More inexpensive ebook goodies!



You can download Deborah Harkness' A Discovery of Witches 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:

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

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

War


Oh boy, where do I begin?

I was concerned about how well Firstborn would stand on its own, given that it was essentially the first half of War, which grew too big to be published as a single book. Hence, I was hoping that Firstborn would be akin to The Riven Shield and thus a worthy addition to the series. Unfortunately, it wasn't meant to be. Although the seventh installment featured some of the best stuff in the House War sequence, it was also plagued by some of the worse cases of West totally losing herself into pointless extraneous plotlines. Considering how bad Michelle West has been in that regard in her previous works, that was really saying something.

Still, given how she knocked it out of the park with The Sun Sword, I had hopes that she could do it again with War. With all the storylines that have been building up over the course of both The Sun Sword and The House War series, all the ingredients needed for a rousing finale were there.

Alas, this turned out to be West's most underwhelming novel by far.

Here's the blurb:

The eighth and final book in the epic fantasy House War series closes this chapter in a beloved world of magic and political intrigue, where new threats are stirring.

When the Sleepers wake.

Once, that phrase meant: never. The Sleepers were a myth, part of a story told to children. But in truth, the Sleepers, ancient princes in the court of the Winter Queen, were imprisoned in slumber by the gods themselves—in the cold, dark ruins of the ancient city that lies buried beneath the capital of the Empire. And that prison is fraying, at last.

They are waking.

The gods no longer walk the world. There is no power that can stand against the princes when they wake—and the city that has been Jewel’s home for her entire life will be destroyed when the Sleepers walk. There is only one person to whom they owe allegiance, only one chance to halt them before they destroy everything in their ancient rage.

But that person is the Winter Queen; she is not, and has never been mortal. Jewel carries the last of the surviving saplings that might usher in a new Summer age—but all of the roads that lead to the court of the Queen are closed.

Jewel ATerafin has faced the Oracle’s test. She has control of the prophetic powers that she once considered a curse and a burden. She will find her way to the Winter Queen, and she will ask—or beg—the Winter Queen to intervene to save her kind, her House, and everything she loves.

But she is mortal, and time has never been her friend. The demons are waiting to bar her way, bringing battle to the hidden ancient paths on which she must travel. To win, she must face the true meaning of the Oracle’s test, and risk sanity and life to make the choice that has always lurked at the heart of the firstborn’s test.

And even then, it might be too late.


Not surprisingly at this point, the worldbuilding remains the most amazing facet of these books. As far as I'm concerned, it's also the only thing that's been holding the House War's story arcs together for quite some time now. It's obvious that there is a depth to Michelle West's universe that rivals those of Tolkien, Erikson, and Bakker, and it's a depth that keeps growing with each new installment. Which is quite a feat, in my opinion. Oracle raised the bar in a way we hadn't seen since Sea of Sorrows and both Firstborn and War unveiled new secrets about the firstborn, the Ariani, the Sleepers, the gods and goddesses, the cats, Meralonne, the Oracle, the Winter Court, the Sen, the Cities of Man, etc. All of which added yet more layers to what is already one of the most convoluted fantasy series of all time. Problem is, worldbuilding is only the backdrop of the tale. No matter how detailed and complex that aspect turns out to be, it's all a matter of execution on the part of the author that will allow it to shine or not. And in War, sadly, West fails on basically every level to make the most important scenes/sequences come together the way they deserved. Some of them have been building up since the early volumes of The Sun Sword. And yet, for some unfathomable reasons, their resolution/conclusion almost occur in the background, while the perspectives are focused on low key and unimportant characters as the promised Apocalypse is taking place.

Once again, the characterization is severely lacking. To be honest, with a few rare exceptions, it was terrible. As mentioned, as captivating as some worldbuilding elements are, the poor characterization that leads to bad execution often undermines what should have been key and emotionally charged moments in this grand saga. I mean, it's the end of the world. The Sleepers have awakened. They're laying waste to the capital. Do we have to read about Teller trying to rescue his cat before the mansion is destroyed? Do we have have to read page after page about innocent refugees seeking shelter? Do we need to read so many pages focusing on the evacuation of House Terafin and its staff and servants? As stated in my past reviews, I believe that your mileage may vary depending on how much you are invested in Jewel and her den. What continues to hurt the characterization aspect to such a degree, perhaps because both Firstborn and War were supposed to be one work, is the fact that every single den member suffers from bouts of nostalgia throughout the book. They all reminisce about Duster and the others, for some reason, and these inner monologues go on for page after page after page, killing the momentum of every scene in which they are involved. Over the course of more than 600 pages, they continue to regurgitate their feelings about Duster's sacrifice and the death of the others, which are things we've known since the Sun Sword series. Why Michelle West felt it was important to go through all this again as we approach the end of the House War sequence, after doing it throughout Firstborn and, if we're honest, big chunks of every other Essalieyan book, I'll never know. Holy Hell, it's the Apocalypse and the Sleepers just might destroy everything that everyone holds dear, and we're still talking about Duster? Why? This is the grand finale, when the proverbial shit has hit the fan, and we're still going on about the den's past over and over again. We've known about these things since early on, so why go through it all again ad nauseam? War makes Brandon Sanderson's tackling Robert Jordan's Last Battle feel concise. Okay, maybe not, but you get my drift. Why did Michelle West elect to focus on the den and the "little people" of the realm when all hell breaks loose, I can't begin to understand. I know she wanted the den to come full circle, but to say that it was overdone would be the understatement of the decade. Such focus removed most of the gravitas from scenes that have been foreshadowed for years and years, scenes such as the resolution of the Winter Queen's plotline, and prevented such important moments from helping close this series with an exclamation point.

The pace is better this time around. Given that it's the endgame, it had to be. And yet, at times it feels as though the rhythm is atrocious because you're reading yet another boring chapter about Teller and Finch organizing the House's evacuation instead of reading about the Sleepers and what is more important in the greater scheme of things. For every interesting and exciting sequences, and there are more than a few, West then drags you through yet more tedious and repetitive House business or one of the den's interminable inner monologues.

In my last review, I was wonderering why so much focus was put on seemingly irrelevant scenes and plotlines when the end of it all was so near. The same can be said of War and that totally killed the novel for me. This book just might be the most lackluster fantasy finale I've ever read. How something with so much promise could end up in such an uninspired fashion, I'll never know. War turned out to be so underwhelming, I'm not even going to read the first 3 volumes for a long time. I simply can't deal with more Jewel and her den for now. The Sacred Hunt will be next. Which is sad, for The Sun Sword was so great. The House War, though it has its brilliant moments, is a pale shadow of its predecessor.

The final verdict: 6/10

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

Quote of the Day

At their core, mages are just academics who found something practical to do with a philosophy degree.

- STEPHEN BLACKMOORE, Hungry Ghosts

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

I've been enjoying this series more than I thought I would so far. Quite refreshing.

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

In hardcover:

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

Rebecca Yarros' Iron Flame maintains its position at number 2.

Aurora Ascher's Sanctuary of the Shadow debuts at number 3.

Olivie Blake's The Atlas Complex debuts at number 9.

In paperback:

Sarah J. Maas' A Court of Silver Flames is up four spots, finishing the week at number 9.

Sarah J. Maas' House of Earth and Blood is up one spot, finishing the week at number 10.

Sarah J. Maas' House of Sky and Breath returns at number 13.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can now download Katherine Kurtz's Camber of Culdi 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.

Even better, nearly all the Deryni installments are on sale for 1.99$ or 2.99$! So you might want to add them to your digital library!

Here's the blurb:

Magic and mysticism come alive in this magnificent historical fantasy from the New York Times–bestselling author of the Chronicles of the Deryni.

Long before Camber was revered as a saint, he was a Deryni noble, one of the most respected of the magical race whose arcane skills set them apart from ordinary humans in the medieval kingdom of Gwynedd.

For nearly a century, Camber’s family has had little choice but to loyally serve the ruling Festils, Deryni usurpers who employed dark magic to wrest the throne from the rightful Haldane liege.

Now, the land suffers under the tyranny of King Imre, whose savage oppression of the human population weighs heavily on Camber’s heart—a heart that is shattered when the despot and his evil mistress-sister, Ariella, cause the death of Camber’s beloved son.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can now download C.J. Cherryh's Hammerfall 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 the most renowned figures in science fiction, C.J. Cherryh has been enthralling audiences for nearly thirty years with rich and complex novels. Now at the peak of her career, this three-time Hugo Award winner launches her most ambitious work in decades, Hammerfall, part of a far-ranging series, The Gene Wars, set in an entirely new universe scarred by the most vicious of future weaponry, nanotechnology. In this brilliant novel -- possibly Cherryh's masterwork -- the fate of billions has come down to a confrontation between two profoundly alien cultures on a single desert planet.

"The mad shall be searched out and given to the Ila's messengers. No man shall conceal madness in his wife, or his son, or his daughter, or his father. Every one must be delivered up." -- The Book of the Ila's Au'it

Marak has suffered the madness his entire life. He is a prince and warrior, strong and shrewd and expert in the ways of the desert covering his planet. In the service of his father, he has dedicated his life to overthrowing the Ila, the mysterious eternal dictator of his world. For years he has successfully hidden the visions that plague him -- voices pulling him eastward, calling Marak, Marak, Marak, amid mind-twisting visions of a silver tower. But when his secret is discovered, Marak is betrayed by his own father and forced to march in an endless caravan with the rest of his world's madmen to the Ila's city of Oburan.

Instead of death, Marak finds in Oburan his destiny, and the promise of life -- if he can survive what is surely a suicidal mission. The Ila wants him to discover the source of the voices and visions that afflict the mad. Despite the danger sof the hostile desert, tensions within the caravan, and his own excruciating doubts, Marak miraculously reaches his goal -- only to be given another, even more impossible mission by the strange people in the towers.

According to these beings who look like him yet act differently than anyone he has ever known, Marak has a slim chance to save his world's people from the wrath of Ila's enemies. But to do so, he must convince them all -- warring tribes, villagers, priests, young and old, as well as the Ila herself -- to follow him on an epic trek across the burning desert before the hammer of the Ila's foes falls from the heavens above.

Written with deceptive simplicity and lyricism, this riveting, fast-paced epic of war, love, and survival in a brave new world marks a major achievement from the masterful C.J. Cherryh.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can now download Melanie Rawn's The Ruins of Ambrai 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 thousand years ago, Mageborns fled prejudice and persecution to colonize the planet Lenfell—pristine, untouched, a perfect refuge for those whose powers were perceived as a threat by people not gifted with magic. But the greater the magic, the greater the peril—and Lenfell was soon devastated by a war between rival Mageborn factions that polluted land, sea, and air with Wild Magic and unleashed the hideous specters known as Wraithenbeasts.

Generations after that terrible war, with the land recovered from crippling wounds and the people no longer threatened by genetic damage, Mageborns still practice their craft—but under strict constraints. Yet so long as the rivalry between the Mage Guardians and the Lords of Malerris continues, the threat of another war is ever-present. And someone has been planning just such a war for many long years, the final strike in a generations-old bid for total power…

This week's New York Times Bestsellers (January 21st)

In hardcover:

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

Rebecca Yarros' Iron Flame maintains its position at number 2.

Stephen King's Holly is down seven positions, ending the week at number 15.

In paperback:

Sarah J. Maas' House of Earth and Blood is up two spots, finishing the week at number 11.

Sarah J. Maas' A Court of Silver Flames is up two spots, finishing the week at number 13.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can now get your hands on the digital edition of K. J. Parker's The Company 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:

Hoping for a better life, five war veterans colonize an abandoned island. They take with them everything they could possibly need -- food, clothes, tools, weapons, even wives.

But an unanticipated discovery shatters their dream and replaces it with a very different one. The colonists feel sure that their friendship will keep them together. Only then do they begin to realize that they've brought with them rather more than they bargained for.

For one of them, it seems, has been hiding a terrible secret from the rest of the company. And when the truth begins to emerge, it soon becomes clear that the war is far from over.

With masterful storytelling, irresistible wit, and extraordinary insight into human nature, K.J. Parker is widely acknowledged as one of the most original and exciting fantasy writers of modern times. The Company, K.J. Parker's first stand-alone novel, is a tour de force from an author who is changing the face of the fantasy genre.


More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can now get your hands on the digital edition of RJ Barker's The Bone Ships 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 brilliantly imagined saga of honor, glory, and warfare, The Bone Ships is the epic launch of a new series from British Fantasy Award winner, RJ Barker.

Two nations at war. One prize beyond compare.

For generations, the Hundred Isles have built their ships from the bones of ancient dragons to fight an endless war. The dragons disappeared, but the battles for supremacy persisted.

Now, the first dragon in centuries has been spotted in far-off waters, and both sides see a chance to shift the balance of power in their favor. Because whoever catches it will win not only glory but the war.


The Blueprint


My curiosity was piqued when I received the press release for this novel. However, I'm always afraid that such books will turn out to be anti-Trump/anti-GOP manifestos. Some people might be willing to dismiss such works out of hand, claiming that things could never get that bad. And yet, given the recent attack on the Capitol, the Black Lives Matter movement, the various acts of right-wing fucktardness across the country, and the anti-abortion movement in this post-Roe era, it's not difficult to believe that the USA depicted in so many dystopian tales could become a disturbing possibility.

Hence, it's with an open mind that one must tackle a book like Rae Gianna Rashad's The Blueprint. It's a beautifully written debut with many poignant scenes. The narrative sucks you into this story from the very first chapter and never lets go. Indeed, I brought this novel with me on vacation and went through it in only three sittings. Trouble is, the only way to enjoy this one is to take everything at face value. Truth suffers from too much analysis, or so the saying goes, and Rashad's plot totally unravels as soon as you begin to question any aspect of the worldbuilding and the storylines. As soon as you start to ask why this, why that, very little about this story makes sense.

Which is quite disappointing, for it feels as though the author didn't even try to make the worldbuilding ring true. The cover blurb and the press release both mention that The Blueprint is a novel akin to similar works written by Margaret Atwood and Octavia E. Butler. I beg to differ. In essence, perhaps, but Rashad's debut lacks the sort of depth and the scope of vision that characterize both aforementioned writers' books. Hard to put this novel in such lofty company when it doesn't really have a leg to stand on.

Here's the blurb:

In the vein of Octavia E. Butler and Margaret Atwood, a harrowing novel set in an alternate United States—a world of injustice and bondage in which a young Black woman becomes the concubine of a powerful white government official and must face the dangerous consequences.

Solenne Bonet lives in Texas where choice no longer exists. An algorithm determines a Black woman’s occupation, spouse, and residence. Solenne finds solace in penning the biography of Henriette, an ancestor who’d been an enslaved concubine to a wealthy planter in 1800s Louisiana. But history repeats itself when Solenne, lonely and naïve, finds herself entangled with Bastien Martin, a high-ranking government official. Solenne finds the psychological bond unbearable, so she considers alternatives. With Henriette as her guide, she must decide whether and how to leave behind all she knows.

Inspired by the lives of enslaved concubines to U.S. politicians and planters, The Blueprint unfolds over dual timelines to explore bodily autonomy, hypocrisy, and power imbalances through the lens of the nation’s most unprotected: a Black girl.


The worldbuilding, or lack thereof, is what ultimately sinks this book. At face value, the premise appears to be quite fascinating. As I said, perusing the press release immediately made me want to read The Blueprint. But faced with this new world order, as soon as you begin to question any facet of the plot, everything goes down the crapper. Early on, the Order seems to be comprised of the Bible Belt states and it does make sense. There is talk of a second Civil War, but we never truly discover what took place and why. Then we learn that the Order spans the entire USA, which makes you wonder how the more liberal states in the country ended up joining a far-right military government. What is this Code that replaced the US Constitution? Why would Black girls that are descendants of slavery would now become chattel? Why are young Black girls assigned to a white man to correct her behavior and then send her back to marry a Black army officier and have babies to become soldiers to send to protect their borders and fight wars in Yemen and elsewhere? Why would white men want such concubines? Back in the 1800s, officials and rich planters took advantage of their slaves. But in the 21st century, why would men who can get whatever they desire want such temporary courtesans? Why is Louisiana the only place where such girls can escape and achieve emancipation? What about the 49 other state? What about Canada and other Western countries? Speaking of the Order, on what principles was it founded? The bulk of the action takes place in Texas, yet there is no mention of religion anywhere in this book. In the heart of the Bible Belt, where every unthinkable act is seemingly always justified by faith, how can one explain the total absence of religion in The Blueprint? Why is the Order fighting all these wars in foreign lands? Why? Why? Why? The novel's entire backdrop breaks down as soon as you start asking such questions.

The blurb mentions that The Blueprint unfolds over dual timelines, yet there are actually three of them. The first one focuses on Henriette, the main protagonist's ancestor. The bulk of the story is told through Solenne Bonet's perspective, which is split into her past and present so that we can learn more about her upbringing and how she ended up as a concubine to a high-ranking member of the Order. Personally, I would have liked to get more chapters elaborating on Henriette's life. They are few and far between, and you wonder why they're even part of the tale until the very end. Though I enjoyed Solenne's POV, several sequences felt redundant, which is why I would have preferred to see Henriette more often, if only to provide a better balance between the timelines.

Given its size, what with the novel weighing in at less than 300 pages, there are no pacing issues. True, some of Solenne's scenes could maybe have been truncated or removed completely, especially around the middle when she's considering running away but always finding reasons not to. But other than that, the plot moves at a good clip throughout.

Rae Gianna Rashad's beautiful prose is a delight to read. Though the worldbuilding makes little sense, her narrative is thought-provoking as she explores themes such as freedom, self-worth, sense of self, racism, and sexism through the eyes of Solenne. Had the author worked a little harder to make the backdrop of her debut more believable, I feel that The Blueprint would have been one of the best genre fiction titles of 2024. As things stand, unless you can overlook its major flaws, it can't be anything but a disappointment.

I quickly realized that I needed to stop asking questions if I wanted to enjoy this book. Which I did and in the end I did enjoy it. Still, there's no denying that The Blueprint could have been a much better book. Your mileage will vary. . .

The final verdict: 7/10

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

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can now get your hands on N.K. Jemisin's The Fifth Season, Hugo award winner, 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:

THIS IS THE WAY THE WORLD ENDS... FOR THE LAST TIME.

