More inexpensive ebook goodies!

For a limited time, you can get your hands on the digital edition of Robin Hobb's bestselling Fool's Assassin for only 6.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

Nearly twenty years ago, Robin Hobb burst upon the fantasy scene with the first of her acclaimed Farseer novels, Assassin’s Apprentice, which introduced the characters of FitzChivalry Farseer and his uncanny friend the Fool. A watershed moment in modern fantasy, this novel—and those that followed—broke exciting new ground in a beloved genre. Together with George R. R. Martin, Robin Hobb helped pave the way for such talented new voices as Scott Lynch, Brandon Sanderson, and Naomi Novik.

Over the years, Hobb’s imagination has soared throughout the mythic lands of the Six Duchies in such bestselling series as the Liveship Traders Trilogy and the Rain Wilds Chronicles. But no matter how far she roamed, her heart always remained with Fitz. And now, at last, she has come home, with an astonishing new novel that opens a dark and gripping chapter in the Farseer saga.

FitzChivalry—royal bastard and former king’s assassin—has left his life of intrigue behind. As far as the rest of the world knows, FitzChivalry Farseer is dead and buried. Masquerading as Tom Badgerlock, Fitz is now married to his childhood sweetheart, Molly, and leading the quiet life of a country squire.

Though Fitz is haunted by the disappearance of the Fool, who did so much to shape Fitz into the man he has become, such private hurts are put aside in the business of daily life, at least until the appearance of menacing, pale-skinned strangers casts a sinister shadow over Fitz’s past . . . and his future.

Now, to protect his new life, the former assassin must once again take up his old one. . .

Extract from L. E. Modesitt, jr.'s HERITAGE OF CYADOR

Thanks to the generosity of the author, here's an extract from L. E. Modesitt, jr.'s newest Recluce installment, Heritage of Cyador. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Here's the blurb:

From New York Times bestselling author L.E. Modesitt comes Heritage of Cyador, the new novel in the Saga of Recluce.

Scarcely a year after the events of Cyador’s Heirs, Lerial uses his mastery of Order and Chaos, the competing natural forces that shape his world and define the magic that exists within it, to utterly destroy an Afritan military force crossing into Cigoerne.

Five years later, Lerial, now an overcaptain and a field commander of Cigoerne’s Mirror Lancers, must lead three companies of troops into Afrit on a mission of mutual interest: neighboring Heldya is threatening to invade Afrit, and if that nation falls, Cigoerne is certain to be next.

The mission is both delicate and dangerous; Lerial’s value in the effort to repelling Heldya is undeniable, but his troubled history against Afrit may reopen old wounds that will never truly heal.


From the low rise where he has reined up, the Mirror Lancer undercaptain glances eastward to the Swarth River, slightly more than five hundred yards away, its waters far lower than usual in the hot afternoon, an afternoon more like late summer or early harvest. Then his eyes turn westward, taking in the open lands, whose grass is dry and brown and barely calf-high. More to the north are the few scattered plots that have brought forth little enough from the drought-plagued past harvest. Less than a kay behind him beside the small stream that flows down the middle of the swale between the rolling rises is a scattering of cots and hastily built shelters – structures thrown together by the people of Ensenla after they had fled the town of the same name, a town less than two kays north of where he waits, a town burned to the ground early that morning and now marked only by trails of smoke rising into the silver-hazed green-blue sky. Roughly fifty yards in front of him is a single post, stained a faded green. There is another such post a quarter kay to the east, overlooking the river, and another a quarter kay to the west, and that line of posts extends a good ten kays west of the river, perhaps farther, since the undercaptain has not measured the precise distance they extend in the three eightdays since he arrived to patrol the area.

The undercaptain studies the lay of the land, and the approach to the rise, knowing that a full battalion of Afritan Guards rides toward him and Eighth Company. They are less than half a kay to the north, just out of sight on the dirt road that has linked the burned-out town to the Cigoernean hamlet of Penecca for the past twenty years.

The undercaptain continues to reach out to the skies, frowning as he does. Still… there is enough moisture there to continue to create the clouds he would prefer but does not need.

“Ser?” asks the senior squad leader.

“Five companies. They’re riding up the slope just on the other side of the border. They’ll want us to stand aside so that they can slaughter the people who fled. We can’t let them do that.”

“Strange that the Duke isn’t here, ser.”

The undercaptain knows that the senior squad leader is suggesting a withdrawal might be in order. “It’s better that he isn’t.”

“Begging your pardon, ser…”

“The blood won’t be on his hands.” The undercaptain is being obscure, but he also knows that obscurity will serve him and the Duke far better than clarity in the matter.

The Afritan battalion appears at the north side of the top of the rise perhaps two hundred yards from the undercaptain and the senior squad leader. The Afritans continue forward until the lead riders are within fifty yards of the border post, and the line of five companies abreast comes to a halt. All five companies re-form into a five man front, then dress their ranks, and even their files.

An armsman carrying a white banner bordered in the dull crimson of Afrit rides forward, stopping just short of the border post.

The undercaptain motions for him to proceed, even as he separates order and chaos in the air above the rise, watching as the cloud above expands and darkens slightly.

The Afritan rides forward, reining up ten yards short of the Mirror Lancer undercaptain.

Neither speaks, but the undercaptain gestures.

The lancer clears his throat, then begins. “Majer Ehraam is pursuing traitors who have rebelled against his Mightiness Duke Atroyan. He would appreciate your not impeding his duty.”

“These are the lands of Duke Kiedron. While we understand the majer’s desire to do what he perceives as his duty, our duty is not to allow the armsmen of another land to murder and ride down those who have fled to Cigoerne for refuge.”

“I am commanded to inform you, Undercaptain, that you and your men will be treated as allies of those who are traitors if you stand in the majer’s way.”

“Might I ask if Arms-Commander Rhamuel accompanies the field commander?”

The Afritan armsman does not answer.

“Surely, you must know,” prompts the undercaptain.

“The majer has the authority of His Mightiness.”

The undercaptain nods. “You may inform the majer that we will not harm him or his men so long as he does not cross the border into Cigoerne. My Mirror Lancers are posted a hundred yards south of that border.”

“The majer must insist on the right to bring traitors to justice.”

“He has the right to bring them to justice in Afrit, not in Cigoerne. That is the rule in all lands, and that is the agreement between Duke Kiedron and Duke Atroyan. We will enforce that right by force of arms if necessary.”

“The majer has declared that he will pass.”

“If the majer crosses the border with his battalion, we will enforce our right to protect ourselves.”

“Then… the majer says you will suffer the consequences.”

“So will he and all his men.” The undercaptain glances at the small but thickening cloud that has gathered partly above him and mainly over the center of the rise to the north of where Eighth Company has reined up, arms ready.

Abruptly, the Afritan armsman turns and rides back to the massed formation.

The undercaptain waits.

“Ser…?” ventures the senior squad leader.

“Have the squads hold their positions. I’ll give the order if we need to attack.”

“Yes, ser.”

While the senior squad leader relays the order, the undercaptain concentrates, extending his order senses and beginning to create order lines as parallel as he can make them to the dancing chaos within the small thundercloud overhead, a cloud that darkens moment by moment as raindrops begin to fall across the top of the rise.

A trumpet triplet sounds, and the Afritan battalion starts forward at a fast walk.

Carefully and precisely, the undercaptain eases apart order and chaos in both the air above the advancing Afritans and in the ground below them. The Afritan riders break into a canter as they pass the faded green boundary post.

