More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now get your hands on the digital edition of Rob Ziegler's Seed for only 1.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

It's the dawn of the 22nd century, and the world has fallen apart. Decades of war and resource depletion have toppled governments. The ecosystem has collapsed. A new dust bowl sweeps the American West. The United States has become a nation of migrants -starving masses of nomads who seek out a living in desert wastelands and encampments outside government seed-distribution warehouses.

In this new world, there is a new power. Satori is more than just a corporation, she is an intelligent, living city that grew out of the ruins of Denver. Satori bioengineers both the climate-resistant seed that feeds a hungry nation, and her own post-human genetic Designers, Advocates, and Laborers. What remains of the United States government now exists solely to distribute Satori seed; a defeated American military doles out bar-coded, single-use Satori seed to the nation's starving citizens.

When one of Satori's Designers goes rogue, Agent Sienna Doss-Ex-Army Ranger turned glorified bodyguard-is tasked by the government to bring her in: The government wants to use the Designer to break Satori's stranglehold on seed production and reassert themselves as the center of power.

Sianna Doss's search for the Designer intersects with Brood and his younger brother Pollo - orphans scrapping by on the fringes of the wastelands. Pollo is abducted, because he is believed to suffer from Tet, a newly emergent disease, the victims of which are harvested by Satori.

As events spin out of control, Brood and Sienna Doss find themselves at the heart of Satori, where an explosive climax promises to reshape the future of the world.

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

In hardcover:

Anne Rice's Prince Lestat maintains its position at number 3.

Patrick Rothfuss' The Slow Regard of Silent Things is down three spots, finishing the week at number 5. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

William Gibson's The Peripheral is down eight positions, ending the week at number 17.

In paperback:

Andy Weir's The Martian is up one spot, finishing the week at number 7 (trade paperback)

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

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now download Gordon R. Dickson's Soldier, Ask Not for only 1.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

The black-clad mercenaries of the Friendly planets fought where their employer and their God dictated. On New Earth they pitted their fanaticism against the cold courage of the Dorsai. And the implacable hatred of one man, Tam Olyn. Olyn saw his brother-in-law shot down before his eyes. His quest for vengeance took him across half the civilised worlds, to Cassida and Frieland, to St. Marie and back to New Earth. He met men of all the splinter groups into which mankind had evolved an he used them all to bring about his revenge - until Padma the Exotic taught him how to use his special powers and the frightening knowledge of Final Encyclopaedia.

Win a copy of Katherine Kurtz's THE KING'S DERYNI

I have three copies of Katherine Kurtz's The King's Deryni, compliments of the folks at Ace. 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.

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

GoPro Hero???

Just wanted to know if any of my readers have tried the GoPro Hero camera? I've always wanted something light, waterproof, and simple to use to take with me on my trips.

If you own one or have used one, what do you think? It's only about 120$-150$ (plus the price of a memory card), but I'm wondering if it's worth it?

My digital camera can film in HD, but it doesn't go underwater and it's a bit fragile. The GoPro Hero would remedy that, but I just want to make sure that it's a good buy. . . =)

US cover art and blurb for Mark Lawrence's THE LIAR'S KEY

Mark Lawrence recently unveiled the cover art and blurb for the upcoming The Liar's Key (Canada, USA, Europe).

Here's the blurb:

After harrowing adventure and near-death, Prince Jalan Kendeth and the Viking Snorri ver Snagason find themselves in possession of Loki’s Key, an artefact capable of opening any door, and sought by the most dangerous beings in the Broken Empire—including The Dead King.

Jal wants only to return home to his wine, women, and song, but Snorri has his own purpose for the key: to find the very door into death, throw it wide, and bring his family back into the land of the living.

And as Snorri prepares for his quest to find death’s door, Jal’s grandmother, the Red Queen continues to manipulate kings and pawns towards an endgame of her own design…

Pretty neat, if I may say so myself! ;-)

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now get your hands on Terry Pratchett's Nation for only 1.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

When a giant wave destroys his village, Mau is the only one left. Daphne—a traveler from the other side of the globe—is the sole survivor of a shipwreck. Separated by language and customs, the two are united by catastrophe. Slowly, they are joined by other refugees. And as they struggle to protect the small band, Mau and Daphne defy ancestral spirits, challenge death himself, and uncover a long-hidden secret that literally turns the world upside down.

The King's Deryni

I've been a big fan of this series for well over two decades and it's always with great pleasure that I return to the Deryni universe. Now 40+ years in the making, Katherine Kurtz's landmark series seldom fails to satisfy longtime fans. Unfortunately, although she is arguably the mother of historical fantasy, over the years the NYT bestselling Deryni saga has become out of print and thus always harder and harder to find. It's a sad state of affairs, for that means that an entire generation of SFF readers have yet to get acquainted with this classic tale.

Even worst, other than the very first trilogy (which, truth to tell, is by far the weakest in the saga) having been reissued in recent years, what Deryni novels still in print (King Kelson's Bride, In the King's Service, and Childe Morgan) are more or less meant to bridge various gaps in the saga's timeline instead of focusing on new storylines that could perhaps entice new readers to plunge into the Deryni universe and fall in love with it and the great characters that populate its history. Indeed, this latest trilogy doesn't really provide a good jump-in point for newcomers. As a result, because there are no digital editions of the installments which made this a bestselling book sequence, fantasy fans wanting to give the series a shot have no choice but to track down used copies. There are hundreds of them on Amazon and other online retailers, true, but in 2014 this seems to represent a whole lot of legwork to get your hands on quality reads. . .

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.

As yet another prequel to The Deryni Chronicles trilogy, like its two predecessors The King's Deryni covers a number of years, paving the way for all that's to come. Once again, familiar themes such as Mearan rebels, the Camberian Council's machinations, Torenthi incursions into Gwynedd, the Church's hatred toward Deryni, the separation between Church and State, and a monarch desperately trying to secure his throne and his legacy all feature quite prominently in this new novel. This last volume in the Childe Morgan trilogy focuses on Alaric's formative years and is spread across his childhood and teenage years, as we follow his rise from a young and innocent boy to a page, then a squire, then a knight, all the way to his becoming Duke of Corwyn.

As a matter of course, the author's historian eye for details makes for incredible and vivid worldbuilding. The richness of details and her depiction of medieval life have always been something that characterize Katherine Kurtz's writing. This particular aspect creates a wonderful imagery which brings the world and its protagonists to life in a manner that very few SFF writers can emulate, let alone surpass. Having said that, I'm afraid that at times Kurtz sort of got lost chronicling the minutiae of Alaric and Brion's lives, which had a tendency of breaking the rhythm of the book. This latest installment likely ended up being longer than it should have been and hence it is not paced as adroitly as the first two volumes.

As I mentioned in the past, although Katherine Kurtz's worldbuilding skills are on par with those of gifted fantasy authors such as Steven Erikson, George R. R. Martin, and R. Scott Bakker, it's the characterization which elevates her books over that of the competition and makes the Deryni Saga one of my favorite series of all time. Not unlike Robin Hobb and Guy Gavriel Kay, Kurtz's subtle human touch can pull on those heartstrings when you least expect it. Few of her peers, past and present, have the ability to create such genuine protagonists that you come to love/hate the way Katherine Kurtz can. King Brion and Alaric Morgan take center stage, of course, and yet the tale unfolds through the eyes of a number of other characters, chief among them Sir Kenneth Morgan and Sir Llion Farquahar, Alaric's governor and companion. Given their importance in what is to come, it was a lot of fun to see the interaction between Alaric and Duncan McLain as they grow up.

Most of the extraneous stuff I alluded to was meant to tie up all those loose ends and pave the way for what will take place in Deryni Rising and the rest of the first trilogy. It was also meant to bridge some of the gaps between the King Brion and Kelson's timeline and that focusing on Saint Camber and its aftermath. Amid all the politicking, there are a number of poignant moments in The King's Deryni. Sadly, one needs to sift through a lot of filler material to get to them. As was the case in Childe Morgan, Sir Sé Trelawney, childhood friend of Lady Alyce, Alaric's dead mother, and a fully avowed Knight of the Anvil, somehow manages to steal the show in every scene featuring him.

In the end, The King's Deryni does a good job tying up most of the loose ends to bridge the gaps between the Camber and the Kelson timelines. However, all that filler material, though it serves a purpose, takes a little something away from the overall reading experience. Hence, longtime fans of the series will be happy to revisit the Eleven Kingdoms again. But I doubt that this latest Deryni series can/will reel in lots of newbies.

