Free Friday: Today’s top free Amazon sci-fi and fantasy books for May 10, 2024

Reading Time: 12 minutes
(Today’s top free Amazon sci-fi and fantasy books for May 10, 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. Heir to Thorn and Flame by Ben Alderson

This is the first of three books in the Court of Broken Bonds romantasy series. The other books are $3.99 each, and are both in Kindle Unlimited. This is the author’s first time on our Free Friday list.

From Terri Wells:

I’d never read male-male romance except in fan fiction, so this book intrigued me. Let me start with some warnings: within the first few chapters there are some appropriate F-bombs, an attempted rape, an attempted murder, a killing committed in self-defense, serious gore, and some sadistic upper-class villains. Keeping these warnings in mind, let me get to the story.

It opens with a young servant, Max, cleaning the library of a manor. It’s his favorite room in the place, and he’s read hundreds of books from this library. And not just for fun, either — it’s an act of defiance against the king, who prefers his servants to be uneducated and therefore more controllable.

There’s some banter between Max and one of the other servants, who’s a dear friend of his. There’s a major festival tonight that everyone’s supposed to be going to, but Max plans to curl up with a good book. Right away, the fact that he’s gay is just taken as a matter of course, which I found refreshing. Anyway, we learn that the country where he lives is one of the southern kingdoms, and that in the time of the current king’s grandfather, magic was wiped out from the region by the assembled armies, mages, and dragons of the north. In fact, the current king’s grandfather was the last mage killed in the war. Max thinks this is a good thing, because in his mind, magic caused all harsh inequality in the world—sort of like unbridled capitalism.

We also learn that the heir to the throne, Julian, wants Max, but not in a sweet and fuzzy way. Max has been refusing his advances. Max figures Julian will be safely away at the evening’s festival, since Julian is an arrogant prick who loves attention. We later learn that Julian is a vicious, psychopathic sadist—remember the attempted rape and attempted murder I mentioned? But Julian didn’t go to the festival — he stayed behind to torment Max.

So how is this different from a heterosexual rape trope? Max knows he can take Julian in a fight. If he harms Julian though, not only will he suffer for it, but his parents will, as well. He doesn’t defend himself against Julian until it’s clear that Julian is going to kill him—and even then, he kills him by accident, with magic. Max, it turns out, is a mage, and this is the first time his magic has ever manifested.

Max wants to get his parents from the festival and flee, but one thing leads to another and the king forces Max to replace Julian as heir, taking on Julian’s identity. The king can compel Max to do this because he’s holding Max’s mother and father hostage and is not shy about killing disobedient servants. Max gets to see this first hand. When he insists that his name is not Julian, the king has four servants killed in front of Max for this disobedience.

To me this is a metaphor for having to hide your true self to protect people, and I’m not surprised to see it in a male-male romance.

The actual romantic interest doesn’t show up until chapter seven. This is clearly a slow burn, since I’m a fifth of the way into the book and there’s no actual sex yet. I feel a little like someone reading Playboy for the articles, since there’s some real worldbuilding going on, a strong sympathetic protagonist, an interesting fantasy world, good writing, political intrigue, and some mysteries to be solved. How did Max get his magic, since it’s supposed to have been wiped out in the south, for example?

If you like these things, along with what promises to be a very slow burn, and can handle the caveats I mentioned earlier, this might be your kind of book.

Get the Kindle ebook free from Amazon here.

4. Cursed Witch by Brogan Thomas

This is a standalone novel in the six-book Creatures of the Otherworld paranormal romance series. The other books are $4.99 each, and are all in Kindle Unlimited. The sixth book is not out yet but is scheduled for release this coming August and is available for preorder. Brogan Thomas has been on this list before, we reviewed her book Cursed Wolf back in July of 2021. And today’s book was on our list in October of 2022.

From Carla Nordlund:

The books in Creatures of the Otherworld series are all connected but feature different protagonists, so can be read on their own.

Tuesday Larson is a failure. In a world populated by witches, shapeshifters, vampires, demons, and more, magic and power determine everything. But Tuesday is unable to learn even the simplest spells and witchcraft and is constantly outshone by her talented witchy sisters. While sitting through an excruciating meeting with her mother and her school’s headmistress after exploding a simple potion, Tuesday explodes, dropping an f-bomb and storms out of the room. Furious and embarrassed, her mother forces her to drink a non-swearing potion later that night, which is supposed to last only two weeks.

The next chapter jumps forward to Tuesday as a 24-year-old. Her mother’s anti-swearing potion has yet to wear off eight years on, and causes some embarrassing and uncontrollable speech patterns whenever she attempts to swear. She has distanced herself from her family and coven, attempting to live a normal life, although she is still protected by various wards and potions provided to her by her sisters. When intruders violently attack the wards on her apartment, Tuesday scoops up her rescued pet dragon, Daisy, and attempts an escape.

