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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. Savior by Andy Peloquin
This is the fourth of seven books in the Darkblade epic fantasy series. The first five book are all free today — and are also all in Kindle Unlimited. The last two books aren’t out yet, but are available for pre-order. Book six is due out at the end of this month and book seven is due out next November.
From Maria Korolov:
All five of the books in the series that are out are free today. I’m not going to review each of them because I plan to read them, and don’t want to spoil the plot for me — or for you.
Instead, scroll down to my review of the first book in the series.
Meanwhile, I’ll tell you a little bit about the author’s other books, in case you like his writing style.
First, there’s his three-book grimdark epic fantasy thief adventure series, Queen of Thieves. It’s about a girl who’s sold to pay her father’s debts and is forced to become an apprentice thief. For more epic fantasy featuring thieves, try the six-book Heirs of Destiny series. And if you like epic fantasy, assassins, and dragons, check out the Dragonblood Assassin trilogy. And if you’re more into military fantasy, check out his The Silent Champions six-book series.
If you like assassins but prefer a sci-fi setting, check out the 12-book Cerberus series about a government assassin who job is to fix the galaxy’s darkest, ugliest problems.
9. Deceiver by Andy Peloquin
This is the fifth of seven books in the Darkblade epic fantasy series. The first five book are all free today — and are also all in Kindle Unlimited. The last two books aren’t out yet, but are available for pre-order. Book six is due out at the end of this month and book seven is due out next November.
From Maria Korolov:
Again, I’m not going to review this particular book — scroll down to my review of the first book in the series, instead.
Meanwhile, I’ll tell you a little bit more about the series. The first book, Assassin, was the author’s first book to hit more than 1,000 reviews last spring — after he completely rewrote it and overhauled it. It now has more than 2,000 reviews, so the work definitely paid off.
If you want to know more about the author, check out his website, AndyPeloquin.com, or following him on Twitter at @AndyPeloquin or on Facebook at @andyqpeloquin. He also has a YouTube channel where he posted a handful of videos over the past few years. He posts regularly on Twitter, but seems to spend more of his time on Facebook, so it’s worth following him there if you enjoy his work. He also seems to interact quite a bit with his fans — definitely a plus in my book.
8. Slayer by Andy Peloquin
This is the third of seven books in the Darkblade epic fantasy series. The first five book are all free today — and are also all in Kindle Unlimited. The last two books aren’t out yet, but are available for pre-order. Book six is due out at the end of this month and book seven is due out next November.
From Maria Korolov:
I’ve run out of things to say about the author or his books without giving away too much of what happens next in the story. Just scroll down to my review of the first book in the series.
7. Protector by Andy Peloquin
This is the second of seven books in the Darkblade epic fantasy series. The first five book are all free today — and are also all in Kindle Unlimited. The last two books aren’t out yet, but are available for pre-order. Book six is due out at the end of this month and book seven is due out next November.
From Maria Korolov:
Okay, okay, I get it. People really like these books. I don’t blame them. I like the books, too.
Scroll down for my review of the first book in the series to find out why.
6. The Secret Within by Sean Platt and David Wright
This is a standalone urban fantasy mystery. Both of the authors have had books on this list before. We reviewed another book they co-authored, Z2134, in July of 2022. And we reviewed Sean Platt’s Pattern Black, co-authored with Johnny B. Truant in January of last year and again last February. And we reviewed Burnout, also co-authored with Johnny B. Truant, last April.
From Romel Madray:
The prologue starts off with a really intense scene between two characters named Jay and Anika and ends with a cliffhanger of Jay threatening Anika, who has locked herself in the bathroom.
In the next chapter, we meet the main character, Delaney West. She used to be a police officer, but now she’s a private detective running her business out of her tiny apartment. Delaney gets called in by Jay’s mother to investigate his disappearance, but she’s a bit unsure about the family and the situation. Despite that, she decides to give it a shot and quotes a price. In the end, she realizes it’s a waste of time and leaves.
Then, we cut to Anika who works at a crappy diner, barely earning minimum wage. She’s now clean from drugs. A man in a hoodie walks in, and she recognizes him as a familiar face saying, “long time, no see stranger”. I get the feeling that its Jay, but it is not explicitly stated.
Next chapter, there is a bit of backstory on Delaney, when she was seven years old and was raised by her father, a preacher. He used her as a sort of circus event to sell his church services, but there’s a weird incorporeal entity who meets her in the end and again we are left on at a cliffhanger.
Overall, I found the book to be really well-written, and I think fans of detective procedurals will like it.. The opening takes its time to give a backstory and world-building and each chapter ends with a cliffhanger, which I suspect will reveal itself through the rest of the book.
I found Delaney to be a relatable and believable character, and I enjoyed seeing her navigate through the world she lives in. Plus, it’s a relatively short read, so it’s perfect for when you want to dive into a story without committing to a long book and I will finish it off over the weekend.
From Terrence Smith:
The novel follows Delaney West, a private eye whose only companion is an orange tabby cat. She can discover people’s hidden secrets and feelings simply by touching them, which has helped with previous cases. She is also trying to leave behind a past with a father who was a pastor and a con man.
