Free Friday: Today’s top free Amazon sci-fi and fantasy books for Mar. 3, 2023

Reading Time: 18 minutes
Free Friday: Today’s top free Amazon sci-fi and fantasy books for Mar. 3, 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 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 Friday videos — email me at [email protected].

10. Daram by Hetty Crane

This is the first of four books in the Tales from Taihandria time travel fantasy series. The other books are on sale today for $.99 each and the series is in Kindle Unlimited.

From Maria Korolov:

Colin is the lead singer in a successful British art rock band. Also, he plays the harp. A little bit. They’re been on a worldwide tour for five months and are now in a cafe, drinking herbal tea, when he tells the other band members that he’s scheduled studio time — without asking them first. And without remembering that his own wedding was scheduled for the same time. Three of the band members leave to prepare for their next performance and Colin is alone in the cafe with his best friend, Robin, when a mirror on the wall mysteriously switches to an image of a girl in a dark cloak drawing strange shapes in the air. Colin and Robin both see it, then the vision disappears and the mirror goes back to normal.

Colin thinks she was an angel. Robin thinks its a practical trick played by their bandmates.

Then, in the next chapter, we switch to the point of view of that mysterious girl. Her name is Manon, and she’s in a forest wearing formal court clothes, because there’s some kind of festival to get to. She’s there to practice sorcery in peace.

She’s just been named to a high position in the kingdom, and is about to start hob-nobbing with royalty. A friend of hers meets up with her, and they have a long discussion about the kingdom’s politics and Manon’s role in it.

Then in chapter three we’re back with the band. They’re getting ready for the performance, fending off groupies, and Colin and Robin decide to wear two intricate medallions that Colin found in a pawn shop earlier that day.

Meanwhile, there’s a storm building outside the arena. During the performance itself, weird stuff happens until finally there’s an accident in which Colin knocks over the amps and there’s an explosion and the entire arena disappears.

Instead, they’re now on a small wooden stage in the middle of a large wooded grove. There’s still an audience, but the people are dressed in strange medieval costumes and the security staff has disappeared. Colin faints. Robin jumps down into the audience. And the other three band members stay on stage and try to resuscitate Colin as sword-bearing soldiers close in.

In the next chapter, we find out that the audience loved the band’s music, what they heard of it, but one of the nobles decides to have them arrested, and another steps in to protect them.

It’s all about the politics we heard all too much about a couple of chapters ago.

I like the premise, but the book starts out very slowly and I don’t feel a connection to any of the characters, so I’m not going to stick with it.

Get the Kindle ebook free from Amazon here.

9. Grandfather Anonymous by Anthony W. Eichenlaub

This is the first of five books in the Old Code technothriller series. The other books are $4.99 to $5.99 each, and the series is not in Kindle Unlimited. The fifth book is not out yet. It is scheduled to be released in June and is currently available for pre-order. The author has been on our list before. We reviewed his book Justice in an Age of Metal and Men in June of 2021. and his book Of a Strange World Made in September of 2021.

From Alex Korolov:

This story seems to take place in a not too distant future where computers are more advanced and people are under surveillance by the government.

In chapter one, we’re introduced to Ajay Andersen. He’s a seventy-year-old man whose social worker, Chester, shows up at this house to check on him.

It turns out the entire neighborhood is having network connectivity issues, and Chester is checking every house for an illegal scrambler. Ajay does have some kind of illegal mini quantum computer in his house, but it’s not the scrambler Chester’s looking for. Still, Ajay doesn’t want the illegal tech he owns to be discovered.

Ajay manages to get Chester to leave without letting him inside the house, but Chester warns him that the authorities are also looking for a fugitive named Sashi Chandrakar who stole something very important. It turns out this is Ajay’s daughter, and she has his two granddaughters on the run with her.

Ajay fusses with his computer doing something shady with files for most of chapter two, and his daughter shows up at his doorstep with her two kids at the end of the chapter. It turns out Ajay and Sashi haven’t seen each other for many years and it might not be the happiest reunion.

That’s as far as I read. This book doesn’t interest me too much, but if you’re into sci-fi stories about computer hackers and people fighting an oppressive government that spies on them, then this might be your cup of tea. As for myself, I’ll be putting this one down.

Get the Kindle ebook free from Amazon here.

8. Smitten by Magic by Erica Ridley

This is the last of three books in the Magic & Mayhem paranormal romantic comedy series. The other books are $6.99 and $3.99 each, but the entire series is in Kindle Unlimited. We previously reviewed the first book in the series, Kissed by Magic, this past January.

From Maria Korolov:

Since I don’t want to give away any spoilers because I haven’t gotten to it yet in the series — and, of course, not to spoil anything for you, the reader — I’m going to give you my review of the first book, instead.

So, in Kissed by Magic, I was sold from the first paragraph. Lance is a swashbuckling bounty hunter and soldier for hire who lives above the 24-hour Pawn & Potion, a dingy hovel of ill repute tucked between two steel-and-glass skyscrapers.

It’s been five decades since magic returned to the world and the store’s fluorescent “open” sign is powered by an enchantment. It’s 3 a.m. the week before Christmas and Lance is looking forward to hitting the sack and sleeping right into the new year when he sees a poster by the door. A wanted dead or alive poster, with his face on it.

Seems a competitor is upset because Lance found some diamonds first, and cost him a hundred thousand drachma. Now he wants either Lance’s head, or the money. Lance already spent it on. On a pirate ship. On layaway. Non-refundable. He still needs 175 thousand more to pay the ship off.

And he’s got an idea for where to get it. The mythical Golden Bloom of Eternal Youth could bring him millions. Billions, even. But it’s hidden at the Castle Cavanaugh and nobody’s ever made it back from the castle alive.

I love the narrative style of the story. It’s fun and light hearted. I love the banter between Lance and his landlord, the owner of the pawn shop.

And I adore the world-building. Magic is mixed with modern technology in fun ways. For example, spellbooks have been made obsolete by digital readers, and the pawn shop can’t even give them away for free now.

This book is now at the top of my reading list. Ahead of that space mercenary one.

Get the third book, Smitten by Magicfree from Amazon here. And get the first book, Kissed by Magic, here.

7. The Shadow Order by J.S. Malcom

This is the first book of five in the Crossroads Witch urban fantasy series. The other books are $.99 to $3.99 each, and the entire series is in Kindle Unlimited. This isn’t the first time the author has been on this list — we reviewed Empyrean Witch back in May, and Autumn Winters in June. And this particular book has also been on this list before. We previously reviewed it last July.

From Maria Korolov:

Amaya, 22, works at a convenience store, restocking the shelves. And she lives at a mental health facility. That’s because, six years ago, she was found wandering around by herself with no memory of anything. She picked her name at random. For the past year, she’s been deemed healthy enough to participate in a work release program.

Oh, and she sees imaginary creatures.

Meanwhile, there’s a string of creepy murders happening in the city. People randomly turn on their loves ones and kill them, then claim to have no memory of what happened. The only thing they remember is the word “Lachrymoar.”

Amaya has been lying to her doctors and today she’s graduated from the mental health facility and will be moving to a halfway house.

But that same night the fire alarm goes off. Some nurses are dead. Amaya sticks out her hands and energy rushes out of them and breaks down doors. Nurses are dead, a doctor runs at her with a bloody knife – all sorts of mayhem is happening. Outside, the cops tells her to stop but for some reason she uses her powers on them to shove them away and runs off.

The cops chase her into an alley, where a portal appears. Two women stand in it, and one of them tells her to jump through the portal. She does.

I’m not the target audience for this book. It’s a young adult story, and I don’t like young adults. It’s told in the first person, in the present tense, which isn’t my favorite. And I’m not personally caught up in the main character.

But I can see why people like it. It’s easy to read and fast-paced. The main character is snarky and the writer has a good sense of humor.

Get the Kindle ebook free from Amazon here.

6. Cursed with the Dragon Prince by Mel Braxton

This is the prequel to The Isles of Fae romantic fantasy series, which currently has one book in it.

From Lilivette Domínguez-Torres:

In the first chapter, Reina wakes up stranded on a strange beach after falling overboard during a storm at sea. After spending all of her life being accused of being cursed because of her birthmark, a patch of purple scales on her neck, she’s not surprised that her brother left her behindin the storm. She’s not sure where she is until a dragon starts chasing her that she realizes she’s been stranded in the Isles of Fae, far away from her village.

In the second chapter, we switch to the point of view of Drakon, the dragon who was chasing Reina. Through him we’re able to get a glimpse of what he thinks about her and the importance of her birthmark, which may have been considered as a curse to the humans, but not to him. After all, he has one very similar to hers on his neck. Their meeting is very brief before Reina realizes the severity of her situation and flees from him, running until she makes it through a small cave opening where the dragon can’t follow her.

In the next chapter, Reina is sleeping in the cave and a different dragon approaches her in her dreams. This one is white, doesn’t have wings, and looks almost divine compared to the dragon from earlier. She tells Reina she can help her get out of the cave. Reina wakes up, feeling stronger than before, and sees fireflies leading the way. Maybe it was more than just a dream.

I personally ended up being surprised by the writing in this book. It’s smooth and has a great pacing considering how short the story is. I like how the author gives you enough background information and just enough hints to hook you into the story. I admit I’m not looking forward to the steamy parts of this book but I’m definitely interested in learning more about what Reina’s birthmark really means and what the appearance of this new, divine dragon will bring into the story. I think I’ll continue reading just to see if it holds up to the great beginning it had so far. I’d definitely recommend this if you’re looking for a short, quick and interesting fantasy romance or if you’re a fan of the Russian movie I Am Dragon.

Get the Kindle ebook free from Amazon here.

5. The Nexus by Vered Ehsani

This is the first book in the Into The Afroverse series, which doesn’t have any other books in it yet.

From Maria Korolov:

From the description, I’m getting the feel that this is going to be something similar to Wakanda Forever. I loved all the Black Panther movies, so I’m on board.

Dr. Hannah Baines is a researcher hiking up the second tallest mountain in Africa, Mount Kenya, in search of the mythical Mlezi Village. She has a security team with her, headed up by Kat, a hired mercenary who reports directly to the chairman of the organization where Hannah works.

They’re in search of a type of mushroom, But when they get to the village, they find that the last of the mushrooms had just been burned — as was Mlezi Village. The villagers themselves had already scattered in the surrounding forest, taking whatever remained of the mushrooms with them.

Then we switch to the point of view of one of the villagers, Swala. She stayed too late, horrified at the fact that the village was burning, and holding a young child in her arms. The child, a daughter, is the future chief of the village. The mercenaries spot her, and she runs into the forest. Oh, and she’s got magic powers. She can commune with the network of the mushrooms growing under the forest and see where the mercenaries are.

As the mercenaries close in, she and a friend hide the daughter with someone else, who’s not from their village, a park ranger, and do some magic so that the child forgets everything — until she’s old enough to remember.

I loved the beginning of this book. And I’d love to see a movie of it. I think I’ll be sticking with it.

Get the Kindle ebook free from Amazon here.

4. World After by Lindsey Pogue and Lindsey Sparks

This is a prequel to The Ending  Legacy fantasy romance series, which currently has only one book in it. This isn’t the first time Lindsey Pogue has been on this list. We reviewed her book City of Ruin just last monthThe Darkest Winter in September of 2022, Dust and Shadow in July of 2022, and After the Ending in May of 2022. Lindsey Sparks has also been on our list. This past December, we reviewed her book Legacy of the Lost and her book Ink Witch, last July.

From Tim McHugh:

I am always a fan of dystopian science fiction and this book has a bit of a fantasy twist built in, so I am the target audience for this one.

This story is set in a unique post-apocalyptic California, but we are three hundred years past the apocalypse and a new world has taken shape. The world is ruled by the Corvo Kingdom and a clever queen whose motivations are unclear and possibly sinister. She rules over all people in her kingdom including, groups of gifted people with supernatural powers, outcasts forced into hiding but the Queen’s rangers, and animals who certain humans can communicate with.

The story starts with Jake, a man who has established a colony of outcasts deep in the redwood forests of California, where he has finally found a semblance of peace in his life. That peace is abruptly interrupted when a group of rangers sent by the queen ambush a group from his community, killing most of them. Jake knows that this was not a random act of violence but a message for him. He doesn’t hesitate to turn himself into the queen.

We then jump to the point of view of Del, the princess of the kingdom and heir to her mother’s throne. Del is an empath, a person with the ability to touch humans, animals, or objects and learn their thoughts and feelings. Del has been suspicious of her mother and has been feeling a supernatural calling to the castles secret vaults. She breaks into the vaults and goes through the ancient artifacts until she finds what has been calling her, a book from the old world.

It was written by Zoe, the first empath and begins to give her a glimpse of the first group of people with abilities who are known as the Patrons. The book is cut off before Del can learn too much, but she does connect with the Zoe with the use of her empath ability. Del learns who Zoe really was and can feel the love she had for her husband, the first with the healer ability.

As Del is leaving the vault she touches an object that gives her the glimpse of a horrible scene. Tortured humans being drained of their blood for an unknown reason. She feels it was the Queen who ordered this.

The first few chapters set up an interesting story. We have multiple strong protagonists, some with unique abilities, and a mystery surrounding the kingdom’s ruler. I am very intrigued at the premise, a fantasy world in a sci-fi setting, something I haven’t seen before. The writing is well done for the most part but the authors have a habit of spelling things out for the reader when they can easily be inferred. They are also drawn to “info dumps” that pull the reader out of the story.

I’m going to stick with this story over the weekend, this world is too interesting to be ruined by a few flaws.

Get the Kindle ebook free from Amazon here.

3. Scarlight by Evie Marceau

This is the first of three books in The Castles of the Eyrie fantasy romance series. The other books are $4.99 each, and the series is not in Kindle Unlimited.

From Maria Korolov:

I’m not a fan of romance, so I’m probably not the target audience for this book, but our regular romance reader isn’t with us today. So, it’s going to have to be me.

The first chapter starts out ten years earlier, with six-year-old Bryn hiding under a giant oak table in a banquet hall, eavesdropping on her father’s guards. She’s the youngest princess in Castle Mir and it’s her birthday but nobody cares about it except one of the palace women, who’s slipped her a honey cake. She finds out that the guardsmen plan to hunt a black fawn, supposed to an omen of war, so she goes to the kitchen, puts on a pair of muck boots, grabs a lantern, and goes out in to the woods. Even though she knows she’s not supposed to. She wants to rescue the fawn.

She finds the fawn — but it’s been attacked by wolves. Those same wolves then turn on her. A boy in a bearskin cloak — one of the princes of another kingdom — saves her.

Then, we’re in the present. It’s ten years later, and Bryn is being squeezed into a gown for the night’s ball. She still has scars on her rib cage from the wolf attack.

Bryn’s mother plans to marry her off to a baron.

Then unexpected guests arrive, an entourage from the kingdom with the bearskin cloaks. Including the youngest prince. The one who saved her ten years ago. Apparently, under the laws of that kingdom, if someone saves your life they now own you forever. Her mother had promised her that they wouldn’t take her, that she’d never see the people from that kingdom ever again. But here they are.

The prince who saved her, Rangar, still has scars on his face from when he fought the wolves off. He’s now fully grown and, if not for the scars, would be devastatingly handsome.

And, of course, there’s a magical connection between them.

I’m not the target audience of this book, of course. I’m no fan of forbidden love, or destined love, or teenage love, or teenagers in general for that matter.

But I do have the say that the book is extremely well written. If I was stuck in a hotel room on a rainy weekend and this book was on the shelf, I’d very happily read it.

Get the Kindle ebook free from Amazon here.

2. Phoenix Down by Brooke Hatchett

This is the first and, so far, the only book in The Naturalist fantasy series.

From Maria Korolov:

Remy works in a shop that sells basic groceries as well as miscellaneous things like skeins of wool, snowshoes, tobacco, and taffy. But some customers are special, and get to go to the back, where they can buy contraband magical items.

Then a couple of strangers come in. They’re on a sleigh pulled by magical horses. And one of them is a very pretty girl — the pretties Remy has ever seen. He can’t tell if she’s younger or older than him, but she is a couple of inches taller. Remy is paralyzed with shyness and hides behind the counter, hoping they won’t talk to him, when his boss comes out from the back.

Turns out, the new customers know the secret code and want to buy one of the special magic items the shop carries. His boss tries to avoid admitting that he carries anything illegal.

Then the girl comes right out and says it. She wants a phoenix. Because she’s dying. And the legend is that a single tear from a phoenix can cure any ailment.

No, they don’t have one, says his boss. And the girl and the man with her leave.

After they’re gone, it’s time for Remy to do his other chores. He goes down to the basement, rolls aside a ratty barrel, pries open a stone and lifts a section of the floor, heaves open a metal door, and climbs down a metal ladder.

Then he puts on a special pair of sandals — to keep his feet from burning — and a pair of googles to keep from going blind. He packs wax into his ears, and heads through a tunnel to where the phoenix cages are.

Seems that this shop in a tiny town in the middle of nowhere has not one but three illegal phoenixes.

Remy gives the phoenixes water and spoon-feeds them gold shavings. It’s a very long spoon.

This book reminds me a bit of Terry Pratchett’s stories for younger readers, like the Tiffany Aching books.. It’s not as funny or charming as Pratchett’s stories — but then, few books are.  It also reminds me a bit of Diana Wynne Jones’ Howl’s Moving Castle.

I might stick with it this weekend, though I’ll probably read the next book, the space opera, first.

Get the Kindle ebook free from Amazon here.

1. Descendant of War by G J Ogden

This is the first of six books in the Descendants of War space opera series. The other books are on sale today for $.99 each — and the series is in Kindle Unlimited, to boot.

From Maria Korolov:

I really wanted to like this book. It’s got everything going for it — a universe far in the future where humanity is in a tense standoff with several other alien species when another set of aliens emerges. The new aliens? Actually an old foe, back from the dead. According to the prologue they nearly exterminated all of humanity before the humans were able to attack the aliens’ home world and exterminate them, instead. Well, exterminate nearly all of them. Some survived — and now they’re back.

I didn’t like the fact that there was a prologue. Hasn’t the author heard that prologues are out? Worse yet, the prologue was all exposition, summarizing what happened a thousand years prior.

But I can get past that. Plenty of great books have prologues.

Then, in the first couple of chapters, we got a nice space battle with pirates, then a tense chase sequence in which the pirates found sanctuary in another species’ territory. Our fearless protagonist — commander Dalton Reeves in the Bastion navy — disobeys orders and follows the pirates across the border, catches the pirates, and boards the ship. Reeves and his crew battle their way through the pirate ship, mostly shooting plasma pistols. But Reeves also uses his knife and fists to take down the enemy. Meanwhile, the aliens whose territory this is are also there, and they want Reeves to stand down because he’s out of his jurisdiction.

I liked the action sequences. I always enjoy fictional murder and mayhem.

But there are a lot of tropes here that I’ve seen too much of and am now tired of. One is the guy who follow his own gut instincts, ignoring all the rules. The rulebook is there for a reason, folks. Usually because of idiots who followed their instincts and would up creating giant messes. For all Reeves knew, the pirate ship he was following was a trick designed to make him violate the treaty. Then when he boards the pirate ship, he lets one of the officers break the law and pocket some of the contraband the pirate was smuggling.

So Reeves is bad at his job, but lucky enough not to have been fired yet. Or, as we find out in the next chapter, his boss has been covering for him all this time.

Then there’s the fact that the author uses the words “smirk” and “quip.” I know, I know, it doesn’t make sense. It’s my own pet peeve. But I just hate the word “smirk.” It’s the way some people feel about the word “moist.” As far as I’m concerned, the only permissible use of the word “smirk” is in the sentence, “You better wipe that smirk off your face or I’ll shoot it off for you!” And I feel similarly about the word “quip.” Nobody ever uses the word in real life. Nobody ever says, “Ah, don’t mind me, I was just quipping.” As far as I’m concerned, if the author has to explain that someone “quipped,” then what they said wasn’t all that funny.

I was almost ready to put the book down, when Reeves got called in by his boss. She was still trying to cover for him, even though he’d just caused a major international incident and undid a year’s worth of diplomatic negotiations that were far more important than catching a single pirate. But there was only so much she could do, and his incompetence has finally caught up with him.

Reeves is being reassigned to the armpit of the universe. He’s sentenced to a five-year stint as commander Concord Station, a lawless place where all six known alien species intermix. He’d rather spend five years in a jail cell. His only alternative is a dishonorable discharge.

Yes. Finally. The jerk is getting what he deserves.

Plus, I’ll get to watch him try to redeem himself and turn Corcord Station around. I think I might enjoy this.

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!

And watch Maria, Lilivette and Tim talk about all ten 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, 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.

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.

Tim is an aspiring young author in the sci-fi and fantasy genre. He currently works full time in the software industry but has a love for stories with grey characters and moral ambiguity that tell us something about the world.

Lilivette Domínguez-Torres is MetaStellar's marketing assistant and an aspiring book editor based in Puerto Rico. You can find her talking about fantasy books or K-dramas on Twitter at @lilivettedt.

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