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.


You can also download Grady Hendrix's The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires for only 2.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

Patricia Campbell’s life has never felt smaller. Her husband is a workaholic, her teenage kids have their own lives, her senile mother-in-law needs constant care, and she’s always a step behind on her endless to-do list. The only thing keeping her sane is her book club, a close-knit group of Charleston women united by their love of true crime. At these meetings they’re as likely to talk about the Manson family as they are about their own families.

One evening after book club, Patricia is viciously attacked by an elderly neighbor, bringing the neighbor's handsome nephew, James Harris, into her life. James is well traveled and well read, and he makes Patricia feel things she hasn’t felt in years. But when children on the other side of town go missing, their deaths written off by local police, Patricia has reason to believe James Harris is more of a Bundy than a Brad Pitt. The real problem? James is a monster of a different kind—and Patricia has already invited him in.

Little by little, James will insinuate himself into Patricia’s life and try to take everything she took for granted—including the book club—but she won’t surrender without a fight in this blood-soaked tale of neighborly kindness gone wrong.


This week's New York Times Bestsellers (January 14th)

In hardcover:

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

Rebecca Yarros' Iron Flame is up one position, ending the week at number 2.

Stephen King's Holly is down two positions, ending the week at number 8.

In paperback:

Sarah J. Maas' House of Earth and Blood is up six spots, finishing the week at number 9.

Sarah J. Maas' House of Sky and Breath returns at number 11.

Sarah J. Maas' A Court of Silver Flames returns at number 15.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can now download Brian McClellan's Promise of Blood 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 Age of Kings is dead . . . and I have killed it.

It's a bloody business overthrowing a king...
Field Marshal Tamas' coup against his king sent corrupt aristocrats to the guillotine and brought bread to the starving. But it also provoked war with the Nine Nations, internal attacks by royalist fanatics, and the greedy to scramble for money and power by Tamas's supposed allies: the Church, workers unions, and mercenary forces.

It's up to a few...
Stretched to his limit, Tamas is relying heavily on his few remaining powder mages, including the embittered Taniel, a brilliant marksman who also happens to be his estranged son, and Adamat, a retired police inspector whose loyalty is being tested by blackmail.

But when gods are involved...
Now, as attacks batter them from within and without, the credulous are whispering about omens of death and destruction. Just old peasant legends about the gods waking to walk the earth. No modern educated man believes that sort of thing. But they should...

In a rich, distinctive world that mixes magic with technology, who could stand against mages that control gunpowder and bullets? PROMISE OF BLOOD is the start of a new epic fantasy series from Brian McClellan.

Winner of the David Gemmell Morningstar Award for Best Debut Fantasy.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can now download John Gwynne's A Time of Dread 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 race of warrior angels, the Ben-Elim, once vanquished a mighty demon horde. Now they rule the Banished lands, but their peace is brutally enforced.

In the south, hotheaded Riv is desperate to join the Ben-Elim's peacekeeping force, until she unearths a deadly secret.

In the west, the giantess Sig investigates demon sightings and discovers signs of an uprising and black magic.

And in the snowbound north, Drem, a trapper, finds mutilated corpses in the forests. The work of a predator, or something far darker?

It's a time of shifting loyalties and world-changing dangers. Difficult choices need to be made. Because in the shadows, demons are gathering, waiting for their time to rise...

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can now download Richard Swan's The Tyranny of Faith 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:

Action, intrigue, and magic collide in the second book in an epic fantasy trilogy, where Sir Konrad Vonvalt’s role as an Emperor’s Justice requires him to be a detective, judge, and executioner all in one—but these are dangerous times to be a Justice . . .

A Justice’s work is never done.

The Battle of Galen’s Vale is over, but the war for the Empire’s future has just begun. Concerned by rumors that the Magistratum’s authority is waning, Sir Konrad Vonvalt returns to Sova to find the capital city gripped by intrigue and whispers of rebellion. In the Senate, patricians speak openly against the Emperor, while fanatics preach holy vengeance on the streets.

Yet facing down these threats to the throne will have to wait, for the Emperor’s grandson has been kidnapped - and Vonvalt is charged with rescuing the missing prince. His quest will lead him – and his allies Helena, Bressinger and Sir Radomir – to the southern frontier, where they will once again face the puritanical fury of Bartholomew Claver and his templar knights – and a dark power far more terrifying than they could have imagined.


This week's New York Times Bestsellers (January 7th)

In hardcover:

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

Rebecca Yarros' Iron Flame maintains its position at number 3.

Stephen King's Holly is up one position, ending the week at number 6.

In paperback:

Sarah J. Maas' House of Earth and Blood returns at number 15.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can now get your hands on the digital edition of Nnedi Okorafor's Shadow Speaker 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:

Deluxe, expanded edition of an out-of-print early novel from Africanfuturist luminary Nnedi Okorafor, with a brand-new introduction from the author.

Niger, West Africa, 2074

It is an era of tainted technology and mysterious mysticism. A great change has happened all over the planet, and the laws of physics aren’t what they used to be.

Within all this, I introduce you to Ejii Ugabe, a child of the worst type of politician. Back when she was nine years old, she was there as her father met his end. Don’t waste your tears on him: this girl’s father would throw anyone under a bus to gain power. He was a cruel, cruel man, but even so, Ejii did not rejoice at his departure from the world. Children are still learning that some people don’t deserve their love.

Now 15 years old and manifesting the abilities given to her by the strange Earth, Ejii decides to go after the killer of her father. Is it for revenge or something else? You will have to find out by reading this book.

I am the Desert Magician, and this is a novel I have conjured for you, so I’m certainly not going to just tell you here.


This week's New York Times Bestsellers (December 31st)

In hardcover:

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

Rebecca Yarros' Iron Flame is down one position, ending the week at number 3.

Stephen King's Holly maintains its position at number 7.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can now download the second volume in Brandon Sanderson's The Stormlight Archive, Words of Radiance, for only 4.99$ 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:

Brandon Sanderson's The Stormlight Archive sequence began in 2010 with the New York Times bestseller The Way of Kings. Now, the eagerly anticipated Words of Radiance continues the epic story and answers many of your questions.

