Free Friday: Today’s top free Amazon sci-fi and fantasy books for May 17, 2024

Reading Time: 9 minutes

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. Hawk Witch by Ashley McLeo

This is the first of four paranormal romance books in The Bonegates Series. The other books are $4.99 each, and are not in Kindle Unlimited. The author has been on this list before. We previously reviewed her book Alice the Dagger,  the first of two books in The Wonderland Court Series of romantic fantasy, in April of 2023.

From Maria Korolov:

I know that romantasy is the hottest new genre, but, as regular readers of this magazine know, I’ve got a cold, cold heart and hate all things warm and wonderful. I prefer my fantasy on the epic side, with as little romance as possible. But I’m willing to make an except if the characters are fun, there’s lot of action, or the writing is so compelling that it drags me in.

The book starts out in modern-day Dublin, at Trinity College’s graduation, as Lan is watching other graduates enjoying themselves. But she misses the countryside and can’t wait to get out of the city again and go home to her mother and pet hawk. Her mother is a nurse, but also a healer in the witching community. Lan herself has light magic, but she’s not particularly good at it since her grandmother is the one who trained her, even though she wasn’t qualified.

Then one night a woman in black shows up. She has ears like an elf and can change shape into a hawk. And she says that Lan’s father sent her. The same father who abandoned her mother when she was pregnant with Lan and never answered any of her phone calls or letters. The woman brought a cryptic note. A puzzle and a challenge that Lan has to solve in order to find her father. Basically, her father wants her to prove herself to be courageous, intelligent and powerful enough to find him. He sounds like a total jerk.

Is Lan going to do the sane thing and throw the note out?

Instead, she asks her mom about it. And her mom basically says that if she wants to go on the hunt, it’s fine with her. Even though the jerk abandoned her, left her to raise a baby on her own, and she struggled quite a bit.

And Lan decides to do the hunt.

Why? If anything her father should be the one trying to prove himself worthy to her.

He’s the one who failed in a big way.

I just can’t get past this. But Lan does have her reasons. For one, she’s hoping her father can teach her about her magic. And she’s always been curious about who her dad was. Her mother didn’t know much about him.

Anyway, the book is very readable and Lan, except for her daddy issues, is a fun character. The writing style is pretty breezy and light, and should make for a fun weekend read — or summer beach read.

Get the Kindle ebook free from Amazon here.

4. Battles of Salt and Sighs by Val Saintcrowe

This is the first of four books in the Rise of the Death Fae romantic fantasy series. The other books are $3.99 each, and are not in Kindle Unlimited. The author has been on this list before. We reviewed her book Vows and Vagabonds, the first of two books in The Rzymn Job fantasy series, just last month.

From Maria Korolov:

There’s a war, and the elves, enslaved by humans, have rebelled. Onivia’s father and her brothers have all been killed, as was her husband. On their wedding day, before they could consummate their marriage. And her little sister has been kidnapped by an elf king.

The leader of the fae group that killed her family picks Onivia out among the other women taken prisoner because she was married but didn’t have any children. And rapes her. Not because he wants to, personally, but because he has to. For reasons.

It’s an extremely explicit scene and pretty disturbing, if you’re the kind of person to be disturbed by things like that. But it’s not written to be brutal and violent. I think we’re meant to sympathize with the guy.

Which makes me think that they’ll eventually end up together.

In the next chapter, we get some of Onivia’s history, her relationship with her sister and her father, and we learn that the sister is very good at magic. That’s why the elves had come for them. They wanted her sister’s magic.

Then we switch to the sister’s point of view. They took her away from the village on horse, then shoved her into a room below decks on a ship. And we learn a bit more of the backstory which is pretty interesting. Seems that some of the human businessmen are supporting the elvish rebellion. The humans have invented steam engines, and slave labor is not good for business. Meanwhile, some women have started protesting for women’s rights as well. So this feels like a parallel to the Civil War.

After several days, the ship gets to its destination and she’s taken to the evil king, who can raise the dead.

I’m not going to tell you more, to avoid giving away the plot. The writing is very compelling and pulls you in. The setting is gritty and very realistic, and we really feel how these two women are suffering — and how superior they feel compared to the elves.

This is not a breezy weekend read. This is the kind of book that pulls you in, takes you over, and forces you to shell out cash for the other books in the series.

I’m not going to stick with it because I’m worried that the book will make me feel things. Horror. Sadness. Despair. I don’t want to feel those things, and don’t understand why some people enjoy movies that scare them or make them cry. But if you’re someone who wants books that make them feel those things, I can highly recommend this one.

Get the Kindle ebook free from Amazon here.

3. Aria by Ariele Sieling

This is the first of three books in the Aria’s Song fantasy romance series. The other books are $3.99 each, and the series is not in Kindle Unlimited. The author has been on this list before. We previously reviewed this book in June of 2023, and we reviewed her book Tentacles and Teeth, the first of seven books in Land of Szornyek postapocalyptic survival series, this past March.

From Lilivette Domínguez-Torres:

This story is set in a future where magic and technology collide.

