More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now get your hands on the digital edition of Guy Gavriel Kay's All the Seas of the World for only 1.99$ by following this Amazon Associate link. This OneLink will take you to the nearest Amazon site serving your country and you'll see if you can take advantage of this sale.

Here's the blurb:

Returning triumphantly to the brilliantly evoked near-Renaissance world of A Brightness Long Ago and Children of Earth and Sky, international bestselling author Guy Gavriel Kay deploys his signature ‘quarter turn to the fantastic’ to tell a story of vengeance, power, and love.

On a dark night along a lonely stretch of coast a small ship sends two people ashore. Their purpose is assassination. They have been hired by two of the most dangerous men alive to alter the balance of power in the world. If they succeed, the consequences will affect the destinies of empires, and lives both great and small.

One of those arriving at that beach is a woman abducted by corsairs as a child and sold into years of servitude. Having escaped, she is trying to chart her own course—and is bent upon revenge. Another is a seafaring merchant who still remembers being exiled as a child with his family from their home, for their faith, a moment that never leaves him. In what follows, through a story both intimate and epic, unforgettable characters are immersed in the fierce and deadly struggles that define their time.

All the Seas of the World is a page-turning drama that also offers moving reflections on memory, fate, and the random events that can shape our lives—in the past, and today.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can get your hands on the digital edition of Sherwood Smith's Inda for only 0.99$ by following this Amazon Associate link. This OneLink will take you to the nearest Amazon site serving your country and you'll see if you can take advantage of this sale.

Here's the blurb:

Acclaimed Inda series within Sherwood Smith's epic fantasy Sartorias-deles universe • Military fantasy woven with courtly politics, vast worldbuilding, and diverse characters.

Indevan-Dal is the second son of the Prince and Princess of Choraed Elgaer, destined to become his elder brother Tanrid's Shield Arm-his military champion. Like all second sons, he is to be privately trained at home by Tanrid, the brother whose lands he will one day protect.

When the King's Voice comes to summon Inda to the Military Academy, he might well feel foreboding, or even fear-war is imminent-yet youthful Inda feels only excitement. But there are things that Tanrid hadn't prepared him for, and Inda will soon learn that the greatest threats to his safety will not come from foreign enemies, but from supposed allies within his own country.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can download Adrian Tchaikovsky's City of Last Chances for only 1.99$ by following this Amazon Associate link. This OneLink will take you to the nearest Amazon site serving your country and you'll see if you can take advantage of this sale.

Here's the blurb:


'Endlessly creative... so much invention peeking around every corner' Patrick Ness

Arthur C. Clarke winner and Sunday Times bestseller Adrian Tchaikovsky's triumphant return to fantasy with a darkly inventive portrait of a city under occupation and on the verge of revolution.

There has always been a darkness to Ilmar, but never more so than now. The city chafes under the heavy hand of the Palleseen occupation, the choke-hold of its criminal underworld, the boot of its factory owners, the weight of its wretched poor and the burden of its ancient curse.

What will be the spark that lights the conflagration?

Despite the city's refugees, wanderers, murderers, madmen, fanatics and thieves, the catalyst, as always, will be the Anchorwood – that dark grove of trees, that primeval remnant, that portal, when the moon is full, to strange and distant shores.

Ilmar, some say, is the worst place in the world and the gateway to a thousand worse places.

Ilmar, City of Long Shadows.

City of Bad Decisions.

City of Last Chances.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now get your hands on the digital edition of S. A. Chakraborty's The River of Silver: Tales from the Daevabad Trilogy for only 1.99$ by following this Amazon Associate link. This OneLink will take you to the nearest Amazon site serving your country and you'll see if you can take advantage of this sale.

Here's the blurb:

Bestselling author S. A. Chakraborty’s acclaimed Daevabad Trilogy gets expanded with this new compilation of stories from before, during, and after the events of The City of Brass, The Kingdom of Copper, and The Empire of Gold, all from the perspective of characters both beloved and hated, and even those without a voice in the novels. The River of Silver gathers material both seen and new—including a special coda fans will need to read—making this the perfect complement to those incredible novels.

Now together in one place, these stories of Daevabad enrich a world already teeming with magic and wonder. Explore this magical kingdom, hidden from human eyes. A place where djinn live and thrive, fight and love. A world where princes question their power, and powerful demons can help you…or destroy you.

A prospective new queen joins a court whose lethal history may overwhelm her own political savvy…

An imprisoned royal from a fallen dynasty and a young woman wrenched from her home cross paths in an enchanted garden…

A pair of scouts stumble upon a secret in a cursed winter wood that will turn over their world…

From Manizheh’s first steps towards rebellion to adventures that take place after The Empire of Gold, this is a must-have collection for those who can’t get enough of Nahri, Ali, and Dara and all that unfolded around them.

La crème de la crème

If there is a question that people keep asking me ever since the Hotlist was created back in 2005, invariably it has something to do with my favorite SFF reads of all time. And since that question returns to plague me every month or so, I've finally decided to come up with a list of what I consider the very best speculative fiction series ever published. So here they are, at least according to Yours Truly!;-)

As always, such lists are a very subjective exercise, so feel free to agree or disagree. You can click on each title to be taken to my review if the novel was read since the Hotlist's creation. Otherwise you'll be taken to an Amazon Associate link where you can find more info about each book.

So here they are, in no particular order:


- Gardens of the Moon (1999)
- Deadhouse Gates (2000)
- Memories of Ice (2001)
- House of Chains (2002)
- Midnight Tides (2004)
- The Bonehunters (2006)
- Reaper's Gale (2007)
- Toll the Hounds (2008)
- Dust of Dreams (2009)
- The Crippled God (2011)

If someone, somewhere, somehow, writes something that surpasses The Malazan Book of the Fallen in vision, in scope, and in overall quality, I just wish to be alive to have the chance to read it. George R. R. Martin might have something to say about this once all is said and done, of course. But as things stand, Erikson's magnum opus remains in pole position and reigns supreme as the best fantasy series ever written. In this house at least! ;-)

Here's the blurb for the first volume:

The Malazan Empire simmers with discontent, bled dry by interminable warfare, bitter infighting and bloody confrontations with the formidable Anomander Rake and his Tiste Andii, ancient and implacable sorcerers. Even the imperial legions, long inured to the bloodshed, yearn for some respite. Yet Empress Laseen's rule remains absolute, enforced by her dread Claw assassins.

For Sergeant Whiskeyjack and his squad of Bridgeburners, and for Tattersail, surviving cadre mage of the Second Legion, the aftermath of the siege of Pale should have been a time to mourn the many dead. But Darujhistan, last of the Free Cities of Genabackis, yet holds out. It is to this ancient citadel that Laseen turns her predatory gaze.

However, it would appear that the Empire is not alone in this great game. Sinister, shadowbound forces are gathering as the gods themselves prepare to play their hand...

THE DERYNI SAGA by Katherine Kurtz

The Chronicles of the Deryni
- Deryni Rising (1970)
- Deryni Checkmate (1972)
- High Deryni (1973)

The Legend of Camber of Culdi
- Camber of Culdi (1976)
- Saint Camber (1978)
- Camber the Heretic (1981)

The Histories of King Kelson
- The Bishop's Heir (1984)
- The King's Justice (1985)
- The Quest for Saint Camber (1986)

- The Deryni Archives (1986)

The Heirs of Saint Camber
- The Harrowing of Gwynedd (1989)
- King Javan's Year (1992)
- The Bastard Prince (1994)

- King Kelson's Bride (2000)
- Deryni Tales (2002)

The Childe Morgan trilogy
- In the King's Service (2004)
- Childe Morgan (2006)
- The King's Deryni (2014)

Those who feel the need to put a label on everything had to come up with something new for Mrs. Kurtz's wonderful saga: Historical fantasy. As a historian, she has an eye for detail that makes her books quite different from anything else and, by the same token, extremely special. Not unlike a lot of other debut SFF series, Kurtz's first trilogy is also her weakest. For the best results, start with The Legends of Camber of Culdi, followed by The Heirs of Saint Camber. If it's your cup of tea, you'll need no further encouragement to read the rest of the Deryni Saga!

Here's the blurb for the first volume:

In the kingdom of Gwynedd, the mysterious forces of magic and the superior power of the Church combine to challenge the rule of young Kelson. Now the fate of the Deryni -- a quasi-mortal race of sorcerers -- and, indeed, the fate of all the Eleven Kingdoms, rests on Kelson's ability to quash the rebellion by any means necessary . . . including the proscribed use of magic!


- The Dragonbone Chair (1988)
- Stone of Farewell (1990)
- To Green Angel Tower (1993)

A bit long-winded, but magical all the same.=) Alas, the sequel has failed to recapture the magic of the original trilogy. But MST remains a true classic of the genre!

Here's the blurb for the first volume:

A war fueled by the powers of dark sorcery is about to engulf the peaceful land of Osten Ard—for Prester John, the High King, lies dying. And with his death, the Storm King, the undead ruler of the elf-like Sithi, seizes the chance to regain his lost realm through a pact with the newly ascended king. Knowing the consequences of this bargain, the king’s younger brother joins with a small, scattered group of scholars, the League of the Scroll, to confront the true danger threatening Osten Ard.

Simon, a kitchen boy from the royal castle unknowingly apprenticed to a member of this League, will be sent on a quest that offers the only hope of salvation, a deadly riddle concerning long-lost swords of power. Compelled by fate and perilous magics, he must leave the only home he’s ever known and face enemies more terrifying than Osten Ard has ever seen, even as the land itself begins to die.

THE DUNE SAGA by Frank Herbert

- Dune (1965)
- Dune Messiah (1969)
- Children of Dune (1976)
- God Emperor of Dune (1981)
- Heretics of Dune (1984)
- Chapterhouse: Dune (1985)

Unique. The monument of science fiction. Forget about the movies. Read the novels. But steer clear of the prequels and sequels that were written following Herbert's death. . .

Here's the blurb for the first volume:

Frank Herbert’s classic masterpiece—a triumph of the imagination and one of the bestselling science fiction novels of all time.

Set on the desert planet Arrakis, Dune is the story of the boy Paul Atreides, heir to a noble family tasked with ruling an inhospitable world where the only thing of value is the “spice” melange, a drug capable of extending life and enhancing consciousness. Coveted across the known universe, melange is a prize worth killing for....

When House Atreides is betrayed, the destruction of Paul’s family will set the boy on a journey toward a destiny greater than he could ever have imagined. And as he evolves into the mysterious man known as Muad’Dib, he will bring to fruition humankind’s most ancient and unattainable dream.

A stunning blend of adventure and mysticism, environmentalism and politics, Dune won the first Nebula Award, shared the Hugo Award, and formed the basis of what is undoubtedly the grandest epic in science fiction.


The Farseer
- Assassin's Apprentice (1995)
- Royal Assassin (1996)
- Assassin's Quest (1997)

The Liveship Traders
- Ship of Destiny (1998)
- Mad Ship (1999)
- Ship of Destiny (2000)

The Tawny Man
- Fool's Errand (2001)
- Golden Fool (2002)
- Fool's Fate (2003)

The Rain Wild Chronicles
- The Dragon Keeper (2009)
- Dragon Haven (2010)
- City of Dragons (20011)
- Blood of Dragons (2013)

Fitz and the Fool
- Fool's Assassin (2014)
- Fool's Quest (2015)
- Assassin's Fate (2017)

Each of these series is amazing, but taken together they form what is doubtless one of the best SFF sagas of all time. Robin Hobb likes to make her characters suffer, so get ready for an emotional rollercoaster! She'll take you through the wringer every single time.

Here's the blurb for the first volume:

Young Fitz is the bastard son of the noble Prince Chivalry, raised in the shadow of the royal court by his father’s gruff stableman. He is treated as an outcast by all the royalty except the devious King Shrewd, who has him secretly tutored in the arts of the assassin. For in Fitz’s blood runs the magic Skill—and the darker knowledge of a child raised with the stable hounds and rejected by his family.

As barbarous raiders ravage the coasts, Fitz is growing to manhood. Soon he will face his first dangerous, soul-shattering mission. And though some regard him as a threat to the throne, he may just be the key to the survival of the kingdom.

THE FIRST LAW by Joe Abercrombie

The First Law trilogy
- The Blade Itself (2006)
- Before They Are Hanged (2007)
- Last Argument of Kings (2008)

- Best Served Cold (2009)
- The Heroes (2011)
- Red Country (2012)
- Sharp Ends (2016)

The Age of Madness
- A Little Hatred (2019)
- The Trouble With Peace (2020)
- The Wisdom of Crowds (2021)

Little did we know when The Blade Itself was first published that Joe Abercrombie would become one of the best fantasy authors writing today. Some readers never made it past the first trilogy, which is unfortunate because it's with the subsequent three standalones that Abercrombie truly began to shine. With his second series, The Age of Madness, the man known as Lord Grimdark proved that he's here to stay! Can't wait to read what comes next!

Here's the blurb for the first volume:

Inquisitor Glokta, a crippled and increasingly bitter relic of the last war, former fencing champion turned torturer extraordinaire, is trapped in a twisted and broken body - not that he allows it to distract him from his daily routine of torturing smugglers.

Nobleman, dashing officer and would-be fencing champion Captain Jezal dan Luthar is living a life of ease by cheating his friends at cards. Vain, shallow, selfish and self-obsessed, the biggest blot on his horizon is having to get out of bed in the morning to train with obsessive and boring old men.

And Logen Ninefingers, an infamous warrior with a bloody past, is about to wake up in a hole in the snow with plans to settle a blood feud with Bethod, the new King of the Northmen, once and for all - ideally by running away from it. But as he's discovering, old habits die really, really hard indeed...

...especially when Bayaz gets involved. A bald old man with a terrible temper and a pathetic assistant, he could be the First of the Magi, he could be a spectacular fraud, but whatever he is, he's about to make the lives of Glotka, Jezal and Logen a whole lot more difficult...


- Black Sun Rising (1991)
- When True Night Falls (1993)
- Crown of Shadows (1995)

- Nightborn: Coldfire Rising (2023)

A dark fantasy masterpiece! If there was such a thing as a fantasy Hall of Fame, Gerald Tarrant would be part of it. It's been nearly three decades since Black Sun Rising was published and the Coldfire trilogy remains one of the very best dark fantasy series to ever see the light.

Here's the blurb for the first volume:

Over a millennium ago, Erna, a seismically active yet beautiful world was settled by colonists from far-distant Earth. But the seemingly habitable planet was fraught with perils no one could have foretold. The colonists found themselves caught in a desperate battle for survival against the fae, a terrifying natural force with the power to prey upon the human mind itself, drawing forth a person's worst nightmare images or most treasured dreams and indiscriminately giving them life.

Twelve centuries after fate first stranded the colonists on Erna, mankind has achieved an uneasy stalemate, and human sorcerers manipulate the fae for their own profit, little realizing that demonic forces which feed upon such efforts are rapidly gaining in strength.

Now, as the hordes of the dark fae multiply, four people—Priest, Adept, Apprentice, and Sorcerer—are about to be drawn inexorably together for a mission which will force them to confront an evil beyond their imagining, in a conflict which will put not only their own lives but the very fate of humankind in jeopardy.


- Twelve (2008)
- Thirteen Years Later (2010)
- The Third Section (2011)
- The People's Will (2013)
- The Last Rite (2014)

Vampires have never really been my thing. But this intriguing blend of Russian historical fiction and paranormal fiction should satisfy even the most jaded genre fiction readers! I never understood why this series didn't get more traction. . .

Here's the blurb for the first volume:

The voordalak--creature of legend, the tales of which have terrified Russian children for generations. But for Captain Aleksei Ivanovich Danilov--a child of more enlightened times--it is a legend that has long been forgotten. Besides, in the autumn of 1812, he faces a more tangible enemy: the Grande Armée of Napoleon Bonaparte.

City after city has fallen to the advancing French, and it now seems that only a miracle will keep them from Moscow itself. In desperation, Aleksei and his comrades enlist the help of the Oprichniki--a group of twelve mercenaries from the furthest reaches of Christian Europe, who claim that they can turn the tide of the war. It seems an idle boast, but the Russians soon discover that the Oprichniki are indeed quite capable of fulfilling their promise ... and much more.

Unnerved by the fact that so few can accomplish so much, Aleksei remembers those childhood stories of the voordalak. And as he comes to understand the true, horrific nature of these twelve strangers, he wonders at the nightmare they've unleashed in their midst....

Full of historical detail, thrilling action, and heart-stopping supernatural moments, Twelve is storytelling at its most original and exciting.


- God's War (2011)
- Infidel (2011)
- Rapture (2012)

- Apocalypse Nyx (2016)

Dark, violent, complex, touching, compelling, populated with flawed but endearing and unforgettable characters, the Bel Dame Apocrypha is a memorable read. Kameron Hurley at her very best.

Here's the blurb for the first volume:

Nyx had already been to hell. One prayer more or less wouldn't make any difference...

On a ravaged, contaminated world, a centuries-old holy war rages, fought by a bloody mix of mercenaries, magicians, and conscripted soldiers. Though the origins of the war are shady and complex, there's one thing everybody agrees on--

There's not a chance in hell of ending it.

Nyx is a former government assassin who makes a living cutting off heads for cash. But when a dubious deal between her government and an alien gene pirate goes bad, Nyx's ugly past makes her the top pick for a covert recovery. The head they want her to bring home could end the war--but at what price?

The world is about to find out.


The Fionavar Tapestry
- The Summer Tree (1984)
- The Wandering Fire (1986)
- The Darkest Road (1986)

- Tigana (1990)
- A Song for Arbonne (1992)
- The Lions of Al-Rassan (1995)

The Sarantine Mosaic
- Sailing to Sarantium (1998)
- Lord of Emperors (2000)

- The Last Light of the Sun (2004)
- Ysabel (2007)
- Under Heaven (2010)
- River of Stars (2013)
- Children of Earth and Sky (2016)
- A Brightness Long Ago (2019)
- All the Seas of the World (2022)

Guy Gavriel Kay's entire body of work deserves to be on this list. Those who have read his books all agree: He just might be fantasy's best-kept secret. The way that man can blend history and fantasy is simply unbelievable! If you only read one book this year, make it one of his! Don't know where to start? The Lions of Al-Rassan, Tigana, or Under Heaven.


