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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. Kingdoms at War by Lindsay Buroker
This is the first of six books in the Dragon Gate epic fantasy series. The other books are $4.99 each but are all in Kindle Unlimited. The author has been on this list before. Last April, we reviewed Mind over Magic, the first of five books in the A Witch in Wolf Wood paranormal romantic mystery series. And, in May of 2021, we reviewed The Dragon Blood Collection, the first three books in the eight-book Dragon Blood series. Also, in November of 2021, she had a short story in the Star Rebels anthology.
From Maria Korolov:
I’m a big fan of Lindsay Buroker, her books, and her Six Figure Authors podcast. I particularly like those of her books that are long on action and short on romance. And, from what I’ve seen so far, this book definitely fits the bill.
The prologue is from the point of view of a boy working in a busy cantina who watches a strange and heavily armed man who is missing one of his hands fight off a gang of teenage attackers. Oh, and there’s a volcano about to erupt. The fighter carries a sword and a black-powder pistol, which gives us an indication of the technology in this world. Also, there’s magic here, and mages who live in sky castles.
Then, in the first chapter, we switch to the point of view of Jakstor, a student who’s helping out the archelogy team headed up by his mother. She’s trying to dig up some kind of mystical artifact before the volcano erupts.
Then a swarm of stone-skinned, rat-faced creatures erupts from their mountain tunnels, running to escape the volcano. They overrun the crewmen, killing most of them along the way, and are headed down to where the archeology team is working. Jakstor kills as many as he can before he runs out of bullets, then races down the slope to warn the team.
Then, in the next chapter, we switch to the point of view of Jadora, Jakstor’s mother. She’s hurring to uncover the artifact that’s been encased in rock for millenia — an artifact that can open a portal to the homeland of the dragons. Her late husband had dedicated his life to finding it. They plan to dig up the artifact, carry it to their barge, and take it back to their own continent to study, safely away from the volcano.
She got permission from the local authorities for the dig, but not from the mages in the floating sky castles. They’ll need to get the artifact out and activated before the mages find out. Then she sees her son racing down the mountain towards them — and the rat-faced monsters. Meanwhile, their guards abandon them, running back to their barge.
Jadora is able to drive the attackers off and a ship of female mercenaries arrives just in time to rescue them. They’ve been sent by the local magistrate, who doesn’t want to see a bunch of foreign archeologists killed by lava, causing an international incident. She bribes the mercenaries with coffee to take the artifact as well. And, just when I thought they were safe, an even bigger threat appears on the horizon. The mages are approaching on one of their flying ships.
I love the start of this story, I like both of the main characters, and the world feels very real and detailed. I’m looking forward to finishing this book — and the series.
If you want to support independent bookstores, you can buy this book for $14.99 at Bookshop.
9. Wraithwood by Alyssa Roat
This is the first of three books in The Wraithwood Trilogy urban fantasy series. The other books are $4.99 and $2.99 each, but the entire series is in Kindle Unlimited.
From Terrence Smith:
Fourteen-year-old Brinnie is spending the summer with her estranged uncle Merlin in upstate New York. Her parents went overseas to help refugees while she stays in an old mansion that does not have working electricity.
The story feel likes a blend of Gothic literature and magical realism, with the reclusive uncle and all the mysteries in store. On Brinnie’s first night, she spots outside her bedroom door a cloaked figure coming down the hall, briefly illuminated by lightning from a thunderstorm, and then vanishing.
The mansion itself promises to be as much of a character as any other character in the story. She is specifically told by Mrs. Winslow, a helper in the house, that no one goes through the front of it, only the back. This teases that whatever is in the front side of the house will be essential to the story, as well as potentially learning more about her family’s history.
This is a story I can see myself returning to. I just have to fight my self-diagnosed ADD and go through my library of a thousand other books in the meantime.
8. Mission One by Samuel Best
This is the first of three books in the Titan Chronicles space exploration science fiction series. The other books are $4.99 each, but the entire series is in Kindle Unlimited.
From Tim McHugh:
The book takes place in relatively current time and in our universe. I usually prefer my science fiction to be far in the future and deep in space, so I am not the main audience, but I do enjoy these types of books from time to time so I was interested to check it out.
We start on the day of the long-awaited launch of a private rocket ship to Saturn’s largest moon, Titan. Our protagonists are Jeff Dolan, the engineer of the four person crew, and his girlfriend Kate who works for Diamond Aerospace, the company funding the mission.
The first couple of chapters move at a slow pace, setting up the mission and introducing us to the characters, but we do get some action that hints at a larger mystery to come.
As Kate is driving to work, she is cut off by a frantic man yelling at her from his beat-up car. Before she can understand what he is saying, a black SUV crashes into the car and two men get out and try to apprehend the man who yelled at Kate. The man escapes and Kate flees the scene before she gets any more information.
These hectic events seem to be related to a mystery within Diamond Aerospace: there is someone trying to sabotage the mission.
The writing in this book is very good and if you like detailed descriptions of spacecraft, you will like it all the more. While the premise seems like it could turn into an overused “space mission gone wrong” troupe, from what I’ve read so far, I think the author can make it work.
I’m going to stick with this one, partly because I really like the writing style, partly because I’m sucked into the mystery.
7. Treoir Dragon Chronicles by Dianna Love
This is a box set of the first three books in the nine-book Treoir Dragon Chronicles of the Belador urban fantasy series. The rest of the books are $.99 to $2.99 each but are all in Kindle Unlimited.
From Maria Korolov:
I do like urban fantasy, and Diana Love is a New York Times bestselling author, so I have high hopes for these books.
The books starts 2,000 years ago, in what is now Ireland. Daegan can turn into a dragon, and can communicate telepathically with other dragons. His father is the king, and Daegan is protecting a village from attack by another king’s army, ending years of peace. The problem is that the other side also has a dragon, a friend of Daegan’s.
Daegan’s dragon form has its own name Ruadh, and its own personality, and the two of them can communicate mind-to-mind.
The two dragons fight, and Daegan defeats his friend, but, out of friendship, lets him live — and asks him why they attacked the village. Turns out, the other guys think that Daegan attacked them first. A big red dragon burned his friend’s cousin in front of his mother and savaged several villages. And Daegan is the only red dragon around.
Then we find out that Daegan can also teleport, because he gets word that his father, the king, is sick. He also finds out that another dragon clan is also gearing up for war against them.
And things just keep getting worse. He learns that his sister also fell sick at the same time as his father, and he teleports to her side, but when he touches her, he discovers it’s a trap, set by a goddess witch with dark powers — Queen Maeve.
Then we switch to the present day, to Atlanta, to Renata Sanchez. She’s a supernatural being, helping protect humanity from supernatural evils. She wants to get married, but her fiance is human, and she needs the dragon king’s permission to wed. And the dragon king’s name is Daegan. So he got free somehow?
Then Renata is captured by some kind of supernatural being and we switch to Daegan’s point of view and there’s a battle with a troll and a human trying to film the whole thing for the Internet.
Plus a whole bunch of names and a complicated back story. It almost feels like I’m coming into the middle of something — oh, and I am.
Seems that this is a spinoff of the Belador series, 11 books by Dianna Love and Sherrilyn Kenyon. Those books are $2.99 to $15.99 each, and only the last seven are in Kindle Unlimited. I think if you’ve read the other series, then you should definitely check out this one.
If you haven’t read the other books — well, this book is very readable, but you’ll have to power through a couple of confusing chapters as you get up to speed.
6. Legends of Elysia: Awakening by Yuri Jean-Baptiste
This is the first of three books in the Elysia epic fantasy series. The other books are $4.99 each, but the entire series is in Kindle Unlimited.
From Maria Korolov:
I like epic fantasy, and I like the cover, so I have high hopes for the book. Also, there’s a really cool map right the beginning, and I love books with maps in them.
The story starts out with Rafael, walking down into a valley. He’s tired from miles of traveling, and his arms are sore from a recent battle. His poncho is still stained with blood, and there’s a foul substance on his war hammer. He’s driven by a mystical force that makes him hunt and kill Forsaken Ones, and its that same force that’s now making him go to Eshna, a tiny hamlet he’d never visited before.
As he gets closer, he senses a dark presence in the hamlet. He has money — people he’d saved before, over the course of his travels, had been grateful. So he goes into a tavern to get some food and tea.
The locals stare at him when he walks in and finally one of them walks up, dumps a bag of jewels on his table, and says they’ve got a devil they want Rafael to kill.
Namely, an evil aristocrat who tricked them into virtual slavery, and used monsters to keep them in line if they failed to obey. And now Count Salihou has taken all the village’s children as hostages to keep the parents in line. Rafael turns down the gig. He tells the farmers that they made the deal with the devil, and the consequences are on them.
Apparently, that happens with people make deals with the Tainted. Plus, the spirit guiding him isn’t telling him to go after the count. Either Rafael wasn’t enough to solve the problem — or the children were already dead.
But as he’s leaving the hamlet, an attractive woman chases after him. She’s knows who he is — he saved her cousin a year ago. Now she wants him to try to save her daughter. And apparently, something she said makes a difference, and now the spirit is urging him to go and see if any of the children are still alive and can be saved.
The book reminds me quite a bit of The Witcher Saga. So if you’re a fan of those books, or that video game, or that television series, check this out.
It’s a little on the grim side for me, but very readable, so I might stick with it, anyway.
5. A Forest Of Vanity And Valour by A.P Beswick
This is the first of four books in The Levanthria dark fantasy horror series. The second book is $0.99 and the third and fourth book are both currently available for pre-order and will be coming out April 23, 2023, and July 4, 2023. The first two books in the series are in Kindle Unlimited.
Set in a fantasy world known as Levanthria, this is the story of a debt collector known as Vireo Reinhold. During the first three chapters of the story we only get a small glimpse of the main character, the world he lives in, and the people he works for.
As a debt collector for the crown, we start by joining Vireo and his comrades Lek and Gillam as they watch what looks to be the abandoned house of their next target. They just want to collect their money, but after three hours of hiding in the shadows and doing nothing, Vireo is growing restless and starts complaining until a hooded figure enters the house. Without missing a beat they kick the door down the moment the hooded figure doesn’t respond and come face to face with what happens to be a desperate mage. A fight breaks out between them, and once the mage is successfully knocked out, the point of view switches to Jareb, the current ruler of Levanthria.
Since the chapters are so short and quick, it’s not clear if Jareb is the King of Levanthria or if he’s the son in charge while his father is at war. Nonetheless, the story sounds very interesting since we discover that Levanthria is a kingdom where magic has been banished and mages have been hunted down ever since or forced into slavery. This itself makes Vireo’s altercation with the mage in the previous chapter all the more interesting, creating a great hook that leaves you wanting to know more about what’s going to happen next.
The pacing of the story might’ve been a little too fast for the beginning, making a few things confusing, but I’m a sucker for fantasy worlds where magic is forbidden so I will definitely add this to my to-be-read list and pick it up again later.
4. Storm Warden Chronicles by Jessica Gunn
This is a box set of all four books in the Storm Warden Chronicles urban fantasy series. The books are normally $3.99 each but are all in Kindle Unlimited.
From Maria Korolov:
When I first saw the book cover, I thought it was for the Weather Warden series by Rachel Caine, which I’ve read, and liked quite a bit.
Turns out, this is a completely different series, by a completely different author, just with a slightly similar premise.
The first book starts out with Vera, on her way to a poker game. She’s running late, despite the fact that she’s been planning for this particular game for months. In fact, according to her family, she can’t do anything right, which is why she’s now estranged from them.
As she’s hurrying across Boston Commons, she tries to fix her hair, and bumps into a guy. A cute guy, of course. And drops her magic rock. Then she stops to chat with the guy, who tells her that he came from the casino. Since the casino normally caters to supernatural beings, she checks him out more carefully, and notices that he has scales.
And then we get some back story. Ten years ago, there was a supernatural invasion, a war, and a meteor strike took out D.C.
Vera’s been working night shifts for years, serving drinks to vampires and werewolves and fae, even as some of her coworkers were murdered for a snack. She’s trying to earn enough money for get a new identity, a new life, and leave Boston for good.
So, turns out, Vera isn’t a poker player — she’s waitressing at the game. And she helps the vampire win by giving him hints about the cards another player is holding, cards that she can see because she’s serving the drinks. In return, he invites her to join the game and gives her money to play with. In addition to the chips, she has to bet something else. She doesn’t want to bet her rock, so she bets her name.
She loses the hand. And, on the second hand, she bets her rock. And she finds out what the big prize is — a dragon’s egg.
She wins this hand. She takes the egg, leaves the cash and her rock behind, and splits.
So far, this feels like one of those stories where the protagonist makes one bad decision after another, and just happens to luck out. I do enjoy some of those books, especially when the protagonist has a sense of humor about it all, or I really like the setting and the cast of characters.