Brogan Thomas is a new-to-me author and just got put on my check-out-more! list. Tuesday’s voice is absolutely hilarious, and I’m always a sucker for a cute magical pet, and Daisy does not disappoint. I meant to only read a couple chapters, ended up reading four, and am headed back to it as soon as I finish up this review. For anyone like me looking for funny, cozy fantasy with a strong female lead, I think this is your weekend read.

Get the Kindle ebook free from Amazon here.

3. Hell for the Company by Dick Denny

This is the first of three  books in the Nick Decker urban fantasy series. The other books are $.99 to $4.49 each, and are both in Kindle Unlimited. This is the author’s first time on our Free Friday list.

From Benji Blackwell:

“It isn’t the action of a war zone you miss, it’s the clarity of purpose.”

Nick Decker is an Iraq War veteran, disillusioned with life and isolated from his family, scraping by with such soul-lifting work as playing detective for “cucked” husbands.

On this particular morning, Nick’s just finished shrugging off his estranged brother at his mother’s funeral before sitting down for his usual mid-morning routine at a second-rate strip club usually reserved for drunks like him and drug addicts.

That’s where Gretchen came into the picture—a stripper so hot and up-to-snuff on pop culture repertoire that Nick can’t believe she’s a stripper, or, at least, not working at the better strip club in town. She’s walking around naked and he’s drooling all over her — metaphorically, that is.

At this point, the book almost lost me. I’m a bit of a prude, so I got a bit uncomfortable. Much like the first episode of a TV show, the book’s opening felt like the kind of boundary-pushing that’s just there for shock value before the story gets going.

I’m glad I stuck it out, though, because the story quickly sped along from there.

Gretchen cryptically suggests she’s been sent by some secret Latin-named organization to protect him, and Nick decides to play along—anything to get this woman in his car, no matter how off her rocker she seems.

And he quickly finds himself caught in the middle of a supernatural war, one that was alluded to in the book’s prologue. He’s in a kind of a western standoff with an archangel and being chased by presumably angelic warriors in the biker gang that Gretchen says want some holy relic Nick has but knows nothing about.

After Gretchen lays the beat down with some obscure martial arts, there’s a good old-fashioned car chase. All this gives Nick the kick in the rear he needs. Finally, a flaming sword pops into his hand and Nick beats back one of the bikers, taking a big step out of his numb, apathetic life.

It very much seems like it will be a big redemption story for this lonely, nihilistic veteran who’s given up on life. I’ve only recently discovered my interest in Westerns, and this book has that gritty but somehow optimistic feel that I’m not sure I can resist, so I will almost certainly be reading more of this over the weekend. It already has me wanting more and wanting answers, and it’s short enough it should only take a few more hours.

So if you’re into urban fantasies with modern western vibes—and you don’t mind some editing errors—you’ll probably enjoy this.

Get the Kindle ebook free from Amazon here.

2. Warped State by Jo Miles

This is the first of three  books in The Gifted of Brennex space opera series. The other books are $5.99 and $6.99, and are not in Kindle Unlimited. This is the author’s first time on our Free Friday list.

From E.S. Foster:

The story begins with Jason, who has just returned to his home planet Brennex. Despite the clear lack of major resources like quality air, the Brennex port is bustling with all kinds of alien figures. But Jason doesn’t have time to spare for nostalgia.

He gets ready to put his alias, into action and finds a group of working-class protestors.

Their leader, Linn, recruited Jason for the Brennexian revolution a few years ago. Now she gives him some disturbing news — one of the planets owned by the sinister Ravel Corporation has been shipping tons of chemicals over the past few weeks. The same chemicals that were used to take over Brennex when Jason was young.

As an activist — or, more accurately, as a spy — it’s now Jason’s job to infiltrate another planet and steal the pharmaceutical information to keep the enemy from using these chemicals effectively. Before leaving Brennex, Jason stops by the family store, says goodbye to his parents and sisters, then prepares to leave for the other planet.

The story then switches perspective to Havoc, who works on that other planet. He’s one of the lower-level iron workers, and he’s just been denied a promotion. Havoc wants to prove himself as a good citizen more than anything, but he’s told he’s going to have to put a lot more work into the cause since more and more protests are popping up.

Jason and Havoc are destined to meet and sabotage the evil plans, but their conflicting motivations are about to get in the way. Desperate, Jason decides to let Havoc take the fall if they get caught.

When I first started reading this story, I definitely saw some Star Wars influences. There’s a rebellion, a plan to infiltrate a major organization and steal its critical plans, and more. But that didn’t stop me from getting invested in the characters and wishing for their success. The worldbuilding is excellent, and I wasn’t weighed down by all kinds of exposition for a majority of the beginning chapters. I think I’ll stick with it to at least see where the plot goes.

If you’re a sci-fi fan, enjoy Star Wars-inspired media, or LGBT characters, check out this series!

Get the Kindle ebook free from Amazon here.

1. Nightcreature Collection by Lori Handeland

This is a box set of the first three books in the 11-book The Nightcreature Novels, a paranormal romance series. The other books are $3.99 each, and are not in Kindle Unlimited. This is the author’s first time on our Free Friday list.

From Maria Korolov:

You can’t tell by looking at the box set image above, but once you start reading, you’ll see the cover of the first book — and it’s got a naked guy’s chest on the cover and a wolf in the background. I peeked ahead, and the third book also has a naked chest. The second book has a naked back, but you can see a woman’s legs wrapped around the guy’s waist and her red nails leaving bloody scratches in his skin.

That should tell you a lot about what kind of book this is. And it’s not the kind of book I like. I’m not saying that I’m a prude and hate sexy times. I’m saying that I hate romance and love and all things good and wonderful and prefer books full of wanton violence instead. I’m not saying I have issues… okay, I’ve got issues. So keep that in mind. My review of this box set could be a little tiny wee bit biased.

Our protagonist Jessie is a small town cop in northern Wisconsin. She bored, cranky, hoping something interesting will happen. I like her. She’s snarky and sarcastic. I like the way she banters with the dispatcher. I like the way that the local woo-woo legends piss her off.

Besides her and the sheriff, there are six other officers in the town’s department, but they hire more in the summer to handle tourists. And it’s the third week of summer now, so stupid tourists are all over the place. Like the one who stopped a luxury SUV is in the middle of the road. Jessie stops and finds that there was damage to the vehicle, and drops of blood on the pavement. She looks around, but doesn’t see any signs of a wounded animal, or person, and opens the SUV’s door. There’s a woman behind the wheel, with a bump on her head and glassy eyes. The woman says she hit a wolf, and when she came out to check on it, thinking it was a dog, the wolf bit her.

One of the summer cops arrives at the scene and Jessie tells him to take the drive to the clinic while she tries to find the wolf. If she can, she might be able to spare the victim from having to get rabies shots. The other cop is hesitant to leave Jessie alone to look for the wolf. But she’s lived there all her life, and is the best hunter on the force. She shuts him down and heads into the forest.

Again, I like her a lot. She’s confident, smart, capable. And she’s got no interest in marriage. I like that about her, but I have my doubts about how long that attitude is going to last, since there’s a naked guy’s chest on the cover. Maybe she’ll sleep with him then shoot him dead immediately afterwards. I can hope, can’t I?

Then the blood trail she’s been following disappears near a log cabin. Jessie picks up the trail again near a bush. There’s something in it. It’s a naked guy.

Darn it.

She feels the same way I do. She was looking for a wounded wolf, not a hot naked guy.

She ignores how hot the naked guy is and asks him if he’s seen a wolf running through. He tells her that she’s not going to find the wolf.

And he was right. She continues searching but can’t find the wolf, and eventually goes back to her car. The SUV has already been towed away. And the woman driver — the one who was bit — left the hospital after refusing to get the rabies shots.

Even though she’s supposed to be off-duty by now, Jessie decides to track the woman down. Turns out, she’s not a tourist after all but one of the teachers at a local school. And when Jessie gets to the school, everyone is panicking.

Jessie pulls her gun out and goes inside, figuring that it was an active shooter situations. She doesn’t hear any gunshots, but she does her crying, and finds the woman driver from the previous night holding a little boy up in the air. The woman also has pink foam coming out of her mouth. Not a good look.

And there was someone else on the floor near by, an adult man, not moving, with blood spattered all around.

Jessie tells the woman to put down the little boy. Instead, the woman makes a move like she’s going to bite the kid’s throat, so Jessie shoots her in the head.

Nope, it wasn’t Jessie who fired the gun. It was the sheriff, who’d come up behind her.

So, I love the start of this book. I like Jessie. I like the dispatcher. I like the way she handles everything that comes at her. She reminds me a bit of Anita Blake in Laurell Hamilton’s Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter series. The early books, before Anita got too busy with all the boyfriend drama to actually have time to hunt any vampires.

I’m going to stick with it.

I know I said it’s not my kind of book. But I really like Jessie and I like the writing style and the pacing and the whole police procedural feel.

Get the Kindle ebook box set 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 Terri, Emma, Benji and 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, 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.

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.

Benji Blackwell is freelance editor and owner of Elves & Ellipses, where he provides copyediting and proofreading services for authors of Christian, YA, and speculative fiction novels and short stories. He also blogs about writing and self-publishing matters—with a touch of what he calls humor and an English teacher’s brain he can’t get rid of.

Carla Nordlund is a freelance developmental editor, book coach, and writer. She works with authors of fantasy, historical fiction, and romance to strengthen both their manuscripts and writing practice. You can find her on Twitter at @silverrunedit for writing tips and puppy nose boops; and at Silver Run Editing to collaborate on a developmental edit, manuscript assessment, beta read, or coaching.

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.

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