- The Fifth Season (2015)
- The Obelisk Gate (2016)
- The Stone Sky (2017)

This is N. K. Jemisin writing at the top of her game. A demanding yet rewarding read, The Broken Earth trilogy is definitely one of the finest speculative fiction series out there.

Here's the blurb for the first volume:


A season of endings has begun.

It starts with the great red rift across the heart of the world's sole continent, spewing ash that blots out the sun.

It starts with death, with a murdered son and a missing daughter.

It starts with betrayal, and long dormant wounds rising up to fester.

This is the Stillness, a land long familiar with catastrophe, where the power of the earth is wielded as a weapon. And where there is no mercy.


The Prince of Nothing
- The Darkness That Comes Before (2003)
- The Warrior-Prophet (2004)
- The Thousandfold Thought (2006)

The Aspect-Emperor
- The Judging Eye (2009)
- The White-Luck Warrior (2011)
- The Great Ordeal (2016)
- The Unholy Consult (2017)

This saga puts the Dark into grimdark! True, it can be so bleak at times. And yet, with stellar worldbuilding and a vast tapestry of storylines, these books are simply remarkable. Hopefully Bakker will get the chance to write the final novels that would bring the Second Apocalypse to a close. Even unfinished, the Second Apocalypse stands as one of the most impressive fantasy sagas ever written.

Here's the blurb for the first volume:

A score of centuries has passed since the First Apocalypse. The No-God has been vanquished and the thoughts of men have turned, inevitably, to more worldly concerns...

Drusas Achamian, tormented by 2,000 year old nightmares, is a sorcerer and a spy, constantly seeking news of an ancient enemy that few believe still exists. Ikurei Conphas, nephew to the Nansur Emperor, is the Exalt-General of the Imperial Army and a military genius. He plots to conquer the known world for his Emperor and dreams of the throne for himself. Maithanet, mysterious and charismatic, is spiritual leader of the Thousand Temples. He seeks a Holy War to cleanse the land of the infidel. Cnaiur, Chieftain of the Utemot, is a Scylvendi barbarian. Rejected by his people, he seeks vengeance against the former slave who slew his father, and disgraced him in the eyes of his tribe.

Into this world steps Anasurimbor Kellhus, the product of two thousand years of breeding and a lifetime of training in the ways of thought, limb, and face. Steering souls through the subtleties of word and expression, he slowly binds all - man and woman, emperor and slave - to his own mysterious ends. But the fate of men - even great men - means little when the world itself may soon be torn asunder. Behind the politics, beneath the imperialist expansion, amongst the religious fervour, a dark and ancient evil is reawakening. After two thousand years, the No-God is returning. The Second Apocalypse is nigh. And one cannot raise walls against what has been forgotten...

THE KUSHIEL LEGACY by Jacqueline Carey

Phèdre's trilogy
- Kushiel's Dart (2001)
- Kushiel's Chosen (2002)
- Kushiel's Avatar (2003)

Imriel's trilogy
- Kushiel's Scion (2006)
- Kushiel's Justice (2007)
- Kushiel's Mercy (2008)

Moirin's trilogy
- Naamah's Kiss (2009)
- Naamah's Curse (2010)
- Naamah's Blessing (2011)

- Cassiel's Servant (2023)

Too bad that prudes can't handle the sexual content found in these books, for there is so much more to the Kushiel saga. Superior worldbuilding and engaging characterization make for compulsive reading. Be forewarned that, like Robin Hobb, Jacqueline Carey loves to make her characters and her readers suffer in every novel. And yet, as gut-wrenching as they can be at times, Carey's books will have you begging for more!

Here's the blurb for the first volume:

The land of Terre d'Ange is a place of unsurpassing beauty and grace. It is said that angels found the land and saw it was good...and the ensuing race that rose from the seed of angels and men live by one simple rule: Love as thou wilt.

Phèdre nó Delaunay is a young woman who was born with a scarlet mote in her left eye. Sold into indentured servitude as a child, her bond is purchased by Anafiel Delaunay, a nobleman with very a special mission...and the first one to recognize who and what she is: one pricked by Kushiel's Dart, chosen to forever experience pain and pleasure as one.

Phèdre is trained equally in the courtly arts and the talents of the bedchamber, but, above all, the ability to observe, remember, and analyze. Almost as talented a spy as she is courtesan, Phèdre stumbles upon a plot that threatens the very foundations of her homeland. Treachery sets her on her path; love and honor goad her further. And in the doing, it will take her to the edge of despair...and beyond. Hateful friend, loving enemy, beloved assassin; they can all wear the same glittering mask in this world, and Phèdre will get but one chance to save all that she holds dear.

Set in a world of cunning poets, deadly courtiers, heroic traitors, and a truly Machiavellian villainess, this is a novel of grandeur, luxuriance, sacrifice, betrayal, and deeply laid conspiracies. Not since Dune has there been an epic on the scale of Kushiel's Dart-a massive tale about the violent death of an old age, and the birth of a new.


- Bitter Seeds (2010)
- The Coldest War (2012)
- Necessary Evil (2013)

Intelligent, thought-provoking, inventive, and engrossing; That's The Milkweed Triptych in a nutshell. Looking for the perfect blend of alternate history, science fiction, and urban fantasy? Then the Milkweed Triptych is exactly what you should read! This lesser-known series deserves the highest possible recommendation.

Here's the blurb for the first volume:

It's 1939. The Nazis have supermen, the British have demons, and one perfectly normal man gets caught in between.

Raybould Marsh is a British secret agent in the early days of the Second World War, haunted by something strange he saw on a mission during the Spanish Civil War: a German woman with wires going into her head who looked at him as if she knew him.

When the Nazis start running missions with people who have unnatural abilities―a woman who can turn invisible, a man who can walk through walls, and the woman Marsh saw in Spain who can use her knowledge of the future to twist the present―Marsh is the man who has to face them. He rallies the secret warlocks of Britain to hold the impending invasion at bay. But magic always exacts a price. Eventually, the sacrifice necessary to defeat the enemy will be as terrible as outright loss would be.