The final verdict: 7.5/10

For more information on this title: Canada, USA, Europe

As I mentioned before, I encourage everyone to give the Deryni Saga a shot. Believe you me: You won't be disappointed! Get it from the library, or buy it for peanuts via the links below or at used bookstores. But read it! For the best results, start with The Legends of Camber of Culdi, followed by The Heirs of Saint Camber. If it's your cup of tea, you'll need no further encouragement to read the rest of the Deryni Saga!

The Chronicles of the Deryni

- Deryni Rising (Canada, USA, Europe)

- Deryni Checkmate (Canada, USA, Europe)

- High Deryni (Canada, USA, Europe)

The Legends of Camber of Culdi

- Camber of Culdi (Canada, USA, Europe)

- Saint Camber (Canada, USA, Europe)

- Camber the Heretic (Canada, USA, Europe)

The Histories of King Kelson

- The Bishop's Heir (Canada, USA, Europe)

- The King's Justice (Canada, USA, Europe)

- The Quest for Saint Camber (Canada, USA, Europe)

The Heirs of Saint Camber

- The Harrowing of Gwynedd (Canada, USA, Europe)

- King Javan's Year (Canada, USA, Europe)

- The Bastard Prince (Canada, USA, Europe)

King Kelson's Bride (Canada, USA, Europe)

In the King's Service (Canada, USA, Europe)

Childe Morgan (Canada, USA, Europe)

Deryni Anthologies

- The Deryni Archives (Canada, USA, Europe)

- Deryni Magic (Canada, USA, Europe)

- Deryni Tales (Canada, USA, Europe)

For more information about this genre-defining historical fantasy series, check out the wikipage devoted to the Deryni saga.

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

In hardcover:

Patrick Rothfuss' The Slow Regard of Silent Things debuts at number 2. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Anne Rice's Prince Lestat debuts at number 3.

William Gibson's The Peripheral debuts at number 9.

In paperback:

Andy Weir's The Martian debuts at number 8 (trade paperback)

Ilona Andrews' Burn for Me debuts at number 14.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can download Neil Gaiman's Stardust for only 3.79$ here.

Here's the blurb:

Young Tristran Thorn will do anything to win the cold heart of beautiful Victoria—even fetch her the star they watch fall from the night sky. But to do so, he must enter the unexplored lands on the other side of the ancient wall that gives their tiny village its name. Beyond that old stone wall, Tristran learns, lies Faerie—where nothing, not even a fallen star, is what he imagined.

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Neil Gaiman comes a remarkable quest into the dark and miraculous—in pursuit of love and the utterly impossible.

David Hair contest winner!

Our 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.

The winner is:

- Linette Weiss, from Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Many thanks to all the participants!

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now get your hands on Peter David's Artful: A Novel for only 1.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

Oliver Twist is one of the most well-known stories ever told, about a young orphan who has to survive the mean streets of London before ultimately being rescued by a kindly benefactor.

But it is his friend, the Artful Dodger, who has the far more intriguing tale, filled with more adventure and excitement than anything boring Oliver could possibly get up to. Throw in some vampires and a plot to overthrow the British monarchy, and what you have is the thrilling account that Charles Dickens was too scared to share with the world.

From the brilliant mind of novelist and comic book veteran Peter David, Artful is the dark, funny, and action-packed story of one of the most fascinating characters in literary history.

With vampires.

A bit of humor

Just saw this on and it made me laugh! After posting both the video on female harassment and then the one on male harassment the following week on my Facebook page, it was nice to see this funny take on the issue. . . =)

Turkish military forces to ban Game of Thrones


The hit HBO series "Game of Thrones" is no stranger to controversy. The fantasy drama, based on the novels of George R. R. Martin, is known for its grisly violence and explicit sex, including one episode which had some viewers convinced they had witnessed both rape and incest.

The lurid nature of the show has led it to being partially censored in China. And, according to a report in the Turkish paper Hurriyet Daily News, it's now being banned in the country's military academies.

The Turkish Armed Forces has updated its set of regulations for the high school academies that it administers, inserting an article in the chapter for "protection of students." It advises a ban on screening films or shows that depict "sexual exploitation, pornography, exhibitionism, abuse, harassment and all negative behaviors." Hurriyet cites "Game of Thrones" as one of the main culprits.

Alongside this addition to the regulations is another more telling one: the introduction of classes on Islam for the first time in military schools. Students can sign up for courses on "basic religious education, the Quran and the life of the Prophet Muhammad."

Follow this link to read the full article.

Patrick Rothfuss contest winner!

Thanks to the generosity of the great folks at Daw Books, this lucky gal will receive a copy of Patrick Rothfuss' The Slow Regard of Silent Things! For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

The winner is:

- Liz Steyer, from Currituck, North Carolina, USA

Many thanks to all the participants!

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now download Neil Gaiman's Smoke and Mirrors for only 3.79$ here.

Here's the blurb:

In the deft hands of Neil Gaiman, magic is no mere illusion . . . and anything is possible. In Smoke and Mirrors, Gaiman's imagination and supreme artistry transform a mundane world into a place of terrible wonders—where an old woman can purchase the Holy Grail at a thrift store, where assassins advertise their services in the Yellow Pages under "Pest Control," and where a frightened young boy must barter for his life with a mean-spirited troll living beneath a bridge by the railroad tracks. Explore a new reality, obscured by smoke and darkness yet brilliantly tangible, in this extraordinary collection of short works by a master prestidigitator. It will dazzle your senses, touch your heart, and haunt your dreams.

The Problem of Karsa Orlong by Steven Erikson

Bestselling fantasy author Steven Erikson just wrote an essay on The Malazan Book of the Fallen's most divisive character among readers, Karsa Orlong. It's a very interesting read that should appeal to all Malazan fans out there! Here's a teaser:

Consider this an essay, then. The problem posed by Karsa and how readers perceive him will, for me, find its answers from a range of angles; from the Fantasy genre itself, to anthropology, history, cultural identity and its features, to the structure of the series (and the novel in question) and, eventually, to the expectations that fantasy readers bring to a fantasy novel. You may note something of an ellipse in that list, but that’s how I think so bear with me.

Historically within the genre the role of the ‘barbarians’ has roughly split into two morally laden strains. On the one hand they are the ‘dark horde’ threatening civilization; while on the other they are the savage made noble by the absence of civilization. In the matter of Karsa Orlong, we can for the moment disregard the former and concentrate instead on the noble savage trope—such barbarians are purer of spirit, unsullied and uncorrupt; while their justice may be rough, it is still just. One could call it the ‘play-ground wish-fulfillment’ motif, where prowess is bound to fairness and punishment is always righteous. The obvious, almost definitive example of this is R.E.Howard’s Conan, but we can take a more fundamental approach and consider this ‘barbarian’ trope as representing the ‘other,’ but a cleaned-up version intended to invite sympathy. In this invitation there must be a subtle compact between creator and reader, and to list its details can be rather enlightening, so here goes.

We are not the ‘other,’ and this barbarian’s world is therefore exotic, even as it harkens back to a pre-civilized, Edenic proximity. The barbarian’s world is a harsh one, a true struggle for existence, but this struggle is what hones proper virtues (‘proper’ in the sense of readily agreeable virtues, such as loyalty, courage, integrity, and the value of honest labour). Against this we need an opposing force; in this case ‘civilization,’ characterized by deceit, decadence, conspiracy, and consort with evil forces including tyranny: civilization represents, therefore, the loss of freedom (with slavery the most direct manifestation of that, brutally represented in chains and other forms of imprisonment). In essence, then, we as readers are invited to the side of the ‘other,’ the one standing in opposition to civilization. Yet… we readers are ‘civilized.’ We are, in fact, the decadent products of a culture that has not only accepted the loss of freedom, but in fact codifies that loss to ease our discomfort (taxes, wage-slavery, etc). In this manner, we are offered the ‘escapist’ gift of Fantasy; but implicit in this is the notion that a) we need to escape; and b) that civilization is, at its core, evil.


So, how does all this relate to Karsa Orlong? Well, as has been noted, there was something of the need to prove that I could sustain a single narrative going on (or so I recall, the sense of being pissed off about something is always short-lived and usually ephemeral, although the answer to it can prove far-reaching, as is certainly the case with Karsa); but obviously more was going on. I wanted to address the fantasy trope of the ‘barbarian’ (from the north, no less, and isn’t it curious how so many heroic barbarians come down from the north?), but do so in recognition of demonstrable truths about warrior-based societies, as expressed in that intractable sense of superiority and its arrogant expression; and in recognizing the implicit ‘invitation’ to the reader (into a civilization-rejecting, civilization-hating barbarian ‘hero’), I wanted to, via a very close and therefore truncated point of view, make it damned uncomfortable in its ‘reality,’ and thereby comment on what I saw (and see) as a fundamentally nihilistic fantasy trope: the pure and noble barbarian. Because, whether recognized or not, that fantasy barbarian hero constitutes a rather backhanded attack on the very civilization that produces people with the leisure time to read (and read escapist literature at that).

Within the scope of Karsa’s culture, he holds to his code of integrity and honour, even if they are initially friable in their assumptions (but then, so are all of our assumptions about ‘us’ and about the ‘other’). We observe the details of that culture, revealed bit by bit—with plenty of hints as to its flawed beliefs—and with each detail, we as readers are pushed further away from our own civilized sensibilities.


Escapism is seductive, and what it might reveal about us is not always pleasant on reflection: it comes down to the flavours we prefer, the paths we find most inviting to our more fundamental belief systems—whether self-articulated or not, and that alone is enough to make any thinking person shiver.

Karsa is all of that stripped bare; and in turn he infuriates, shocks, and on occasion makes the jaw drop in disbelief. But he is also the reality of the ‘barbaric’ and so represents an overt rejection of the romanticized, fantasized barbarian trope. Some people don’t like that. Fair enough.


The Malazan Book does not offer readers the escapism into any romantic notions of barbarism, or into a world of pure, white knight Good, and pure, black tyrant Evil. In fact, probably the boldest claim to escapist fantasy my series makes, is in offering up a world where we all have power, no matter our station, no matter our flaws and weaknesses—we all have power.

I don’t know about you, but I’ll escape into that world every chance I can.

Follow this link to read the entire essay.

Cibola Burn

I've said it before and I'll say it again: In my humble opinion, James S. A. Corey's Hugo-nominated and New York Times-bestselling Expanse sequence is the very best ongoing science fiction series on the market today! This is space opera on a grand scale as good as anything written by genre powerhouses like Peter F. Hamilton and Alastair Reynolds.

In every installment thus far, Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck, the two authors behind this letter-filled pseudonym, have managed to raise the bar even higher. Hence, I was looking forward to reading this fourth volume and discover if Cibola Burn would be pushing the envelope even more! But sadly, it was not to be. For some reason, the authors elected to forgo the formula that made the first three books such memorable reads and tried a different approach which didn't work as well. At least as far as I'm concerned. . .

Here's the blurb:


"An empty apartment, a missing family, that's creepy. But this is like finding a military base with no one on it. Fighters and tanks idling on the runway with no drivers. This is bad juju. Something wrong happened here. What you should do is tell everyone to leave."

The gates have opened the way to a thousand new worlds and the rush to colonize has begun. Settlers looking for a new life stream out from humanity's home planets. Ilus, the first human colony on this vast new frontier, is being born in blood and fire.

Independent settlers stand against the overwhelming power of a corporate colony ship with only their determination, courage, and the skills learned in the long wars of home. Innocent scientists are slaughtered as they try to survey a new and alien world. The struggle on Ilus threatens to spread all the way back to Earth.

James Holden and the crew of his one small ship are sent to make peace in the midst of war and sense in the midst of chaos. But the more he looks at it, the more Holden thinks the mission was meant to fail.

And the whispers of a dead man remind him that the great galactic civilization that once stood on this land is gone. And that something killed it.

The main problem with Cibola Burn is that it appears to be some sort of interlude between the opening chapters and what will occur in subsequent installments. Previous volumes were sprawling space opera affairs that hit all the right buttons. This novel is much more limited in scope and is more of a transitional work.

The worldbuilding has always been one of my favorite aspects of this series. Unfortunately, by taking a step backward and limiting the scope of Cibola Burn, this particular facet leaves something to be desired this time around. And given how great the worldbuilding turned out to be in the first three volumes, this could be nothing but a disappointment. The politicking, so prevalent and intricately woven through the storylines in the past, is more or less absent in this novel. Or, more exactly, it takes place behind the scene as the Ilus situation escalates and is micromanaged by the powers that be. The payoff at the end is nowhere near as good as in previous installments. Even worse, after going through nearly 600 pages, the Avasarala epilogue reveals that the entire "interlude" that is Cibola Burn was meant to show that with this new frontier open to all comers, the powerful Martian space fleet, with their home planet soon to become a ghost town, will probably go to the highest bidder and might spark the first interstellar military conflict. The corporate power vs "innocent" squatters stand-off was interesting at first, but there was no way it could sustain a book of this size. Moreover, not known to take the path of least resistance, the authors occasionally went for the easy way out, which was kind of sloppy. All in all, this made for a less-than-engaging plot compared to the more far-reaching and multilayered plotlines that characterized the earlier volumes.

In the past, the stakes became higher as the tale progressed, with tension rising with each new chapter. The Expanse reached new heights with every new installment, gradually becoming a very complex science fiction tale. Which boded well for what came next, no doubt about it. Which makes me wonder, what with the series having gained such momentum, the authors decided to activate the hand-brake, so to speak, and pretty much bring everything to some sort of standstill for the duration of a novel.

What saved this book was the characterization. In that respect, at least, Cibola Burn is as good as its predecessors. Once again, do-gooder Holden is back as a POV character. Both sides of the conflict are perceived by men and women opposing one another lightyears away from their own civilization. Basia is one of the original and illegal colonists, while Elvi is one of the scientists traveling to study this new planet. Havelock, a security officer working on the ship bringing in the scientists and other people traveling to Ilus with a UN charter, is probably the most interesting protagonist in the novel. The protomolecule also has a POV of sorts which is linked to Miller's interactions with Holden. As mentioned, though the overall plot can be disappointing at times, the characterization continues to shine through.

Abaddon's Gate was paced in a way that made you beg for more, always promising yourself to read just another chapter, again and again. A veritable page-turner, that book was almost impossible to put down. On the other hand, Cibola Burn suffers from an extremely uneven pace and the rhythm does slow down and drag quite often. Our interest is piqued when Miller reveals new information about the ancient civilization which created the Ring and everything else. And yet, those sequences are few and far between, and we soon realize that the bulk of the story has to do with the conflict between the colonists and the corporation chartered to take possession of the planet.

Vast in scope and vision, the Expanse seemed destined to become one of the very best space opera series of all time. Well, sadly, Cibola Burn failed to live up to the lofty expectations generated by its predecessors. A good read in its own right, true, yet nowhere near as remarkable as the first three installments. The ending does open up the door for great things to come, but it remains to be seen if the authors can recapture the magic which made the first books so awesome.

The final verdict: 7.75/10

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

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can download Mike Mignola's Hellboy in Hell Volume 1: The Descent for only 2.99$ here. Several Mignola digital editions can also be purchased on the cheap.

Here's the blurb:

After saving the world in The Storm and the Fury but sacrificing himself and Great Britain, Hellboy is dead, cast into Hell, where he finds many familiar faces and a throne that awaits him.

Mike Mignola returns to draw Hellboy’s ongoing story for the first time since Conqueror Worm. It’s a story only Mignola could tell, as more of Hellboy’s secrets are at last revealed, in the most bizarre depiction of Hell you’ve ever seen. Collects issues #1–#5.

This week's New York Times Bestsellers (November 3rd)

In paperback:

George R. R. Martin's A Game of Thrones is down two positions, ending the week at number 19.

Musical Interlude

An oldie but a goodie! ;-)

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

Every installment of Stephen R. Lawhead's The Pendragon Cycle is on sale for a limited time. The first volume, Taliesin, can be downloaded for only 3.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

It was a time of legend, when the last shadows of the mighty Roman conqueror faded from the captured Isle of Britain. While across a vast sea, bloody war shattered a peace that had flourished for two thousand years in the doomed kingdom of Atlantis.

Taliesin is the remarkable adventure of Charis, the Atlantean princess who escaped the terrible devastation of her homeland, and of the fabled seer and druid prince Taliesin, singer at the dawn of the age. It is the story of an incomparable love that joined two worlds amid the fires of chaos, and spawned the miracles of Merlin...and Arthur the king.

Steven Erikson contest winners!