Unfortunately, this book didn’t really grab me. It’s definitely readable, and if you enjoy plucky, down-on-their-luck heroines who take crazy risks and somehow manage to survive, you might like this book.
Oh, and there’s also lots of sexy guys here. The sexy stranger in the opening scene. The sexy vampire at the poker game. It feels like its going to turn into a love triangle, which I don’t like. But, again, lots of other people do. Plus, you get the whole, complete series for free, so it’s a great deal if you like these books.
3. The Tenets in the Tattoos by Becky James
This is the first of four books in The King’s Swordsman fantasy series. The other books are $2.99 to $3.99 each. The series is not in Kindle Unlimited.
From Maria Korolov:
Another fantasy, and another map at the beginning of the book.
Thorrn is a fighter in the King’s Special Forces, where his father is a captain. A young woman is arrived soon, by magic, and Thorrn can’t wait to see her. He’s hoping that she’ll be his soul companion. He has found the other half of his spirit yet, even though he’s been traveling around on missions. The soul companion is a friend, not a lover. People don’t marry their soul companions.
But when the girl arrives she’s nothing like Thorrn expected — and while something weird happens when their hands touch, he can’t believe that she’s his soul companion.
Then, the next day, she shows up at practice and Thorrn is expected to show her the basic moves. And all their interactions are super awkward and everyone else makes fun of them. It’s a little cringey and I’m embarrassed for both of them.
This feels very much like a coming of age fantasy story. What I like about it is that women can be fighters as much as men, and I like the idea of platonic friendships. But all the social embarrassment and drama is a little much for me.
2. Into the Shadows by Linda K. Hopkins
This is the first of three books in the Shadowlands fantasy series. The second book is $4.99, and third book is currently available for pre-order and will be coming out April 11, 2023. The series is not in Kindle Unlimited.
From Maria Korolov:
In a few hours, Lark will be claimed by Prince Valiant. Then, two weeks later, they’ll be joined together. The future queen is all dressed up for the occasion.
She and Val had practically grown up together and she used to worship the boy, who was three years older than she was. But as he grew up, he started spending his time in taverns and whorehouses, more self-indulgent every year. She really didn’t want to marry him, and once she did, she’d have her hands full trying to get him to behave. But it wasn’t like there was anyone else she’d rather marry instead.
At the claiming ceremony, he slaps a pair of magic bracelets on her — bracelets that snap shut and can’t be removed. Magic is forbidden, but he blackmails her into not telling anyone.
She sends her brother to find the magic maker who must have helped Val enspell the cuffs while she and her maid try to pry them off and fail.
Meanwhile, Val himself is particularly nasty, saying some very snide things to Lark and then going off to be with another woman.
I don’t like him at all, but I guess I’m not supposed to.
Meanwhile, the country is on the brink of war, and her mother is stick and needs some dragonbane. Oh, and an ancient threat is back, a dragon who might have created an army of shadow warriors.
The book is very readable, and I like Lark, and her relationships with the people around her. But I’m sorry that she got trapped by Val so easily. It feels like she’d be too smart for that, and should have been prepared to deal with him. I do like the fact that there isn’t an immediate and obvious love interest here. If there’s a romance, it won’t be too in-your-face, which I appreciate.
I might stick with this book, but there are others I’ll probably be reading first.
1. Displaced by Stephen Drake
This is the first of three books in the Displaced post-apocalyptic science fiction series. The other books are $2.99 each and are not in Kindle Unlimited. This is the second time this book has been number one on this list — we previously reviewed it in May of last year.
From Alex Korolov:
Displaced is a sci-fi story about a small group of humans who wake up from suspended animation in a transport pod and now have to survive on a strange new planet.
If you like stories of survival or sci-fi where humans explore alien worlds, this book is for you. I liked it, and I would keep reading to learn about the new planet. Also, the characters are interesting enough, so I’d want to know what ends up happening to them.
The first few chapters are about the people getting to know each other, and how two people, in particular, don’t get along.
Kevin Murdock is an outdoorsy survivalist type who knows how to hunt and fish, and he quickly learns that the animals on the new planet are like earth’s creatures, but bigger.
James Whittier was a politician on earth, and he quickly takes charge of the small group of colonists and at the same time, becomes Murdock’s enemy — the two just don’t get along.
Have you read any of these books? Are you planning to? Let us know in the comments!