Free Friday: Today’s top free Amazon sci-fi and fantasy books for April 5, 2024

Reading Time: 11 minutes
Today’s top free Amazon sci-fi and fantasy books for April 5, 2024.

Did you know that Amazon has a list of the top-selling and free sci-fi and fantasy books? The list changes constantly — authors and publishers set their books to free temporarily to promote their work, and, of course, books move up and down in the rankings. Read on to find your fun free read for this weekend! And grab the books quickly because they don’t always stay free for long.

This week’s list is completely different from those of the previous weeks. So if you’re a fan of free books, there are going to be new things to read all the time. If you want to get this list in your inbox every Friday afternoon, subscribe to the MetaStellar weekly newsletter.

There are a lot of books to go through, so this week I’m being helped out by a couple of other members of our MetaStellar community. If you’d like to join me in doing these reviews — and taping our regular Free Friday videos — email me at [email protected].

5. Daughter of Time by Sarah Woodbury

This is the first of twenty-one books in The After Cilmeri time-travel series. The other books are $0.99 to $12.99 each and are not in Kindle Unlimited. This is the author’s third time on our Free Friday list. We reviewed this book in August of 2022 and in March 2023. In March 2021, we reviewed the Legends of Dark Age Wales box set.

From Amira Loutfi:

We begin with a brief guide to Welsh pronunciation. Then, we have a cast of characters organized by Welsh, English, and American identities. The American is a time traveler named Meg. I’m already so happy.

I’m guessing this is about an American woman who travels back to the 1200s and gets caught in a love triangle with the prince of Wales and the prince of England.

Meg was born in 1975, so she’s about 46 years old now. But in the beginning of this story, she’s only 20. So, it starts in 1995.

“My husband’s body lay cold on the table in front of me.” Yes! That’s the first line. I love it. They had a daughter, and he was physically abusive. She ran away and her mother took the two of them in. As she was prepping her new life, he pleaded with her to come back since he was dying of pancreatic cancer. She goes back. And now he’s dead. She’s relieved. And I am skimming the rest of this chapter.

The word “plop” occurs three times in this book. Just a fair warning.

Meg has a horrible car accident — in the same area as her abusive husband.

Meanwhile, Llywelyn is the Prince of Wales, and he has been taking over a lot of land. I was just starting to get bored and then things got awesome. The Prince of Wales finds a mysterious moving carriage in the marsh. We can tell from the description that it’s a blue car. And there is a woman in the front seat out cold, but her little daughter in the back is fine.

So, it appears that this story is a lot like many of the other romances on Kindle — the point of view shifts between the male and female lead, and the male lead is a powerful cool guy, and the female is just an average girl. But in this case, there’s time travel. And she has a daughter. Umm … If this is a love triangle, then why is there a kid?

Maybe to show that a single mother who hasn’t yet gotten her act together following an abusive marriage can also go on wild adventures where men compete over her? Ok, I respect that. It’s a nice fantasy.

It’s pretty cute imagining what the prince thinks is going on, knowing that this is going to end up as a love triangle. Maybe Meg’s ex will show up again and try to get her back? It’s a good book, but I have other things to read that I’m dying to get to.

Get the Kindle ebook free from Amazon here.

4. Wed to the Ice Giant by Layla Fae

This is the first of sixteen books in Arranged Monster Mates sci-fi romance series. The other books are free to $3.99 each and are all in Kindle Unlimited. This is the author’s first time on our Free Friday list.

From Terri Wells:

In this story’s short prologue, we learn that this world was once very much like ours, until the Shift happened, so long ago that there’s no history of that time. Now it is populated and ruled by monsters from our myths; humans are often desperately poor, even to the point of starvation. One way out of this poverty is for a virgin to agree to marry a monster, who is matched up with them through an apparently human-run temple; the virgin’s family receives remuneration for this sacrifice.

In the first chapter, we meet Aldrig, an ice giant who has taken the DNA test to be matched with a human bride. We find out that he’s the king of the ice giants, having won the throne in the traditional manner, by beating his bigger, older brother in combat after their father died. We learn that a certain amount of nasty sibling rivalry prompted Aldrig’s choice to take a human bride; it’s clear that Aldrig’s brother is the one in the wrong. The author provides just enough back story about ice giant culture in general and Aldrig’s situation in particular to set the scene.

The second chapter gets told from Lucy’s point of view. She’s Aldrig’s bride, and they haven’t met yet — they haven’t even seen pictures of each other. She doesn’t know she’s marrying an ice giant, though the size of the bed in the room where she’s waiting for her groom is a clue.

We also learn about the desperate circumstances that prompted Lucy to put herself forward to be married to a monster. Her parents are dead. She is the oldest. Her family is starving. The money they get from this arrangement will allow them to buy a cow and some chickens, among other things, saving her family from starvation.

She is terrified but determined to see this through for the sake of her family.

The wedding and consummation, in front of ice giant witnesses, including Aldrig’s brother, happen in the third chapter. And yes, it’s quite explicit. Just how it works, given that Aldrig is easily more than twice as tall as Lucy — and built proportionally — is handwaved with a special oil.

I felt a little like the author wanted to have her cake and eat it, too.

The story reads like a fantasy, but there are modern elements and science fiction tropes: the matchmaking DNA test, for example.

My disbelief got dizzy from how high I had to suspend it. The author uses some vulgar words I don’t like — stay away if you’re triggered by that. Also, the dynamic between the monster and the human, at least this early in the story, bothered me. It felt like Aldrig wanted to possess, to own Lucy.

That said, will I stick with it?

Maybe. The writing is very good, the author paints a great picture, and my inner copy editor only found one possible error so far. The characters feel real, and I cared about them at least enough to wonder what would happen next.

Would Lucy’s family’s situation improve? How would this marriage change the political situation of the ice giants? How would Lucy, who is a lot stronger than she looks, cope with becoming queen? How would she give birth to heirs?

I know this sounds like I’m saying I’m reading Playboy for the articles, so I should add, if you can suspend your disbelief, the sex is hot.

If you’re the kind of reader who likes sex where the partners are of very different statuses, and who likes political intrigue, mythology, revenge, and very strange bedfellows, you might give this one a try.

Get the Kindle ebook free from Amazon here.

3. Ivy and Bone by R.L. Perez

This is the first of four books in Ivy and Bone paranormal fantasy series. The other books are $4.99 each and are not in Kindle Unlimited. This is the author’s first time on our Free Friday list.

From E.S. Foster:

The story opens from the perspective of Cyrus, a character based on the Greek Hades who is the king of the Underworld. Despite ruling over his six brothers and father with an iron fist, he has ties to the mortal world. It turns out that the reason Cyrus is so powerful — enough to even harm other gods — is because he made a deal through a mysterious book called the Book of Eyes to usher the mortal souls through the Underworld.

However, his father, Aidoneus, warns him that three of his brothers, Leonidas, Marcellus, and Vasileios, are preparing a mutiny. In addition, Aidoneus is poisoning the river Acheron. Once the river dries up, all mortal souls will be released, and Cyrus will be forced by the Book of Eyes to enter the mortal realm, where he’ll be trapped, effectively ending his reign as king.

The story then shifts to Prue, a witch preparing for the end of the harvest, or Samhain. The ghost of her sister, Mona, trails after her constantly, and Prue is determined to bring her back to the realm of the living. Months before, Mona had sacrificed herself to save her village, gifting Prue her magic in the process, but Prue feels guilty for being unable to save her, though Mona forgives her. It turns out that Mona sacrificed herself fighting against an army of dead souls from the Underworld, letting us know that Acheron has, in fact, dried up and Cyrus is about to be exiled into the mortal realm.

It’s when he’s flung forth into the mortal world that he meets Prue, but with the spirits of the Underworld unleashed, they’re going to need to work together to keep death and darkness from taking over.

I haven’t read too many Greek myth retellings, but this one sounds especially intriguing. It’s clear that the author researched Greek mythology extensively and found tons of inspiration in it.

I also like how the book basically asks what would happen if the Underworld broke open and the souls wanted revenge?

The only thing I will say is that it’s kind of difficult to understand when things are happening in the first couple of chapters. Mona sacrificed herself against the souls escaping from the Underworld, but while that was months ago, Cyrus’s perspective sounds like it’s in the present, even though Mona’s death hasn’t happened yet. This might be cleared up as I read further — and I am planning on reading more of the story.

If you enjoy mythological retellings and are looking for something new this weekend, check out this series.

Get the Kindle ebook free from Amazon here.

2. Widow Mountain by James Hunt

This is a standalone small-town EMP apocalypse thriller. This is the author’s third time on our Free Friday list. We reviewed Days of Blood in October 2022 and The Last Bunker in May of 2023

From Alex Korolov:

This is an EMP story, so fans of post-apocalyptic fiction might like to read this one. In an EMP story, an electromagnetic pulse wipes out all electronic devices, including cellphones, automobiles, planes, and power grids, with total chaos being the result.

Let’s see how this one goes.

We’re introduced to Lacey Stone, a forest ranger, in the first chapter. She’s going on an early morning hike through Big Rock State Park with Sheriff Tommy Rockwell. They’ve been tracking a poacher for six months. He’s killed a couple of tagged bears, and he hasn’t been caught yet.

Lacey and Tommy find the poacher’s camp. After a brief chase through the woods, they capture the poacher. They bring him to the welcome center, where another ranger comes out and tells them all the power’s out. Visitors’ cars aren’t starting, and even Lacey’s fancy satellite phone isn’t working. Lacey realizes it was an EMP.

In Chapter Two we meet Lacey’s son. He’s a second-year pre-med student at Wake Forest Medical School, which happens to be in a city. I’ll skip the details, but the students at the college experience the EMP, and on top of that, there’s a terrorist attack at the school. So, lots of excitement in this chapter.