Her latest case involves the disappearance of a young man from a financially well-off family. His girlfriend has ties to a supernatural club.
Delaney immediately gives off the vibe of someone who has grown weary of her job, having seen her share of tragedy in her line of work. Still, she is willing to help those who ask for it, even if they aren’t the most decent people on the planet.
The protagonist is interesting enough to merit wanting to know how her story unfolds. While I do not plan on continuing to read this, others who are into the supernatural and detective stories should check this one out.
5. Assassin by Andy Peloquin
This is the first of seven books in the Darkblade epic fantasy series. The first five book are all free today — and are also all in Kindle Unlimited. The last two books aren’t out yet, but are available for pre-order. Book six is due out at the end of this month and book seven is due out next November.
From Maria Korolov:
Finally! You made it! Yes, this is the first book of the series. You must be really excited about it now.
I know I am. And I do like epic fantasy stories featuring stoic assassins.
The protagonist is just named the Hunter, and he’s got a magic knife that sucks the souls from his victims. Plus, he can regenerate almost instantly after being wounded. He’s also really good with swords, knives, and cross-bows. He gets paid by bad guys to kill other bad guys but makes a point of not killing the innocent. In fact, his secret lair is actually a giant homeless shelter for the city’s poor, sick, and destitute.
When he meet him, he’s on an assignment to kill the captain of a ship smuggling drugs into the city. Plus, the guy is also a human trafficker. The Hunter first kills all of the captain’s henchmen, gets shot in the heart, recuperates, then sucks the soul out of the evil captain with his magic knife.
He also frees all the slaves and burns the drugs. You know, typical vigilante living in a gray area.
But then, on his way back, he comes across two of the escaped women who are being threated by thugs. He kills the thugs, of course, and discovers that they work for a local crime lord. Did the Hunter just make an enemy he can’t defeat? I guess I’ll just have to keep reading to find out.
The book is very fast-paced, and I like the fully-realized setting and the way that the Hunter just goes around killing bad guys. It’s very cathartic. It is a little on the grim side, but I think that the fact that it’s full of action more than makes up for it. I will probably stick with it this weekend.
4. The Blood Stone by Jason J. Nugent
This is the first of four books in the Curse of the Drakku epic fantasy series. The other books are $1.99 to $2.99 each and they’re not in Kindle Unlimited. The author is a USA Today best seller and though this is the first time he’s been in our list, he has several other series up on Amazon, including more fantasy, as well as science fiction and LitRPG.
From Tim McHugh:
High fantasy stands alone as my favorite genre in speculative fiction. I’ll read anything set in a medieval time period, add in some dragons and magic, even better. I’m definitely the target audience for this book.
The story is set in a world that is plagued by a famine, rumored to be caused by a surplus of dragons. We have two protagonists in the early chapters — Lailoken is a dragon slayer trained from birth to tame and kill and Myrthyd is a rising force in an order of magus who work to harness the power of dragon blood.
The heart of the story is about Lailoken, sent on a quest to retrieve an ancient and powerful stone guarded by a dragon. He is fueled by the need to avenge the disappearance of his wife. I know, I know, another played-out fantasy trope. I can’t stop you from rolling your eyes at the cover blurb, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give it a chance.
In the first few chapters we get a taste of the dragon-slaying abilities of Lailoken, but much more captivating is the sudden rise of Myrthyd through the ranks of the magus order. Myrthyd starts as a novice, optimistic about the world, but abused by his teacher. He works personally to try to understand the problems in the world so he might work to fix them by any means necessary.
This leads him to steal a book full of dark spells from the order and he spends his free time learning forbidden magics. When he is caught by his teacher and faced with the threat of execution, he uses these spells to kill the man who had abused him for years.
We then skip ahead two years, where Myrthyd not only becomes a fully-fledged magus, but rises to the highest rank in the order through the use of his dark magic. Myrthyd has the grey morality that I love to see in a character.
While there are some good qualities in this book, I do find it falling into some of those overused tropes early. The author also has a simple writing style that lays out the scenes in a matter-of-fact kind of way that doesn’t build much tension.
I’m not going to stick with this one, but if you love heroic fantasy and a good quest you might want to check it out.
3. A Lesson in Thorns by Sierra Simone
This is the first of four books in the Thornchapel bisexual fantasy romance series by a USA Today-bestselling author. The other books are $5.99 to $6.99 each and are not in Kindle Unlimited. This is the second week in a row that this book has been on our top ten free list.
From Maria Korolov:
I am not the target reader of this book. In fact, I tried my hardest to get someone else on the team to take it. The cover — and the description blurb — makes me think of Fifty Shades of Grey, a book that I really disliked.
Not that I’m opposed to steamy sex and S&M. I just didn’t like the writing style. Or the premise.
Auden’s family owns Thornchapel, a creepy house with a giant maze and a strange tunnel in the center. He and five other children are playing outside and go into the maze and find a chapel, only the walls are thorns and the floor is grass and instead of an altar there’s a grassy hummock. The kids have a pretend wedding and three of them wind up sharing a kiss when a thunderstorm breaks out and they ran back to the house. The house party broke up, the parents went their separate ways, and so did all the kids.
This prologue is written in an extremely lyrical, literary style. It reminds me a bit of Gabriel Garcia Marquez. So, in writing quality it’s about as far from Fifty Shades of Grey as you can get.
Then the book officially begins twelve years later. The first chapter is written in the first person, from the point of view of Proserphina, one of the girls who had been playing at the chapel — the one who would up kissing two boys at the same time. She’s now 22, and just got a job offer, for a job at Thornchapel. She leaves her career as a university librarian in Kansas City and heads there right away because the job offer letter was written in familiar handwriting — that of her mother, who’s been missing for twelve years. All the police officers and private detectives her father had hired had failed to find her.
When she gets to Thornchapel she finds that one of the boy’s she’d kissed is already there. And so is Auden, the boy she’s been in love with for the past twelve years. She hasn’t seen either of them since that day. And the other three kids are there, as well. Auden is renovating the house, and the other kids are there to help him out.
And there’s all kinds of sexual tension in the air.
Then Proserphina is devastated to find out that Auden is engaged to one of the other kids, Delphine.
This story moves very slowly. And it is very dramatic. I do enjoy the writing, but not enough to stick with it, or with the drama. And the knowledge that there’s kinky sex up ahead is also dissuading me from continuing.
2. Outrun the Night by Marie Wilkens
This is a standalone EMP survival book, but the author has several other books up on Amazon, both EMP survival and mysteries. In fact, a couple of her other EMP survival books have been on this list. We reviewed her book The Hartford Homestead last November and her book Final Light in October.
From Alex Korolov:
This is an EMP book, where an electromagnetic pulse knocks out all electronic devices and leaves society in chaos. So if that’s your sort of thing, read on.
We meet Penelope in the first chapter. She works at a horse stable outside of Nashville and sings in the city at night in pursuit of her dreams of becoming a country music star. We also meet Starfish, a nice old horse that Penelope takes care of.
And we meet the son of the people who own the place Penelope works at. His name is Sam, and it turns out the two used to be a couple, but Penelope broke it off because Sam was supposed to go to law school in another state and she didn’t want to hold him back, but she still loves him or something.
That’s it for the first chapter, so basically just some character introduction.
Not much happens in chapter two either, except Penelope – who usually lives at the place she works – decides to go home to Kentucky for the weekend to visit her parents and get away from her ex Sam, who’s just back visiting for the weekend.
Finally, in chapter three we get a hint that there’s been an EMP. Penelope decides to wait to leave until Sam’s parents – a.k.a. here employers – come back from town so she can say goodbye before she takes off. But Sam tells her they went to the city the previous night, and now they’re still gone, and oh, Sam and Penelope’s cellphones have mysteriously both stopped working.
It’s around chapter four that the two figure out an EMP or something like that has taken out all the electronics, but that’s about as far as I got.
This book definitely has a slow build-up and takes a few chapters to introduce the main characters, which I actually enjoy. A lot of EMP books hit you with disaster in the first chapter, and you hardly know the characters at all. I’m not the biggest fan of this type of book, but as far as EMP books go, I think I’d keep reading.
1. Battleship Leviathan by Craig Martelle
This is the first of six books in the Battleship: Leviathan space opera series. The other books are all in Kindle Unlimited — and are on sale today for $0.99 each. This is the second time this book has been on our list. We previously reviewed it in September of 2022.
From Mary Stoll:
Major Declan Payne and his crew are assigned a new mission to explore and possibly restore the first fully intact derelict. The derelicts belong to the Progenitors, an advanced species that abandoned ships throughout the galaxy 1000 years ago.
Unlike the other abandoned Prog vessels which are all more salvages than ships, this ship was invisible until recently, after being cloaked for 1000 years.
Payne’s team normally specializes in behind-the-lines search-and-destroy missions, not recovery missions. This time is different because the Blaze Collective is en route to the mystery ship which is located in Earth’s solar system, orbiting one of Jupiter’s moons.
The Blaze Collective is at war with Humanity, so it is urgent that Payne’s team arrives and commandeers the ship first. The battle-worn team is up to the challenge. Even the new, green, member who is nicknamed Fetus. Fetus is always the newest member of the team until a newer member joins the crew to take the name and a new nickname is given to the old Fetus.
The team boards Cleophas for their journey to the new derelict. While en route, studying the video of the derelict, the team realizes that the ship they are about to explore may not be derelict at all but is possibly a highly advanced battleship. It may be just what they need to give them the advantage over the Blaze.
This is a story for readers who enjoy space battles and military jargon. The Amazon introduction suggests “It’s perfect for fans of Rick Partlow, Jay Allan, and Joshua Dalzelle.” I liked what I read but probably won’t read further just because it’s not my favorite genre.
Have you read any of these books? Are you planning to? Let us know in the comments!
And watch Maria and Romel discuss all ten books in the video below: