More inexpensive ebook goodies!

Jennifer Roberson's name always comes up in lists of underrated fantasy works written by female authors. So now's your chance to give her a shot without breaking the bank!

You can download Jennifer Roberson's Sword-Dancer 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 first book in the Sword-Dancer saga introduces the legendary adventures of Tiger and Del, magic wielders and skilled warriors.

He was Tiger, born of the desert winds, raised as a slave and winning his freedom by weaving a special kind of magic with a warrior’s skill. Now he was an almost legendary sword-dancer, ready to take on any challenge—if the price was right.

She was Del, born of ice and storm, trained by the greatest of Northern sword masters. Now, her ritual training completed, and steeped in the special magic of her own runesword, she had come South in search of the young brother stolen five years before.

But even Del could not master all the dangers of the deadly Punja alone. And meeting Del, Tiger could not turn back from the most intriguing challenge he’d ever faced—the challenge of a magical, mysterious sword-dancer of the North...

You can also download Shapechangers, the first volume in the Cheysuli series, for only 2.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

The first book in the Chronicles of the Cheysuli spins a tale of magical warriors and shapeshifters as they battle the sorcerers that threaten their existence.

They were the Cheysuli, a race of magical warriors gifted with the ability to assume animal shape at will. For centuries, they had been allies to the King of Homana, treasured champions of the realm. Until a king's daughter ran away with a Cheysuli liege man and caused a war of annihilation against the Cheysuli race.

Twenty-five years later the Cheysuli were hunted exiles in their own land, feared for their sorcery, their shapeshifting.

This is the story of Alix, the daughter of that ill-fated union between Homanan princess and Cheysuli warrior, and her struggle to master the call of magic in her blood, and accept her place in an ancient prophecy she cannot deny.

Africa Risen

Africa Risen is a follow-up to last year's The Year’s Best African Speculative Fiction (2021), which won the World Fantasy Award for best anthology, and Dominion, the first anthology of speculative fiction and poetry by Africans and the African Diaspora. You may recall that I absolutely loved both anthologies, so I was really looking forward to discovering what the 2022 collection would look like. Especially given the fact that this one would be released by Tordotcom and would feature a bigger pagecount. Africa Risen also benefited from more marketing and wider distribution.

Sadly, this third installment is by far the weakest of the three. Sometimes, less is more and I feel that adding more material sort of diluted the final product and lowered its overall quality. Perhaps it wasn't a banner year for African speculative fiction, or perhaps adding another editor in Sheree Renée Thomas changed the dynamics of compiling what stories ultimately made the final cut for the 2022 edition? Who knows? Yet there's no denying that Africa Risen somewhat fails to live up to the potential generated by its two predecessors.

Here's the blurb:

From award-winning editorial team Sheree Renée Thomas, Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki, and Zelda Knight comes an anthology of thirty-two original stories showcasing the breadth of fantasy and science fiction from Africa and the African Diaspora.

A group of cabinet ministers query a supercomputer containing the minds of the country’s ancestors. A child robot on a dying planet uncovers signs of fragile new life. A descendent of a rain goddess inherits her grandmother’s ability to change her appearance—and perhaps the world.

Created in the legacy of the seminal, award-winning anthology series Dark Matter, Africa Risen celebrates the vibrancy, diversity, and reach of African and Afro-Diasporic SFF and reaffirms that Africa is not rising—it’s already here.

I always say that anthologies and collections of short fiction can be tricky things. The majority of them consist of a few gems and some other quality reads, but inevitably these works are padded with filler material that takes something away from the overall reading experience. I was pleasantly surprised that it wasn't the case with both Dominion and The Year’s Best African Speculative Fiction (2021). It would be a lie to say that it was all killer material. But even if some stories stood out and resonated more with me, I felt that every piece contained in both anthologies had something to offer and was a worthwhile addition to both projects.

And that's what differentiates Africa Risen from its predecessors. Although it features some great and powerful reads, this new edition is also plagued with a number of lackluster and uninteresting pieces that don't deserve to be found alongside such quality tales. In the end, that's what sinks this anthology compared to the two that came before. Don't get me wrong. There are some stories within the pages of Africa Risen that are as good, or even better, than those that made Dominion and The Year’s Best African Speculative Fiction (2021) such memorable reads. But the overall quality of this new collection is offset by the presence of subpar pieces that likely never would have made the cut in 2020 and 2021. Hence, those who have read the first two might be less enthused than newbies for whom this one is their first taste of African speculative fiction. Your mileage may vary. . .