Alan Furst meets Alan Moore in the opening of an epic of supernatural alternate history, Bitter Seeds by Ian Tregillis is a tale of a twentieth century like ours and also profoundly different.


- Storm Front (2000)
- Fool Moon (2001)
- Grave Peril (2001)
- Summer Knight (2002)
- Death Masks (2003)
- Blood Rites (2004)
- Dead Beat (2005)
- Proven Guilty (2006)
- White Night (2007)
- Small Favor (2008)
- Turn Coat (2009)
- Changes (2010)
- Side Jobs (2010)
- Ghost Story (2011)
- Cold Days (2012)
- Skin Game (2014)
- Brief Cases (2018)
- Peace Talks (2020)
- Battle Ground (2020)

At first, the early installments were short and episodic in format. But gradually, with storylines building upon themselves with each new volume and the overall story arc expanding, the Dresden Files have become as convulated as they are entertaining. Spanning over two decades, at the beginning Harry was the only wizard in the phonebook, and today phonebooks are now a thing of the past. Looking forward to the next book!

Here's the blurb for the first volume:

For Harry Dresden, Chicago's only professional wizard, business, to put it mildly, stinks. So when the police bring him in to consult on a grisly double murder committed with black magic, Harry's seeing dollar signs. But where there's black magic, there's a black mage behind it. And now that mage knows Harry's name.

THE GAP SAGA by Stephen R. Donaldson

- The Real Story (1990)
- Forbidden Knowledge (1991)
- A Dark and Hungry God Arises (1992)
- Chaos and Order (1994)
- This Day All Gods Die (1996)

Grimdark space opera before grimdark even existed. Dark and at times disturbing, it remains one of the best science fiction series I've ever read. May have been ahead of its time in style and tone.

Here's the blurb for the first volume:

Author of The Chronicles Of Thomas Covenant, one of the most acclaimed fantasy series of all time, master storyteller Stephen R. Donaldson retums with this exciting and long-awaited new series that takes us into a stunningly imagined future to tell a timeless story of adventure and the implacable conflict of good and evil within each of us.

Angus Thermopyle was an ore pirate and a murderer; even the most disreputable asteroid pilots of Delta Sector stayed locked out of his way. Those who didn't ended up in the lockup--or dead. But when Thermopyle arrived at Mallory's Bar and Sleep with a gorgeous woman by his side the regulars had to take notice. Her name was Morn Hyland, and she had been a police officer--until she met up with Thermopyle.

But one person in Mallorys Bar wasn't intimidated. Nick Succorso had his own reputation as a bold pirate and he had a sleek frigate fitted for deep space. Everyone knew that Thermopyle and Succorso were on a collision course. What nobody expected was how quickly it would be over--or how devastating victory would be. It was common enough example of rivalry and revenge--or so everyone thought. The REAL story was something entirely different.

In The Real Story, Stephen R. Donaldson takes us to a remarkably detailed world of faster-than-light travel, politics, betrayal, and a shadowy presence just outside our view to tell the fiercest, most profound story he has ever written.

THE SUN SWORD by Michelle West

- The Broken Crown (1997)
- The Uncrowned King (1998)
- The Shining Court (1999)
- Sea of Sorrows (2001)
- The Riven Shield (2003)
- The Sun Sword (2004)

Imagine Erikson's worldbuilding and Hobb's characterization and it will give you an idea of just how great this series is. Not sure if the House War series and the rest of the Essalieyan saga will live up to the potential generated by the Sun Sword, but Michelle West really knocked this one right out of the park!

Here's the blurb for the first volume:

The first novel of the acclaimed Sun Sword series introduces readers to a war-torn world of noble houses divided and demon lords unleashed...

Tor Leonne—the heart of the Dominion of Annagar, where the games of state are about to become a matter of life and death—and where those who seek to seize the crown will be forced to league with a treacherously cunning ally....

Tor Leonne, ancestral seat of power, where Serra Diora Maria di’Marano—the most sought-after beauty in the land, a woman betrayed by all she holds dear—may strike the first blow to change the future of the Dominion and Empire alike....

Averalaan Aramarelas—that most ancient of civilized cities, the home of the Essalieyan Imperial court, has long been a center of magics both dark and bright. And though the Empire won its last war with the Dominion, and survived a devastating, magic-fueled battle with a far deadlier foe, both those victories were not without their cost....

But now the realm is on the brink of a far greater confrontation, faced with an unholy alliance that could spell the end of freedom for all mortalkind.


The Broken Empire
- Prince of Thorns (2011)
- King of Thorns (2012)
- Emperor of Thorns (2013)

The Red Queen's War
- Prince of Fools (2014)
- The Liar's Key (2015)
- The Wheel of Osheim (2016)

Book of the Ancestor
- Red Sister (2017)
- Grey Sister (2018)
- Holy Sister (2019)

Impossible Times
- One Word Kill (2019)
- Limited Wish (2019)
- Dispel Illusion (2019)

Book of the Ice
- The Girl and the Star (2020)
- The Girl and the Mountain (2021)
- The Girl and the Moon (2022)

The Library trilogy
- The Book That Wouldn't Burn (2023)

Mark Lawrence is one sneaky bastard. While each of his series can be read independently, though there were a number of Easter eggs that hinted at certain connections, in The Girl and the Mountain we finally discovered that they are all related. À la Robin Hobb and Joe Abercrombie, though each trilogy tells its own tale, Lawrence continued to build a bigger and more ambitious story arc in the background. Finding Jorg Ancrath to be too hardcore for their taste, many readers bailed out on Lawrence early and never read any of his other series. Given that they are all totally different, if that's the case with you I encourage you to give the author another shot. You won't regret it. That Thorns Guy is a truly gifted writer!

Here's the blurb for the first volume:

Before the thorns taught me their sharp lessons and bled weakness from me I had but one brother, and I loved him well. But those days are gone and what is left of them lies in my mother's tomb. Now I have many brothers, quick with knife and sword, and as evil as you please. We ride this broken empire and loot its corpse. They say these are violent times, the end of days when the dead roam and monsters haunt the night. All that's true enough, but there's something worse out there, in the dark. Much worse.

