Free Friday: Today’s top free Amazon sci-fi and fantasy books for Dec. 29, 2023

Reading Time: 9 minutes
Free Friday: Today’s top free Amazon sci-fi and fantasy books for December 29, 2023

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. Between Ink and Shadows by Melissa Wright

This is the first of three books in the Between Ink and Shadows epic fantasy series. The other books are $3.99 each and are not in Kindle Unlimited. This book has been on our top ten list before. We previously reviewed it this past May.

From Maria Korolov:

Nim was born to be a thief, indebted to a magical organization that has her tied to society’s dark underbelly. But she wants to get free.

Her father used to be high up in court society, close to the king himself but got tangled up in a dark bargain that cost him his station and his freedom. But at least he didn’t get hanged, even if his daughter did end up with his debt.

In this world, magic is illegal, which means that it’s the criminals that use it. Nim herself is only human, but the criminal who holds her debt is one of the most powerful magic users. But the interest on the debt means that she’ll never be free. Her next task is to steal something from the king’s seneschal. It’s an impossible job. The seneschal was second to the king, and the man responsible for hanging those associated with magic. He’s the head of law and order in the country. But if she fails, she’ll lose what little freedom she does have.

I like Nim, I like the story, and am looking forward to reading further as she finds a way out of her predicament.

Get the ebook free from Amazon here.

4. Bound By Knighthood by Nicki Chapelway

This is one of eleven books in the Starry Kingdoms of the Fae romantic fantasy series. Each of the books is its own story and can be read independently, and each is written by a different author. The other books are usually $2.99 each but several are free today — and most are in Kindle Unlimited. In September, we reviewed two other books from the same series.

From Maria Korolov:

I know romantic fantasy — romantasy — is super hot right now and people love, love, love this genre. Not me. I have a cold, cold heart and I hate, hate romance. And this particular book is a “rivals to lovers” romance. I prefer books where the protagonist kills their rivals, instead.

On the positive side, the book opens with a map of the fantasy kingdom. I love fantasy maps. Maps are my favorite.

But wait — there’s an academy in the middle of the map. Is this one of those magical academy books? I hate, hate books set in magic schools. I deeply disliked going to classes and doing homework, and hate teenage drama, so this sets off all kinds of warning bells for me.

Let’s just say that the book so far has been a roller-coaster of emotions, and I haven’t even started reading it yet.

Okay, let’s get into it. Our protagonist, Willow, is really bitter about some guy named Byron. Byron is handsome and magically powerful and the most popular boy in the village. I guess he’s the rival that the book’s subtitle promised. Apparently, Willow is salty about all the good luck this guy has had, and thinks that he’s going to steal a knighthood right out from under her. She’s also an orphan and had to work for everything she has.

So Byron has decided to go to this academy that Willow is going to, as is Willow’s best friend, and Willow is convinced that Byron is going to do better than she will. and the three of them set off walking to the academy. It’s a long day’s walk from their village. She hates the fact that she has to spend it with Byron and his stupid smirk.

See what I mean? This is a perfectly lovely beginning for a book. And it’s easy to read, and very well written, and Willow’s character is fun, if a little whiny, and her best friend is nicely supportive. I bet 99 percent of people reading this review are going to go out and get this book and enjoy it very much.

But not me. Maybe I should talk to my therapist about why I hate love and happiness.

Get the Kindle ebook free from Amazon here.

3. Bound By Blood by Jessica M. Butler

This is one of eleven books in the Starry Kingdoms of the Fae romantic fantasy series. Each of the books is its own story and can be read independently, and each is written by a different author. The other books are usually $2.99 each but several are free today — and most are in Kindle Unlimited. In September, we reviewed two other books from the same series.

From Kristin Noland:

Erryn, a soup maker, finds a frightened dog-like creature outside her home, but she shouldn’t leave the house. There are terrifying things outside—wolves, owls, gryphons, and the most chilling of all, fae. She picks up the creature just before a blood fae reveals himself.

The fae, Ryul, simply wants his magic back. He accidentally fashioned this creature, which holds much of his magical powers, but Erryn won’t give it back. She says she already loves it.

The two strike a trade—she can keep the animal and she’ll feed him soup until his magic is restored by food or time.

I didn’t bond with either Erryn or Ryul. There isn’t enough of their true character shown for me to get a sense of who they are, and it’s not clear what Erryn wants other than the dog for some reason.

The writing is fair, but I think the major problem is the concept rather than the execution. I’ll be honest — not much happens in the first couple of chapters. And I’m not sure where this story is going. It may be a slow burn.

Fans of fae-based novels with magic and fantastical creatures may enjoy this book, but I won’t be finishing it.

Get the Kindle ebook free from Amazon here.

2. Bound by Stardust by Angela J. Ford

This is one of eleven books in the Starry Kingdoms of the Fae romantic fantasy series. Each of the books is its own story and can be read independently, and each is written by a different author. The other books are usually $2.99 each but several are free today — and most are in Kindle Unlimited. In September, we reviewed two other books from the same series.

From Kristin Noland:

You like fae stories, magic, and dark secrets? You’re going to love this book!

Asira, a healer, has gathered the stardust that falls from the floating island, fae kingdom above on All Hallow’s Eve for ten years without incident, but this year, hidden in the bones beneath her feet, is a wounded fae. She takes him back to her cottage to heal him and possibly get him to grant her a favor.

Drazhan, a fae master, has been stabbed and buried alive by the fae. He’s grateful for Asira’s help and is willing to grant her anything she wants, but it comes with a catch. She must help him exact revenge on those to cast him out.

I’m really enjoying the book! It’s well written, in a dual perspective, with rich descriptions and interesting characters. I’m already bonding with Asira. I love that she is willing to put herself in danger to help others. She’s brave and spunky.

Drazhan is what I expect from a fae—handsome, sexual by nature, and a trickster. I like that he finds Asira’s lack of interest in him intriguing and that he must have done something to anger the other fae. It leads me to believe he is a rebel.

I will continue to read this book to find out the characters’ secrets and how the partnership between the characters develops. At this point, I don’t know if Asira and Drazhan will become more than partners, but I’m interested in them and their stories. And I’m super interested in this author’s take on the fae.

Fans of magical and fae stories with a strong female lead and plenty of dark secrets will enjoy this book.

Get the Kindle ebook free from Amazon here.

1. Bound by Honey by Jamie Dalton

This is one of eleven books in the Starry Kingdoms of the Fae romantic fantasy series. Each of the books is its own story and can be read independently, and each is written by a different author. The other books are usually $2.99 each but several are free today — and most are in Kindle Unlimited. In September, we reviewed two other books from the same series.

From Maria Korolov:

Hey there, it’s me again, the person who hates everything that’s good about the world, reading another romantic fantasy.

This time, the protagonist is named Sage, who’s been working at the royal library for the past two months. It’s a magical library, and the books can fly, and there’s a gargoyle in charge of the restricted books section.

When the book starts, a visiting fae man is trying to steal a book about carnivorous plants from the library. Sage will lose her job if he makes off with it. She chases him down, but he refuses to give the book back, and leaves the library with his three friends. Turns out, the four of them are super famous, super popular, super powerful mages. There’s nothing she could have done anyway. And the one who took her book is particularly handsome and annoying.

I hate him already. Library rules are there for a reason.

Then her parents tell her that they’re moving, and she’s going to have to find her own place to live. Her father just got a really good job offer, but it’s in a different city. Unfortunately, her beginning librarian salary isn’t going to go far. Finally, she finds a place where she can have free room and board in return for some part-time work. Unfortunately, the place is owned by the annoying book thief. She decides not to go to work for the annoying book thief.

But now she’s run out of places to look at that are within her budget and decides to camp out at the library for a few days until she finds something.

The first night she’s there, she’s camping out in a closet when a handsome man opens the door and finds her. It turns out that the handsome man is actually the library’s gargoyle who changes shape at night. He shows her a secret room where she can sleep for a while before she finds a place to stay.

Sage decides that she will figure out a way to reverse his curse. Sure, he’s had hundreds of years to work on it, and so have other mages in the kingdom, and nobody’s come up with anything yet. But she’s good at research.

This is a very cute story and very readable. Sage is a very likeable character. But the word “romance” is right there in the subtitle so I’m going to skip this one. Maybe if she killed a few people in the first chapter, I’d look past the whole love thing, but so far, the book is very nice, charming, and murder-free.

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 discuss all five books in the video below:

 

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. Email her at [email protected]. She is also the editor and publisher of Hypergrid Business, one of the top global sites covering virtual reality.

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.

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