy about an alien species that could save humanity after nuclear apocalypse—or destroy it.

The newest stage in human evolution begins in outer space. Survivors of a cataclysmic nuclear war awake to find themselves being studied by the Oankali, tentacle-covered galactic travelers whose benevolent appearance hides their surprising plan for the future of mankind. The Oankali arrive not just to save humanity, but to bond with it—crossbreeding to form a hybrid species that can survive in the place of its human forebears, who were so intent on self-destruction. Some people resist, forming pocket communities of purebred rebellion, but many realize they have no choice. The human species inevitably expands into something stranger, stronger, and undeniably alien.

From Hugo and Nebula award–winning author Octavia Butler, Lilith’s Brood is both a thrilling, epic adventure of man’s struggle to survive after Earth’s destruction, and a provocative meditation on what it means to be human.

This ebook features an illustrated biography of Octavia E. Butler including rare images from the author’s estate.

Billy Summers

You may have noticed that I've been working my way through a number of older and not-so-old Stephen King titles lately. Given its popularity, even by the author's standards, and its constant ranking on the NYT bestselling list, I've had my eye on Billy Summers for quite some time. I finally caved in a few weeks back and I'm glad I did, for King's latest is another compelling read!

I was a little surprised that there were no paranormal elements in this one. Other than the weird vibes emanating from the site where the Overlook Hotel from The Shining used to stand, that is. So be advised that it's more of a crime/mystery thriller than King's usual fare. Which doesn't take anything away from the novel, mind you. Just something I wasn't expecting.

Here's the blurb:

Billy Summers is a man in a room with a gun. He’s a killer for hire and the best in the business. But he’ll do the job only if the target is a truly bad guy. And now Billy wants out. But first there is one last hit. Billy is among the best snipers in the world, a decorated Iraq war vet, a Houdini when it comes to vanishing after the job is done. So what could possibly go wrong?

How about everything.

I was surprised when I discovered that SFF author Myke Cole helped King with research for this novel. Given Cole's military background and the fact that he's a security expert, I'm sure his input proved to be invaluable to make Billy Summers' story just right. It certainly added layers to Billy's tale, first as we learn more about his time in Iraq and the culmination of the events that led to the battle of Fallujah, and then as we find out how he managed to "disappear" after leaving the army and live as a ghost ever since. This is important because, no matter how engrossing the book's main plot turned out to be, it's really Billy's story, from his troubled childhood and teenage years to how he became a killer for hire, that makes this such a gripping read.

I had my doubts at the beginning, mainly because I wasn't sure that Billy's cover, that of an aspiring author seeking time away to write his novel, could hold up. And then, as he plays his part and befriends his neighbors and the people working in the building where the hit is being planned, I realized that it worked perfectly well. In many ways, this was the most captivating part of the book. Not only is Billy setting up his last hit, but he plays the role of the author in residence close to perfection. In addition, the fact that Billy elects to write his own story is brilliant. Through this plot device, King allows readers to follow what's taking place in "real time" and it also gives them a chance to find out everything they need to know about the main protagonist's background and story arc.

I loved how Billy plays his "dumb self" for effect, but is in truth a very smart man. As I mentioned, discovering just how deep and thoughtful this hired killer can be was the highlight of the novel for me. The supporting cast featured during his stint in Midwood allowed Billy to shine, what with his relationships with his neighbors, their children, or his attraction for Phyllis. And the more you learn about Billy's past, the more you realize how much depth there is to him. Things don't quite add up, yet Billy is willing to go through with this last assassination. He just needs to find a way to outwit those who have hired him in case something goes wrong.

As a matter of course, it does. When the proverbial shit hits the fan, the novel switches gears and becomes something different. There is a clear shift between the portion of the book leading up to the hit and the part dealing with its aftermath. Personally, I much preferred the setup to what comes after, even though the second part of Billy Summers remains quite good. We knew from the start that Billy's unwilling involvement with Alice would totally change the dynamics of the tale, and it does take the plot down unexpected roads. Which, in the end, isn't a bad thing. Payback's a bitch, as many people are about to find out.