Once again, the three editors, Zelda Knight, Sheree Renée Thomas, and Ekpeki Oghenechovwe Donald, compiled short fiction tales that cover the length and breadth of everything that falls under the speculative fiction umbrella. Such a convergence of genres and subgenres can make for captivating reading. Though most of the pieces are not culturally familiar in style, tone, or context to Western SFF readers, most of them have something that can appeal to a broader audience. As always, I'm persuaded that I couldn't understand and invariably missed some of the references and nuances found throughout the book. That's to be expected. And yet, that never prevented me from enjoying any of the fine stories. Good is good, no matter the style, tone, or cultural background.

Like its two predecessors, Africa Risen features quite a few post-apocalyptic stories in which the protagonists, their societies, their nations have to deal with profound emotional and psychological scars from the past that can never fully heal. Many of these tales are about dealing with or confronting these wounds, so people can move forward, and how difficult and life-changing that journey can be. Some are about evolution and transcendence. The more compelling and thought-provoking pieces deal with themes such as climate change, identity, colonialism, death, gods and ancestors, and much, much more.

Another aspect which made the two previous collections such fascinating reads for me was the fact that many of the tales don't shy away from exploring sensitive issues such as domestic violence, abortion, sexual assault, violence against women and children, racism, and sexism, female genital mutilation, etc. Most of these stories tackle serious subject matters without sugarcoating everything to make it easier for the reader to deal with them. Perusing some reviews online, you can see that a number of these tales have shocked those who are easily triggered, or people with soft Western sensibility.

Another thing that was at times offputting was the fact that many of the stories were not that self-contained. Several, even the best ones, don't necessarily feature any sense of closure and are of the to-be-continued type. This may work well with some readers and it might irk others. Again, your mileage will vary in that regard.

My favorites pieces include "IRL" by Steven Barnes, "Mami Wataworks" by Russell Nichols, "Door Crashers" by Frank Zeph, "A Dream of Electric Mothers" by Wole Talabi, "A Knight in Tunisia" by Alex Jennings, "The Sugar Mill" by Tobias S. Buckell, "A Girl Crawls in a Dark Corner" by Alexis Brooks de Vita, "Ghost Ship" by Tananarive Due, "A Soul of Small Places" by Mame Bougouma Diene and Woppa Diallo, and "The Taloned Beast" by Chinelo Onwualu.

Should you read Africa Risen? Of course! Once more, such a collection proves that speculative fiction from Africa and the African Diaspora can be entertaining, stimulating, and inspiring. It's a collection of stories that will force you to look at the world in a different way, and it shows once again that international talent can take speculative fiction to new heights! Having said that, I strongly recommend that you read both Dominion and The Year’s Best African Speculative Fiction (2021) first.

The final verdict: 7/10

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

This week's New York Times Bestsellers (November 13th)

In hardcover:
Stephen King's Fairy Tale is down one position, ending the week at number 4. For more info about this title, follow this Amazon Associate link.

Olivie Blake's The Atlas Paradox debuts at number 10.

In paperback:

George R. R. Martin's Fire and Blood is up six spots, finishing the week at number 5.

Andy Weir's Project Hail Mary returns at number 14.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now download Brent Weeks' The Black Prism 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:

Gavin Guile is the Prism, the most powerful man in the world. He is high priest and emperor, a man whose power, wit, and charm are all that preserves a tenuous peace. But Prisms never last, and Guile knows exactly how long he has left to live: Five years to achieve five impossible goals.

But when Guile discovers he has a son, born in a far kingdom after the war that put him in power, he must decide how much he's willing to pay to protect a secret that could tear his world apart.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now download Kate Elliott's Cold Magic 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 Wild Hunt is stirring - and the dragons are finally waking from their long sleep...

Cat Barahal was the only survivor of the flood that took her parents. Raised by her extended family, she and her cousin, Bee, are unaware of the dangers that threaten them both. Though they are in beginning of the Industrial Age, magic - and the power of the Cold Mages - still hold sway.

Now, betrayed by her family and forced to marry a powerful Cold Mage, Cat will be drawn into a labyrinth of politics. There she will learn the full ruthlessness of the rule of the Cold Mages. What do the Cold Mages want from her? And who will help Cat in her struggle against them?

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

In hardcover:
Stephen King's Fairy Tale is down one position, ending the week at number 3. For more info about this title, follow this Amazon Associate link.

In paperback:

George R. R. Martin's Fire and Blood is up one spot, finishing the week at number 11.

Quote of the Day

Of course, the writer can impose control; it’s just a really shitty idea. Writing controlled fiction is called “plotting.” Buckling your seatbelt and letting the story take over, however…that is called “storytelling.” Storytelling is as natural as breathing; plotting is the literary version of artificial respiration.

- STEPHEN KING, 'Salem's Lot

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

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

A shitload of Marvel Epic Collection omnibus digital editions are on sale for as little as 3.99$ each. Those include Avengers, X-Men, Spiderman, Black Panther, and more.

Follow this Amazon Associate link to browse what's available.

King's Dragon

Damn, I'm really late to this party. It's not the first time and it probably won't be the last, but I doubt I've ever been this late before. At least I hope not! I felt bad being fourteen years late reviewing Alastair Reynolds' House of Suns, and deservedly so. And yet, Kate Elliott's King's Dragon was published way back in 1997, twenty-five years ago.

My excuse? I have none. Other than having too many books to read, of course. The funny thing is that I have a full set of the Crown of Stars series, for I bought each installment as they came out. King's Dragon was a Nebula award finalist and I remember buying it when the paperback edition was released. Robert Jordan had already burned me as far as long series are concerned, so I elected to wait till a few more volumes were written before jumping into that series. You'll recall that I did the same with George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire (after GRRM told me it would be a trilogy). 

Back in the 90s and the early 2000s, I bought a slew of Daw titles. Starting with Tad Williams, Melanie Rawn, and C. S. Friedman, followed by Kate Elliott, Michelle West, Jennifer Roberson, Mickey Zucker Reichert, and many more. The books were big, sported distinctive SFF covers, and they were good. When I created Pat's Fantasy Hotlist back in 2005, I never would have thought that I'd still be blogging nearly two decades later. And if you'd told me that I would receive hundreds of review copies over the years, I would have said you're crazy. Still, with the emergence of new quality authors like Joe Abercrombie, Scott Lynch, Naomi Novik, Patrick Rothfuss, R. Scott Bakker, and so many others; and with the discovery of established talents such as Jacqueline Carey and Steven Erikson; and with new releases from favorites such as Robin Hobb, George R. R. Martin, and Neil Gaiman, it's no wonder that every week or so my books-to-read pile grew and grew and grew. So much so that I'm acutely aware that I won't likely manage to read all the novels I have before leaving this world. First World problem, I know.

Long story short, my backlog's just getting bigger every week. And about all those books and series I've owned since before the creation of the Hotlist, it often feels as though they just keep getting pushed back to the end of the line. Moving out of my loft in January 2011 meant that I could no longer have all of my books with me. Which means that I have hundreds of them in storage in various locations. Truth be told, I wasn't supposed to read Kate Elliott's King's Dragon. I've been looking for Michelle West's The Broken Crown ever since it was announced that PRH had forced Daw to drop her. But try as I might, I couldn't find any of my West books. Rummaging through boxes in my locker allowed me to get my hands on my Elliott books, however. Feeling that the universe was somehow speaking to me, I decided that it was high time to finally give Crown of Stars a shot!

Not surprisngly, I feel quite stupid for waiting this long, for King's Dragon is a quality read and the opening chapter for bigger and better things to come. As for West, no worries, for I ordered a copy of The Broken Crown and will get to it shortly. At least that's the plan. . .

But it's going to be difficult not to read Prince of Dogs and the subsequent installments in the near future. Again, First World problem.

Here's the blurb:

Set in an alternate Europe where bloody conflicts rage, the first book of the Crown of Stars epic fantasy series chronicles a world-shaking conflict for the survival of humanity

It begins with civil war….

For though King Henry still holds the crown of Wendar, his reign has long been contested by his sister Sabella. There are many eager to flock to her banner, and there are ways to make even the most unwilling lord into a weapon pointed at the heart of Henry’s realm.

Torn by internal strife, Wendar also faces deadly raids from the north by an inhuman race, the Eika. And now terrifying portents are being seen; old ruins restored to life under the light of the full moon and peopled by the long-vanished Lost Ones; dark spirits walking the land in broad daylight. And suddenly two innocents are about to be thrust into the middle of the conflict.

Liath, who has spent her early years fleeing from unknown enemies, is a young woman with the power to change the course of history if she can only learn to master her fear and seize what is rightfully hers.

While Alain, a young man who may find his future in a vision granted by the Lady of Battles, must first unravel the mystery of who he is—whether the bastard son of a noble father, the half-breed child of an elfin lord, the unwanted get of a whore, or the heir to a proud and ancient lineage. For only when he discovers the truth can he accept the destiny for which he was born.

Liath and Alain, each trapped in a personal struggle for survival, both helplessly being drawn into a far greater battle, a war in which sorcery not swords will determine the final outcome, and the land itself may be irrevocably reshaped by the forces unleashed….

If you could define Kate Elliott's worldbuilding with just one word, it would have to be "meticulous". With an uncanny eye for detail, her portrayal of this medieval European analog occasionally makes you feel as though you're reading a historical novel. In that respect, King's Dragon can be reminiscent of some of Guy Gavriel Kay's titles. Based on true cultures and the history of the early Middle Ages, the book is nevertheless spiced up with way more fantasy elements than any of Kay novels. Such a conscientious depiction of the historical period will please fans of worldbuilding. Personally, I loved it. But there's no denying that it often gets in the way of the plot and also slows the pace throughout the book. Hence, your mileage will vary in that regard.

Another element that sets Crown of Stars apart from most epic fantasy series out there, at least as far as this first volume is concerned, is the presence of religion and the major role it plays in every single aspect of this tale. Elliott's gender-egalitarian rebranding of the Roman Catholic Church affects people from all walks of life, from king to peasant. Not since Katherine Kurtz's Deryni saga has any SFF author tried to make religion such an all-encompassing facet of every day life in their fantasy universe. It is particularly well-done in King's Dragon, though I can understand that many a reader found that offputting. As I mentioned, religion affects everything. Whether or not Elliott's portrayal of the Church can be as impressive as Kurtz's remains to be seen, but I must say that I have high hopes for the volumes to come. Given that the use of sorcery has been formally accepted at a past religious council, although only if under the Church's supervision, here's to hoping that we will get POVs from members of the clergy to explore that aspect in future installments. I felt that not including the perspectives of characters such as Frater Agius or Biscop Antonia turned out to be a missed opportunity to delve into whether or not the use of magic is a form of heresy. The notion is obviously not clear-cut.

Although good overall, the characterization can at times be uneven. In true 90s fashion, we get two young, naive, and somewhat vulnerable main protagonists through whose eyes the bulk of the story will unfold. Alain, a compassionate young man destined to become a monk but who yearns to be a warrior. And Liath, a young girl who has spent years running away from a past she knows little about with her father and who's been taught forbidden knowledge that she must keep secret if she wants to stay alive. There seems to be a good balance between the two perspectives, although I found Liath's story to be the more compelling of the two. Especially early on. Though traumatic and often difficult to read, Liath's plotline is more fascinating. On the other hand, it takes a long time for Alain's importance to become evident and for him to come into his own, so to speak. It all comes together towards the end, but some sequences featuring Alain can be a bit boring until you reach about the halfway point of the novel. The third POV in importance is that of Rosvita, a female cleric and advisor to King Henry. It's through her perspective that the reader learns about the history and the politics of the kingdoms of Wendar and Varre. Hanna, Liath's friend, becomes a POV character almost by default, for we need to know what happens when the two are separated. We also get the point of view of Prince Sanglant, King Henry's child by one of the Aoi (name by which the elves are known) and leader of the Dragons, the king's militia, yet those scenes are few and far between. King's Dragon is by no means a slim novel and it already features a number of POVs, but I feel that the tale would have benefited from the perspectives of people such as Wolfhere, Frater Hugh, and/or other clergyman/women.

The political intrigue which is the backdrop of this tale is rather simplistic. Which could be detrimental to the overall storyarc if it doesn't improve in the sequels. Then again, at face value the political intrigue of George R. R. Martin's A Game of Thrones appeared a bit simple early on and we all know how that turned out. Time will tell if Kate Elliott can be as good as Katherine Kurtz and GRRM in that regard.

Given the size of the novel (King's Dragon weighs in at 625 pages) and the fact that it's an introduction to a much bigger and more ambitious tale, it's no surprise that it suffers from some pacing issues. All of them found in the first two-thirds of the book, as Elliott lays the groundwork for this opening chapter and the rest of the series. And even though the rhythm can drag in some portions, you always get the feeling that, even if it doesn't make sense now, those scenes will have their importance in the greater scheme of things. The endgame might not be as rousing as expected (those expecting great battle scenes à la Robert Jordan, Brandon Sanderson, and Steven Erikson might be disappointed), yet the author brings this one to a satisfying conclusion. Not a standalone by any stretch of the imagination, this first installment is still more self-contained than most of its epic fantasy counterparts.

Some argue that Kate Elliott's Crown of Stars is one of the most underrated fantasy series on the market. Time will tell if that is indeed true. But there's no denying that King's Dragon shows a lot of promise. I'm eager to see if what comes next will live up to that potential.

One thing's for sure. If you are looking for a big, multilayered fantasy novel featuring intricate worldbuilding and interesting characters, then King's Dragon is definitely for you!

The final verdict: 7.75/10

For more info about this title, follow this Amazon Associate link. At 2.99$ for the ebook, it's a great deal!

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now download Pat Cadigan's Synners for only 0.99$ by following this Amazon Associate link. This OneLink will take you to the nearest Amazon site serving your country and you'll see if you can take advantage of this sale.

Here's the blurb:

In Synners, the line between technology and humanity is hopelessly slim. To be a Synner is to join the online hardcore, an outlaw band of hackers, simulation pirates, and reality synthesizers hooked on artificial reality and virtual space. Now you can change yourself to suit the machines - all it costs you is your freedom, and your humanity.

Synners shows us a world perilously close to our own. A constant stream of new technology spawns new crime before it hits the streets, and the human mind and the external landscape have fused to the point where any encounter with "reality" is incidental. Equal parts thrill-ride and cautionary tale, this classic novel by the Queen of Cyberpunk offers us a terrifying glimpse into the future of our race.

Winner of the Arthur C. Clarke Award for best novel, 1992

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now get your hands on the digital edition of Brian McClellan's In the Shadow of Lightning 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 Brian McClellan, author of The Powder Mage trilogy, comes the first novel in the Glass Immortals series, In the Shadow of Lightning, an epic fantasy where magic is a finite resource—and it’s running out.

Demir Grappo is an outcast—he fled a life of wealth and power, abandoning his responsibilities as a general, a governor, and a son. Now he will live out his days as a grifter, rootless, and alone. But when his mother is brutally murdered, Demir must return from exile to claim his seat at the head of the family and uncover the truth that got her killed: the very power that keeps civilization turning, godglass, is running out.

Now, Demir must find allies, old friends and rivals alike, confront the powerful guild-families who are only interested in making the most of the scraps left at the table and uncover the invisible hand that threatens the Empire. A war is coming, a war unlike any other. And Demir and his ragtag group of outcasts are the only thing that stands in the way of the end of life as the world knows it.

You can also download R. A. Salvatore's The Crystal Shard for only 1.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

Drizzt Do’Urden finds new friends and foes in the windswept towns of Icewind Dale, also the setting of the DandD adventure book Rime of the Frostmaiden

With his days in the Underdark far behind him, drow ranger Drizzt Do’Urden sets down roots in the windswept Ten-Towns of Icewind Dale. A cold and unforgiving place, Ten-Towns sits on the brink of a catastrophic war, threatened by the barbarian tribes of the north.

It’s in the midst of battle that a young barbarian named Wulfgar is captured and made the ward of Bruenor, a grizzled dwarf leader and a companion to Drizzt. With Drizzt’s help, Wulfgar will grow from a feral child to a man with the heart of a dwarf, the instincts of a savage, and the soul of a hero. But it will take even more than that to defeat the corrupt wizard who wields the demonic power of Crenshininbon—the fabled Crystal Shard.

The Crystal Shard is first book in the Icewind Dale Trilogy and the fourth book in the Legend of Drizzt series.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now download Brandon Sanderson's Rhythm of War 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 Stormlight Archive saga continues in Rhythm of War, the eagerly awaited sequel to Brandon Sanderson's #1 New York Times bestselling Oathbringer, from an epic fantasy writer at the top of his game.

After forming a coalition of human resistance against the enemy invasion, Dalinar Kholin and his Knights Radiant have spent a year fighting a protracted, brutal war. Neither side has gained an advantage, and the threat of a betrayal by Dalinar’s crafty ally Taravangian looms over every strategic move.

Now, as new technological discoveries by Navani Kholin’s scholars begin to change the face of the war, the enemy prepares a bold and dangerous operation. The arms race that follows will challenge the very core of the Radiant ideals, and potentially reveal the secrets of the ancient tower that was once the heart of their strength.

At the same time that Kaladin Stormblessed must come to grips with his changing role within the Knights Radiant, his Windrunners face their own problem: As more and more deadly enemy Fused awaken to wage war, no more honorspren are willing to bond with humans to increase the number of Radiants. Adolin and Shallan must lead the coalition’s envoy to the honorspren stronghold of Lasting Integrity and either convince the spren to join the cause against the evil god Odium, or personally face the storm of failure.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now get your hands on the digital edition of Blake Crouch's Upgrade 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 mind-blowing new thriller from the New York Times bestselling author of Dark Matter and Recursion—currently in development as a motion picture at Steven Spielberg's Amblin Partners

“You are the next step in human evolution.”

At first, Logan Ramsay isn’t sure if anything’s different. He just feels a little . . . sharper. Better able to concentrate. Better at multitasking. Reading a bit faster, memorizing better, needing less sleep.