As he senses, with what he thinks of as brilliant light, the interplay between a deeper level of order and chaos, an interplay within all things, the undercaptain begins to separate small bits of order and chaos in the ground under the mounted mass of Afritan riders. Seemingly just before, but in fact, a calculated time before that point where his separations would unleash massive power, he limits the separation, and creates a quadruple ten-line order coil with the power going into a shielded circle around the Afritans.


Lightnings flare from ground and sky in a pattern that crisscrosses men and their mounts, galvanizes blades with such force that they are ripped from the hands of men who do not even feel their death. Thunder with the force of mighty winds slams into everything within that fiery circle, and the charred fragments of men and mounts are thrown to the ground, consumed almost totally by flame and then covered with fine ash that is all that remains of the browned grass of harvest.

The undercaptain shudders in his saddle as a wave of silver-gray flows over him, a wave unseen by any but him. His eyes blur, and tears stream down his cheeks. His head feels as though it is being pounded with a wooden mallet. He squints, enough to sharpen his blurred vision so that he can make out what lies before him on the top of the rise.

All that remains of a battalion of mounted Afritan armsmen is a circle of ash and blackened ground some two hundred yards across.

The senior squad leader gapes, then looks to the undercaptain, his mouth open, but wordless.

“The skies and storms favor Cigoerne,” says the officer. After a long silence, he adds, “Have second squad continue the patrol. The other squads will return to our camp. We need to tell the people of Ensenla that it is safe to reclaim what they can from their old town. They’re entitled to it. They’ve little enough left to their names.”

“Yes, ser.”

The rain is already beginning to let up as the undercaptain and the bulk of Eighth Company begin their return to the temporary camp and post in Ensenla, a post that the undercaptain knows full well will soon become a large and permanent base for protecting the northern border of the duchy.

This week's New York Times Bestsellers (October 20th)

In paperback:

George R. R. Martin's A Game of Thrones returns at number 19.

Win a set of David Hair's SCARLET TIDES and MAGE'S BLOOD

One lucky winner will receive copies of David Hair's Scarlet Tides and its predecessor, Mage's Blood, compliments of the folks at Jo Fletcher Books. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Here's the blurb:

The Moontide has come, and a scarlet tide of Rondian legions is flooding into the East, slaughtering and pillaging in the name of Emperor Constant. But the Scytale of Corineus, the source of ultimate magical power, has slipped through the emperor’s fingers. His ruthless Inquisitors are desperately seeking the artefact, before it falls into the hands of those who would bring down the Empire.

But there are some who have pledged to end the cycle of war and restore peace to Urte. They are the unlikeliest of heroes: a failed mage, a gypsy and a lowly market-girl.

As East and West clash more violently than ever before, Urte will discover that love, loyalty and truth can be forged into weapons as deadly as swords and magic.

The rules are the same as usual. You need to send an email at reviews@(no-spam) with the header "TIDES." Remember to remove the "no spam" thingy.

Second, your email must contain your full mailing address (that's snail mail!), otherwise your message will be deleted.

Lastly, multiple entries will disqualify whoever sends them. And please include your screen name and the message boards that you frequent using it, if you do hang out on a particular MB.

Good luck to all the participants!

Extract from Jasper Kent's THE LAST RITE

Thanks to the generosity of the folks at Random House, here's an extract from Jasper Kent's The Last Rite. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Here's the blurb:

Russia – 1917. Zmyeevich, king of all vampires, is dead.

History records that the great voordalak – known across Europe as Dracula – perished in 1893 beneath the ramparts of his own castle, deep in the mountains of Wallachia. In Russia, the Romanov tsars are free of the curse that has plagued their blood for two centuries.

But two decades later and Tsar Nicholas II faces a new threat – a threat from his own people. War has brought Russia to her knees and the people are hungry for change. Revolution is in the air.

Mihail Konstantinovich Danilov – who himself carries Romanov blood – welcomes the prospect of a new regime. Like his ancestors he once fought to save the Romanovs from the threat that Zmyeevich brought them. Fought and won. But now he sees no future for a Russia ruled by a tyrant. He is joined in the struggle by his uncle, Dmitry Alekseevich - a creature born in a different era, over a century before. For more than half his existence he has been a vampire, and yet he still harbours one very human desire; that his country should be free.

But the curse that infects the blood of the Romanovs cannot be so easily forgotten and Mihail soon discovers that it – that he – may become the means by which a terror once thought eradicated might be resurrected . . .


An Anatolian Folk Tale

On the twenty-third day of the month of Nisan, in the eighteenth year of the principate of the Emperors Diocletian and Maximian,in the city of Nicomedia, the gift of martyrdom was bestowed upon the Tribune George – son of Gerontius – his head severed from his body for his refusal to renounce his faith. For this sacrifice he was acclaimed a saint. The anniversary of his death, 23 April, came to be celebrated as the feast day of Saint George. But it is not for his death that he is famed.

Long before, as the Roman Empire swept across the world, the Tribune George had slain the monster which was to make him renowned throughout history. By command of his emperor he had been dispatched to the province of Libya and one day, journeying with his slave Pasicrates, he found himself near the city which some call Lasia and others Silene, by which they may mean Cyrene. There George encountered a hermit, who told him of the city’s curse.

‘Close to this place,’ the hermit said, ‘lies a great lake, as wide as the Earth and as deep as the sea, beneath whose waters a monster makes its lair: a dragon who demands a tribute of the people. Every day they must offer up two sheep from their flocks upon which the beast may feed. They offer no resistance. They do as they are told, for they know that if they refuse the monster will drag itself from the depths and descend upon the city, breathing destruction.

‘But it is not fire that the monster breathes as many such creatures do. It breathes poison – a noxious miasma far worse than flames, which may be extinguished. The dragon’s breath brings all who scent it to die in agonizing torment, such that no man who has witnessed it can describe.’

‘Two sheep each day seems a meagre price,’ said George.

The old man shrugged. ‘Greater than our king is prepared to surrender. He paid the tribute for many years, but then famine came, and the flocks dwindled, and even two became more than the people could afford. And so now they offer up a human sacrifice, a subject of the king, which the beast is more than happy to accept. All are equal before the serpent. Lots are drawn. Any might become the chosen one – young or old, male or female. But today the duty has fallen upon the king’s daughter, the Princess Sabra. The king has tried to prevent it, but the people are adamant. They insist that the princess must obey the law which binds them all. And the princess herself is willing, knowing justice better than her father.’

The hermit looked up and pointed out across the plain towards the water. ‘Behold! There they go now, the princess and her entourage, down to where the serpent waits. It will not take long.’

But George felt only anger at the story; at the greed of the dragon, at the ingratitude of the people to their king, and at the disobedience of his daughter. The tribune mounted his horse and rode swiftly towards the lake. He passed Sabra and her attendants and shouted that they should stop; that he alone would face the creature. They did as he told them, some believing that he would do what he had said, others reasoning that this stranger would make an ample sacrifice, if only for today.

As the saint approached the shore he slowed his horse and surveyed the water, gazing into its still depths, searching for the monster. And then the waters became turbid and began to boil, even though the day was cool. The surface rose and separated and the monster was revealed, half serpent, half dragon. Its head towered above George, its body’s length five times greater than the saint’s height, with more still submerged and invisible beneath the waves. George looked up into its eyes and knew that this was no animal; no part, however vile, of God’s creation. This was a manifestation of Satan himself that had somehow burst up through the Earth from the flames below. Perhaps the monster he faced truly was the Beast of Saint John’s Revelation.

George turned his horse and galloped away from the water’s edge, seeming afraid. But the act was not born of fear. Soon he turned and saw what he had hoped to see, that the creature had followed him out of its watery domain and into the realm of men. George levelled his lance, holding it out in front of him, pointing its iron tip at the leviathan’s heart. Then he spurred his horse and began to charge. The monster reared its head, inhaling deeply before expelling a vast cloud of its noxious, death-delivering breath. But George was not deterred. As he rode forward he spoke loudly, without a break between words so that he would never have a chance to breathe in, reciting the Lord’s Prayer. Thus even if some of the deadly vapour did infiltrate him the holy words would protect him from the venom.

And so George arrived beneath the creature’s shadow unharmed, and his lance was true, and although it was shattered into a thousand pieces by the armour of the monster’s scales, its iron-clad tip penetrated through them and into the dragon’s heart, killing it and sending its soul back down to Hell. But even as the dragon perished, its head thrashed and its teeth fell upon the saint, and bit into him, and drew his blood. It was the tiniest of wounds, and caused him little pain, and healed quickly. And yet he would always remember it, as would his children and their children too.

Afterwards George went into the city of Lasia and was honoured for what he had done. The king begged to know what reward he would accept, and in return George asked only that the people of Lasia should become Christians, a request to which the king happily agreed. That day twenty thousand were baptized, not counting the women and the children. The king had a church built in honour of Saint George and of the Virgin, and from its altar there still issues a natural spring whose waters cure all illnesses.

But this is not George’s story. Neither is it the story of the monster he slew, nor of the princess he saved nor even of his slave Pasicrates, though it is through Pasicrates that we know all this to be true. This is the story of the lance that George used to slay the dragon, an artefact that would outlive all of them; that as yet did not even have a name.

As George was returning to Lasia to claim his laurels, it fell to Pasicrates to deal with the destruction he had wrought. Pasicrates surveyed the scene and felt proud of his master. The monster was dead. The lance was broken. But as Pasicrates looked he saw that the tip of the spear still protruded from the serpent’s scales. He reached forward and grasped it, putting his foot on the creature’s chest to brace himself. And after more than a little effort the shaft came free – like the sword Arthur pulled from the stone, although that story was yet to be written.

Pasicrates looked at his prize. There was little of it left – less than the length of his forearm, and he was not long-limbed. The iron tip remained embedded in the monster’s heart, but the wood he held was still sharpened to a point – still stained with the blood it had drawn. It would make a fine relic, better certainly than the other shattered fragments of the lance that lay strewn beside the lake. Others might take them and sell them as sacred artefacts, but his was the shaft that had killed the beast. And he would not sell it. He would keep it for when the time came for him to write his story – which was to say the story of his master, the Tribune George.

Pasicrates travelled with his master until George’s martyrdom in Nicomedia. But a slave cannot be held to account for his master’s faith – and Pasicrates lived long enough to write an account of the life of Saint George. He left Nicomedia and travelled throughout Anatolia and into the Holy Land, settling finally in the town of Ashkelon on the Mediterranean coast, not far from Jerusalem. And there he died, bequeathing the lance and all his possessions to the Karaite elders of the city by way of thanks for the kindnesses they had shown him. For almost eight centuries the lance remained there.

And it was during that time the lance inevitably acquired its name – the name of the city in which it dwelt – ‘Ashkelon’, or ‘Ascalon’ as the Crusaders who captured both the city and the relic pronounced it.

It was in 1099 that Ashkelon fell to the Christian knights and that Ascalon was taken from it, along with the rest of their plunder. Many of the Crusaders had been looking for relics – for the Ark of the Covenant or for the Holy Grail – but none of them understood what they held in their hands. A few might have taken it for a fragment of the true cross, but there were plenty enough of those being sold in market places across Palestine – across the whole of Europe.

The Karaite elders of Ashkelon pleaded for the return of their treasures, and for the ransom of captives, offering money they had collected from every citizen. Whether they got all they wanted, no one knows, but it was not the Jews that the Crusaders regarded as their enemy, and so Ascalon was returned.

But the lance did not stay long in the city whose name it bore. The Karaites were a scattered community and they shared their possessions across the world, knowing that anywhere would be safer than the turbulent Holy Land. Ascalon was sent north, across the Dark Sea to a citadel high in the mountains, known as Chufut Kalye. The Karaites who lived there claimed they had settled in the cave dwellings at the time of the Babylonian Exile, but few believed it. They lived there by the sufferance of the Crimean Khanate, but Ascalon could not be kept hidden from the ruling Tartars and soon it disappeared once again.

And it is here, just as we might expect mists of history to begin to reveal their secrets, that the story becomes its most vague. Ascalon was next seen in Buda, a city on the river Hister, also known as the Danube. It was 370 years since the Crusaders had taken it from Ashkelon, 200 since it had arrived in Chufut Kalye. How it reached Buda remains shrouded in confusion, but it cannot be mere chance that Constantinople had so recently fallen to the Muslim hordes, and it would have been no great journey for the lance to be carried from Chufut Kalye to the ancient capital of the Roman Empire. Who it was that brought it from there to Buda is untold, but it is claimed by some that the man who then took it from Buda to Visegrád was Fyodor Kuritsyn, emissary of the Grand Prince of Muscovy. Others deny that Kuritsyn could ever have been in Hungary at the time, but none doubt the identity of the solitary prisoner in the castle at Visegrád.

Prince Vlad, later known as T¸epes¸, once Voivode of Wallachia, had been betrayed by a man he thought his friend; it was neither the first nor the last time it would happen to him. He had come to Hungary seeking refuge and had instead been thrown into gaol, and left there friendless and alone. Is it any wonder that, when he was visited by the Russian Boyar and spoken to kindly by him, he began to place his trust in the man?

Kuritsyn – or whoever it may have been – showed Ascalon to the Wallachian prince, showed him the traces of the dragon’s blood that still tainted it, and told of the power that it possessed. The Muscovite ambassador had reasons of his own for what he disclosed, but that did not mean that the magic he spoke of was not real. He spent many long hours talking to Vlad, but in the end he left him alone, left him with Ascalon, and with the knowledge of what it could do for him, if only he would dare allow it.

And so in the depth of his despair, after twelve years in gaol, with no hope of release – with no hope at all – T¸epes¸ took Ascalon, cradling it in his hand. And with only a moment’s hesitation he performed with it the rite that Kuritsyn had described. And just as the Boyar had explained, Vlad entered immortality. And at the same moment, just as Kuritsyn had known he would, but had never told, Vlad descended into Hell.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

Today marks the release date of Sixth of the Dusk, a new Cosmere novella by Brandon Sanderson, for 2.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

A fascinating new novella in Brandon Sanderson's Cosmere, the universe shared by his Mistborn series and the #1 New York Times bestselling Stormlight Archive.

Sixth of the Dusk, set in a never-before-seen world, showcases a society on the brink of technological change. On the deadly island of Patji, where birds grant people magical talents and predators can sense the thoughts of their prey, a solitary trapper discovers that the island is not the only thing out to kill him. When he begins to see his own corpse at every turn, does this spell danger for his entire culture?


A note from the publisher: For a detailed behind-the-scenes look at the creation of this novella, including brainstorming and workshopping session transcripts, the first draft, line-by-line edits, and an essay by Brandon, please see Shadows Beneath: The Writing Excuses Anthology.