Six years ago, the Assassin in White, a hireling of the inscrutable Parshendi, assassinated the Alethi king on the very night a treaty between men and Parshendi was being celebrated. So began the Vengeance Pact among the highprinces of Alethkar and the War of Reckoning against the Parshendi.

Now the Assassin is active again, murdering rulers all over the world of Roshar, using his baffling powers to thwart every bodyguard and elude all pursuers. Among his prime targets is Highprince Dalinar, widely considered the power behind the Alethi throne. His leading role in the war would seem reason enough, but the Assassin’s master has much deeper motives.

Expected by his enemies to die the miserable death of a military slave, Kaladin survived to be given command of the royal bodyguards, a controversial first for a low-status "darkeyes." Now he must protect the king and Dalinar from every common peril as well as the distinctly uncommon threat of the Assassin, all while secretly struggling to master remarkable new powers that are somehow linked to his honorspren, Syl.

Brilliant but troubled Shallan strives along a parallel path. Despite being broken in ways she refuses to acknowledge, she bears a terrible burden: to somehow prevent the return of the legendary Voidbringers and the civilization-ending Desolation that will follow. The secrets she needs can be found at the Shattered Plains, but just arriving there proves more difficult than she could have imagined.

Meanwhile, at the heart of the Shattered Plains, the Parshendi are making an epochal decision. Hard pressed by years of Alethi attacks, their numbers ever shrinking, they are convinced by their war leader, Eshonai, to risk everything on a desperate gamble with the very supernatural forces they once fled. The possible consequences for Parshendi and humans alike, indeed, for Roshar itself, are as dangerous as they are incalculable.

The doors of the Stormlight Archive first opened to us with The Way of Kings. Read that book – now available in all formats – and then Words of Radiance, and you can be part of the adventure every dazzling step of the way.

Cujo


I've been revisiting several of Stephen King's early works for a while now and I was curious to see how Cujo would hold up. The book is still good, but I don't feel as though it has aged that well compared to some of the author's other older titles. Probably because of the stay-at-home women. Yes, this was prevalent among lots of families during the 70s and the early 80s, but it does feel a little discordant now in 2024.

Interestingly enough, King barely remembers anything at all about writing Cujo. Indeed, the novel was written at the peak of his struggle with alcohol addiction. Still, for anyone looking for a shorter, more self-contained tale from the master of horror, this one remains a pretty good option.

Here's the blurb:

Outside a peaceful town in central Maine, a monster is waiting. Cujo is a two-hundred-pound Saint Bernard, the best friend Brett Camber has ever had. One day, Cujo chases a rabbit into a cave inhabited by sick bats and emerges as something new altogether.

Meanwhile, Vic and Donna Trenton, and their young son Tad, move to Maine. They are seeking peace and quiet, but life in this small town is not what it seems. As Tad tries to fend off the terror that comes to him at night from his bedroom closet, and as Vic and Donna face their own nightmare of a marriage on the rocks, there is no way they can know that a monster, infinitely sinister, waits in the daylight.

What happens to Cujo, how he becomes a horrifying vortex inescapably drawing in all the people around him, makes for one of the most heart-stopping novels Stephen King has ever written. “A genuine page-turner that grabs you and holds you and won’t let go” (Chattanooga Times), Cujo will forever change how you view man’s best friend.


The action takes place in and around the fictional town of Castle Rock, Maine. Unlike many other of King's works, Cujo is not necessarily linked to other novels. At least not in any important ways. For the most part, allusions to Cujo refer to the incident of the summer of 1980 when a rabid Saint Bernard killed three people. I was pleased to find out that King's forthcoming collection, You Like It Darker, will contain a story titled "Rattlesnakes," which the author describes as a sequel to Cujo.

As is the case in many of King's early works, this novel features a family with a young child moving into town and trying to adapt to their new life. Vic's advertising agency might go under if they lose their most important client, so he must accompany his partner to New York City and then Cleveland to see if they can salvage the situation. Finding it incredibly hard to cope with small-town life, Donna had an affair with a local man. Calling it off, she had no idea that her beau would then reveal the truth to Vic just before he needs to fly away. Joe Camber is a mechanic and abusive husband who lives at the edge of town with his family. When his wife Charity wins a lottery prize, she uses most of the money to bribe Joe to finally allow her to take their son Brett on a trip to visit her sister who lives up in Connecticut and show him the possibility of a better life than what they have in the ass-end of Castle Rock. Meanwhile, their lovable Saint Bernard Cujo gets bitten by a bat and is infected with rabies. When Donna takes her Ford Pinto to get it repaired at Joe Camber's shop, she has no idea that what will follow would change her family's life forever.

Stephen King's depiction of blue-collar and middle-class families continues to be top notch and makes for some very good characterization. Whether it's the cheating spouse Donna, the cuckold husband Vic, or their child Tad, or the Cambers, or even the rascal Steve Kemp, the authors truly sucks you into their lives. I've said it many times and I'll probably say it again, but no one can write children the way Stephen King does. His POVs for both Tad and Brett are great. I was surprised that we also get Cujo's perspective from time to time. Not sure it was necessary, but it does show you how the dog's health and its grasp on reality are deteriorating fast.

Cujo is a pretty straightforward story and there are no pacing issues to speak of. Yes, the author sticks the landing at the end. Given that the ending is perfect for what just occurred, I was shocked to discover that many critics were not happy with it when the book originally came out. Which is probably why the movie that came out in 1983 featured a more optimistic ending.

The final verdict: 7.5/10

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

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can now download Michael J. Sullivan's The Crown Tower 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 men who hate each other. One impossible mission. A legend in the making.

Hadrian Blackwater, a warrior with nothing to fight for is paired with Royce Melborn, a thieving assassin with nothing to lose. Together they must steal a treasure that no one can reach. The Crown Tower is the impregnable remains of the grandest fortress ever built and home to the realm's most prized possessions. But it isn't gold or jewels that the old wizard is after, and if he can keep them from killing each other they become a legendary team.

This is the first book in the new series, The Riyria Chronicles, from best-selling author Michael J. Sullivan. It takes place twelve years before the events of The Riyria Revelations and no prior knowledge of those books is required. You can read in either chronological order or order of publication, although the author suggests reading in publication order.