Once a privileged royal child, raised by a loving mother, Jorg Ancrath has become the Prince of Thorns, a charming, immoral boy leading a grim band of outlaws in a series of raids and atrocities. The world is in chaos: violence is rife, nightmares everywhere. Jorg's bleak past has set him beyond fear of any man, living or dead, but there is still one thing that puts a chill in him. Returning to his father's castle Jorg must confront horrors from his childhood and carve himself a future with all hands turned against him.

THE EXPANSE by James S. A. Corey

- Leviathan Wakes (2011)
- Caliban's War (2012)
- Abaddon's Gate (2013)
- Cibola Burn (2014)
- Nemesis Games (2015)
- Babylon's Ashes (2016)
- Persepolis Rising (2017)
- Tiamat's Wrath (2019)
- Leviathan Falls (2021)

Daniel Abraham and Tye Franck have written what is the new benchmark for science fiction/space opera series. Yes, it's that damn good!

Here's the blurb for the first volume:

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.

A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE by George R. R. Martin

- A Game of Thrones (1996)
- A Clash of Kings (1998)
- A Storm of Swords (2000)
- A Feast for Crows (2005)
- A Dance With Dragons (2011)

Like countless fans, I'm eagerly awaiting the release of The Winds of Winter. There's not much else to say that hasn't already been said about this awesome series. So I'll just leave you with a bit from my review of A Storm of Swords that truly irked purists back in the day. The American Tolkien? I think not. . . No disrespect, but J. R. R. Tolkien never wrote anything this good.

Here's the blurb for the first volume:

Long ago, in a time forgotten, a preternatural event threw the seasons out of balance. In a land where summers can last decades and winters a lifetime, trouble is brewing. The cold is returning, and in the frozen wastes to the north of Winterfell, sinister forces are massing beyond the kingdom’s protective Wall. To the south, the king’s powers are failing—his most trusted adviser dead under mysterious circumstances and his enemies emerging from the shadows of the throne. At the center of the conflict lie the Starks of Winterfell, a family as harsh and unyielding as the frozen land they were born to. Now Lord Eddard Stark is reluctantly summoned to serve as the king’s new Hand, an appointment that threatens to sunder not only his family but the kingdom itself.

Sweeping from a harsh land of cold to a summertime kingdom of epicurean plenty, A Game of Thrones tells a tale of lords and ladies, soldiers and sorcerers, assassins and bastards, who come together in a time of grim omens. Here an enigmatic band of warriors bear swords of no human metal; a tribe of fierce wildlings carry men off into madness; a cruel young dragon prince barters his sister to win back his throne; a child is lost in the twilight between life and death; and a determined woman undertakes a treacherous journey to protect all she holds dear. Amid plots and counter-plots, tragedy and betrayal, victory and terror, allies and enemies, the fate of the Starks hangs perilously in the balance, as each side endeavors to win that deadliest of conflicts: the game of thrones.


- The Shadow of the Wind (2004)
- The Angel's Game (2008)
- The Prisoner of Heaven (2011)
- The Labyrinth of the Spirits (2018)

Strictly speaking, this isn't fantasy. Still, Carlos Ruiz Zafón wrote one of the most magical series ever. The Shadow of the Wind just might be the best novel I've ever read, and it's the one I offered as a present to everyone I know who loves reading. His tragic death robbed us of one of the most celebrated authors of his era.

Here's the blurb for the first volume:

Barcelona, 1945: A city slowly heals from its war wounds, and Daniel, an antiquarian book dealer's son who mourns the loss of his mother, finds solace in a mysterious book entitled The Shadow of the Wind, by one Julian Carax. But when he sets out to find the author's other works, he makes a shocking discovery: someone has been systematically destroying every copy of every book Carax has written. In fact, Daniel may have the last of Carax's books in existence. Soon Daniel's seemingly innocent quest opens a door into one of Barcelona's darkest secrets--an epic story of murder, madness, and doomed love.

IAN MCDONALD (The Pyr Years)

- River of Gods (2004)
- Brasyl (2007)
- Cyberabad Days (2009)
- The Dervish House (2010)

Ian McDonald's novels and short fiction have won the Locus, the Philip K. Dick, the British Science Fiction Association, the John W. Campbell Memorial, and the Hugo Awards. In the mid-2000s, while being published by Pyr in North America, he released some of the very best science fiction yarns I've ever read. Do yourself a favor and give these novels a shot if you haven't experienced McDonald's awesomeness already!

Here's the blurb for River of Gods:

As Mother India approaches her centenary, nine people are going about their business--a gangster, a cop, his wife, a politician, a stand-up comic, a set designer, a journalist, a scientist, and a dropout. And so is Aj--the waif, the mind reader, the prophet--when she one day finds a man who wants to stay hidden.

In the next few weeks, they will all be swept together to decide the fate of the nation.

River of Gods teems with the life of a country choked with peoples and cultures--one and a half billion people, twelve semi-independent nations, nine million gods. Ian McDonald has written the great Indian novel of the new millennium, in which a war is fought, a love betrayed, a message from a different world decoded, as the great river Ganges flows on.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now download Kate Elliott's The Keeper's Six for only 2.99$ by following this Amazon Associate link. This OneLink will take you to the nearest Amazon site serving your country and you'll see if you can take advantage of this sale.

Here's the blurb:

You never stop worrying about your kids, even when they're adults. Kate Elliott's action-packed The Keeper's Six features a world-hopping, bad-ass, spell-slinging mother who sets out to rescue her kidnapped adult son from a dragon lord with everything to lose.

It’s been a year since Esther set foot in the Beyond, the alien landscape stretching between worlds, crossing boundaries of space and time. She and her magical traveling party—her Hex—haven’t spoken since the Concilium banned them from the Beyond for a decade. But when she wakes in the middle of the night to her grown son’s cry for help, the members of her Hex are the only ones she can trust to help her bring him back from wherever he has been taken.

Esther will have to risk everything to find him. Undercover and hidden from the Concilium, she and her Hex will be tested by false dragon lords, a darkness so dense it can suffocate, and the bones of an old crime come back to haunt her.

There are terrors that dwell in the space between worlds.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now download the excellent Blindsight by Peter Watts for only 2.99$ by following this Amazon Associate link. This OneLink will take you to the nearest Amazon site serving your country and you'll see if you can take advantage of this sale.