You can read an extract from the novella here.

The Lost Girls of Rome

You may recall that I gave Donato Carrisi's debut, The Whisperer, a perfect score a few years back. Dubbed the Italian literary thriller phenomenon, I have remained on the lookout for anything else written by Carrisi. Read the first one in French, so I bought the French translation for this one as well. Even better, a sequel to The Whisperer titled The Vanished Ones recently came out in French and it's also availabe in the UK. Meant to read The Lost Girls of Rome last summer during my Middle Eastern trip, but sadly I didn't find the time. With most 2014 SFF releases leaving something to be desired these days, I elected that the time was just about right for a quality thriller.

The English title is kind of weird, considering that the original Italian title can be translated into The Tribunal of Souls. Such was the French title, which leaves me wondering exactly why the publishers for the English translation went for something so generic that has pretty much nothing to do with what the novel is all about. The same goes for the cover blurb, which totally overlooks the second main protagonist as if his own storyline was unimportant. From a marketing standpoint, given that Marcus is arguably the most important character of this story, I find this odd indeed. . .

Here's the blurb:

A grieving young widow, seeking answers to her husband’s death, becomes entangled in an investigation steeped in the darkest mysteries of Rome.

Sandra Vega, a forensic analyst with the Roman police department, mourns deeply for a marriage that ended too soon. A few months ago, in the dead of night, her husband, an up-and-coming journalist, plunged to his death at the top of a high-rise construction site. The police ruled it an accident. Sanda is convinced it was anything but.

Launching her own inquiries, Sanda finds herself on a dangerous trail, working the same case that she is convinced led to her husband’s murder. An investigation which is deeply entwined with a series of disappearances that has swept the city, and brings Sandra ever closer to a centuries-old secret society that will do anything to stay in the shadows.

Once again, the action occurs in Italy, in and around both Rome and Milan. As was the case with The Whisperer, a variety of sources were used by Carrisi to write this book, chief among them criminology and forensic psychiatry manuals, as well as several FBI papers regarding serial killers and violent crimes. With his homework done properly, Carrisi's second novel has an unmistakable genuine feel to it. As a former jurist specializing in criminology and behavioral science, the man truly knows what he's talking about.

With both French and Italian sharing the same roots, the translation was good. I was told that the English translation for The Whisperer wasn't that great, so hopefully the same cannot be said of the English version of The Lost Girls of Rome. A more literal translation will mean occasional odd turns of phrase, yet here's to hoping that it nevertheless captures the essence of the story.

The characterization was awesome. As was the case with its predecessor, a man and a woman are the principal protagonists. Sandra Vega, a forensic analyst, lost her husband the year before. Marcus is a man without a past. Coming out of a coma after being shot in the head in a Prague hotel room, he is told he's the only person who might find a kidnapped female student before she is murdered. Unexpectedly, their paths will cross and bring them to a crossroads where they'll have to choose between vengeance and forgiveness. During the investigation, a dark secret hidden by the Roman Catholic Church will be unveiled and is at the heart of all the disappearances and murders. I particularly enjoyed how flawed both main characters are and how their POVs create an interesting balance between them. The point of view of the hunter which occurs in a different timeline feels a bit discordant at first, but becomes more and more fascinating as one realizes just how it is linked to the other storylines.

Much like in The Whisperer, there is a thought-provoking theme underlying the entire book: The true essence of evil. Does it exist within all of us, latent and just waiting to be released? As engrossing as it is disturbing, Donato Carrisi's The Lost Girls of Rome is not as remarkable a read as Carrisi's debut. Still, it is a complex and multilayered thriller that hits all the right buttons. It's a clever work with plots and subplots forming a chilling tapestry, all of which culminating toward an ending that will shock you. Involving the Roman Catholic Church gives Carrisi's second novel a special feel that is akin to Dan Brown's Angels and Demons. Still, the novel is based on true law enforcement investigation techniques and the religious aspect of the tale only adds another dimension to an already complicated plot.

Overall, this perturbing work is everything a thriller is supposed to be. The Lost Girls of Rome is another page-turner that begs to be read. If you are looking for compelling and disturbing books delving into psychology that stay with you long after you have finished reading them, give Donato Carrisi a shot ASAP!

The final verdict: 9/10

For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe

Peter F. Hamilton contest winner!

This lucky winner will get his hands on my ARC of Peter F. Hamilton's The Abyss Beyond Dreams! For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

The winner is:

- Donny Schwartz, from Sacramento, California, USA

Many thanks to all the participants!

Quote of the Day

“Attention crew. We will soon be arriving at the Known Rim, where it is likely we will find ourselves engaged in a hopeless battle against impossible odds, facing an implacable foe intent on destroying not just the Affiliation, but all other sentient life-forms in the galaxy. In other words, just another day in the adventures of Captain Hadrian Sawback and the crew of the Willful Child.

“My advice to everyone is, get used to it. Events like this could well become a weekly affair. We’ll face death. We’ll clash with terrible forces and belligerent enemies. We’ll uncover mysteries and probably get seriously grossed out in the process. But one thing must be understood, and have no doubt about this: No one dies on this ship! Well, bearing in mind my warning about kitten pictures.

“In a short while, we will be at battle stations. Do what you’ve been trained to do. And if we all blow up anyways, well, that’s just how it is. Sometimes, my friends, space just sucks. Captain out.”

- STEVEN ERIKSON, Willful Child (Canada, USA, Europe)

Just finished this one and it was a real joy ride! =) Let's hope we'll see more of Captain Hadrian Sawback and the rest of the crew of the Willful Child!

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

For a limited time on the other side of the pond, you can get your hands on all three volumes of the Void trilogy by Peter F. Hamilton for only £0.99 here.

Here's the blurb for the first volume, The Dreaming Void:

It's AD 3580 and the Intersolar Commonwealth has spread throughout the galaxy. Its citizens are privileged and protected by a powerful navy. Yet at the centre of this galaxy is the Void, a sealed universe created by aliens billions of years ago. And the Void is far from inert. Its expansion has gradually been consuming nearby star systems - now it's trying to make contact. The Void chooses Inigo as its conduit, and he channels dreams of a simpler life within its bounds. Disaffected humanity hungers for this vision, adopting him as their prophet.

But Inigo disappears and his followers instigate a pilgrimage to take them into the Void itself. An act that could trigger its expansion and thereby damage our galaxy beyond repair. Meanwhile, within the Void, a junior constable called Edeard begins his journey to greatness. He takes on his corrupt city, giving his people hope. He also becomes the focus of Inigo's dream - and thereby humanity's greatest hero.

Win a copy of Patrick Rothfuss' THE SLOW REGARD OF SILENT THINGS

I recently learned that no review copies would be sent prior to the novella's pub date. Still, thanks to the generosity of the great folks at Daw Books, I have a copy of Patrick Rothfuss' The Slow Regard of Silent Things up for grabs! For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Here's the blurb:

Deep below the University, there is a dark place. Few people know of it: a broken web of ancient passageways and abandoned rooms. A young woman lives there, tucked among the sprawling tunnels of the Underthing, snug in the heart of this forgotten place. Her name is Auri, and she is full of mysteries.

The Slow Regard of Silent Things is a brief, bittersweet glimpse of Auri’s life, a small adventure all her own. At once joyous and haunting, this story offers a chance to see the world through Auri’s eyes. And it gives the reader a chance to learn things that only Auri knows….

In this book, Patrick Rothfuss brings us into the world of one of The Kingkiller Chronicle’s most enigmatic characters. Full of secrets and mysteries, The Slow Regard of Silent Things is the story of a broken girl trying to live in a broken world.

The rules are the same as usual. You need to send an email at reviews@(no-spam) with the header "SILENT THINGS." Remember to remove the "no spam" thingy.

Second, your email must contain your full mailing address (that's snail mail!), otherwise your message will be deleted.

Lastly, multiple entries will disqualify whoever sends them. And please include your screen name and the message boards that you frequent using it, if you do hang out on a particular MB.

Good luck to all the participants!

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now get your hands on Jack Finney's classic Time and Again for only 1.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

Now with masterfully restored original artwork, lovers of time travel, romance, and adventure can rediscover Time and Again, the beloved classic hailed as “THE great time-travel story” by Stephen King, author of 11/22/63, and praised as a “pure New York fun” by Alice Hoffman, author of The Museum of Extraordinary Things.

When advertising artist Si Morley is recruited to join a covert government operation exploring the possibility of time travel, he jumps at the chance to leave his twentieth-century existence and step into New York City in January 1882. Aside from his thirst for experience, he has good reason to return to the past—his friend Kate has a curious, half-burned letter dated from that year, and he wants to trace the mystery.

But when Si begins to fall in love with a woman he meets in the past, he will be forced to choose between two worlds—forever.

Called “the great time-travel story” by Stephen King, Time and Again is admired for its rich, painstakingly researched descriptions of life in New York City more than a century ago, and for the swift adventure at its core. With newly digitized art, you will fall in love with this refreshed classic all over again.

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

In hardcover:

David Mitchell’s The Bone Clocks is down one spot, finishing the week at number 7.

In paperback:

George R. R. Martin's A Dance With Dragons is down six positions, ending the week at number 19.

Neil Gaiman's The Ocean at the End of the Lane is down three positions, ending the week at number 20 (trade paperback).

Hell Yeah!!!

Can't believe I was caught sleeping at the wheel, but I had no idea that Katherine Kurtz's new Deryni installment was coming up in a few short weeks! So imagine my surprise when The King's Deryni showed up today! For more information on this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Here's the blurb:

New York Times bestselling author Katherine Kurtz’s novels of the Deryni have been hailed by Anne McCaffrey as “an incredible historical tapestry of a world that never was and of immensely vital people who ought to be.” Now Kurtz weaves a thrilling conclusion to the epic Childe Morgan trilogy, in which bonds of both magic and loyalty will be put to the ultimate test…

Alaric Morgan always knew his purpose in life—to stand alongside the king of Gwynedd. The old king knew that whichever of his sons succeeded to the throne would benefit from having a Deryni at his side. Alaric and the young Prince Brion Haldane were bound together by magic—a magic to be called upon when Brion was most in need.

Now eighteen, Brion has ascended to the throne and seven-year-old Alaric has come to court. Through the coming years, both will grow to manhood and come to realize their destinies. Brion will strive to solidify his power and position, seek out a bride to secure his legacy, and ultimately, when faced with an unbeatable foe, call upon Alaric to fulfill his oath.

Meanwhile, Alaric slowly learns the extent of his powers and how to use them, and will face the prejudice that many have against Deryni in its ugliest form. He will experience bittersweet first love, great personal loss, and the hard lessons one gains from both. And he will be there to unleash the full power of his Deryni magic at Brion’s command.

For Alaric is—and always will be—the King’s Deryni.

Can't wait to read it! =)

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now download N. K. Jemisin's The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms for only 1.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

In this brilliantly original debut fantasy, a young woman becomes entangled in a power struggle of mythic proportions.

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

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

Win a copy of Steven Erikson's WILLFUL CHILD

I have three copies of Steven Erikson's Willful Child for you to win, courtesy of the fine folks at Tor Books. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe)

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.

The rules are the same as usual. You need to send an email at reviews@(no-spam) with the header "CHILD." Remember to remove the "no spam" thingy.

Second, your email must contain your full mailing address (that's snail mail!), otherwise your message will be deleted.

Lastly, multiple entries will disqualify whoever sends them. And please include your screen name and the message boards that you frequent using it, if you do hang out on a particular MB.

Good luck to all the participants!

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

I don't know for how long, but right now you can download Kameron Hurley's The Mirror Empire, her first epic fantasy novel which has everyone talking, for only 1.99$ here!

Here's the blurb:

A stunning new epic fantasy from two-time Hugo Award winner Kameron Hurley.

On the eve of a recurring catastrophic event known to extinguish nations and reshape continents, a troubled orphan evades death and slavery to uncover her own bloody past... while a world goes to war with itself.

In the frozen kingdom of Saiduan, invaders from another realm are decimating whole cities, leaving behind nothing but ash and ruin. At the heart of this war lie the pacifistic Dhai people, once enslaved by the Saiduan and now courted by their former masters to provide aid against the encroaching enemy.

Stretching from desolate tundra to steamy, semi-tropical climes seething with sentient plant life, this is an epic tale of blood mages and mercenaries, emperors and priestly assassins who must unite to save a world on the brink of ruin.

As the dark star of the cataclysm rises, an illegitimate ruler is tasked with holding together a country fractured by civil war; a precocious young fighter is asked to betray his family to save his skin; and a half-Dhai general must choose between the eradication of her father's people or loyalty to her alien Empress.

Through tense alliances and devastating betrayal, the Dhai and their allies attempt to hold against a seemingly unstoppable force as enemy nations prepare for a coming together of worlds as old as the universe itself.

In the end, one world will rise - and many will perish.

Quote of the Day

“I have been observing human interactions with alien species, Captain.”

“Exciting, aren’t they?”

“They invariably conclude with the sudden, violent deaths of thousands of biologicals, not to mention semi-sentient artificial personalities.”

“Are you suggesting a pattern, Tammy?”

“I conclude that your particular species, Captain, advances by way of deadly incompetence, willful ignorance, deliberate misunderstanding, and venal acquisitiveness, combined with serendipitous technological superiority.”

“Ever since Columbus landed on the shores of Old America, Tammy. What’s your point?”

- STEVEN ERIKSON, Willful Child (Canada, USA, Europe)

About 200 pages into this one and I'm having a ball! =)

Why didn't you. . .

Fantasy author Mark Lawrence just wrote an interesting blog post about readers' complaints regarding Prince of Fools and his writing in general. Here's a teaser:

Often these 'whys' are asked in a manner that indicates the questioner has a very firm idea of the (my) writing process in their head. I must have sat down with a ruler and set square and designed each element of my tale, weighing up the choices, wondering what message they'd send and what world view they're promoting...


The medieval-esque setting (like the Eastern setting, the cold north with bearded axemen, the hot south with arab-esque inhabitants) is part of the landscape of the reader's imagination - there to be taken advantage of, saving 400 pages and a fuck-load of confusion.


So, yes, if you want the focus to be on how clever and imaginative you are ... weird me out. If you want the focus to be on your plans for utopia or your critique of modern society, play those games. But if you're going to criticise fantasy as conservative or me for drawing on the architecture of existing fantasy to furnish my pages with stuff for my characters to play with ... then you've very much missed the point of what most authors are trying to do.

Why didn't I play the rather heavy handed gender-politics games that excite a certain rather vocal section of the blog-o-sphere?

Because those are not the games that excite me.

Follow this link to read the full article.