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You can now download Joe Abercrombie's A Little Hatred 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:

The chimneys of industry rise over Adua and the world seethes with new opportunities. But old scores run deep as ever.

On the blood-soaked borders of Angland, Leo dan Brock struggles to win fame on the battlefield, and defeat the marauding armies of Stour Nightfall. He hopes for help from the crown. But King Jezal’s son, the feckless Prince Orso, is a man who specializes in disappointments.

Savine dan Glokta – socialite, investor, and daughter of the most feared man in the Union – plans to claw her way to the top of the slag-heap of society by any means necessary. But the slums boil over with a rage that all the money in the world cannot control.

The age of the machine dawns, but the age of magic refuses to die. With the help of the mad hillwoman Isern-i-Phail, Rikke struggles to control the blessing, or the curse, of the Long Eye. Glimpsing the future is one thing, but with the guiding hand of the First of the Magi still pulling the strings, changing it will be quite another…


You can also get your hands on the digital edition of Joe Abercrombie's excellent Best Served Cold for only 3.99$ by following this Amazon Associate link.

Here's the blurb:

Springtime in Styria. And that means war.

There have been nineteen years of blood. The ruthless Grand Duke Orso is locked in a vicious struggle with the squabbling League of Eight, and between them they have bled the land white. While armies march, heads roll and cities burn, and behind the scenes bankers, priests and older, darker powers play a deadly game to choose who will be king.

War may be hell but for Monza Murcatto, the Snake of Talins, the most feared and famous mercenary in Duke Orso's employ, it's a damn good way of making money too. Her victories have made her popular - a shade too popular for her employer's taste. Betrayed, thrown down a mountain and left for dead, Murcatto's reward is a broken body and a burning hunger for vengeance. Whatever the cost, seven men must die.

Her allies include Styria's least reliable drunkard, Styria's most treacherous poisoner, a mass-murderer obsessed with numbers and a Northman who just wants to do the right thing. Her enemies number the better half of the nation. And that's all before the most dangerous man in the world is dispatched to hunt her down and finish the job Duke Orso started...

Springtime in Styria. And that means revenge.

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

In hardcover:

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

Rebecca Yarros' Iron Flame maintains its position at number 2.

Stephen King's Holly is up three positions, ending the week at number 7.

In paperback:

Sarah J. Maas' House of Earth and Blood is down one spot, finishing the week at number 15.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can now download the Witch World: High Hallack Cycle omnibus by Andre Norton for only 4.99$ 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:

On a planet in a parallel universe where magic is a reality, these five high fantasy novels of the Witch World set on the western continent of High Hallack once again illustrate why prolific author Andre Norton was named a Grand Master by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.

The Jargoon Pard: When a strange traveler gifts young heir to the throne Kethan a belt of leopard skin embossed with a stone—a jargoon—carved in the shape of a predatory snow cat, he becomes possessed with its magical powers.

Zarsthor’s Bane: A once highborn Lady and her loyal feline join forces with a demented lord and his devoted squire to find the powerful and magical Zarsthor’s Bane—an object as wreathed in mystery and ancient lore as it is cloaked in peril.

The Crystal Gryphon: Cursed to walk on hooves instead of human feet, Kerovan seeks to claim his rightful place as Lord-heir. But first he and his beautiful wife, Joisan—separated by distance but linked in spirit—must unlock the secret powers held within the mystical crystal gryphon that adorns her neck.

Gryphon in Glory: The epic saga that began in The Crystal Gryphon continues as Kerovan wanders the Waste in search of his true destiny. Guided by the powerful crystal gryphon, Joisan refuses to leave his side. For it will take both of their great wills to confront the horrors of the coming Darkness. Gryphon in Glory was nominated for the Locus Award.

Horn Crown: The fascinating origin story of how humanity first came to the Witch World through a portal from another realm, bringing the people of Hallack to colonize the abandoned lands. But although the Elder People had gone, the Old Gods still existed to confound the new mortals beneath them.


More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can now download The Darwath Series omnibus by Barbara Hambly 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:

As a student of medieval history, Gil Patterson is a woman familiar with dark stories. She knows the Crusades, the Black Death, and the other horrors of the Middle Ages all too well, but it is another kind of atrocity that has begun to haunt her dreams. She sees forces of evil assaulting a beleaguered kingdom, whose kind people are on the brink of annihilation, and awakes each morning in a cold sweat. In The Time of the Dark, Gil dismisses the dreams until a wizard appears in her apartment. He has crossed into her dimension, passing through the fraying fabric of the universe, to ask her help. For mankind to survive he must protect an infant prince, whom he plans to hide in Gil's world. She is about to get much closer to evil than she ever imagined.

In The Walls of Air and The Armies of Daylight, Gil and Rudy know the world is no longer safe and there is nowhere to hide from the Dark. Since the Dark Ones returned, the world has been laid to waste. The land’s wizards have been slaughtered, its cities destroyed, and its people scattered in terror. Few have witnessed more of the destruction than Gil and Rudy, and both of them will need all their strength to survive this final challenge. Ingold, the master wizard, has devised a spell to hide the user from the deathly stare of the Dark, and he intends to use it to strike at their very heart. Finally, Gil, Rudy, and the rest of mankind’s survivors will take the offensive, bringing an end to this terrible war, for better or for worse.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can now get your hands on the digital edition of Ann Leckie's Translation State 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:

Qven was created to be a Presger translator. The pride of their Clade, they always had a clear path before them: learn human ways, and eventually, make a match and serve as an intermediary between the dangerous alien Presger and the human worlds. The realization that they might want something else isn't "optimal behavior". I's the type of behavior that results in elimination.

But Qven rebels. And in doing so, their path collides with those of two others. Enae, a reluctant diplomat whose dead grandmaman has left hir an impossible task as an inheritance: hunting down a fugitive who has been missing for over 200 years. And Reet, an adopted mechanic who is increasingly desperate to learn about his genetic roots—or anything that might explain why he operates so differently from those around him.

As a Conclave of the various species approaches—and the long-standing treaty between the humans and the Presger is on the line—the decisions of all three will have ripple effects across the stars.

Masterfully merging space adventure and mystery, and a poignant exploration about relationships and belonging, Translation State is a triumphant new standalone story set in the celebrated Imperial Radch universe.