Our three winners will get their hands on a copy of Steven Erikson's Willful Child, which comes out tomorrow, courtesy of the fine folks at Tor Books. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe)

The winners are:

- Dion Baldwin, from Tukwila, Washington, USA

- Phil Pavlick, from Orwigsburg, Pennsylvania, USA

- Hannah Babbini, from South Bend, Indiana, USA

Many thanks to all the participants!

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

For a limited time, you can download Stephen King's excellent Pet Sematary for only 2.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

Don’t miss the classic tale from King of Horror and #1 New York Times bestselling author Stephen King, described by Publishers Weekly as “the most frightening novel Stephen King has ever written.”

When the Creeds move into a beautiful old house in rural Maine, it all seems too good to be true: physician father, beautiful wife, charming little daughter, adorable infant son—and now an idyllic home. As a family, they’ve got it all…right down to the friendly cat.

But the nearby woods hide a blood-chilling truth—more terrifying than death itself...and hideously more powerful.

The Creeds are going to learn that sometimes dead is better.

And there are a lot of Stephen King titles that you can purchase on the cheap in addition to those posted a few days ago:

- Bag of Bones
- Everything's Eventual: 14 Dark Tales
- Misery
- The Dead Zone
- Full Dark, No Stars
- Firestarter
- Night Shift
- The Long Walk
- The Eyes of the Dragon
- The Colorado Kid

PLUG -- Short Film

PLUG - SHORT FILM from vyle-art on Vimeo.

PLUG is a cool short science fiction film! Here's the synopsis:

Directorial debut from internationally renowned designer and concept artist, David Levy (Tron legacy, Prometheus, Ender's Game, Tomorrowland, Avatar2). The short film is the first 15 minutes of a science fiction TV series Levy has outlined and hopes to film. Unlike the highly VFX-ed science fiction films inundating audiences today, PLUG is a return to 1970's classics like Star Wars and Mad Max with a gritty universe made from mostly live props and real life settings. Enjoy and share!

"On a post-apocalyptic Earth, Leila Dawn (Natalie Floyd), is the only human survivor. Raised by Robots after humanity abandoned the planet they destroyed with nuclear warfare, Leila cannot forget her parents nor ignore her yearning to find other organic life. A hunt she sets out on with a Military Unit, Marker (Lex Cassar), leads Leila to discover the reality she’s been denied—a reality that sparks her ultimate quest."

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can get your hands on Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan's The Strain for only 3.79$ here.

Here's the blurb:

The visionary creator of the Academy Award-winning Pan's Labyrinth and a Hammett Award-winning author bring their imaginations to this bold, epic novel about a horrifying battle between man and vampire that threatens all humanity. It is the first installment in a thrilling trilogy and an extraordinary international publishing event.

The Strain

They have always been here. Vampires. In secret and in darkness. Waiting. Now their time has come.

In one week, Manhattan will be gone. In one month, the country.

In two months--the world.

A Boeing 777 arrives at JFK and is on its way across the tarmac, when it suddenly stops dead. All window shades are pulled down. All lights are out. All communication channels have gone quiet. Crews on the ground are lost for answers, but an alert goes out to the CDC. Dr. Eph Goodweather, head of their Canary project, a rapid-response team that investigates biological threats, gets the call and boards the plane. What he finds makes his blood run cold.

In a pawnshop in Spanish Harlem, a former professor and survivor of the Holocaust named Abraham Setrakian knows something is happening. And he knows the time has come, that a war is brewing . . .

So begins a battle of mammoth proportions as the vampiric virus that has infected New York begins to spill out into the streets. Eph, who is joined by Setrakian and a motley crew of fighters, must now find a way to stop the contagion and save his city--a city that includes his wife and son--before it is too late.


And the next two installments, The Fall and The Night Eternal, are also available for 4.99$ each.

Dan Jones contest winner!

Thanks to the generosity of the folks at Penguin Books, this lucky winner will receive a set of Dan Jones' The Plantagenets (Canada, USA, Europe) and its sequel, The Wars of the Roses. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

The winner is:

- Guillermo Cantu, from Hidalgo, Texas, USA

Many thanks to all the participants!

This week's New York Times Bestsellers (October 27th)

In paperback:

George R. R. Martin's A Game of Thrones is up two positions, ending the week at number 17.