Here's the blurb:

Two months since the stars fell...

Two months since sixty-five thousand alien objects clenched around the Earth like a luminous fist, screaming to the heavens as the atmosphere burned them to ash. Two months since that moment of brief, bright surveillance by agents unknown.

Two months of silence, while a world holds its breath.

Now some half-derelict space probe, sparking fitfully past Neptune's orbit, hears a whisper from the edge of the solar system: a faint signal sweeping the cosmos like a lighthouse beam. Whatever's out there isn't talking to us. It's talking to some distant star, perhaps. Or perhaps to something closer, something en route.

So who do you send to force introductions on an intelligence with motives unknown, maybe unknowable? Who do you send to meet the alien when the alien doesn't want to meet?

You send a linguist with multiple personalities, her brain surgically partitioned into separate, sentient processing cores. You send a biologist so radically interfaced with machinery that he sees x-rays and tastes ultrasound, so compromised by grafts and splices he no longer feels his own flesh. You send a pacifist warrior in the faint hope she won't be needed, and the fainter one she'll do any good if she is. You send a monster to command them all, an extinct hominid predator once called vampire, recalled from the grave with the voodoo of recombinant genetics and the blood of sociopaths. And you send a synthesist—an informational topologist with half his mind gone—as an interface between here and there, a conduit through which the Dead Center might hope to understand the Bleeding Edge.

You send them all to the edge of interstellar space, praying you can trust such freaks and retrofits with the fate of a world. You fear they may be more alien than the thing they've been sent to find.

But you'd give anything for that to be true, if you only knew what was waiting for them...

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

The Sun Sword

After promising myself to finally read it after so long, I brought Michelle West's The Broken Crown in my suitcase when I flew to Colombia last January. I had absolutely no expectations when I started the novel, so little did I know that I was beginning what would ultimately rank among my favorite fantasy series of all time. Here we are, five months down the line, with this review of the sixth and final volume of the Sun Sword. And the only question that remained was whether or not the author could close the show with the same sort of style and aplomb that characterized the series thus far.

The answer is a resounding yes! There are same pacing issues at the beginning, but The Sun Sword delivers on all fronts. It was great to see so many plotlines come full circle and reach their resolution, all the while also setting the stage for the already published House War series and the End of Days series West is currently working on. All in all, this last installment was everything I wanted it to be.

Here's the blurb:

The final novel of the acclaimed Sun Sword series concludes the epic of a war-torn world of noble houses divided and demon lords unleashed...

The armies of Alesso di’Marente and Valedan kai di’Leonne are massing in the Terrean of Averda for the battle that will at last determine the rule of the Dominion. The Sun Sword is about to be delivered by Serra Diora to its “rightful” holder, Valedan, last surviving heir of the clan Leonne. But whether Valedan will be able to wield the sword, or—like the former kai el’Sol—will be consumed by its magic, remains to be seen.

The demon kin are gathering as well, and a dread spell is being worked which will—should it successfully reach completion—finally open the way for the Lord of Night to once again enter the mortal realm.

And though many of the truly powerful have gathered upon the field, the entire course of the future may ultimately rest in the hands, heart, and soul of one being, Kiriel di’Ashaf, daughter of the Lord of Night...

Structurally, The Sun Sword suffers from the same advantages and shortcomings as its predecessors. As I've mentioned before, it often feels as though six books (none of them slim volumes) were not enough to recount the full tale Michelle West wanted to tell. This means that her editor forced her to keep a lid of things, thus preventing West from getting lost in the mire of extraneous plot threads that plagued the sagas of other fantasy writers like Robert Jordan, George R. R. Martin, Steven Erikson, and Brandon Sanderson. However, the downside remains that it forces West to juggle with several storylines, all of them important in the greater scheme of things, and somehow write them in a way that creates a compelling and cohesive whole. Given the series' complex timeline, that is easier said than done. Other than The Uncrowned King, the bulk of the other installments takes place in the Dominion. Which forces West to backtrack and elaborate on the events that concurrently took place in the Essalieyan Empire. As I've said, this wouldn't be so bad if it still held some importance in the current series. Alas, the vast majority of those scenes, and they amount to hundreds of pages spread out throughout the six volumes, mostly exist to lay the groundwork for the subsequent House War series. Which is why such sequences involving the Terafin household and Jewel's den always feel somewhat incongruous and unnecessary. The first 150 pages or so of The Sun Sword is another case in point in that regard. I understand that we needed to reach the conclusion of Jewel's plotline, but I felt that it took too long. After all, the war that could bring on the end of the world is nigh. . .

The worldbuilding is simply astonishing. There is a depth to Michelle West's universe that rivals, and might even surpass, that of Tolkien, Erikson, and Bakker. The Sun Sword continues to build on the storylines of its predecessors, adding layers upon layers to an already elaborate plot that should satisfy even the most demanding and jaded fantasy aficionados. About a third into the book, something totally unexpected just blew my mind. A seemingly innocuous detail from the prologue of The Broken Crown that completely flew under the radar and failed to ring any bell later on just came back to kick me in the balls with its implications. Makes me wonder if there are additional details that I might have missed in what pretty much every reader considers an overlong and sometimes boring prologue. West can keep her cards pretty close to her chest when she wants to, yet there appears to be a lot of secrets hiding in plain sight for discerning readers.

Weighing in at 957 pages, The Sun Sword is another doorstopper, and as such it covers a lot of plot threads and locales. As mentioned, the first part focusing on Jewel breaks the rhythm that the ending of The Riven Shield created. What follows can best be described as a slow burn gradually building up to the finale. I can't say that I minded, for Michelle West continues to bring threads together, tying up loose ends and elevating her game as she moves the tale forward. This goes on until the eve of the last battle. Like George R. R. Martin, I love how West allows us to see momentous events through the eyes/perspectives of various characters, great and small. Though vast in scope in the greater scheme of things, you experience everything on a much smaller scale that makes the reader live these moments more vicariously. And when at last the battle starts, it is glorious!