Jacqueline Carey contest winners!

Our winners will get their hands on a copy of Jacqueline Carey's Poison Fruit, compliments of the folks at Roc! For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

The winners are:

- Christine LaRue, from Elverta, California, USA

- Nicole McFadyen, from Stouffville, Ontario, Canada

- Angela Heid, from Merrillville, Indiana, USA

Many thanks to all the participants!


Thanks to the generosity of the folks at Penguin Books, I have a set of Dan Jones' The Plantagenets (Canada, USA, Europe) and its sequel, The Wars of the Roses, up for grabs. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Here's the blurb:

The author of the New York Times bestseller The Plantagenets chronicles the next chapter in British history—the historical backdrop for Game of Thrones.

The crown of England changed hands five times over the course of the fifteenth century, as two branches of the Plantagenet dynasty fought to the death for the right to rule. In this riveting follow-up to The Plantagenets, celebrated historian Dan Jones describes how the longest-reigning British royal family tore itself apart until it was finally replaced by the Tudors.

Some of the greatest heroes and villains of history were thrown together in these turbulent times, from Joan of Arc to Henry V, whose victory at Agincourt marked the high point of the medieval monarchy, and Richard III, who murdered his own nephews in a desperate bid to secure his stolen crown. This was a period when headstrong queens and consorts seized power and bent men to their will. With vivid descriptions of the battles of Towton and Bosworth, where the last Plantagenet king was slain, this dramatic narrative history revels in bedlam and intrigue. It also offers a long-overdue corrective to Tudor propaganda, dismantling their self-serving account of what they called the Wars of the Roses.

The rules are the same as usual. You need to send an email at reviews@(no-spam) with the header "WARS." Remember to remove the "no spam" thingy.

Second, your email must contain your full mailing address (that's snail mail!), otherwise your message will be deleted.

Lastly, multiple entries will disqualify whoever sends them. And please include your screen name and the message boards that you frequent using it, if you do hang out on a particular MB.

Good luck to all the participants!

Tad Williams contest winner!

Our winner will receive an autographed copy of Tad Williams' Sleeping Late on Judgement Day, compliments of the author himself! For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

The winner is:

- Danielle Beebe, from Bergen, New York, USA

Many thanks to all the participants!

Win a copy of Chris Evans' OF BONE AND THUNDER

I have a copy of Chris Evans' Of Bone and Thunder for you to win, courtesy of the folks at Simon and Schuster. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Here's the blurb:

A land of thick jungle and mist-swirled mountains. An enemy moving unseen beneath the lush canopy. The growing threat of thaumics—a magic wielded by few that threatens to destabilize all. The youth of a kingdom sent to fight in a faraway hell while back home, discord and disillusionment reign…

Fantasy author Chris Evans masterfully pushes the boundaries of the genre in his brilliant, groundbreaking new epic, a unique and penetrating vision channeling the cultural upheaval, racial animus, and wholesale destruction of the Vietnam War. Here, in the distant nation of Luitox, which is wracked by rebellion, thaumic users copilot mammoth armored dragons alongside fliers who do not trust their strange methods. Warriors trained in crossbow, stealth, and catapult are plunged into sudden chaotic battles with the mysterious Forest Collective, an elusive enemy with a powerful magic of its own. And the Kingdom’s most downtrodden citizens, only recently granted equality, fight for the dignity they were supposed to have won at home while questioning who the real enemy is.

Of Bone and Thunder is the story of Thaum Jawn Rathim, whose idealized view of the war clashes with its harsh realities and his realization that victory may cost him everything…of conscripted soldier Carny, awash in a hallucinogenic haze of fear and anger…of Breeze, the red-haired graduate from the Royal Academy of Thaumology, certain she can transform the very nature of warfare—if only she can win the trust of the man holding her fate in his hands…and of Ugen Listowk, a veteran crossbowman who finds solace in the darkest shadows of the jungle and whose greatest fear is failing the men he leads into battle.

Plunging deep into the heart of a moral and mortal darkness, these reluctant soldiers struggle for survival and for meaning amid a blazing drama of blood and magic. They will duel a ghostly enemy, fight to understand their roles in a sprawling maelstrom, and ultimately wage the war their way—not for glory or the Kingdom, but for one another.

The rules are the same as usual. You need to send an email at reviews@(no-spam) with the header "THUNDER." Remember to remove the "no spam" thingy.

Second, your email must contain your full mailing address (that's snail mail!), otherwise your message will be deleted.

Lastly, multiple entries will disqualify whoever sends them. And please include your screen name and the message boards that you frequent using it, if you do hang out on a particular MB.

Good luck to all the participants!

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

In hardcover:

David Mitchell’s The Bone Clocks is down two spots, finishing the week at number 6.

In paperback:

George R. R. Martin's A Dance With Dragons is up two positions, ending the week at number 13.

George R. R. Martin's A Game of Thrones is down one position, ending the week at number 17.

Neil Gaiman's The Ocean at the End of the Lane is up one position, ending the week at number 17 (trade paperback).

Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game returns at number 20.

Quote of the Day

SPACE . . . It's fucking big.

- STEVEN ERIKSON, Willful Child (Canada, USA, Europe)

Just started reading this one and it's been a lot of fun so far!

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.

Sleeping Late on Judgement Day

With urban fantasy being the biggest game in town, I was quite happy with the fact that the Bobby Dollar books turned out to be Tad Williams' most accessible series to date. Still, as entertaining as the novels turned out to be, it appears that they were mostly ignored by the wider urban fantasy/paranormal romance readership. None of the installments received blurbs from bestselling or well-known urban fantasy authors, and there has been a near total radio silence regarding the series on various SFF resources. To all ends and purposes, it seems that only Tad Williams' fans gave this series a shot and no one else. Given the popularity of this subgenre, I find this odd. . .

And Tad Williams brings this trilogy to a close with the same snarky style and aplomb which have made the first two volumes such enjoyable reads! Though it leaves the door open for more to come, Sleeping Late on Judgement Day is a fitting and satisfying ending to a quality series!

Here's the blurb:

Where does an angel go when he’s been to Hell and back?

Renegade angel Bobby Dollar does not have an easy afterlife. After surviving the myriad gruesome dangers Hell oh-so-kindly offered him, Bobby has returned empty-handed – his demon girlfriend Casmira, the Countess of Cold Hands, is still in the clutches of Eligor, Grand Duke of Hell. Some hell of a rescue.

Forced to admit his failure, Bobby ends up back at his job as an angel advocate. That is, until Walter, an old angel friend whom Bobby never thought he’d see again, shows up at the local bar. The last time he saw Walter was in Hell, when Walter had tried to warn him about one of Bobby’s angel superiors. But now Walter can’t remember anything, and Bobby doesn’t know whom to trust.

Turns out that there’s corruption hidden within the higher ranks of Heaven and Hell, but the only proof Bobby has is a single feather. Before he knows it, he’s in the High Hall of Heavenly Judgement – no longer a bastion for the moral high ground, if it ever was, but instead just another rigged system – on trial for his immortal soul…

Sleeping Late on Judgement Day is the third installment of Tad Williams’ urban fantasy Bobby Dollar series!

The worldbuilding in the previous two volumes was quite interesting. Williams' depiction of Heaven in The Dirty Streets of Heaven was intriguing, but his depiction of Hell in Happy Hour in Hell was a bit over-the-top. When the author's imagination runs wild and go wherever his inspiration takes him, unexpected things tend to happen. With the groundwork laid down and the plotlines established, the worldbuilding aspect doesn't play as important a role in this final volume. Which allows the author's storytelling skills to shine.

Pace was an issue in the second book, as Williams occasionally put the plot aside to explore some weird and quirky corners of Hell. Not so with Sleeping Late on Judgement Day. The storylines keep moving forward, heading toward a final confrontation. The rhythm remains crisp, and like The Dirty Streets of Heaven this one is pretty much a page-turner from beginning to end.

The first person narrative of Angel Doloriel, also known as Bobby Dollar, makes for another fun-filled ride. Actually, it's probably my favorite facet of this series. Not always the sharpest tool in the shed, a lovesick Bobby becomes an even bigger dumbass from time to time. But for all his faults, it's impossible not to root for the poor guy! Once more, a number of familiar faces return in this third volume and new characters make the supporting cast even stronger. The addition of the Ukrainian Amazons was hilarious and made for some priceless moments with Bobby.

Sleeping Late on Judgement Day is a relatively fast-paced affair and each chapter brings the reader closer to the final showdown. Problem is, the ending doesn't offer much in terms of resolution. Tad Williams wanted to keep the door open for possible sequels, this goes without saying. A number of loose ends do get tied up, mind you, offering a resolution of sorts. And yet, as far as the main story arc is concerned, answers to many of the most sought-after questions are not revealed. The Good vs Evil love affair was so clichéd that I was persuaded Tad Williams had something unanticipated in mind in store for us. Otherwise, that plotline was just way too easy, and the author has never been known for taking the path of least resistance. Well, I'm glad to report that Williams didn't go for the sugarcoated "All is well that ends well" sort of ending.

Overall, Sleeping Late on Judgement Day is another fun and entertaining read. Although some will likely find the lack of resolution off-putting, this final volume remains a fine conclusion to what has been a cool series filled with captivating concepts and engaging protagonists. And it's Tad Williams' most accessible work thus far!

The final verdict: 7.75/10

For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now download Arthur C. Clarke's classic, Rendezvous With Rama, for only 1.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

An enormous cylindrical object appears in Earth's solar system, hurtling toward the sun. A ship is sent to explore the mysterious craft-which the denizens of the solar system name Rama-and what they find is intriguing evidence of a civilization far more advanced than ours. They find an interior stretching over 50 kilometers; a forbidding cylindrical sea; mysterious and inaccessible buildings; and strange machine-animal hybrids, or "biots," that inhabit the ship. But what they don't find is an alien presence. So who-and where-are the Ramans?

Often listed as one of Clarke's finest novels, Rendezvous With Rama has won both the Hugo and the Nebula Awards. A fast-paced and compelling story of an enigmatic encounter with alien technology, Rendezvous With Rama offers both answers and unsolved mysteries that continue to fascinate readers decades after its first publication.

Early cover rough for Mark Lawrence's THE LIAR'S KEY

Fantasy author Mark Lawrence recently posted Jason Chan's early sketch for the cover of the upcoming The Liar's Key on his blog. He explains that they are trying to unite the two styles used for the US and UK covers of Prince of Fools and merge them into something that will be suitable for both publishers and markets.

Follow this link to learn more about this. . .

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can download the first volume of Bradley P. Beaulieu's The Lays of Anuskaya, the excellent The Winds of Khalakovo, for only 2.51$ here.

Here's the blurb:

Among inhospitable and unforgiving seas stands Khalakovo, a mountainous archipelago of seven islands, its prominent eyrie stretching a thousand feet into the sky. Serviced by windships bearing goods and dignitaries, Khalakovo’s eyrie stands at the crossroads of world trade. But all is not well in Khalakovo. Conflict has erupted between the ruling Landed, the indigenous Aramahn, and the fanatical Maharraht, and a wasting disease has grown rampant over the past decade. Now, Khalakovo is to play host to the Nine Dukes, a meeting which will weigh heavily upon Khalakovo’s future.

When an elemental spirit attacks an incoming windship, murdering the Grand Duke and his retinue, Prince Nikandr, heir to the scepter of Khalakovo, is tasked with finding the child prodigy believed to be behind the summoning. However, Nikandr discovers that the boy is an autistic savant who may hold the key to lifting the blight that has been sweeping the islands. Can the Dukes, thirsty for revenge, be held at bay? Can Khalakovo be saved? The elusive answer drifts upon the Winds of Khalakovo. . .

The second installment, The Straits of Galahesh, is also available for 3.79$ here, as is the third volume, The Flames of Shadam Khoreh here.

In addition, you can also download Beaulieu's collection of short fiction, Lest Our Passage Be Forgotten, for only 2.51$ here.

Here's the blurb:

With The Winds of Khalakovo, Bradley P. Beaulieu established himself as a talented new voice in epic fantasy.

With his premiere short story collection, Beaulieu demonstrates his ability to weave tales that explore other worlds in ways that are at once bold, imaginative, and touching.

Lest Our Passage Be Forgotten and Other Stories contains 17 stories that range from the epic to the heroic, some in print for the first time.

Win a set of Margaret Weis and Robert Krammes’ STORM RIDERS and THE SEVENTH SIGIL

Thanks to the generosity of the folks at Tor Books, I have a set of Margaret Weis and Robert Krammes’ Storm Riders and The Seventh Sigil up for grabs! For more info about the final volume: Canada, USA, Europe.

Here's the blurb:

Margaret Weis and co-author Robert Krammes bring the enthralling Dragon Brigade trilogy to a thrilling conclusion in The Seven Sigil, a sweeping novel of worldwide war and personal redemption.

Five hundred years ago, a clan of rebels was banished to the bottom of the enchanted world of Aeronne; ever since, these Bottom Dwellers have sought revenge, and now they are waging all-out war on the rest of humanity. Their deadly “contramagic” beams destroy buildings and attack naval airships, and their demonic drumming brings terrible storms and disrupts the magic of the people and dragons Above. The attack of their full contramagic power will create a magical armageddon.

In an effort to prevent further death, Captain Stephano de Guichen leads the Dragon Brigade, taking the fight to the Bottom. But strength of arms alone will not be enough to conquer their foe.

As the Bottom Dwellers’ blood magic eats away at the world, those Above realize their only possible defense lies in the heretical secrets of contramagic. Loyal priests must decide whether to protect the Church, or risk its destruction in pursuit of the truth.

Only the Dragon Brigade can prevent an endless dark age. Their epic battle will test the mettle of those thrown into the breach, and determine the fate of this magical world.

The rules are the same as usual. You need to send an email at reviews@(no-spam) with the header "SIGIL." Remember to remove the "no spam" thingy.

Second, your email must contain your full mailing address (that's snail mail!), otherwise your message will be deleted.

Lastly, multiple entries will disqualify whoever sends them. And please include your screen name and the message boards that you frequent using it, if you do hang out on a particular MB.

Good luck to all the participants!

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can download William Goldman's The Princess Bride for only 2.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

Anyone who lived through the 1980s may find it impossible—inconceivable, even—to equate The Princess Bride with anything other than the sweet, celluloid romance of Westley and Buttercup, but the film is only a fraction of the ingenious storytelling you'll find in these pages. Rich in character and satire, the novel is set in 1941 and framed cleverly as an “abridged” retelling of a centuries-old tale set in the fabled country of Florin that's home to “Beasts of all natures and descriptions. Pain. Death. Brave men. Coward men. Strongest men. Chases. Escapes. Lies. Truths. Passions.”

You can also download Stephen King's classic, The Shining, for only 1.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

Jack Torrance’s new job at the Overlook Hotel is the perfect chance for a fresh start. As the off-season caretaker at the atmospheric old hotel, he’ll have plenty of time to spend reconnecting with his family and working on his writing. But as the harsh winter weather sets in, the idyllic location feels ever more remote . . . and more sinister. And the only one to notice the strange and terrible forces gathering around the Overlook is Danny Torrance, a uniquely gifted five-year-old.

And you can still download Orson Scott Card's classic Ender's Game for only 3.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

In order to develop a secure defense against a hostile alien race's next attack, government agencies breed child geniuses and train them as soldiers. A brilliant young boy, Andrew "Ender" Wiggin lives with his kind but distant parents, his sadistic brother Peter, and the person he loves more than anyone else, his sister Valentine. Peter and Valentine were candidates for the soldier-training program but didn't make the cut—young Ender is the Wiggin drafted to the orbiting Battle School for rigorous military training.

Ender's skills make him a leader in school and respected in the Battle Room, where children play at mock battles in zero gravity. Yet growing up in an artificial community of young soldiers Ender suffers greatly from isolation, rivalry from his peers, pressure from the adult teachers, and an unsettling fear of the alien invaders. His psychological battles include loneliness, fear that he is becoming like the cruel brother he remembers, and fanning the flames of devotion to his beloved sister.

Is Ender the general Earth needs? But Ender is not the only result of the genetic experiments. The war with the Buggers has been raging for a hundred years, and the quest for the perfect general has been underway for almost as long. Ender's two older siblings are every bit as unusual as he is, but in very different ways. Between the three of them lie the abilities to remake a world. If, that is, the world survives.

Ender's Game is the winner of the 1985 Nebula Award for Best Novel and the 1986 Hugo Award for Best Novel.

You can also get your hands on Neil Gaiman's American Gods for only 3.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

First published in 2001, American Gods became an instant classic—an intellectual and artistic benchmark from the multiple-award-winning master of innovative fiction, Neil Gaiman. Now discover the mystery and magic of American Gods in this tenth anniversary edition. Newly updated and expanded with the author’s preferred text, this commemorative volume is a true celebration of a modern masterpiece by the one, the only, Neil Gaiman.

A storm is coming . . .

Locked behind bars for three years, Shadow did his time, quietly waiting for the magic day when he could return to Eagle Point, Indiana. A man no longer scared of what tomorrow might bring, all he wanted was to be with Laura, the wife he deeply loved, and start a new life.

But just days before his release, Laura and Shadow’s best friend are killed in an accident. With his life in pieces and nothing to keep him tethered, Shadow accepts a job from a beguiling stranger he meets on the way home, an enigmatic man who calls himself Mr. Wednesday. A trickster and rogue, Wednesday seems to know more about Shadow than Shadow does himself.

Life as Wednesday’s bodyguard, driver, and errand boy is far more interesting and dangerous than Shadow ever imagined—it is a job that takes him on a dark and strange road trip and introduces him to a host of eccentric characters whose fates are mysteriously intertwined with his own. Along the way Shadow will learn that the past never dies; that everyone, including his beloved Laura, harbors secrets; and that dreams, totems, legends, and myths are more real than we know. Ultimately, he will discover that beneath the placid surface of everyday life a storm is brewing—an epic war for the very soul of America—and that he is standing squarely in its path.

Relevant and prescient, American Gods has been lauded for its brilliant synthesis of “mystery, satire, sex, horror, and poetic prose” (Michael Dirda, Washington Post Book World) and as a modern phantasmagoria that “distills the essence of America” (Seattle Post-Intelligencer). It is, quite simply, an outstanding work of literary imagination that will endure for generations.

You can also download John Scalzi's Old Man's War for only 3.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

John Perry did two things on his 75th birthday. First he visited his wife's grave. Then he joined the army.

The good news is that humanity finally made it into interstellar space. The bad news is that planets fit to live on are scarce-and aliens willing to fight for them are common. The universe, it turns out, is a hostile place.

So: we fight. To defend Earth (a target for our new enemies, should we let them get close enough) and to stake our own claim to planetary real estate. Far from Earth, the war has gone on for decades: brutal, bloody, unyielding.

Earth itself is a backwater. The bulk of humanity's resources are in the hands of the Colonial Defense Force, which shields the home planet from too much knowledge of the situation. What's known to everybody is that when you reach retirement age, you can join the CDF. They don't want young people; they want people who carry the knowledge and skills of decades of living. You'll be taken off Earth and never allowed to return. You'll serve your time at the front. And if you survive, you'll be given a generous homestead stake of your own, on one of our hard-won colony planets.

John Perry is taking that deal. He has only the vaguest idea what to expect. Because the actual fight, light-years from home, is far, far harder than he can imagine-and what he will become is far stranger.

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

You can still download Janny Wurts' Curse of the Mistwraith for only 3.79$ here.

Here's the blurb:

The stunning first volume in Janny Wurts’s epic tale of two half-brothers cursed to life-long enmity.

The world of Athera lives in eternal fog, its skies obscured by the malevolent Mistwraith. Only the combined powers of two half-brothers can challenge the Mistwraith’s stranglehold: Arithon, Master of Shadow and Lysaer, Lord of Light.

Arithon and Lysaer will find that they are inescapably bound inside a pattern of events dictated by their own deepest convictions. Yet there is more at stake than one battle with the Mistwraith – as the sorcerers of the Fellowship of Seven know well. For between them the half-brothers hold the balance of the world, its harmony and its future, in their hands.

You can also download the second volume of Wurts' The Wars of Light and Shadow, The Ships of Merior, for only 3.79$ here.

Here's the blurb:

Janny Wurts’s epic tale of two half-brothers cursed to life-long enmity continues in this spectacular second volume.

The half-brothers Arithon, Master of Shadow, and Lysaer, Lord of Light, have defeated the Mistwraith and dispersed the fogs that smothered Athera’s skies. But their victory comes at a high price: the Mistwraith has set them at odds under a powerful curse of vengeance. The two princes are locked in deadly enmity, with the fates of nations and the balance of the world’s mystical powers entangled in their feud.

Arithon, forced out of hiding, finds himself hounded by Lysaer and his mighty army. He must take to his natural element – the seas – in order to evade pursuit and steal the initiative. However, his efforts are impeded by outside magical factions, not to mention a drunken prophet sent to safeguard his life, but who seems determined to wreck his cause by misadventure.

In addition, Hunter's Run, a collaboration between George R. R. Martin, Daniel Abraham, and Gardner Dozois, is available for only 3.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

Running from poverty and hopelessness, Ramón Espejo boarded one of the great starships of the mysterious, repulsive Enye. But the new life he found on the far-off planet of São Paulo was no better than the one he abandoned. Then one night his rage and too much alcohol get the better of him. Deadly violence ensues, forcing Ramón to flee into the wilderness.

Mercifully, almost happily alone—far from the loud, bustling hive of humanity that he detests with sociopathic fervor—the luckless prospector is finally free to search for the one rich strike that could make him wealthy. But what he stumbles upon instead is an advanced alien race in hiding: desperate fugitives, like him, on a world not their own. Suddenly in possession of a powerful, dangerous secret and caught up in an extraordinary manhunt on a hostile, unpredictable planet, Ramón must first escape . . . and then, somehow, survive.

And his deadliest enemy is himself.