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

In hardcover:

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

Rebecca Yarros' Iron Flame is down one spot, finishing the week at number 2.

Stephen King's Holly is down two positions, ending the week at number 10.

In paperback:

Sarah J. Maas' House of Earth and Blood returns at number 14.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can now download Jay Kristoff's Empire of the Vampires 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:

From New York Times bestselling author Jay Kristoff comes Empire of the Vampire, the first illustrated volume of an astonishing new dark fantasy saga.

From holy cup comes holy light;
The faithful hand sets world aright.
And in the Seven Martyrs’ sight,
Mere man shall end this endless night.

It has been twenty-seven long years since the last sunrise. For nearly three decades, vampires have waged war against humanity; building their eternal empire even as they tear down our own. Now, only a few tiny sparks of light endure in a sea of darkness.

Gabriel de León is a silversaint: a member of a holy brotherhood dedicated to defending realm and church from the creatures of the night. But even the Silver Order could not stem the tide once daylight failed us, and now, only Gabriel remains.

Imprisoned by the very monsters he vowed to destroy, the last silversaint is forced to tell his story. A story of legendary battles and forbidden love, of faith lost and friendships won, of the Wars of the Blood and the Forever King and the quest for humanity’s last remaining hope:

The Holy Grail.



You can also download RJ Barker's Gods of the Wyrdwood for only 2.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

Our lands are wild with gods. Our woods are wild with monsters...

Cahan is known as a Forester—a man capable of navigating the dangerous forests of Crua like no one else. But once he was more. Once he was a warrior.

Udinny serves the goddess of the lost, a keeper of the small and helpless. When Udinny needs to venture into the Wyrdwood to find a missing child, she asks Cahan to be her guide.

But in a land where land is won and lost for uncaring gods, where the forest is full of monsters, Cahan will need to choose between his past life and the one leads now—and his choice will have consequences for his entire world.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can get your hands on the digital edition of C. J. Cherryh's Fortress in the Eye of Time 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:

Deep in an abandoned, shattered castle, an old man of the Old Magic muttered almost forgotten words. His purpose -- to create out of the insubstance of the air, from a shimmering of light and a fluttering of shadows. that most wonderous of spells, a Shaping. A Shaping in the form of a, young man who will be sent east on the road the old was to old to travel. To right the wrongs of a long-forgotten wizard war, and call new wars into being. Here is the long-awaited major new novel from one of the brightest stars in the fantasy and science fiction firmament.C.J.Cherryh's haunting story of the wizard Mauryl, kingmaker for a thousand years of Men, and Tristen, fated to sow distrust between a prince and his father being. A tale as deep as legend and a intimate as love, it tells of a battle beyond Time, in which all Destiny turns on the wheel of an old man's ambition, a young man's innocence, and the unkept promised of a king to come.

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

In hardcover:

Rebecca Yarros' Iron Flame is up one spot, finishing the week at number 1.

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

Stephen King's Holly is up six positions, ending the week at number 8.

In paperback:

Sarah J. Maas' A Court of Silver Flames returns at number 15.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can now get your hands on the digital edition of Nicholas Eames' Bloody Rose 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 band of fabled mercenaries, led by the infamous Bloody Rose, tour a wild fantasy landscape, battling monsters in arenas in front of thousands of adoring fans, but a secret and dangerous gig ushers them to the frozen north, and the band is never one to waste a shot at glory . . . even if it means almost certain death.

Live fast, die young.

Tam Hashford is tired of working at her local pub, slinging drinks for world-famous mercenaries and listening to the bards sing of adventure and glory in the world beyond her sleepy hometown.

When the biggest mercenary band of all, led by the infamous Bloody Rose, rolls into town, Tam jumps at the chance to sign on as their bard. It’s adventure she wants – and adventure she gets as the crew embark on a quest that will end in one of two ways: glory or death.

It’s time to take a walk on the wyld side.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can now get your hands on the digital edition of Iain M. Banks' Use of Weapons 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 man known as Cheradenine Zakalwe was one of Special Circumstances' foremost agents, changing the destiny of planets to suit the Culture through intrigue, dirty tricks and military action.

The woman known as Diziet Sma had plucked him from obscurity and pushed him towards his present eminence, but despite all their dealings she did not know him as well as she thought.

The drone known as Skaffen-Amtiskaw knew both of these people. It had once saved the woman's life by massacring her attackers in a particularly bloody manner. It believed the man to be a lost cause. But not even its machine could see the horrors in his past.

Ferociously intelligent, both witty and horrific, Use of Weapons is a masterpiece of science fiction.


From the Forest


From the Forest is the 23rd installment in L. E. Modesitt, jr.'s Recluce Saga. Which is quite something, as many fans feel that there is so much to this universe and its history that we still know very little or nothing about. I was hoping that this would be a return to the author's usual two-book sequence. In my opinion, this is the length that suits Recluce story arcs the best. Imagine my surprise when I learned that this latest arc wouldn't be split into 3 volumes, as was the case with Beltur's tale. No, it appears that Tor Books were loath to release Alayiakal's story as three lengthy novels, which prompted Modesitt to split it into four books. I'm a bit concerned about this turn of events, for such a split ultimately had a negative impact on the Beltur sequence. Indeed, both Outcasts of Order and The Mage-Fire War were padded with lots of extraneous and often superfluous scenes that were totally unnecessary. Time will tell if that will be the case for From the Forest and its sequels.

It may feel as though you've already read the opening chapters of this newest Recluce novel. You're not going crazy, have no fear. The start of From the Forest is a retelling of the short story "The Forest Girl" first seen in the collection of short fiction Recluce Tales, which was published a few years back. It establishes that young Alayiakal is linked to the Great Forest, though he doesn't understand how or why. His name might sound familiar even if you haven't read that short story. From bits found in Magi'i of Cyador, we already know that Alayiakal will somehow make his way up and become Emperor of the Land of Eternal Light. And yet, though his accomplishments and memory should be revered, he has become the "One Never to be Mentioned" among the Magi'i and Mirror Lancers of Cyad. Hence, it will be interesting to follow this simple man's rise to power and glory.