With Stephen King, the question always remains the same. Can he close the show with the same style and aplomb that characterize the earlier portions of his novels? This often makes or breaks a King title. The kicker is that Billy Summers benefits from a very good ending. There is a major twist that I didn't expect, which raised the bar even higher.

Highly recommended.

The final verdict: 8.5/10

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

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now download Marissa Levien's The World Gives Way for only 2.99$ by following this Amazon Associate link. There is a price match in Canada.

Here's the blurb:

A New York Times Best Sci-Fi and Fantasy Novel of 2021
A Fortune Magazine Best Book of 2021

"A staggering marvel."—The New York Times

“The World Gives Way has a sweeping world rich in lore and an electric plot.”—Brandon Taylor, Booker Prize-nominated author of Real Life

In a near-future world on the brink of collapse, a young woman born into servitude must seize her own freedom in this glittering debut with a brilliant twist.

In fifty years, Myrra will be free.

Until then, she's a contract worker. Ever since she was five, her life and labor have belonged to the highest bidder on her contract—butchers, laundries, and now the powerful, secretive Carlyles.

But when one night finds the Carlyles dead, Myrra is suddenly free a lot sooner than she anticipated—and at a cost she never could have imagined. Burdened with the Carlyles' orphaned daughter and the terrible secret they died to escape, she runs. With time running out, Myrra must come face to face with the truth about her world—and embrace what's left before it's too late.

A sweeping novel with a darkly glimmering heart, The World Gives Way is an unforgettable portrait of a world in freefall, and the fierce drive to live even at the end of it all.

This week's New York Times Bestsellers (January 30th)

In paperback:

Emily St. John Mandel's Station Eleven returns at number 11.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can download Robert McCammon's Swan Song for only 2.99$ by following this Amazon Associate link. There is a price match in Canada.

Here's the blurb:

McCammon’s epic bestselling novel about a girl psychic struggling to survive in the aftermath of a nuclear holocaust.

Something flashes in nine-year-old Swan’s brain, telling her that trouble is coming. Maybe it’s her mother, fed up with her current boyfriend and ready to abandon their dismal trailer park and seek a new home. But something far worse is on the horizon. Death falls from the sky—nuclear bombs which annihilate American civilization. Though Swan survives the blast, this young psychic’s war is just beginning.

As the survivors try to make new lives in the wasteland, an evil army forms, intent on murdering all those tainted with the diseases brought by fallout. When Swan finds a mysterious amulet that could hold the key to humankind’s salvation, she draws the attention of a man more dangerous than any nuclear bomb. To rescue mankind, this little girl will have to grow up fast.

You can also get your hands on the digital edition of Fritz Leiber's The Adventures of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser omnibus for only 4.99$ here. There is a price match in Canada.

Here's the blurb:

The Hugo and Nebula Award–winning series of swords and sorcery, featuring two unorthodox heroes, from a Grand Master of Science Fiction and Fantasy.

Many decades before George R. R. Martin’s Game of Thrones, Grand Master Fritz Leiber ruled the sword-and-sorcery universe. These three short story collections chronicle the unconventional adventures of Leiber’s endearing antiheroes: barbarian Fafhrd and former wizard’s apprentice, the Gray Mouser.

Swords and Deviltry: Fafhrd, a handsome barbarian of the Steppes, is seduced by a beautiful prostitute and her equally intoxicating city, while the Gray Mouser, a slum rat wizard-in-training, is tempted by the dark arts. The two men meet on a night of multiple thieveries and an enduring partnership is born.

Swords Against Death: Rogue swordsmen and devoted companions Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser pursue ill-gotten fortunes within the confines of Lankhmar. They cross paths with two wizards, Sheelba of the Eyeless Face and Ningauble of the Seven Eyes, and a most violent clash ensues. Eventually, following further adventures, the two antiheroes end up as indentured swordsman servants to their former foes.

Swords in the Mist: A cloud of concentrated hatred and lean times in Lankhmar compels Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser to temporarily depart the most corrupt metropolis in all of Nehwon as they seek adventure in the realm of the Sea-King—and on a different world entirely.

This must-read collection of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser short stories features multiple Hugo and Nebula Award–nominated tales, and includes the acclaimed novella Ill Met in Lankhmar.

Finally, you can also download Jim Butcher's Brief Cases for only 1.99$ here. There is a price match in Canada.

Here's the blurb:

The world of Harry Dresden, Chicago’s only professional wizard, is rife with intrigue—and creatures of all supernatural stripes. And you’ll make their intimate acquaintance as Harry delves into the dark side of truth, justice, and the American way in this must-have short story collection.

From the Wild West to the bleachers at Wrigley Field, humans, zombies, incubi, and even fey royalty appear, ready to blur the line between friend and foe. In the never-before-published “Zoo Day,” Harry treads new ground as a dad, while fan-favorite characters Molly Carpenter, his onetime apprentice, White Council Warden Anastasia Luccio, and even Bigfoot stalk through the pages of more classic tales.

With twelve stories in all, Brief Cases offers both longtime fans and first-time readers tantalizing glimpses into Harry’s funny, gritty, and unforgettable realm, whetting their appetites for more to come from the wizard with a heart of gold.

The collection includes:

• “Curses,” from Naked City, edited by Ellen Datlow
• “AAAA Wizardry,” from the Dresden Files RPG
• “Even Hand,” from Dark and Stormy Knights, edited by P. N. Elrod
• “B is for Bigfoot,” from Under My Hat: Tales from the Cauldron, edited by Jonathan Strahan. Republished in Working for Bigfoot.
• “I was a Teenage Bigfoot,” from Blood Lite III: Aftertaste, edited by Kevin J. Anderson. Republished in Working for Bigfoot.
• “Bigfoot on Campus,” from Hex Appeal, edited by P. N. Elrod. Republished in Working for Bigfoot.
• “Bombshells,” from Dangerous Women, edited by George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois
• “Jury Duty,” from Unbound, edited by Shawn Speakman
• “Cold Case,” from Shadowed Souls, edited by Jim Butcher and Kerrie Hughes
• “Day One,” from Unfettered II, edited by Shawn Speakman
• “A Fistful of Warlocks,” from Straight Outta Tombstone, edited by David Boop
• “Zoo Day,” a brand-new novella, original to this collection

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now download Jin Yong's A Hero Born: The Definitive Edition for only 2.99$ by following this Amazon Associate link. There is a price match in Canada.

Here's the blurb:

The epic Chinese classic and phenomenon published in the US for the first time!

Set in ancient China, in a world where kung fu is magic, kingdoms vie for power and the battle to become the ultimate kung fu master unfolds, an unlikely hero is born… in the first book in the epic Legends of the Condor Heroes by the critically acclaimed master of the genre, Jin Yong.

After his father—a devoted Song patriot—is murdered by the Jin empire, Guo Jing and his mother flee to the plains of Ghengis Khan and his people for refuge. For one day he must face his mortal enemy in battle in the Garden of the Drunken Immortals. Under the tutelage of Genghis Khan and The Seven Heroes of the South, Guo Jing hones his kung fu skills. Humble, loyal and perhaps not always wise, Guo Jing faces a destiny both great and terrible.

However, in a land divided—and a future largely unknown—Guo Jing must navigate love and war, honor and betrayal before he can face his own fate and become the hero he’s meant to be.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now download Zen Cho's The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water for only 2.99$ by following this Amazon Associate link. There is a price match in Canada.

Here's the blurb:

Zen Cho returns with The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water, a found family wuxia fantasy that combines the vibrancy of old school martial arts movies with characters drawn from the margins of history.

A bandit walks into a coffeehouse, and it all goes downhill from there. Guet Imm, a young votary of the Order of the Pure Moon, joins up with an eclectic group of thieves (whether they like it or not) in order to protect a sacred object, and finds herself in a far more complicated situation than she could have ever imagined.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now get your hands on the digital edition of Naomi Alderman's The Power for only 3.99$ by following this Amazon Associate link. There is a price match in Canada.

Here's the blurb:

In THE POWER, the world is a recognizable place: there's a rich Nigerian boy who lounges around the family pool; a foster kid whose religious parents hide their true nature; an ambitious American politician; a tough London girl from a tricky family. But then a vital new force takes root and flourishes, causing their lives to converge with devastating effect. Teenage girls now have immense physical power--they can cause agonizing pain and even death. And, with this small twist of nature, the world drastically resets.

From award-winning author Naomi Alderman, THE POWER is speculative fiction at its most ambitious and provocative, at once taking us on a thrilling journey to an alternate reality, and exposing our own world in bold and surprising ways.

Boy's Life

I downloaded Robert R. McCammon's Boy's Life a few years back when the ebook went on sale. Since then, it just laid forgotten in my digital library. But given that it won the Bram Stoker Award for Best Novel in 1991 and the World Fantasy Award for Best Novel in 1992, I knew I wanted to get to it at some point.

Going through my Kindle library to select what to read next, I came across the book and realized that its time had come. And I'm sure glad I finally elected to give it a shot because it's a magical coming-of-age journey that truly made an impression on me. Boy's Life is an amazing read!

Here's the blurb:

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

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

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

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

The novel was released over three decades ago, but it doesn't show any signs of age. Given that it's set in the 60s, Boy's Life is somewhat of a timeless tale that sparks up nostalgia. Not only for that time and place, though I felt that it perfectly captured the political and social vibes of the southern states. But there is something inherently magical about this book. Though I'm a child of the 80s, it spoke to the little boy in me in myriad ways that made me stare in wonder. There are a lot of themes explored in this novel, all of them experienced by all kids going through childhood, on their way to adolescence and then adulthood. Love, hope, fear, anger, ignorance, grief, forgiveness, loss, and racism are just a few of what you can expect as you follow Cory's tale.

Quite a lot of reviews complain that the going is extremely slow and they're not wrong. There is no clear sense of plot in this one and it's not a bad thing. As the title implies, it's more about one boy's life and his self-discovery. Yes, the unsolved murder remains at the heart of the tale and it influences Cory's existence and the lives of his friends and family. Yet for the most part, it's more about the various experiences, both good and bad, that characterize one's childhood and the lessons that must be learned in order to move on. McCammon managed to bring the inner child out of me time and time again, and for that I'll be eternally grateful.

And though Boy's Life is never a fast-moving work, at no point is it boring either. Yes, there are a few supernatural elements. And yes, we get to the heart of the violent murder mystery before the end. But this is an atmospheric novel following the day-to-day life of a young boy and his friends. Their trials and tribulations, if you will. Robert R. McCammon's lyrical prose creates an evocative imagery that makes you live every moment as if you were there. And that, in my own humble opinion, is the beauty of the book. This is what struck a chord and pulled on the heartstrings. This is what makes Boy's Life such a captivating read. I mean, I was curious to discover the identity of the victim and who committed the murder. But I would have read hundreds of additional pages chronicling Cory and the rest of the gang's lives. Because even though me and my childhood friends lived in a different era, we all have to go through the same pleasant and traumatic experiences, the same rites of passage. Which is why Boy's Life resonated so much for me. As I'm sure it would for most of you. Personally, I feel that you have to be dead inside for such a story not to move you. . .

Let McCammon's prose take you back in time. Let this slow and meandering tale take you down memory lane. If you let it, Boy's Life will unlock your heart and bring forth your inner child. And for that alone, it's a priceless novel.

This one deserves the highest possible recommendation.

The final verdict: 9.5/10.

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

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now download Martha Wells' The Wizard Hunters for only 1.99$ by following this Amazon Associate link. There is a price match in Canada.

Here's the blurb:

Ile-Rien is in peril. A mysterious army known only as the Gardier has surrounded the country, attacking in ominous black airships. Hope is not lost though, for a magical sphere created by Ile-Rien's greatest sorcerer may hold the key to defeating the faceless enemy. But the sphere is unpredictable and has already claimed several lives. When a magical spell goes disastrously awry, young Tremaine Valiarde and a brave band are transported to another world. A world of rough magics, evil mages, honorable warriors -- and a secret Gardier base.

Quote of the Day

"Are all Russians crazy?"

"Yes," he said with a smile. "It is the only way to be Russian and happy at the same time."

- ANDY WEIR, Project Hail Mary (Canada, USA, Europe)

This week's New York Times Bestsellers (January 23rd)

In hardcover:

Claudia Gray's Star Wars: The Fallen Star debuts at number 13.

Diana Gabaldon's Go Tell the Bees That I am Gone is down five positions, ending the week at number 14.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now download M. R. Carey's The Book of Koli for only 1.99$ by following this Amazon Associate link. There is a price match in Canada.

The two sequels, The Trials of Koli and The Fall of Koli, are also discounted.

Here's the blurb:

The first in a masterful new trilogy from acclaimed author M. R. Carey, The Book of Koli begins the story of a young boy on a journey through a strange and deadly world of our making.

Everything that lives hates us...

Beyond the walls of the small village of Mythen Rood lies an unrecognizable landscape. A place where overgrown forests are filled with choker trees and deadly seeds that will kill you where you stand. And if they don't get you, one of the dangerous shunned men will.

Koli has lived in Mythen Rood his entire life. He believes the first rule of survival is that you don't venture too far beyond the walls.

He's wrong.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now get your hands on the digital edition of Rebecca Roanhorse's Black Sun for only 1.99$ by following this Amazon Associate link. There is a price match in Canada.

Here's the blurb:

A god will return
When the earth and sky converge
Under the black sun

In the holy city of Tova, the winter solstice is usually a time for celebration and renewal, but this year it coincides with a solar eclipse, a rare celestial even proscribed by the Sun Priest as an unbalancing of the world.

Meanwhile, a ship launches from a distant city bound for Tova and set to arrive on the solstice. The captain of the ship, Xiala, is a disgraced Teek whose song can calm the waters around her as easily as it can warp a man’s mind. Her ship carries one passenger. Described as harmless, the passenger, Serapio is a young man, blind, scarred, and cloaked in destiny. As Xiala well knows, when a man is described as harmless, he usually ends up being a villain.

Crafted with unforgettable characters, Rebecca Roanhorse has created a “brilliant world that shows the full panoply of human grace and depravity” (Ken Liu, award-winning author of The Grace of Kings). This epic adventure explores the decadence of power amidst the weight of history and the struggle of individuals swimming against the confines of society and their broken pasts in this “absolutely tremendous” (S.A. Chakraborty, nationally bestselling author of The City of Brass) and most original series debut of the decade.

Leviathan Falls

I've said it numerous times: James S. A. Corey's Hugo-nominated and New York Times-bestselling Expanse sequence is the very best ongoing science fiction series on the market today. Over the course of a decade and eight installments, it 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

The eighth volume, Tiamat's Wrath, was another action-packed and dramatic novel, the culmination of a panoply of multilayered storylines that came together at last to set the stage for what should be a memorable finale. That book hit an emotional high seldom seen in the genre and was possibly the very best installment in the series.

Could James S. A. Corey's Leviathan Falls top that? Sadly, the answer to that question is no. Though this final volume brings the Expanse to a satisfying end, it failed to strike a chord the way some of its predecessors managed to. Tiamat's Wrath raised the bar to such heights, I don't believe there was any way for the authors to elevate this work even higher.

Here's the blurb:

The biggest science fiction series of the decade comes to an incredible conclusion in the ninth and final novel in James S.A. Corey’s Hugo-award winning space opera that inspired the Prime Original series.

The Laconian Empire has fallen, setting the thirteen hundred solar systems free from the rule of Winston Duarte. But the ancient enemy that killed the gate builders is awake, and the war against our universe has begun again.

In the dead system of Adro, Elvi Okoye leads a desperate scientific mission to understand what the gate builders were and what destroyed them, even if it means compromising herself and the half-alien children who bear the weight of her investigation. Through the wide-flung systems of humanity, Colonel Aliana Tanaka hunts for Duarte’s missing daughter. . . and the shattered emperor himself. And on the Rocinante, James Holden and his crew struggle to build a future for humanity out of the shards and ruins of all that has come before.

As nearly unimaginable forces prepare to annihilate all human life, Holden and a group of unlikely allies discover a last, desperate chance to unite all of humanity, with the promise of a vast galactic civilization free from wars, factions, lies, and secrets if they win.

But the price of victory may be worse than the cost of defeat.

Needless to say, we have come a very long way since Leviathan Wakes. In many ways, Persepolis Rising was the first one to weave elements from all previous books into a convoluted tapestry of storylines. The same could be said of Tiamat's Wrath, which took everything a step further. There was a definite sense throughout that Tiamat's Wrath marked the beginning of the end for the Expanse. And à la George R. R. Martin and Robin Hobb, it was evident that Abraham and Franck didn't intend to make it easy for us to say goodbye to these protagonists. To a certain extent, though there are fireworks in this last volume as well, it's within the pages of the last book that the proverbial shit hit the fan. And though it would be false to claim that Leviathan Falls only works as some sort of epilogue focusing on the aftermath, there's no denying that this novel is unable to recapture what made its predecessor such an unforgettable read.

As a matter of course, the characterization remains the facet which makes the Expanse such a remarkable read. It's no secret that this series is about fascinating and far-reaching ideas and concepts. No matter how vast in scope and vision the Expanse turns out to be, 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 Leviathan Falls. Once more, this allows readers to live vicariously through such perspectives. Having said that, something is a little off in the first part of the novel. The fate of mankind hangs in the balance, yet the focus of Jim, Naomi, and Elvi's POVs doesn't quite convey the impending sense of doom and urgency that should characterize the series' endgame. Tanaka is a nice addition to the mix, sort of a dark Bobbie. The Dreamer's interludes didn't work well for me, I'm sad to say. Which is disappointing, for these chapters are where we learn the truth about those two ancient alien civilizations. As was the case in previous volumes, there will be casualties before we reach the 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. Dead or alive, I will miss this bunch of men and women!

Though the end is nigh, the rhythm inexplicably drags for most of the first half of the novel. Not that it's boring, mind you. Just a very slow pace that makes you wonder exactly when things will pick up. This is meant to be the endgame of a nine-book sequence, but the first portion of reads like a slightly off-putting chunk of a Brandon Sanderson doorstopper. Thankfully, by the halfway point Leviathan Falls takes off and starts to deliver. And even if it cannot hold a candle to Tiamat's Wrath, Abraham and Franck close the show with the sort of spectacular climax that stays with you long after you turn the last page. The final scene, in particular, is a nice way to cap it all off.

Leviathan Falls is far from the best installment in the series, yet it brings the Expanse to a compelling and satisfying end. The second half of the book concludes the series on a high note. No doubt about it, the Expanse is one of the best, if not the best, SFF series of the new millennium.

The final verdict: 8/10

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

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now download the Throne of Glass ebook bundle by Sarah J. Maas for only 5.99$ by following this Amazon Associate link. That's eight books and 4855 pages! There is a price match in Canada.

Here's the blurb:

When magic has gone from the world and a vicious king rules from his throne of glass, an assassin comes to the castle. She is a prisoner, but if she can defeat twenty-three killers, thieves, and warriors in a competition to find the greatest assassin in the land, she will become the king's champion and earn her freedom. But the evil she encounters in the castle goes deep, and as dark forces gather on the horizon – forces which threaten to destroy her entire world – the assassin must take her place in a fight greater than she could ever have imagined.

This is the epic, heart-stopping fantasy series that has turned #1 New York Times bestselling author Sarah J. Maas into a worldwide phenomenon. Fans new and old will dive into this ebook bundle containing the whole series: Throne of Glass, Crown of Midnight, Heir of Fire, Queen of Shadows, Empire of Storms, Tower of Dawn, the thrilling finale Kingdom of Ash, and the companion anthology The Assassin's Blade.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now get your hands on the digital edition of Neal Stephenson's excellent Quicksilver for only 1.99$ by following this Amazon Associate link. There is a price match in Canada.

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 ...

This week's New York Times Bestsellers (January 16th)

In hardcover:

Diana Gabaldon's Go Tell the Bees That I am Gone is down three positions, ending the week at number 9.

V. E. Schwab's The Invisible Life of Addie Larue returns at number 10.

T. J. Klune's Under the Whispering Door debuts at number 11.

Musical Interlude

A little classic for you!

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now get your hands on the digital edition of Neal Stephenson's Seveneves for only 2.99$ here. There is a price match in Canada.

Here's the blurb:

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

What would happen if the world were ending?

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

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

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

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


When I received an email from Michael Johnston's publicist asking me if I'd like an early read of Silence of the Soleri, sequel to his epic fantasy debut, Soleri, it dawned upon me that I had never heard of the author or his novel. I thought that it had perhaps been published during the first wave of the pandemic, a veritable black hole for many a title released during 2020. So imagine my surprise when I discovered that the book was published in 2017. Checking around, I realized that, though Soleri garnered some good reviews, it seems that it flew so low under the radar that very few people actually read it.

Judging from the cover blurb, it's obvious that Lev Grossman loved it. And thought Grossman and I don't always see eye to eye when it comes to novels/series, my interest was piqued. So I requested copies of both installments and elected to give the first one a shot.

Here's the blurb:

Michael Johnston brings you the first in a new epic fantasy series inspired by ancient Egyptian history and King Lear.

The ruling family of the Soleri Empire has been in power longer than even the calendars that stretch back 2,826 years. Those records tell a history of conquest and domination by a people descended from gods, older than anything in the known world. No living person has seen them for centuries, yet their grip on their four subjugate kingdoms remains tighter than ever.

On the day of the annual eclipse, the Harkan king, Arko-Hark Wadi, sets off on a hunt and shirks his duty rather than bow to the emperor. Ren, his son and heir, is a prisoner in the capital, while his daughters struggle against their own chains. Merit, the eldest, has found a way to stand against imperial law and marry the man she desires, but needs her sister’s help, and Kepi has her own ideas.

Meanwhile, Sarra Amunet, Mother Priestess of the sun god’s cult, holds the keys to the end of an empire and a past betrayal that could shatter her family.

Detailed and historical, vast in scope and intricate in conception, Soleri bristles with primal magic and unexpected violence. It is a world of ancient and elaborate rites, of unseen power and kingdoms ravaged by war, where victory comes with a price, and every truth conceals a deeper secret.

I must say that it's the fact that Soleri is supposed to be inspired by ancient Egyptian history that truly made me want to read it. Trouble is, it has very little to do with anything Egyptian. Other than the grandeur of the Soleri Empire, that is. Which was more than a little disappointing as far as I'm concerned. The worldbuilding is an important aspect of the novel, yet I couldn't help but feel that Johnston didn't quite manage to capture the scope and the vision of the tale he meant to tell. There's always a little something that's missing, something that could have been elaborated on a little more. Weighing in at only 364 pages, which is a little short for an epic fantasy title, there is no reason why the author couldn't give more depth to his creation. Still, the end result is impressive. But it could have been so much more.

Michael Johnston definitely has an eye for detail, especially for anything that has to do with architecture. Given his background as an architect, this is no surprise. His evocative prose creates an imagery that is akin to that of Stephen R. Donaldson, which is high praise indeed. This is by far my favorite aspect of the book. It's with the history and the political intrigue at the heart of Soleri that Johnston is maybe not as gifted. Things don't always make a whole lot of sense and make you question many of the protagonists' motivations.

