Some articles may include Amazon affiliate links. All proceeds go to helping us pay for original stories and to support writers of speculative fiction. Read more here.
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. The Dragon Blood Collection by Lindsay Buroker
This is the first three books in the eight-book Dragon Blood series. The other books are $2.99 to $4.99 each and are not in Kindle Unlimited. The author has been on this list before. A lot. This past March, we reviewed Kingdoms at War, the first of six books in her Dragon Gate epic fantasy series. In April of 2022, 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. Lindsay Buroker is also the host of the Six Figure Authors podcast, a must-listen for anyone who wants to write speculative fiction for a living.
From Maria Korolov:
So, first, Lindsay Buroker is one of my favorite authors — and one of my all-time favorite people — so yeah, I’m definitely the target audience for these books.
The first book in this box set, Balanced on the Blade’s Edge, introduces Ridge, a talented military man who is sent to manage a prison of murderers and rapists as punishment for causing an international incident.
According to the description, a mysterious woman shows up who’s been asleep for the past 300 years and is the last of a group of sorcerers who used to protect the realm of Iskandia from outsiders. She needs to be reunited with her soul blade, and her only way of doing this is to pretend to be one of the prisoners and build a relationship with Ridge. But she’s a sorcerer, and if Ridge ever finds out, he has to kill her.
So, from that description, the book sounds like it would be a sword-and-sorcery kind of book, and, by the cover, there should be dragons.
So let’s get started. First of all, it starts out with a military that sounds very modern-day, with modern titles. I like the fact that the military has female officers. I’m always a fan of women who kill — in my leisure reading, that is. But then there are unfamiliar country names, there’s a king, and it’s the king who sends Ridge off to run the prison for a year, even though he’s needed at the front. Ridge is a flier. There are references to dragons, so I’m guessing they’re not piloting airplanes, but dragons?
I like Ridge. I’m a fan of military sci-fi. This is more like military fantasy, but close enough. Very enjoyable.
Then in the next chapter, we switch to Sardelle’s point of view. She must be the mysterious woman the book description talked about. There was a battle, and an explosion brought a mountain down on her, and a safety device activated, cocooning her inside a magical bubble. The bubble put her in stasis until it was safe — and with the rocks all around her, that stasis lasted for 300 years. According to her telepathic talking sword, at least. Her sword warns her that times have changed, and if people see her using her magic powers, she’ll be killed.
Oh, and the reason she woke up? A couple of miners have reached her. Problem is, once they find her, they just want to rape her. They’re prisoners, forced to work in the mines. This must be the prison that Ridge is being sent to manage. She gives them both a rash and escapes down the tunnel, where she finds two prison guards. There’s an explosion, and the prisoners attack and the guards mow them down with rifles. Sardelle hadn’t seen rifles before — 300 years ago, people didn’t have them. I like the fact that the book recognizes that things change over time. It’s a personal pet peeve of mine that fantasy and science fiction books often have empires that last for a thousand years with no changes in technology.
The guards assume that she’s one of the prisoners who’s wandered off because she didn’t know any better, and she’s taken to the prison.
But I’m a little disappointed that this is turning out to be a romance. I was hoping it was going to be a military action book.
But I like both of the main characters, and I like the writing style. So I have high hopes for this book.
Update: I’ve read the first book, then the next two, then I went and bought the next three… and kept going. I was sad to reach the end of the series and went on to read more of her books. Luckily for me, she’s got more than 100 books on her Amazon author page, so I’m set for a while.
4. My Eternal Soldier by Krystal Shannan
This is the third of seven books in the Sanctuary, Texas paranormal romance series. The other books are $4.99 each, and the series is not in Kindle Unlimited. However, the first book in the series — My Viking Vampire — is also free today. The writer is a USA Today bestselling author, so if you like paranormal romance, you should pick both of these books up.
From Maria Korolov:
Since this is the third book in the series, and I haven’t read the previous ones — and don’t want to give away any spoilers! — I read the beginning of the first book, My Viking Vampire , which was also free today.
So, first, the usual disclaimer. I’m not a fan of books with naked male chests on the cover. I’m also not a fan of vampires as love interests — I prefer them staked, thank you very much — nor of Vikings.
So, for me, this book has plenty of obstacles going in. Of course, for most other people, naked male chests, vampires, and Vikings are probably all pluses, not minuses. I know I’m in the minority here!
But you know what they say. You gotta do you. What else are you gonna do? Unless you’re a serial killer. Then please do something else.
The book opens with Bailey walking into her living room and finding a swamp of filth and muck. Turns out, the sewage line in the apartment above sprung a leak.
That’s not the only problem she’s facing. This morning, she also spotted her abusive ex-boyfriend’s car. He works in law enforcement, and no matter how many times she moves or changes her name, he seems to be able to find her.
Also, we’re in some kind of dystopian future here. There’s a Texas Republic, and it’s full of Others. The rest of the United States is now a bunch of dictatorships.
Now Bailey has to run again, and this time she has to leave all her belongings behind because they’ve been destroyed by the leak.
So, the story is very readable. I can see why the author made the USA Today bestseller list. And I sympathize with Bailey, I really do. But I’m not a fan of stories about women on the run from abusive exes — even if, in the end, they are able to turn the tables and fight back. I want them fighting right from the start. And winning. I want there to be blood.
I’m not going to stick with this book, but everyone else is going to want to run out and pick this one up while it’s still free.
3. The Philip K. Dick Collection by Philip K. Dick
From Maria Korolov:
Do I really have to say anything here? It’s Philip K. Dick. Sure, he started publishing short stories in the fifties and wrote continuously until his death in 1982, and it might have been before your time.
But you probably still know him because several of his books and stories have been adapted. Blade Runner was based on one of his works, as were Total Recall, Minority Report, Screamers, Paycheck, A Scanner Darkly, The Adjustment Bureau, and the Amazon Prime series The Man in the High Castle.
He’s got a unique writing style that I can’t really describe. But you should check it out if you’re a sci-fi fan because he’s single-handedly responsible for the modern era. At least, that’s what I think. Okay, maybe he and Bradbury.
This collection is of some of his less famous stories, so if you’re a filmmaker, check it out for ideas!
The first story is “Beyond Lies the Wub.”
It opens in a village on Mars, where animals and birds are being driven up a gangplank into a spaceship. Then one of the captain’s men appears, leading a strange local animal that he’d bought from one of the natives for fifty cents. It’s a giant pig, which the natives call a wub.
Once the ship is in flight, the men discuss how they’re going to eat the pig when the pig itself speaks up. Apparently, it’s a telepathic, sentient being, and it wants to have a chat with the captain about the whole being-sliced-up-and-eaten thing.
It’s particularly interested in philosophy.
2. A Grimoire for Gamblers by Amanda Creiglow
This is the first of three books in The Trove Arbitrations urban fantasy series. The other books are $4.99 each, and the series is not in Kindle Unlimited.
From Alex Mueller:
Let’s just say that when a man committed to an insane asylum leaves instructions to have his house burned to the ground in his last will and testament, it’s better for everyone to respect their wishes.
Obviously, that doesn’t happen.
The story begins with our heroine taking ownership of her late father’s estate. The estate that should have been torched — the one that previously belonged to a father who spent the last eight years of his life in an insane asylum. Fun times!
But this house contains something special. Everyone knows about voodoo dolls, well this story has a voodoo train set! Knock the model off its tracks, knock the genuine article off its. And that is exactly how our protagonist chooses to introduce herself.
And really, what better way to introduce a hero than by having them be personally responsible for a disaster that could potentially kill hundreds of people?
Not that she’s aware of it, of course. Clearly, a train rolling off the tracks a few hours after she knocked over her dad’s model is just a strange coincidence. And clearly, the string of suicides ranging from three days before and after her father’s death are just even stranger coincidences. That’s certainly a mindset to hold onto.
At least until the witch hunters start to show up.
If you like grim, modern fantasy, and if you like trains, then you’re probably going to like this story.
I like these things, and I’m looking forward to seeing where this story goes.
1. Taken by Fate by Shannon Mayer
This is the first of four books in The Alpha Territories paranormal romance series. The other books are $4.99 each, and the series is in Kindle Unlimited. The fourth book isn’t out yet but will be released next February and is available for pre-order. New York Times-bestselling author Shannon Mayer has been on our Free Friday list before. In November of 2021, we reviewed the first four books in The Nix Series of urban fantasy books.
From Maria Korolov:
It’s been fifteen years since the veil fell that separated our world from the other one, and humans realized that they were no longer at the top of the food chain. Instead, fae, werewolves, angels, demons and vampires are now in charge.
Bailey has been looking for Jordan, the closest thing she’s got to a little brother. He was captured in a raid, so she finally let herself be captured as well. Now she’s in iron handcuffs, one of a group of women all shackled together, being marched to the auction pens.
Some of the women are going to end up as maids to werewolves. If Bailey is one of these lucky ones, she can find Jordan and then escape. But she could also wind up as chum, tossed into the ocean to pay for a boat’s passage.
Apparently, humans aren’t doing so good.
One of the women commits suicide right in front of Bailey by stabbing herself in the throat with a hairpin. Bailey isn’t able to save the woman. But she does grab the hairpin.
This is a pretty grim beginning. It reminds me a bit of the Hunger Games, in style, but with a paranormal twist.
It’s very, very readable. I can see this being made into a movie, though the special effects budget would probably be through the roof. I might stick with it — especially since the rest of the books are in Kindle Unlimited.
Have you read any of these books? Are you planning to? Let us know in the comments!
Or watch Maria and Alex discuss all five books in the video below: