Quote of the Day

It was in this context that the second Russian Revolution was seen by British officials as the latest manifestation of a bigger conspiracy. Jews were prominent among the Bolshevik leaders; so the Bolshevik seizure of power was viewed by many within the British government as not merely German-inspired but as Jewish-directed.

When the uprisings in the Middle East after the war occurred, it was natural for British officials to explain that they formed part of a sinister design woven by the long-time conspirators. Bolshevism and international finance, pan-Arabs and pan-Turks, Islam and Russia were pictured by British Intelligence as agents of international Jewry and Prussian Germany, the managing partners of the great conspiracy. In the mind of British officialdom, bitter enemies such as Enver and Kemal were playing on the same side; and so, they believed, were Arabs and Jews.

British officials of course were aware that significant numbers of Palestinian Arab Moslems, reacting against Zionist colonization, expressed violent anti-Jewish feelings; but this observation did not necessarily negate their view that Islam was controlled by Jewry. Islam, in the sense that Britons feared it, was the pull and power of the Caliph, whom they viewed as a pawn moved by Britain’s adversaries—a view that, oddly, they continued to hold even after the Sultan-Caliph became their virtual prisoner in Constantinople. As they saw it, it was evident that Arabs could not govern themselves; so that the question came down to whether the Arabic-speaking Middle East should be governed by Germans and Jews, acting through the agency of Turks, or whether it should be governed by Britain. The appeal of British government, they felt, was that it was decent and honest; the appeal of Britain’s adversaries was that Turkish government was Moslem government. Islam was thus being used, as was Bolshevism, and as were Turks and Russians, by a cabal of Jewish financiers and Prussian generals to the detriment of Britain.

While in the clear light of history this conspiracy theory seems absurd to the point of lunacy, it was believed either in whole or in part by large numbers of otherwise sane, well-balanced, and reasonably well-informed British officials.


In fact there was an outside force linked to every one of the outbreaks of violence in the Middle East, but it was the one force whose presence remained invisible to British officialdom. It was Britain herself. In a region of the globe whose inhabitants were known especially to dislike foreigners, and in a predominantly Moslem world which could abide being ruled by almost anybody except non-Moslems, a foreign Christian country ought to have expected to encounter hostility when it attempted to impose its own rule. The shadows that accompanied the British rulers wherever they went in the Middle East were in fact their own.

What Britain faced in the Middle East was a long and perhaps endless series of individual and often spontaneous local rebellions against her authority. The rebellions were not directed by foreigners; they were directed against foreigners.

- DAVID FROMKIN, A Peace to End all Peace

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A little less than 200 pages to go and I can tell you that this is an amazing read!

Daughter of Redwinter

You may recall that I enjoyed Ed McDonald's The Raven's Mark trilogy a few years back. In my review of the final volume, Crowfall, I claimed that he had the potential to be the next Joe Abercrombie. I was hoping that like Abercrombie, having written a gripping trilogy would give him the confidence to push the envelope a little further and elevate his writing to another level. Time would tell if he could do that.

Fast-forward to 2022, when McDonald's Daughter of Redwinter was published. Not sure how this could happen, but the release of the first installment in the Redwinter Chronicles completely flew under my radar and I never became aware that it existed until I saw an early review for the sequel in my Goodreads feed a few weeks back. Flabbergasted, I got in touch with the folks at Tor Books to request a review copy. I was really looking forward to reading McDonald's latest to see how he had evolved as a writer.

While this first volume suffers from the same flaws that plagued the opening chapter of McDonald's previous series, Blackwing, this new one also features a lot of the good things that made the subsequent books, especially Crowfall, such compelling reads. What came as a shock for me was the somewhat YA style and tone, which felt decidedly discordant with the tale the author is trying to tell.

Here's the blurb:

Raine can see—and speak—to the dead, a gift that comes with a death sentence. All her life she has hidden, lied, and run to save her skin, and she’s made some spectacularly bad choices along the way.

But it is a rare act of kindness—rescuing an injured woman in the snow—that becomes the most dangerous decision Raine has ever made.

Because the woman is fleeing from Redwinter, the fortress-monastery of the Draoihn, warrior magicians who answer to no king, and who will stop at nothing to reclaim what she’s stolen. A battle, a betrayal, and a horrific revelation force Raine to enter the citadel and live among the Draoihn. She soon finds that her secret ability could be the key to saving an entire nation.

Though she might have to die to make it happen . . .

Once again, I'm forced to bemoan the fact that Ed McDonald came up with lots of interesting concepts and ideas, yet à la Mark Lawrence he continues to play his cards very close to his chest and does not elaborate a whole lot on them. Here's to hoping that, as was the case with the Raven's Mark series, he'll be a little more forthcoming in the just-released sequel, Traitor of Redwinter. Because there's a lot of cool stuff that's introduced in this novel, yet very little answers are provided to our ever-growing list of questions. I particularly enjoyed the trances, known as Gates, that allow the Draoihn to open their minds and perform magic. And yet, too little is revealed about the Draoihn themselves and what they truly stand for. Are they really a force of good standing in the way of a great evil, or is there more to them than that? What about the Sarathi, former Draoihn who wreaked havoc upon the world in a distant past? The politics of the realms remain unclear throughout the book, and the same can be said of those that govern the Draoihn Council of Night and Day. The grave sight and its repercussions appear to be far-reaching, but as things stand we can't really say. As far as the worldbuilding is concerned, the talent and the potential are definitely there and it's up to the author to bring it on. The second installment should show whether or not McDonald can do just that.

In my previous reviews, I wrote that Ed McDonald had a knack for creating engaging protagonists. First-person narratives are tricky things and can easily make or break a novel/series. In The Raven's Mark trilogy, the perspective of Captain Ryhalt Galharrow, that of a battle-hardened veteran whose past nearly unmade him, made for a captivating read. In Daughter of Redwinter, events unfold through the eyes of Raine, a flawed teenage girl who narrowly escapes death only to find herself into even more dangerous circumstances. Early on, I really enjoyed her POV. Even if everything she touches seems to turn to shit, her heart is in the right place and she keeps trying to do what's good. When one of the Draoihn uses his powers to alter her mind so she can't feel the grief that would cripple a normal person, I liked how it affected her perceptions. It's when she's taken to Redwinter that the YA vibe kicks into high gear and it sinks the entire plot to a certain extent. The budding lesbianism/bi-sexuality aspect is executed in half-assed fashion, and the relationships between Raine and the other Draoihn apprentices are full of the teenage angst that so characterize so many SFF YA works. I can't help but feel that multiple POVs would have given more depth to this tale. As it is, the supporting cast never comes into its own and Raine, who showed so much promise at first, doesn't regain her aplomb until the very end.

Another problem is that Daughter of Redwinter suffers from pacing issues. After an exciting beginning, for the better part of the novel the rhythm can be quite sluggish. Still, Ed McDonald is known for closing the show with style. Both Ravencry and Crowfall featured thrilling endgames that led to rousing finales which packed a surprisingly powerful emotional punch. Alas, it wasn't the case with this one. Sure, all of sudden it becomes balls-to-the-wall action and Raine is in the middle of it. But the visit to the Blackwell and its aftermath are extremely rushed after about 200 pages' worth of plot moving at a snail's pace. Moreover, the trial at the end is concluded in desultory fashion that makes no sense when Grandmaster Robilar simply decides that she's satisfied and all's well when Ulovar's trial and its impending death penalty hung like a pall over the entire cast for most of the book.

Despite certain flaws, I feel that Daughter of Redwinter marks the start of a promising series. Here's to hoping that McDonald can raise the bar higher in the second volume and bring the Redwinter Chronicles to another level. There are enough interesting facets to this story that make me want to read the sequel. Hopefully the author can step up to the plate and deliver like he did in the past.

The final verdict: 7/10

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

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now download the first omnibus of Robert Silverberg's The Majipoor Cycle, comprised of Lord Valentine's Castle, Majipoor Chronicles, and Valentine Pontifex, for only 3.99$ 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 for the first volume:

He is a man with no past— a wanderer without memory of his origins. He calls himself Valentine. As a member of a motley group of entertainers, he travels across the magical planet of Majipoor, always hoping he will meet someone who can give him back what he has lost.

And then, he begins to dream--and to receive messages in those dreams. Messages that tell him that he is far more than a common vagabond—he is a lord, a king turned out of his castle. Now his travels have a purpose—to return to his home, discover what enemy took his memory, and claim the destiny that awaits him…

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now download Blake Crouch's Dark Matter 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:

A mindbending, relentlessly surprising thriller from the author of the bestselling Wayward Pines trilogy.

“Are you happy with your life?”

Those are the last words Jason Dessen hears before the masked abductor knocks him unconscious.

Before he awakens to find himself strapped to a gurney, surrounded by strangers in hazmat suits.

Before a man Jason’s never met smiles down at him and says, “Welcome back, my friend.”

In this world he’s woken up to, Jason’s life is not the one he knows. His wife is not his wife. His son was never born. And Jason is not an ordinary college physics professor, but a celebrated genius who has achieved something remarkable. Something impossible.

Is it this world or the other that’s the dream? And even if the home he remembers is real, how can Jason possibly make it back to the family he loves? The answers lie in a journey more wondrous and horrifying than anything he could’ve imagined—one that will force him to confront the darkest parts of himself even as he battles a terrifying, seemingly unbeatable foe.

Dark Matter is a brilliantly plotted tale that is at once sweeping and intimate, mind-bendingly strange and profoundly human—a relentlessly surprising science-fiction thriller about choices, paths not taken, and how far we’ll go to claim the lives we dream of.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now download Erin M. Evans' Empire of Exiles 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:

Twenty-three years ago, a Duke with a grudge led a ruthless coup against the empire of Semilla, killing thousands. He failed. The Duke was executed, a terrifyingly powerful sorcerer was imprisoned, and an unwilling princess disappeared.

The empire moved on.

Now, when Quill, an apprentice scribe, arrives in the capital city, he believes he's on a simple errand for another pompous noble: fetch ancient artifacts from the magical Imperial Archives. He's always found his apprenticeship to a lawman to be dull work. But these aren't just any artifacts — these are the instruments of revolution, the banners under which the Duke lead his coup.

Just as the artifacts are unearthed, the city is shaken by a brutal murder that seems to have been caused by a weapon not seen since the days of rebellion. With Quill being the main witness to the murder, and no one in power believing his story, he must join the Archivists — a young mage, a seasoned archivist, and a disillusioned detective — to solve the truth of the attack. And what they uncover will be the key to saving the empire – or destroying it again.

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

In hardcover:

Stephen King's Holly maintains its position at number 1.

Rebecca Yarros' Fourth Wing maintains its position at number 2.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

Not SFF, but with everything that has been happening these last few weeks, I felt that many of you might be interested in this one. You can now download David Fromkin's Pulitzer Prize Nominee A Peace to End all Peace 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.

I'm not yet halfway through, but thus far it's a fascinating read.

Here's the blurb:

Published with a new afterword from the author—the classic, bestselling account of how the modern Middle East was created.

The Middle East has long been a region of rival religions, ideologies, nationalisms, and ambitions. All of these conflicts—including the hostilities between Arabs and Israelis, and the violent challenges posed by Iraq's competing sects—are rooted in the region's political the arrangements, unities, and divisions imposed by the Allies after the First World War.

In A Peace to End All Peace , David Fromkin reveals how and why the Allies drew lines on an empty map that remade the geography and politics of the Middle East. Focusing on the formative years of 1914 to 1922, when all seemed possible, he delivers in this sweeping and magisterial book the definitive account of this defining time, showing how the choices narrowed and the Middle East began along a road that led to the conflicts and confusion that continue to this day.

A new afterword from Fromkin, written for this edition of the book, includes his invaluable, updated assessment of this region of the world today, and on what this history has to teach us.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now get your hands on the digital edition of Justin Cronin's The Ferryman 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:

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Passage comes a riveting standalone novel about a group of survivors on a hidden island utopia—where the truth isn’t what it seems.

Founded by the mysterious genius known as the Designer, the archipelago of Prospera lies hidden from the horrors of a deteriorating outside world. In this island paradise, Prospera’s lucky citizens enjoy long, fulfilling lives until the monitors embedded in their forearms, meant to measure their physical health and psychological well-being, fall below 10 percent. Then they retire themselves, embarking on a ferry ride to the island known as the Nursery, where their failing bodies are renewed, their memories are wiped clean, and they are readied to restart life afresh.

Proctor Bennett, of the Department of Social Contracts, has a satisfying career as a ferryman, gently shepherding people through the retirement process—and, when necessary, enforcing it. But all is not well with Proctor. For one thing, he’s been dreaming—which is supposed to be impossible in Prospera. For another, his monitor percentage has begun to drop alarmingly fast. And then comes the day he is summoned to retire his own father, who gives him a disturbing and cryptic message before being wrestled onto the ferry.

Meanwhile, something is stirring. The Support Staff, ordinary men and women who provide the labor to keep Prospera running, have begun to question their place in the social order. Unrest is building, and there are rumors spreading of a resistance group—known as “Arrivalists”—who may be fomenting revolution.

Soon Proctor finds himself questioning everything he once believed, entangled with a much bigger cause than he realized—and on a desperate mission to uncover the truth.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now download Naomi Novik's A Deadly Education 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:

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

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

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

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

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

Although I’m giving serious consideration to just one.


You may recall that I randomly picked up Stephen King's The Outsider to read last winter, unaware that Holly Gibney, one of my favorite King protagonists of recent years, was part of the story. Even better, once I reviewed the novel, I was told that Holly would star in her own book later this year.

Well, that time is now and I was looking forward to finding out what the author had in store for her. You may have heard some of the noise caused by Trump's supporters and anti-vaxxers, most of them giving Holly 1-star ratings on Goodreads and elsewhere. Given that the plot takes place during the pandemic and that her mother just died of Covid, it's no surprise that Holly, anxious and hypochondriac to boot, would wear a mask, wash and/or disinfect her hands often, greet you with an elbow, and have little love for the anti-vaccination movement. Apparently, some readers had a problem with that. Even though it fits perfectly with Holly's character.

Here's the blurb:

Stephen King’s Holly marks the triumphant return of beloved King character Holly Gibney. Readers have witnessed Holly’s gradual transformation from a shy (but also brave and ethical) recluse in Mr. Mercedes to Bill Hodges’s partner in Finders Keepers to a full-fledged, smart, and occasionally tough private detective in The Outsider. In King’s new novel, Holly is on her own, and up against a pair of unimaginably depraved and brilliantly disguised adversaries.

When Penny Dahl calls the Finders Keepers detective agency hoping for help locating her missing daughter, Holly is reluctant to accept the case. Her partner, Pete, has Covid. Her (very complicated) mother has just died. And Holly is meant to be on leave. But something in Penny Dahl’s desperate voice makes it impossible for Holly to turn her down.

Mere blocks from where Bonnie Dahl disappeared live Professors Rodney and Emily Harris. They are the picture of bourgeois respectability: married octogenarians, devoted to each other, and semi-retired lifelong academics. But they are harboring an unholy secret in the basement of their well-kept, book-lined home, one that may be related to Bonnie’s disappearance. And it will prove nearly impossible to discover what they are up to: they are savvy, they are patient, and they are ruthless.

Holly must summon all her formidable talents to outthink and outmaneuver the shockingly twisted professors in this chilling new masterwork from Stephen King.

While The Outsider worked well as a standalone, the same cannot be said of Holly. Events featured in the novella If It Bleeds are referred to, yet it's not necessary to have read it. But you must read the Bill Hodges trilogy to fully understand what's going on. Not just for knowing more about Holly's background, which in turn gives you more insight into her character. No, it's important to have witnessed Holly's evolution to appreciate how far along she's come since we were first introduced to her in that series. It's also important to understand the relationships between Holly and the supporting cast for the plot to make sense. Hence, even though you might be temped to give Holly a shot, please refrain from doing so unless you're up to date with her back story.

For the most part, Holly reads like a murder mystery/police procedural. There are no paranormal elements underpinning this tale, which was also the case with Mr. Mercedes. But since the supernatural invited itself later in the trilogy, as well as in The Outsider and If It Bleeds, I was expecting something along those lines to occur in this book too. Thankfully, that didn't happen. Professors Rodney and Emily Harris are just messed-up nutjobs experimenting with cannibalism.

I particularly enjoyed how Holly takes center stage in this novel. With her strengths, and especially with her weaknesses, Holly remains an incredibly endearing main protagonist. Her mother's death and what she bequeathed to her daughter in her will affect Holly as she investigates Bonnie Dahl's disappearance. She's forced to do this alone, for her partner Pete came down with Covid. Even as she connects the dot, Holly is reticent to involve Izzy on the case and wants to wait till she knows more. Jerome is in New York City signing a book deal and Barbara is now writing poems. Investigating on her own will put Holly in grave danger, and this time there might be no coming back. I must admit that I kept wondering about Barbara's storyline, which seemed to have absolutely nothing to do with the rest of the plot until almost the very end, but King wrapped everything up in unexpected fashion.

Even if Holly was in the spotlight, I feel that too much limelight was given to both Jerome and Barbara. I'm aware that they've been part of everything that occurred thus far, but at some point they need to somewhat fade in the background and Holly must stand on her own. Given the ending of the novel, the door is left open for more Finders-Keepers investigations. So here's to hoping that we'll see more of Holly in the near future.

Because as Holly has come to realize: Just when you think you’ve seen the worst human beings have to offer, there’s no end to evil.

The final verdict: 8/10

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

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now get your hands on the digital edition of Joe Abercrombie's Red Country 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:

A New York Times bestseller!

They burned her home.
They stole her brother and sister.
But vengeance is following.

Shy South hoped to bury her bloody past and ride away smiling, but she'll have to sharpen up some bad old ways to get her family back, and she's not a woman to flinch from what needs doing. She sets off in pursuit with only a pair of oxen and her cowardly old step father Lamb for company. But it turns out Lamb's buried a bloody past of his own. And out in the lawless Far Country the past never stays buried.

Their journey will take them across the barren plains to a frontier town gripped by gold fever, through feud, duel and massacre, high into the unmapped mountains to a reckoning with the Ghosts. Even worse, it will force them into an alliance with Nicomo Cosca, infamous soldier of fortune, and his feckless lawyer Temple, two men no one should ever have to trust . . .

RED COUNTRY takes place in the same world as the First Law trilogy, Best Served Cold, andThe Heroes. This novel also represents the return of Logen Ninefingers, one of Abercrombie's most beloved characters.

You can also download Miles Cameron's The Red Knight for only 2.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

This is a world dominated by The Wild.

Man lives in pockets of civilisation claimed from The Wild. Within men's walls life is civilised, the peace punctuated by tournaments, politicking, courtly love and canny business. Beyond those walls men are prey - vulnerable to the exceptionally powerful and dangerous creatures which populate the land, and even more vulnerable to those creatures schemes.

So when one of those creatures breaks out of The Wild and begins preying on people in their homes, it takes a specialist to hunt it down or drive it out . . . and even then, it's a long, difficult and extremely dangerous job.

The Black Captain and his men are one such group of specialists.

They have no idea what they're about to face . . .

Forget George and the Dragon. Forget Sir Lancelot and tales of Knightly exploits. This is dirty, bloody work. This is violent, visceral action. This is a mercenary knight as you've never seen one before.

This week's New York Times Bestsellers (September 24th)

In hardcover:

Stephen King's Holly debuts at number 1.

Rebecca Yarros' Fourth Wing is down one position, ending the week at number 2.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now get your hands on the digital edition of Gene Wolfe's Shadow and Claw for only 2.99$ by following this Amazon Assoiate 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:

The Book of the New Sun is unanimously acclaimed as Gene Wolfe's most remarkable work, hailed as "a masterpiece of science fantasy comparable in importance to the major works of Tolkien and Lewis" by Publishers Weekly, and "one of the most ambitious works of speculative fiction in the twentieth century" by The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. Shadow and Claw brings together the first two books of the tetralogy in one volume:

The Shadow of the Torturer is the tale of young Severian, an apprentice in the Guild of Torturers on the world called Urth, exiled for committing the ultimate sin of his profession -- showing mercy toward his victim.

Ursula K. Le Guin said, "Magic stuff . . . a masterpiece . . . the best science fiction I've read in years!"

The Claw of the Conciliator continues the saga of Severian, banished from his home, as he undertakes a mythic quest to discover the awesome power of an ancient relic, and learn the truth about his hidden destiny.

"Arguably the finest piece of literature American science fiction has yet produced [is] the four-volume Book of the New Sun."--Chicago Sun-Times

"The Book of the New Sun establishes his preeminence, pure and simple. . . . The Book of the New Sun contains elements of Spenserian allegory, Swiftian satire, Dickensian social consciousness and Wagnerian mythology. Wolfe creates a truly alien social order that the reader comes to experience from within . . . once into it, there is no stopping."--The New York Times Book Review

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

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now download Raymond E. Feist's Magician: Apprentice 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:

A worthy pupil . . . A dangerous quest

To the forest on the shore of the Kingdom of the Isles, the orphan Pug came to study with the master magician Kulgan. But though his courage won him a place at court and the heart of a lovely Princess, he was ill at ease with the normal ways of wizardry.

Yet Pug's strange sort of magic would one day change forever the fates of two worlds. For dark beings from another world had opened a rift in the fabric of spacetime to being again the age-old battle between the forces of Order and Chaos.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now download Andy Weir's Artemis 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:

The bestselling author of The Martian returns with an irresistible new near-future thriller—a heist story set on the moon.

Jasmine Bashara never signed up to be a hero. She just wanted to get rich.

Not crazy, eccentric-billionaire rich, like many of the visitors to her hometown of Artemis, humanity’s first and only lunar colony. Just rich enough to move out of her coffin-sized apartment and eat something better than flavored algae. Rich enough to pay off a debt she’s owed for a long time.

So when a chance at a huge score finally comes her way, Jazz can’t say no. Sure, it requires her to graduate from small-time smuggler to full-on criminal mastermind. And it calls for a particular combination of cunning, technical skills, and large explosions—not to mention sheer brazen swagger. But Jazz has never run into a challenge her intellect can’t handle, and she figures she’s got the ‘swagger’ part down.

The trouble is, engineering the perfect crime is just the start of Jazz’s problems. Because her little heist is about to land her in the middle of a conspiracy for control of Artemis itself.

Trapped between competing forces, pursued by a killer and the law alike, even Jazz has to admit she’s in way over her head. She’ll have to hatch a truly spectacular scheme to have a chance at staying alive and saving her city.

Jazz is no hero, but she is a very good criminal.

That’ll have to do.

Propelled by its heroine’s wisecracking voice, set in a city that’s at once stunningly imagined and intimately familiar, and brimming over with clever problem-solving and heist-y fun, Artemis is another irresistible brew of science, suspense, and humor from #1 bestselling author Andy Weir.

You can also download Neal Stephenson's classic, Snow Crash, 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:

One of Time’s 100 best English-language novels • A mind-altering romp through a future America so bizarre, so outrageous—you’ll recognize it immediately.

Only once in a great while does a writer come along who defies comparison—a writer so original he redefines the way we look at the world. Neal Stephenson is such a writer and Snow Crash is such a novel, weaving virtual reality, Sumerian myth, and just about everything in between with a cool, hip cybersensibility to bring us the gigathriller of the information age.

In reality, Hiro Protagonist delivers pizza for Uncle Enzo’s CosoNostra Pizza Inc., but in the Metaverse he’s a warrior prince. Plunging headlong into the enigma of a new computer virus that’s striking down hackers everywhere, he races along the neon-lit streets on a search-and-destroy mission for the shadowy virtual villain threatening to bring about infocalypse.

This week's New York Times Bestsellers (September 17th)

In hardcover:

Rebecca Yarros' Fourth Wing maintains its position at number 1.

Olivie Blake's Masters of Death is down two spots, finishing the week at number 14.

In paperback:

R.F. Kuang's Babel debuts at number 13.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now download Brent Weeks' Night Angel Nemesis 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:

The incredible return to the New York Times bestselling world of the Night Angel, where master assassin Kylar Stern embarks on a new adventure as the High King Logan Gyre calls on him to save his kingdom and the hope of peace.

After the war that cost him so much, Kylar Stern is broken and alone. He's determined not to kill again, but an impending amnesty will pardon the one murderer he can't let walk free. He promises himself this is the last time. One last hit to tie up the loose ends of his old, lost life.

But Kylar's best — and maybe only — friend, the High King Logan Gyre, needs him. To protect a fragile peace, Logan’s new kingdom, and the king’s twin sons, he needs Kylar to secure a powerful magical artifact that was unearthed during the war.

With rumors that a ka'kari may be found, adversaries both old and new are on the hunt. And if Kylar has learned anything, it’s that ancient magics are better left in the hands of those he can trust.

If he does the job right, he won’t need to kill at all. This isn’t an assassination — it’s a heist.

But some jobs are too hard for an easy conscience, and some enemies are so powerful the only answer lies in the shadows.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now get your hands on the digital edition of S.A. Chakraborty's The City of Brass 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:

Nahri has never believed in magic. Certainly, she has power; on the streets of eighteenth-century Cairo, she’s a con woman of unsurpassed talent. But she knows better than anyone that the trades she uses to get by—palm readings, zars, and a mysterious gift for healing—are all tricks, both the means to the delightful end of swindling Ottoman nobles and a reliable way to survive.

But when Nahri accidentally summons Dara, an equally sly, darkly mysterious djinn warrior, to her side during one of her cons, she’s forced to reconsider her beliefs. For Dara tells Nahri an extraordinary tale: across hot, windswept sands teeming with creatures of fire and rivers where the mythical marid sleep, past ruins of once-magnificent human metropolises and mountains where the circling birds of prey are more than what they seem, lies Daevabad, the legendary city of brass—a city to which Nahri is irrevocably bound.

In Daevabad, within gilded brass walls laced with enchantments and behind the six gates of the six djinn tribes, old resentments run deep. And when Nahri decides to enter this world, her arrival threatens to ignite a war that has been simmering for centuries.

Spurning Dara’s warning of the treachery surrounding her, she embarks on a hesitant friendship with Alizayd, an idealistic prince who dreams of revolutionizing his father’s corrupt regime. All too soon, Nahri learns that true power is fierce and brutal. That magic cannot shield her from the dangerous web of court politics. That even the cleverest of schemes can have deadly consequences.

After all, there is a reason they say to be careful what you wish for . . .

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Here's the blurb:

According to The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch (the world's only completely accurate book of prophecies, written in 1655, before she exploded), the world will end on a Saturday. Next Saturday, in fact. Just before dinner.

So the armies of Good and Evil are amassing, Atlantis is rising, frogs are falling, tempers are flaring. Everything appears to be going according to Divine Plan. Except a somewhat fussy angel and a fast-living demon—both of whom have lived amongst Earth's mortals since The Beginning and have grown rather fond of the lifestyle—are not actually looking forward to the coming Rapture.

And someone seems to have misplaced the Antichrist . . .

The Olympian Affair

I felt a bit dumb for not reading Jim Butcher's The Aeronaut's Windlass sooner. But since it took the author eight years to come up with the second volume, this may have been a blessing in disguise. Indeed, I had already received an advance reading copy of The Olympian Affair before I even began to read the first installment, so I was able to dive into the sequel immediately.

For those of you who may not be into scifi, know that The Cinder Spires series is more a swashbuckling fantasy adventure than steampunk science fiction. The Aeronaut's Windlass was definitely a fun romp. With its thrilling endgame and rousing finale, I believed that it set the stage for what could be another exciting series. In my review, I claimed that time would tell whether or not Butcher could up his game and deliver more ambitious sequels and not just rely on the same recipe for what came next.

I grew a bit concerned at times, for The Olympian Affair features a few rough spots in the middle during which Butcher seems to lose himself in overindulgent storytelling focusing on the cats. This made me wonder if The Aeronaut's Windlass might be a bit of a fluke. Thankfully, ye of little faith that I am should have known that the author would rally in the last third and bring this one to another satisfying conclusion. Having said that, your mileage may vary depending on how much you like the talking cats. 