In my opinion, the characterization is the aspect that leaves the most to be desired. Similar to the Starks in A Song of Ice and Fire, an entire family takes center stage in this series. But unlike the Starks, all of whom benefit from lots of character development in A Game of Thrones, the Hark-Wadi family is never fleshed out enough to truly carry this story on their shoulders. It's not that they are two-dimensional cardboard cutouts, mind you. It's just that they're never really fleshed out in a way that makes you want to feel for them and their plights. As was the case with the worldbuilding, there's always a little something that's missing. Although I must admit that most reviews I've read opined differently, so your mileage may vary in that regard. Be that as it may, I found King Arko to be a poor man's version of Ned Stark, while his ambitious daughter Merit is a poor man's version of Cersei Lannister. Kepi is an analog of Arya Stark and in many ways the most interesting protagonist of the bunch. I had high hopes for the king's son, Ren, held hostage in the Priory, and his estranged wife, now high priestess, Sarra. But it was not to be. Though revelations near the end come as a shock and elevate this one to another level, it was a case of too little, too late. Giving each character more depth would have worked wonders, methink.

The pace is uneven throughout the novel. It's quite evident from the get-go that all is not well within the Soleri Empire and armies are ravaging its outskirts. And while the overall story arc is quite compelling, it can be a bit of slog at times to go through each of the Hark-Wadi family's plotlines. It starts well and ends on a high note, yet there are too many chapters in the middle portion of the book where the rhythm slows to a crawl.

For all of its faults, there is still a lot to like about Michael Johnston's debut. And Soleri does set the stage for what could be a better and more ambitious sequel. So you may want to check it out.

The final verdict: 7/10

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

You can read an extract from the novel here.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now download Barbara Hambly's The Sun Wolf and Starhawk omnibus, comprised of The Ladies of Mandrigyn, The Witches of Wenshar, and The Dark Hand of Magic, for only 2.99$ by following this Amazon Associate link.

Here's the blurb:

Three fantasy novels of war and wizardry by a “fabulously talented” New York Times–bestselling author (Charlaine Harris).

In The Ladies of Mandrigyn, a brilliant mercenary must lead his army against the forces of the most powerful wizard alive. Gifted with courage, strength, and the intelligence to know when to fight, Sun Wolf is the greatest mercenary in a land overrun by war. With his first lieutenant, Starhawk, at his side, he has laid waste to countless cities, taking the best of their treasures for himself, and distributing the rest among his bloodthirsty crew.

Then a woman comes to him, an emissary from the town of Mandrigyn, a lush port city recently sacked by a powerful, mad wizard of unmatched abilities. She offers Sun Wolf untold riches for the use of his army, but the captain is not fool enough to wage war against a magician. He refuses her offer, but that is not the end of it. The women of Mandrigyn can be very persuasive.

In The Witches of Wenshar, to harness his newfound magical powers, Sun Wolf must cross the desert in search of a witch who can teach him the ways of sorcery. Accompanied by his lieutenant, Starhawk, he travels across the forbidding desert to the land of Wenshar, where witchcraft is said to flourish. There he seeks out a witch with powers far beyond her years, who is rumored to have mastered the ancient art of white magic. But when he and Starhawk finally reach her, there is evil in the air—an evil against which all their might is useless. Sun Wolf must learn to harness his newfound powers—or be taken by this sinister trap.

In The Dark Hand of Magic, Sun Wolf must use his immature magical powers to rescue his old army from an evil wizard’s curse. A string of rotten luck has befallen his old crew’s latest campaign, and they have begun to suspect a curse. Their arrows break; their food rots; their tunnels cave in. They have heard rumors of Sun Wolf’s magical abilities, and beg for his help. But when he goes after whatever is targeting his men, he finds himself up against the deadliest force he has ever encountered.

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You can now download Ann Leckie's Ancillary Justice for only 2.99$ by following this Amazon Associate link.

Here's the blurb:

From Nebula and Arthur C. Clarke Award nominated debut author, Ann Leckie, comes Ancillary Justice, a stunning space opera that asks what it means to be human in a universe guided by artificial intelligence.

On a remote, icy planet, the soldier known as Breq is drawing closer to completing her quest.

Breq is both more than she seems and less than she was. Years ago, she was the Justice of Toren--a colossal starship with an artificial intelligence linking thousands of corpse soldiers in the service of the Radch, the empire that conquered the galaxy.

An act of treachery has ripped it all away, leaving her with only one fragile human body. And only one purpose--to revenge herself on Anaander Mianaai, many-bodied, near-immortal Lord of the Radch.