But before long, he can’t deny it: Something’s happening to his brain. To his body. He’s starting to see the world, and those around him—even those he loves most—in whole new ways.

The truth is, Logan’s genome has been hacked. And there’s a reason he’s been targeted for this upgrade. A reason that goes back decades to the darkest part of his past, and a horrific family legacy.

Worse still, what’s happening to him is just the first step in a much larger plan, one that will inflict the same changes on humanity at large—at a terrifying cost.

Because of his new abilities, Logan’s the one person in the world capable of stopping what’s been set in motion. But to have a chance at winning this war, he’ll have to become something other than himself. Maybe even something other than human.

And even as he’s fighting, he can’t help wondering: what if humanity’s only hope for a future really does lie in engineering our own evolution?

Intimate in scale yet epic in scope, Upgrade is an intricately plotted, lightning-fast tale that charts one man’s thrilling transformation, even as it asks us to ponder the limits of our humanity—and our boundless potential.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now download John Scalzi's The Kaiju Preservation Society 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 Kaiju Preservation Society is John Scalzi's first standalone adventure since the conclusion of his New York Times bestselling Interdependency trilogy.

When COVID-19 sweeps through New York City, Jamie Gray is stuck as a dead-end driver for food delivery apps. That is, until Jamie makes a delivery to an old acquaintance, Tom, who works at what he calls “an animal rights organization.” Tom’s team needs a last-minute grunt to handle things on their next field visit. Jamie, eager to do anything, immediately signs on.

What Tom doesn't tell Jamie is that the animals his team cares for are not here on Earth. Not our Earth, at least. In an alternate dimension, massive dinosaur-like creatures named Kaiju roam a warm, human-free world. They're the universe's largest and most dangerous panda and they're in trouble.

It's not just the Kaiju Preservation Society who have found their way to the alternate world. Others have, too. And their carelessness could cause millions back on our Earth to die.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now download The End of the World: Stories of the Apocalypse, an anthology edited by Martin H. Greenberg for only 0.99$ by following this Amazon Associate link. This OneLink will take you to the nearest Amazon site serving your country and you'll see if you can take advantage of this sale.

Here's the blurb:

Before The Road, by Cormac McCarthy, brought apocalyptic fiction into the mainstream, there was science fiction. No longer relegated to the fringes of literature, this explosive collection of the world's best apocalyptic writers brings the inventors of alien invasions, devastating meteors, doomsday scenarios, and all-out nuclear war back to the bookstores with a bang.

The best writers of the early 1900s were the first to flood New York with tidal waves, destroy Illinois with alien invaders, paralyze Washington with meteors, and lay waste to the Midwest with nuclear fallout. Now collected for the first time ever in one apocalyptic volume are those early doomsday writers and their contemporaries, including Neil Gaiman, George R. R. Martin, Lucius Shepard, Robert Sheckley, Norman Spinrad, Arthur C. Clarke, William F. Nolan, Poul Anderson, Fredric Brown, Lester del Rey, and more. Relive these childhood classics or discover them here for the first time. Each story details the eerie political, social, and environmental destruction of our world.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

In hardcover:
Stephen King's Fairy Tale is down one position, ending the week at number 2. For more info about this title, follow this Amazon Associate link.

In paperback:

George R. R. Martin's Fire and Blood is up two spots, finishing the week at number 12.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now download P. Djèlí Clark's The Black God's Drums 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:

Rising science fiction and fantasy star P. Djèlí Clark brings an alternate New Orleans of orisha, airships, and adventure to life in his immersive debut novella The Black God's Drums.

Alex Award Winner!

In an alternate New Orleans caught in the tangle of the American Civil War, the wall-scaling girl named Creeper yearns to escape the streets for the air--in particular, by earning a spot on-board the airship Midnight Robber. Creeper plans to earn Captain Ann-Marie’s trust with information she discovers about a Haitian scientist and a mysterious weapon he calls The Black God’s Drums.

But Creeper also has a secret herself: Oya, the African orisha of the wind and storms, speaks inside her head, and may have her own ulterior motivations.

Soon, Creeper, Oya, and the crew of the Midnight Robber are pulled into a perilous mission aimed to stop the Black God’s Drums from being unleashed and wiping out the entirety of New Orleans.

You can also download Tim Lebbon's Eden for only 1.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

From the bestselling author of Netflix's The Silence comes a brand-new horror eco thriller.

Earth's rising oceans contain enormous islands of refuse, the Amazon rainforest is all-but destroyed, and countless species edge towards extinction. Humanity's last hope to save the planet lies with The Virgin Zones, thirteen vast areas of land off-limits to people and given back to nature.

Dylan leads a clandestine team of adventure racers, including his daughter Jenn, into Eden, the oldest of the Zones. Jenn carries a secret--Kat, Dylan's wife who abandoned them both years ago, has entered Eden ahead of them. Jenn is determined to find her mother, but neither she nor the rest of their tight-knit team are prepared for what confronts them. Nature has returned to Eden in an elemental, primeval way. And here, nature is no longer humanity's friend.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now download David Dalglish's The Bladed 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:

A usurped prince prepares to take up the mantle of a deadly assassin and reclaim his kingdom, his people, and his slain gods in this epic fantasy from a USA Today bestselling author.

Cyrus was only twelve years old when his gods were slain, his country invaded, and his parents—the king and queen—beheaded in front of him. Held prisoner in the invader's court for years, Cyrus is suddenly given a chance to escape and claim his revenge when a mysterious group of revolutionaries comes looking for a figurehead. They need a hero to strike fear into the hearts of the imperial and to inspire and unite the people. They need someone to take up the skull mask and swords and to become the legendary "Vagrant"—an unparalleled hero and assassin of otherworldly skill.

But all is not as it seems. Creating the illusion of a hero is the work of many, and Cyrus will soon discover the true price of his vengeance.

You can also download Peter McLean's Priest of Crowns for 0.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

Gangster, soldier, priest. Governor, knight, and above all, Queen's Man.

Once, Tomas Piety looked after his men, body and soul, as best he could. Then those who ran his country decided his dark talents would better serve in the corridors of power.

Crushed by the power of the Queen's Men and with the Skanian menace rising once more on the streets of Ellinburg, Tomas Piety is forced to turn to old friends, old debts and untrustworthy alliances.

Meanwhile in the capital city of Dannsburg, Dieter Vogel is beginning to wonder if the horror he has unleashed in the Martyr's Disciples might be getting out of control.

With revolution brewing and tragedy and terrorism running rife in the cities, Piety and Vogel must each weigh the cost of a crown.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now download Nnedi Okorafor's Remote Control 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:

An alien artifact turns a young girl into Death's adopted daughter in Remote Control, a thrilling sci-fi tale of community and female empowerment from Nebula and Hugo Award-winner Nnedi Okorafor.

“She’s the adopted daughter of the Angel of Death. Beware of her. Mind her. Death guards her like one of its own.”

The day Fatima forgot her name, Death paid a visit. From hereon in she would be known as Sankofa—a name that meant nothing to anyone but her, the only tie to her family and her past.

Her touch is death, and with a glance a town can fall. And she walks—alone, except for her fox companion—searching for the object that came from the sky and gave itself to her when the meteors fell and when she was yet unchanged; searching for answers.

But is there a greater purpose for Sankofa, now that Death is her constant companion?

You can also get your hands on the digital edition of Nisi Shawl's Everfair for only 2.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

From noted short story writer Nisi Shawl comes a brilliant alternate-history novel set in the Belgian Congo.

What if the African natives developed steam power ahead of their colonial oppressors? What might have come of Belgium's disastrous colonization of the Congo if the native populations had learned about steam technology a bit earlier?

Fabian Socialists from Great Britain join forces with African-American missionaries to purchase land from the Belgian Congo's "owner," King Leopold II. This land, named Everfair, is set aside as a safe haven, an imaginary Utopia for native populations of the Congo as well as escaped slaves returning from America and other places where African natives were being mistreated.

Shawl's speculative masterpiece manages to turn one of the worst human rights disasters on record into a marvelous and exciting exploration of the possibilities inherent in a turn of history. Everfair is told from a multiplicity of voices: Africans, Europeans, East Asians, and African Americans in complex relationships with one another, in a compelling range of voices that have historically been silenced. Everfair is not only a beautiful book but an educational and inspiring one that will give the reader new insight into an often ignored period of history.

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

House of Suns

The good folks at Gollancz sent me an ARC of Alastair Reynolds' House of Suns way back in 2008. Not sure why it took me fourteen years to finally read it. Especially given how good the novel turned out to be. I have no excuse. Nor should you. If you're a fan of space opera on a grand scale, this book is definitely for you!

Reynolds is best known for his Revelation Space series, which is comprised of several novels, novellas, and short stories. Understandably, delving into such a sequence, even more so for a newbie, can be quite daunting. Yet as a standalone project, House of Suns is the perfect opportunity for readers unfamiliar with the author's body of work to jump in and give him a shot. Believe you me: You won't regret it!

Here's the blurb:

Six million years ago, at the dawn of the star-faring era, Abigail Gentian fractured herself into a thousand male and female clones, which she called shatterlings. She sent them out into the galaxy to observe and document the rise and fall of countless human empires. Since then, every two hundred thousand years, they gather to exchange news and memories of their travels.

Only there is no Gathering. Someone is eliminating the Gentian line. And now Campion and Purslane -- two shatterlings who have fallen in love and shared forbidden experiences -- must determine exactly who, or what, their enemy is, before they are wiped out of existence . . .

Alastair Reynolds is known for big-concept science fiction novels. Still, the sheer scope of the plot sets House of Suns apart from most space opera offerings out there. What makes it even more impressive is that Reynolds was able to cram it all into a standalone story. And even if the immensity of it all can at times be mind-boggling, unlike lots of hard scifi yarns House of Suns never loses track of the humanity that is the heart of this tale, namely that of the two main protagonists. The scale of most of the conceptual elements was so broad and fascinating that they could have drowned what is essentially the underpinning of the plot.

The characterization is excellent. The bulk of the book features the perspectives of Campion and Purslane, and I felt that there was a good balance between the two points of view. Though deeply in love, their outlook on things can't be quite different and it was interesting to see events unfold through their eyes. Each new part begins with a flashback scene from a young Abigail Gentian. These help readers understand how and why she elected to clone herself and send those shatterlings across the galaxy. Although I did enjoy those flashbacks, in the end they weren't as important to the tale as I first thought they would be. And even if Campion and Purslane take center stage for the most part, one member of the supporting cast really came into its own and upstaged them from time to time. The golden robot Hesperus, one of the Machine People whose memory was erased, played an important role in making this novel what it was.

There are some pacing issues here and there. Mostly in the first half of the novel. Indeed, it does take a while to understand what the story is all about. It's never boring, mind you. But it makes you wonder where Reynolds is going with the plot. Especially given the fact that we know from the blurb that the Gentian line was nearly wiped out as they gathered for their new reunion. From about the halfway point, however, House of Suns becomes a veritable page-turner.

The endgame is thrilling all the way through and Reynolds caps it all off with the sort of grand finale that will make you beg for more. I know that the author wrote the short story "Belladonna Nights" which is set in the House of Suns universe, but I would love for Reynolds to come up with more novel-length projects taking place in the same setting. I feel that there is so much left to explore. Even more so with the ending and the doors it left open.

Six million years of history and exploration, weapons of mass destruction, star dams capable of holding a nebula, ancient races and unfathomable technology, stellar engineering, powerful AI, cloning, wormholes, the nature of longevity and memory, star-crossed lovers, and so much more. How could you not want to read this book!?!

The final verdict: 8.5/10

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 Steven Erikson's Willful Child 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 the New York Times Bestselling author Steven Erikson comes a new science fiction novel of devil-may-care, near calamitous and downright chaotic adventures through the infinite vastness of interstellar space.

These are the voyages of the starship A.S.F. Willful Child. Its ongoing mission: to seek out strange new worlds on which to plant the Terran flag, to subjugate and if necessary obliterate new life-forms, to boldly blow the...

And so we join the not-terribly-bright but exceedingly cock-sure Captain Hadrian Sawback and his motley crew on board the Starship Willful Child for a series of devil-may-care, near-calamitous and downright chaotic adventures through ‘the infinite vastness of interstellar space.’

The New York Times bestselling author of the acclaimed Malazan Book of the Fallen sequence has taken his lifelong passion for Star Trek and transformed it into a smart, inventive, and hugely entertaining spoof on the whole mankind-exploring-space-for-the-good-of-all-species-but-trashing-stuff-with-a-lot-of-high-tech-gadgets-along-the-way, overblown adventure. The result is an SF novel that deftly parodies the genre while also paying fond homage to it.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now get your hands on the digital edition of N. K. Jemisin's The Stone Sky 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:

Humanity will finally be saved or destroyed in the shattering conclusion to the post-apocalyptic and highly acclaimed NYT bestselling trilogy that won the Hugo Award three years in a row.

The Moon will soon return. Whether this heralds the destruction of humankind or something worse will depend on two women.

Essun has inherited the power of Alabaster Tenring. With it, she hopes to find her daughter Nassun and forge a world in which every orogene child can grow up safe.

For Nassun, her mother’s mastery of the Obelisk Gate comes too late. She has seen the evil of the world, and accepted what her mother will not admit: that sometimes what is corrupt cannot be cleansed, only destroyed.

This is the way the world ends… for the last time.

Quote of the Day

Some destinies cannot be escaped.

- KATE ELLIOTT, King's Dragon. For more info about this title, follow this Amazon Associate link.

I'm really enjoying this book so far. Well worth the 2.99$ you have to fork out for the digital edition!