Here's the blurb:

The fate of the Cinder Spires may be decided by crossed swords in the next exhilarating fantasy adventure from the author of the Dresden Files, in this New York Times bestselling series of noble families, swordplay, and airships.

For centuries the Cinder Spires have safeguarded humanity, rising far above the deadly surface world. Within their halls, aristocratic houses rule, developing scientific marvels and building fleets of airships for defense and trade.

Now, the Spires hover on the brink of open war.

Everyone knows it’s coming. The guns of the great airship fleets that control the skies between the last bastions of humanity will soon speak in anger, and Spire Albion stands alone against the overwhelming might of Spire Aurora’s Armada and its new secret weapon–one capable of destroying the populations of entire Spires.

A trading summit at Spire Olympia provides an opportunity for the Spirearch, Lord Albion, to secure alliances that will shape the outcomes of the war, and to that end he dispatches privateer Captain Francis Madison Grimm and the crew of the AMS Predator to bolster the Spirearch’s diplomatic agents.

It will take daring, skill, and no small amount of showmanship to convince the world to stand with Spire Albion–assuming that it is not already too late.

I continue to feel that Jim Butcher keeps his cards too close to his chest as far as the worldbuilding is concerned. In The Aeronaut's Windlass, the author provided a ton of information regarding the ships that fly through the etherical currents and the technology that powers them. Yet very little was disclosed about the Spires and their history. All we were told was that ten thousand years before, the Merciful Builders created them to shelter mankind from the dangers of the surface and then disappeared. There were mentions of a God in Heaven, Archangels, and an ancient enemy, but not much in the way of actual details. Two books into this series and it's still unclear whether or not this is an alien world or a post-apocalyptic Earth. And though Butcher opens up a bit more about the various Spires and their respective history/economy, once again The Olympian Affair remains more of a self-contained adventure that delivers very little details about the greater scheme of things. What we do discover, we learn at the very end in a "Since you're about to kill us anyway, you may as well tell us what this is all about" scene that felt somewhat clunky to say the least. The epilogue shows that there is more depth than meets the eye to this series, with bigger and better things to come. Yet Butcher seems inclined to keep a decidedly more narrow focus on characters and events in this first trilogy. We'll have to wait till we can get our hands on the final installment to see if that's the case.

The three lead protagonists from The Aeronaut's Windlass--Gwendolyn Lancaster, Bridget Tagwynn, and Captain Francis Madison Grimm-- return as POV characters. We also get the perspectives of Colonel Renaldo Espira of Spire Aurora and Duchess Abigail Hinton, both of which add new dimensions to this tale. The former by letting us see what goes on behind the scenes on the Auroran side and the latter by giving us glimpses of the political intrigue behind Spire Albion's attempt to find allies in the coming war. Once more, the supporting cast is made up of a bunch of colorful men and women such as Journeyman, Kettle, and the rest of Grimm's crew, as well as the etherealists Master Ferus and his apprentice Folly. Add to that Alex Bayard, Ravenna, Captain Ransom, and Abigail's retainers on Spire Olympia, and Butcher came up with another great cast. As much as I enjoyed the talking cats in the first volume, I feel that they were given too much importance in The Olympian Affair, what with the somewhat frivolous trip to the surface. Sometimes, less is more.

Like its predecessor, the best and worse aspects of this sequel just might be the fact that it's too self-contained for its own good. Although we do discover a bit more, especially toward the end of the book, I would have loved to learn more about the world's ancient history, the Spires themselves, the etherealists and their powers, and that bygone Enemy. Still, anyone who enjoyed The Aeronaut's Windlass will likely enjoy The Olympian Affair. The cats notwithstanding, Butcher elevates his game in the last third of the novel and closes the show with a bang.

There are pacing issues plaguing this novel, especially early on and up until about the middle portion. These have everything to do with the cats and the subsequent trip to the surface. I mean, there's a weapon of mass destruction that can wipe out an entire Spire and its population, a looming war that could have major repercussions on all Spires, so it felt a bit pointless to follow that plot thread just so the cats could reveal what they saw. Once this storyline is done with, Butcher gets back on track and doesn't look back. From that point on, The Olympian Affair becomes a veritable page-turner. I loved how the author played with our expectations and pulled the rug from under our feet with the duels, and there's no denying that the endgame made for another gripping finale. And of course, the cliffhanger ending means that I'll have to read the third volume ASAP.

Regardless of its shortcomings, The Olympian Affair is another swashbuckling steampunk fantasy adventure featuring a cast of unforgettable characters.

The final verdict: 8/10

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Here's the blurb:

First in the bestselling Dragon Prince series, explore a lush epic fantasy world replete with winged beasts, power games of magical treachery, and a realm of princedoms hovering on the brink of war • “Marvelous!”—Anne McCaffrey.

When Rohan became the new prince of the Desert, ruler of the kingdom granted to his family for as long as the Long Sands spewed fire, he took the crown with two goals in mind. First and foremost, he sought to bring permanent peace to his world of divided princedoms. And, in a land where dragon-slaying was a proof of manhood, Rohan was the sole champion of the dragons, fighting desperately to preserve the last remaining lords of the sky and with them a secret which might be the salvation of his people...

Sioned, the Sunrunner witch who was fated by Fire to be Rohan’s bride, had mastered the magic of sunlight and moonglow, catching hints of a yet to be formed pattern which could irrevocably affect the destinies of Sunrunners and ordinary mortals alike. Yet caught in the machinations of the Lady of Goddess Keep, and of Prince Rohan and his sworn enemy, the treacherously cunning High Prince, could Sioned alter this crucial pattern to protect her lord from the menace of a war that threatened to set the land ablaze?

You can now download N.K. Jemisin's The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms for only 2.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

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

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

This week's New York Times Bestsellers (September 10th)

In hardcover:

Rebecca Yarros' Fourth Wing is up one position, ending the week at number 1.

Olivie Blake's Masters of Death is down two spots, finishing the week at number 12.

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You can now download Peter F. Hamilton's The Reality Dysfunction 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:

Space is not the only void…

In AD 2600 the human race is finally beginning to realize its full potential. Hundreds of colonized planets scattered across the galaxy host a multitude of prosperous and wildly diverse cultures. Genetic engineering has pushed evolution far beyond nature’s boundaries, defeating disease and producing extraordinary spaceborn creatures. Huge fleets of sentient trader starships thrive on the wealth created by the industrialization of entire star systems. And throughout inhabited space the Confederation Navy keeps the peace. A true golden age is within our grasp.

But now something has gone catastrophically wrong. On a primitive colony planet a renegade criminal’s chance encounter with an utterly alien entity unleashes the most primal of all our fears. An extinct race which inhabited the galaxy aeons ago called it “The Reality Dysfunction.” It is the nightmare which has prowled beside us since the beginning of history.

THE REALITY DYSFUNCTION is a modern classic of science fiction, an extraordinary feat of storytelling on a truly epic scale.

Quote of the Day

The stories of this age begin and end with blood, and mine is no exception.

- ED MCDONALD, Daughter of Redwinter

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The sequel and final volume in the duology, The Reluctant Mage, is also on sale at 1.99$.

Here's the blurb:

Many years have passed since the last great Mage War. It has been a time of great change. But not all changes are for the best, and Asher's world is in peril once more.

The weather magic that holds Lur safe is failing, and the earth feels broken to those with the power to see. Among Lur's sorcerers, only Asher has the skill to mend the antique weather map that governs the seasons, keeping the land from being crushed by natural forces. Yet, when Asher risks his life to meddle with these dangerous magics, the crisis is merely delayed, not averted.

Asher's son Rafel has inherited the father's talents, but has been forbidden to use them. Many died in the last Mage War and these abilities aren't to be loosed lightly into the world. But when Asher's last desperate attempt to repair the damage leaves him on his deathbed, Rafel's powers may not be denied. For his countrymen are facing famine, devastation, and a rift in the very fabric of their land.

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You can now download Clive Barker's Weaveworld for only 3.99$ 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:

Here is storytelling on a grand scale — the stuff of which a classic is made. Weaveworld begins with a rug — a wondrous, magnificent rug — into which a world has been woven. It is the world of the Seerkind, a people more ancient than man, who possesses raptures — the power to make magic. In the last century they were hunted down by an unspeakable horror known as the Scourge, and, threatened with annihilation, they worked their strongest raptures to weave themselves and their culture into a rug for safekeeping. Since then, the rug has been guarded by human caretakers.

The last of the caretakers has just died.

Vying for possession of the rug is a spectrum of unforgettable characters: Suzanna, granddaughter of the last caretaker, who feels the pull of the Weaveworld long before she knows the extent of her own powers; Calhoun Mooney, a pigeon-raising clerk who finds the world he's always dreamed of in a fleeting glimpse of the rug; Immacolata, an exiled Seerkind witch intent on destroying her race even if it means calling back the Scourge; and her sidekick, Shadwell, the Salesman, who will sell the Weaveworld to the highest bidder.

In the course of the novel the rug is unwoven, and we travel deep into the glorious raptures of the Weaveworld before we witness the final, cataclysmic struggle for its possession.

Barker takes us to places where we have seldom been in fiction--places terrifying and miraculous, humorous, and profound. With keen psychological insight and prodigious invention, his trademark graphic vision balanced by a spirit of transcendent promise, Barker explores the darkness and the light, the magical and the monstrous, and celebrates the triumph of the imagination.