Lenna Stone works in a tavern and has managed to keep a low profile all of her life. But with the tensions across the city rising, things start getting a little complicated for her. First, androids — and technology in general — continue to die the moment they come in contact with her or get close to her. This ends up bringing unwanted attention from a mysterious group of people as they investigate the gruesome android murders that have been happening around the city.

Now she’s on the run again. Will she be able to get away or will the people hunting her down find her and discover what secrets she’s been hiding?

One thing that I found interesting about this story were the protests that were raging across the city. You’d think they’d have something to do with the androids they live with but no, they’re actually from people who have magic in their DNA. This made the story very interesting and it’s something that makes you want to continue reading so you can learn more about why they’re protesting and why everyone is scared of them…or hates them. Sadly, we don’t get many answers in the first few chapters of this book.

Another thing that was super interesting was the mystery and the secrets behind our main character, Lenna. I mean, the way technology has always died when it comes into contact with her or the way she can heal tattoos in less than 24 hours. There’s also definitely something hiding behind those headaches she suffers from all the time.

I definitely recommend this book if you’re into futuristic worlds where technology and magic are in conflict with each other. It has a lot of mysteries, suspense, and it looks like maybe there will be some romance.

Overall, I liked what I read from this book, but I didn’t love it enough to want to continue reading it right now…but maybe one day I’ll pick it up again!

Get the Kindle ebook free from Amazon here.

2. It Ain’t Over… by Robert M. Kerns

This is the first of four books in the Cole & Sprexx space opera series. The other books in the series are $3.99 to $4.99 each and are not in Kindle Unlimited. The author has been on this list before. We previously reviewed this book in August of 2023.

From Tobey Patton:

Captain Bartholomew James Coulson and the crew of his battle carrier have been hunting Draketh Lindrick across the galaxy for months with no luck. While command wants Lindrick for his attempted coup, Captain Coulson — Cole, to his fleet — wants the ex-general captured for much more personal reasons: Lindrick massacred Cole’s family and home planet while thirteen year-old Cole watched from the surrounding asteroid belt, vowing to one day hunt Lindrick down and make him pay.

Finally, Cole has his chance. Lindrick and his armada appear from the nearby space-gate. They demand that Cole turn over the Thyrray family, including their daughter, who is the ship’s first officer. Taking only a minute to inform command and ignore their reservations about engaging the armada, Cole launches his attack, aided by Srexx, the ship’s resourceful AI.

The ensuing epic battle spans the entirety of the second chapter, where Cole is forced to take on the leadership responsibilities he’s always been hesitant to fully accept, leading his first major tactical assault with impressive success — Lindrick is captured, a third of his fleet damaged or destroyed, and his crew is left begging to join Cole’s fleet.

Now Cole must decide what to do with the ships, the crew, and most importantly, Lindrick. If you love action-packed science fiction, space operas, or headstrong, rule-breaking protagonists, this is the novel for you. It definitely hooked me and I just might move it higher up my “novels to read next” queue.

Get the Kindle ebook free from Amazon here.

1. The Shattered Court by M.J. Scott

This is the first of three books in The Four Arts romantic fantasy series. The other books are $4.99 each, and are not in Kindle Unlimited. The author has been on this list before. We reviewed her book Wicked Games, the first of four books in the TechWitch urban fantasy series, in May of 2023.

From E.S. Foster:

Sophia is a young woman who is thirty-second in line to the throne. Despite being so far down the line, Sophia must participate in a ritual on her twenty-first birthday, which is right around the corner. If she discovers she has magic, she’ll immediately be married off to whoever’s most convenient. If not, she’ll still be married off to someone outside the court.

But Sophia doesn’t want any part of this. She wants the freedom of not being seen as an object. Too bad her every waking moment is spent being forced to act like a proper young lady. The incessant rules are likely all she’ll ever learn.

Her one comfort is the crown princess Eloisa, the strongest witch of them all. Aafter the death of her husband, Eloisa hasn’t gotten remarried.

As a lady-in-waiting, Sophia has learned plenty about how witches use their magic, or at least how they should be able to.

We then shift to Eloisa’s guard whose father wants him to seduce the princess to improve their stations, and it seems as if that’s the last thing the guy wants. Nevertheless, he and the princess immediately start in with in the witty banter then take it to the bedroom within the next two pages. Princess Elosia then tasks him with taking Sophia to on a trip to get some magical herbs.

Sophia and the guard immediately dislike each other. Sophia sees him as just another man trying to boss her around. But while they’re purchasing the herbs, an attack occurs at the palace. They immediately return, and in the chaos, Sophia comes into her magic—the strongest and deadliest kind. All the politics of the court are thrown into disarray, and now Sophia and the guard must work together to keep the princess safe from the enemies cropping up from the inside.

I loved the idea of oppressed witches in a fantasy setting. Even though I’ve read a lot of stories of a protagonist suddenly discovering they have magic, this story felt unique because of all the power dynamics involved. I was a little weighed down by some of the exposition, but with a completed series in front of me, I think I’ll stick with this one to see what happens to Sophia and her magic.

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 and Emma 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.

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.

Tobey Patton is a dystopian and literary writer, currently finishing his senior year at Dickinson College. You can read his writing in the soon-to-be published Eggbox Yearly Undergraduate Anthology. Contact him via email at [email protected].

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.

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