As anticipated, the characterization is amazing. Like Robin Hobb and Jacqueline Carey, Michelle West has a knack for fleshing out a cast of endearing and fascinating three-dimensional characters. As a matter of course, Teresa, Kallandras, the Ospreys, Serra Alina, Ramiro kai di'Callesta, Meralonne APhaniel, Ser Anton di'Guivera, and many more have their part to play before the end comes. Having said that, I loved the character growth shown by Diora, Valedan, Kiriel, and Auralis. Aidan's role in the grand finale, though small, was a nice touch. I was glad to see more of Anya and discover more about her backstory. Yollana, the old Matriarch of the Havalla Voyani clan, continues to play a crucial role as the tale unfolds.

Simply put, The Sun Sword was the perfect ending for a sensational series. I knew beforehand that Jewel's plotline ended in a cliffhanger and I was afraid that it would be the case for other storylines as well. Though not everything gets resolved (I understand that some threads will be explored in the House War series, while others will have to wait for the one the author is working on), West does a great job tying up loose ends and bringing everything together with enough closure to make this a totally satisfying read.

Michelle West is a truly gifted writer and the Sun Sword is a superior series. One of the best I've ever read! So what are you waiting for? Read these books ASAP!

The final verdict: 10/10

For more info about this title, follow this Amazon Associate link.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now download Robert Jordan's Warrior of the Altaii for only 2.99$ by following this Amazon Associate link. This OneLink will take you to the nearest Amazon site serving your country and you'll see if you can take advantage of this sale.

Here's the blurb:

Epic fantasy legend, and author of #1 New York Times bestselling series The Wheel of Time®, Robert Jordan's never-before published novel, Warrior of the Altaii:

Draw near and listen, or else time is at an end.

The watering holes of the Plain are drying up, the fearsome fanghorn grow more numerous, and bad omens abound. Wulfgar, a leader of the Altaii people, must contend with twin queens, warlords, prophets and magic in hopes of protecting his people and securing their future. Elspeth, a visitor from another world, holds the answers, but first Wulfgar must learn to ask the right questions.

But what if the knowledge that saves the Altaii will also destroy them?

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

In hardcover:

Rebecca Yarros' Fourth Wing is down one position, ending the week at number 3.

In paperback:

Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone's This Is How You Lose the Time War debuts at number 9.

The Book That Wouldn't Burn

Mark Lawrence finally spilled the beans in The Girl and the Mountain by revealing that all of his series were related. Then came The Girl and the Moon, the final installment in the Book of the Ice trilogy. In many ways, it was also the culmination of Mark Lawrence's entire body of work. Though it didn't provide all the answers we were looking for and it did raise its fair share of new questions, that novel was the one work that tied the Broken Empire, The Red Queen's War, the Book of the Ancestor, the Impossible Times, and the Book of the Ice series together.

And now comes the Library trilogy, a supposedly unrelated series. Could it be true given the epigraphs, or the veiled and not-so-veiled references to previous works found throughout the novel? After all, it's not the first time that Lawrence has made such a claim. Trouble is, the way the author set up his universe, both in time and space, everything he'll write from now on could well be related to the rest of his past series. Or not. Though The Book That Wouldn't Burn takes place in the same universe, there is a definite possibility that it has nothing to do and will never have anything to do with its predecessors. Still, Mark Lawrence created the perfect back door. The Library trilogy may not have anything to with the previous series, at least as things stand, yet the author can easily make it just another piece of his giant puzzle at any point in the near or distant future.

Here's the blurb:

A boy has lived his whole life trapped within a vast library, older than empires and larger than cities.

A girl has spent hers in a tiny settlement out on the Dust where nightmares stalk and no one goes.

The world has never even noticed them. That's about to change.

Their stories spiral around each other, across worlds and time. This is a tale of truth and lies and hearts, and the blurring of one into another. A journey on which knowledge erodes certainty, and on which, though the pen may be mightier than the sword, blood will be spilled and cities burned.

As is usually his wont, especially in the first volume of a new series, Mark Lawrence keeps his cards close to his chest as far as the worldbuilding is concerned. At the heart of this tale lies an infinite library containing all the knowledge ever written down. We soon find out that this library is connected to other such repositories across the entire known universe and across time itself. The implication behind such a need is that mankind, no matter where and when a certain technological level is reached, will always elevate warfare to a point where the species end up on the brink of extinction. And given mankind's inevitable quest toward self-destruction, can this cycle ever be reversed? But now that King Oanold has used the library's knowledge to prepare his country to face the ever-growing menace posed by the encroaching dogmen known as sabbers, is it already too late? Especially since the sabbers themselves desire that same knowledge to defeat the skeer, a mysterious enemy which drove them from their own lands. Some intriguing concepts Lawrence came up with include the Mechanism, the Exchange, and the Assistants.

The story unfolds through the eyes of two protagonists. The novel alternates perspectives between two protagonists. The first POV is that of Livira Page, a precocious girl from the Dust. Captured during a sabber raid on her village, she will be rescued by soldiers that will take her to Crath City. The second perspective is that of Evar Eventari, a young man who has spent his entire life trapped inside a part of the library with no exits. Alongside his four adopted siblings, he was raised by the Assistant. The supporting cast is made up of a number of interesting characters, chief among them the veteran trooper Malar (who may have Hunska blood) and the enigmatic Yute.

A number of themes are explored in The Book That Wouldn't Burn. Thought, memory, knowledge, xenophobia and its repercussions are all part of this tale.

The Book That Wouldn't Burn is Mark Lawrence's longest work to date and this isn't necessarily a good thing. In the past, the author was always concise and none of his scenes were overwritten. Unfortunately, many sequences featuring Livira are seemingly superfluous or longer than they needed to be. This in turn impacts the pace negatively, especially in the first half of the novel. Everything moves rather slowly and not much happens for quite some time. Lawrence makes up for it in the second half, it goes without saying. He brings this one to a satisfying close, but with another damned cliffhanger ending that might not please everyone. Then again, if you've been a Mark Lawrence fan for a while, you're probably used to it by now.

The Book That Wouldn't Burn marks the beginning of what should be another compelling fantasy series. And given the finale, I'm curious to see where Lawrence will take us next.

The final verdict: 7.75/10

For more info about this title, follow this Amazon Associate link.

You can read an extract from the novel here.