That’s as far as I got but I’d definitely keep reading. I like how we get to experience the EMP attack from two very different settings — state park and big city — and I like the fast pacing of the book. There’s a lot of action from the get-go, which is something I like in this type of fiction.

Get the Kindle ebook free from Amazon here.

1. Gunslinger to the Stars by Joe Vasicek

This is the first of three books in the space opera Gunslinger Trilogy. The other books are $2.99 and $3.99 respectively and are not in Kindle Unlimited. This is the author’s first time on our Free Friday list, but we previously reviewed his short story The Scales of the Space Whale in September of 2021.

From Maria Korolov:

Sam is an Earthfleet Academy dropout in possession of a broken-down old spaceship and a collection of guns — and he’s stranded on the far side of the galaxy when the local jump gate disappears. The only other human around is Jane, a woman who recognizes Sam the minute she sees him in the local dive bar. They were at the academy together — that was long ago. More recently, Sam’s old boss sold her into slavery. Sam claims its not his fault, he couldn’t save her in time. Then, when some aliens show up at the bar and try to kidnap them, Sam shoots them.

The beginning of the book feels like a space Western, with a gunslinger showing up in lawless town. And yes, the local planet is pretty lawless. Nobody bats an eye when Sum start shooting folks in the bar. And the spaceport is surrounded by desert.

Anyway, since Sam is down on his luck, and stuck on the planet, he happily accepts a job offer from Jane’s employers, a group of empathetic aliens who are building a local outpost, and could use some extra security. He’s paired up with a shape-shifter who happens to be from one of the immortal races who originally built the jump gates, and a little mind-reading alien who’s going to be his new copilot.

He parks his beater next to his new employers and catches up with Jane. She seems to have forgiven him for the whole being sold into slavery thing. Plus, both of them have good memories of their one date back at the academy. And we learn that there’s some kind of conflict going within the immortal aliens who built the jump gates. The fact that the local gate shut down is just the start.

Sam’s meal with Jane is interrupted by an emergency. One of the empathetic aliens has been kidnapped, and Sam teleports out to the victim’s last known location, with security drones for backup.

Sam gets into a firefight with the kidnappers, but he’s outgunned, and the kidnappers escape to space. Sam follows them on his ship, with the help of his new copilot. And there’s more shooting, which I’m always happy to see.

Yes, the technology here is a bit of a mishmash — we’ve got teleporters, star gates, shape-shifters, mind-readers, empaths, and some very familiar guns. Sam’s collection includes a Ruger, two AR-15s, a grenade launcher, and a pump-action Mossberg shotgun.

Sam is a jerk, but an amusing jerk, and he’s got a kind of honor code that he lives by. I like him. I like the aliens he meets, I like the planet he’s on, and I like the fast pace of the story. It’s exactly the kind of escapist entertainment I’m looking for this weekend.

I think this would make a great Firefly-style TV show.

Get the Kindle ebook free from Amazon here.

See all the Free Friday posts here. Do you have other free books for us to check out? Comment below or email me at [email protected].

Have you read any of these books? Are you planning to? Let us know in the comments!

Or watch Maria, Terri and Emma discuss all five books in the video below:

Kristin Noland is a developmental and line editor who works with women authors of speculative and crime fiction. At Noland Editing, she expertly guides authors through the writing and editing process to strengthen their storytelling skills, so their readers are entertained and immersed in their stories from cover to cover. With over seventy manuscripts edited, including two bestsellers, and her caring and encouraging editing style, she helps her clients create captivating novels. Follow her on YouTube at @KristinNoland.

MetaStellar reviews editor Amira Loutfi is an author and web designer. She is on a mission to craft excellent fantasy fiction that is inspired by late antiquity Arabia. You can join her monthly newsletter where she shares insider info, wips, and tons of cool stuff.

E. S. Foster is a writer and graduate student at the University of Cambridge. Her work has been featured in a variety of literary journals and small presses. You can find out more about her and what she does at her blog, E. S. Foster.

MetaStellar news editor Alex Korolov is also a freelance technology writer who covers AI, cybersecurity, and enterprise virtual reality. His stories have also been published at CIO magazine, Network World, Data Center Knowledge, and Hypergrid Business. Find him on Twitter at @KorolovAlex and on LinkedIn at Alex Korolov.

Terri Wells (she/her) has been writing stories ever since she could hold a pencil, and editing written work of all kinds for nearly half her life. When not editing, she can be found eyeballs-deep exploring other worlds, or elbows-deep in her latest fibery project.

MetaStellar editor and publisher Maria Korolov is a science fiction novelist, writing stories set in a future virtual world. And, during the day, she is an award-winning freelance technology journalist who covers artificial intelligence, cybersecurity and enterprise virtual reality. See her Amazon author page here and follow her on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn, and check out her latest videos on the Maria Korolov YouTube channel. Email her at [email protected]. She is also the editor and publisher of Hypergrid Business, one of the top global sites covering virtual reality.

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