Here's the blurb:

L. E. Modesitt, Jr. continues the Saga of Recluce, the long-running, best-selling epic fantasy series. In a new story arc, From the Forest follows the early life of a man known by many names depending on who you ask—hero, tyrant, emperor.

Alayiakal, who will one day be known by many names —not all of them flattering—has to climb the ranks of Cyador’s Mirror Lancers, fighting against unforeseen weapons and ancient technology.

Alayiakal, however, has secrets of his own to protect: his ties to the Great Forest and his magus abilities. He must silently pretend to be a conventional soldier favored by fate—until that very same fate forces him to choose.


As far as I'm concerned, the worldbuilding is always one of the most fascinating aspects of any new Recluce novel. Each tale allows readers to discover how people and events shaped history during their lifetime. From the Forest is by far the earliest installment in the Recluce timeline. Indeed, the action takes place in the year 92 after the founding of Cyad. That's more than three centuries before Magi'i of Cyador and Scion of Cyador, and more than seven centuries before Fall of Angels. Perhaps one day we'll get the full tale of their arrival from the Rational Stars, but for now we'll have to be satisfied with the glimpses from the past this new cycle will offer. How the wall and the wards that contain the Accursed Forest were built, how the chaos towers and all the technological wonders that can no longer be duplicated by the Magi'i and the Mirror Engineers were created, how chaos could be harnessed in such a fashion merely decades before, all of these secrets remain mysteries for the time being. Yet I have a feeling that Alayiakal will discover the truth behind some of them over the course of these four books.

Understandably, Modesitt continues to explore the relationship between Order and Chaos, one of the trademarks of this series. Like Lerial and Beltur, being able to manipulate both Order and Chaos forces Alayiakal to test the limits of what he can do, often with shocking results. Secretly trained to become a White Mage but released because he's not powerful enough, he soon finds out that he's more Black than he thought. This allows him to learn some basic Healing before starting his training as a Mirror Lancer officer. He is told to keep this to himself, as this strange dichotomy wouldn't sit well with some of his fellow soldiers and especially his superiors.

There is something soothing about reading a new Recluce book. Yes, they all follow the same formula. I once claimed that Modesitt is like the band AC/DC. If you like one of their albums, you like them all. It's pretty much the same with the Recluce Saga. Smart, thoughtful, and entertaining without any of the bells and whistles so prevalent in epic fantasy these days, this is adult fantasy by an author who remains in perfect control of his craft and his universe. Either you like it or you don't. Going into a new Recluce tale, I always know what to expect to a certain extent. But although the recipe is always the same, the ingredients differ and sometimes the author uses our own preconceptions to pull the rug from under our feet when we least expect it. And twenty-three volumes into this series, I'm still as interested as I was when I first read The Magic of Recluce three decades ago.

From the Forest follows the early years of the training and the first posting of Alayiakal. As the son of an officer without any political or financial clout, the capable young man is sent to make a name for himself against the northern barbarians. It's the sort of post that will either get you promoted if you survive or killed before long. Undermanned and with little supplies, it's up to Alayiakal and his fellow Mirror Lancers to somehow protect Cyad's northern border from raids by savages. Secretly using his powers to help keep himself and the men under his command safe, his exploits will ultimately see him get promoted and sent to what turns out to be an even more dangerous post. The discovery of old technology that must date from the time of the First will make him realize that there is much more than meets the eye at Guarstyad. He just hopes to live long enough to discover what it is.

Not surprisingly, the pace is an issue at times. Modesitt's novels are never fast-paced affairs and From the Forest is no exception to that rule. The author needs time to establish the various plotlines. Once done, you then follow the main character as he or she must learn, experiment, and puzzle out ways to escape a number of predicaments before the endgame can take place. Of course, Alayiakal will also fall in love, though this love story is quite different from what Modesitt has accustomed us to in the past. Hence, From the Forest follows the classic Recluce recipe and long-time fans end up with another compelling read. Probably because it was written as the first volume in what was meant to be a three-book cycle, I felt that it was more self-contained and stood better on its own than The Mongrel Mage did. Hopefully the same can be said of the forthcoming sequels.

There are no official release dates for Overcaptain, Sub-Majer’s Challenge, and The Last of the First. Given that all three manuscripts have been turned in, let us hope that we won't have to wait a year between each installment.

The final verdict: 7.5/10

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

Rebel Moon: Yay or nay


I was wondering what you guys thought of Rebel Moon?

Snyder fans enjoyed it, but the critics and casual fans have savaged it as a derivative turd featuring too much slow-motion and too little story.

Someone mentioned that there's a space vagina at the beginning. Just for that, I'm intrigued enough to give at least the start of the movie a shot. But more than 2 hours of scifi crap? I'm not so sure about that. . .

Quote of the Day

For grief the only true cure is patience. For patience there is no cure.

- MARK LAWRENCE, The Book That Broke the World

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

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


For a limited time only, you can download Richard Kadrey's Sandman Slim 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:

Supernatural fantasy has a new antihero.

Life sucks, and then you die. Or, if you're James Stark, you spend eleven years in Hell as a hitman before finally escaping, only to land back in the hell-on-earth that is Los Angeles.

Now Stark's back, and ready for revenge. And absolution, and maybe even love. But when his first stop saddles him with an abusive talking head, Stark discovers that the road to absolution and revenge is much longer than you'd expect, and both Heaven and Hell have their own ideas for his future.

Resurrection sucks. Saving the world is worse.

Darkly twisted, irreverent, and completely hilarious, Sandman Slim is the breakthrough novel by an acclaimed author.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can now get your hands on the digital edition of Joe Abercrombie's The Great Change (and Other Lies) for 5.99$ 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 Great Change (and Other Lies) is a novella-length collection that gathers four short stories related to Joe Abercrombie’s The Age of Madness, featuring old friends and new: from smugglers to kings, from diamond-cutters to dress-makers, from the most apparently insignificant of slaves to the most feared man in the Union, Old Sticks himself.

We follow the thread from the cotton-fields of Gurkhul to the heights of Aduan society, we follow a stone from the rivers of Kadir to the crown of the Union, we follow the iron from the prison-mines of Angland to a knife in the back of the old regime. And we follow the slow gestation of the Great Change itself, a revolution which will turn the whole world upside down…