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 quick 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. Negation Force by Anthony James
This is the first of six books in the Obsidiar Fleet space opera series. The other books are $3.99 to $4.99 each but the entire series is in Kindle Unlimited. The author has been on this list before. In March of 2021, we reviewed Crimson Tempest, the first book in the Survival Wars series. And, this past February, we reviewed War from a Distant Sun, the first of seven books in the Savage Stars space opera series.
From N.T. Narbutovskih:
Negation Force is a high-speed fleet warfare military science fiction novel centered around the activities of a future space force. A broadcast of characters enables a sweeping story about the invasion of an ancient foe who threatens the existence of the confederation of human planets.
This book’s pacing is spot on, with a decent amount of backstory and a good helping of action. The action kicks off right away with the invasion of the alien craft, and the destruction of several ships. Will humanity be able to fend off its ancient foe once again, or are they back to finish the job they started so many years ago?
Well, the writing suffers from an excess of adjectives, and there are so many proper names that it was hard to keep track of what specific type of drone did what, but in general if you let go of that you’ll find and enjoyable read. I personally won’t be continuing this book as it seemed pretty similar to most of the other stories in the genre I have read, but for fans of fleet warfare and alien invasions across many planets, this will be right up your alley.
9. The Secret Princess by Melanie Cellier
This is the first of four books in the Return to the Four Kingdoms romantic fantasy series. The other books are $3.99 to $4.99 each and the entire series is in Kindle Unlimited. The fourth book isn’t out yet but is scheduled to be released in November and is currently available for preorder.
From Carla Nordlund:
This book is supposed to be a retelling of the Brothers Grimm “The Goose Girl” fairytale.
A prologue opens immediately into the action—a ship tossed in an intense storm. Giselle, a princess of the kingdom of Eldon, struggles across the deck when another noble, Daisy of Trione, calls to her that Giselle’s horse is going wild in the belly of the ship. Giselle races down to him, where he is able to communicate telepathically to tell her of a leak in the ship’s barrel. Giselle and Daisy struggle back up to the deck, where they run into Giselle’s brother, his wife, and two other nobles. We find out that they are all collectively traveling to the Four Kingdoms—a continent across the sea that was impassable until five years previous, when the storms mysteriously ceased. Mentions are made of how Giselle’s sister-in-law was in one of the first delegations and aided Giselle and her brother in lifting the terrible enchantment the Night Queen had placed over the entirety of Eldon.
The ship crew patches the leak, but are blown further south than desired. Things are complicated by the fact that sister-in-law Celine is both pregnant and a fire mage, and of course no one knows how those two are going to mix. Giselle convinces her brother to let her go ashore, near the country of Arcadie, to continue their diplomatic tour, and to send the rest of them by ship to Celine’s home country of Lanover.
In the next chapter, after being curiously absent during the storm, Giselle’s maid stays cloyingly close to her. We get some backstory that the maid and another guard are shipwreck survivors themselves, and both decided to stay in Eldon after the disaster. There’s some teasing among the noblewomen about a nobleman who will also be visiting Aracadie as an unofficial courting visit with Giselle. As Giselle speaks with her horse, she checks her other magical item, a handkerchief tied around her wrist that reveals truth. The party whacks their way through the woods, attempting to meet the official welcome party from Arcadie. Daisy wanders off the trail, and as Giselle goes after her, she is bowled over by an unknown assailant.
I adore the bizarre, traditional fairy tale of the Goose Girl, but so far, this adaptation isn’t quite living up to the source material for me. There are a lot of characters, countries, and political intrigue thrown at the reader in the prologue, to the point it’s difficult to know who to focus on. The backstory of Celine and the Snow Queen almost sounds like the more interesting story to me at this point, although I’m willing to give it a few more chapters to see if it picks up. We do have all the major pieces set for the Goose Girl plot: a small party forced off track, Giselle’s magical objects and talking horse, and a maid and guard that are acting shifty, so overall I think it warrants further investigation.
That story about the Snow Queen? That’s a reference to another book in a related series. A Crown of Snow and Ice is the third book in the six-book Beyond The Four Kingdoms series, all of which are also in Kindle Unlimited. Cellier also has another series set in the same universe, the five-book The Four Kingdoms series.
8. To Kill a Fae by Jamie A. Waters
This is the first of five books in The Dragon Portal romantic fantasy series. The other books are $4.99 each and are not in Kindle Unlimited. This is the second time this book has been on this list. We previously reviewed it in November of 2021. The fifth book isn’t out yet, but is scheduled to be released next summer and is available for preorder.
From Mary Stoll:
The mysterious Sabine is part — maybe fully — fae. She is hiding her identity with a magical glamour in a “rough around the edges” city inhabited by humans, part humans, demons, and other magical creatures.
As the story opens, our protagonist, Sabine is in trouble. She’s being stalked by more than one assailant. But is she really the one in trouble, or are they? There’s a lot of action in the first chapter and most of it centers around Sabine. As the story continues we learn a little about Sabine’s relationships.
Sabine is under the protection of Dax, the head of the Thieves Guild. She reaches out to another powerful being named Bane for help when she is injured. The extent of those two relationships is yet to be revealed by the end of chapter two. But there definitely seems to be a kindling love interest with her new acquaintance Captain Malek who arrived in the city just in time to come to earn a debt from Sabine. She senses power in him and he is intrigued by her.
The plot and story pace have my interest so I think I will continue to read this story through the weekend.
From Amira Loutfi:
Sabine has a nasty reputation with the city of Akros. She’s clearly an assassin of sorts, and her weakness is fae magic. She can fight with poisoned knives and magic. The magic in this world is neat — she refers to it as “elemental” and “glamour.” Glamour magic is used for powerful disguises. Elemental magic can be used to summon the moon for more darkness. Sabine can also imbibe coins with magic. And she can smell magic, too.
Sabine is out late one night after a failed attempt to learn about the city council from an informant who turned out the be clueless. And now she’s being followed. It’s very common for people to be robbed or murdered in the streets of Akros at this time.
She is lightly armed and sees that her pursuers are armed to the teeth. Yikes. The magic in the air smells like it might be part fae. That scares her.
She kills two of them and then is about to kill another when he recites some ancient Fae verses to her, claiming he means her no harm. She is charmed by this and considers she probably shouldn’t kill him. She really wants to know about his relationship to the fae.
Then, a goblin shows up and helps to ease the tension. Sabine knows him! it’s Pozgil. Pozgil explains that the fae-speaker just arrived in Akros and he is escorting him to meet with his boss — the master of a guild of thieves.
Sabine also wants to reward a little beggar who gave her a warning about her assassins. She gives him a magic coin and starts to tell him about his career options. I like that part.
To be honest, I feel there are too many plot threads in this book and I can’t tell which one is the most important. If you are cool with an ambiguous plot then you might love this story. The atmosphere is awesome. I like the darkness. But I won’t be back.
7. The Pirate’s Deal by Daniela A. Mera and Elayna Gallea
This is the second of three books in the Romancing Aranthium paranormal romance series. The other books are $4.99 each but the series is in Kindle Unlimited. The third book isn’t out yet but is scheduled to be released in November and is currently available for preorder.
From Maria Korolov:
This is supposed to be a retelling of the Little Mermaid, in an urban fantasy setting. I’m not a fan of the original story — so problematic! — though the songs were great. And I’m not a fan of romance, being bitter and jaded. So I’m not the target reader for this book.
That being said, the story starts out strong, with Eric a pirate. He’s just boarded another ship and killed the entire crew in front of its captain. Now he’s holding the man at knifepoint, his wife tied up nearby. I’m guessing there’s more to the story, since Eric is a point of view character. He can’t be the bad guy, can he?
The captive gives in and tells Eric where his treasure is buried.
So far, Eric’s only redeeming quality is that he doesn’t kill women. Also, he’s got a cool ship, outfitted with the latest in summer fae technology. He even has an artificial arm, one that looks and works just like a real one. Seems like in this world, magic can do most of what we use technology for. There are even fae cell phones and solar chargers.
After he gets the treasure, Eric lets the captain and his wife go.
Then he gets a call — the Ice Mer King wants to hire Eric. To kill his daughter.
Whoa, that’s a twist I wasn’t expecting.
Turns out, Eric saved someone once from the crown prince, and now he owes the king a life. He doesn’t normally mind killing people — he’s killed more than he can count, as a pirate. But he doesn’t want to kill the king’s innocent daughter. He now regrets saving the woman he saved way back then.
I’m pulled into the story. I don’t know if I’ll come back and finish it, but I think if I do, it will be a fun weekend read.
6. Falling Princess by Joline Pearce
This is the first of four books in the Fallen Realm young adult romance series. The other books are $3.99 each but the series is in Kindle Unlimited. The fourth book isn’t out yet but is scheduled to be released next summer and is available for preorder.
From Maria Korolov:
This is an enemies-to-lovers romance, one of my least favorite romance tropes. So, again, I’m not the target reader for this particular book.
But I take a deep breath and dive in.
Zosia just turned 18. She wears sparkly tank tops and too much makeup. She and her friend Raina, who’s a year older, put on hoodies and sneak out in the middle of the night for a few hours of freedom. She just wants a break from all the guards, gowns, and media attention.
She normally lives in Auralia, a small island nation of about a hundred thousand people, in a black castle made of volcanic rock. She usually travels by horseback or horse-drawn coach, and has to be perfect each time she leaves her bedroom.
But now, in Beijing’s Olympic Village, she left her phone in her room and caught a cab to a nightclub.
Unfortunately, her friend Raina has invited someone else to join them at the nightclub. It’s Lorcan, the athlete who won a spot on Auralia’s first-ever Olympic team. Zosia despises him. Raina made one other mistake — she brought her phone with her. And they’ve been tracked.
Lorcan gets the two of them out of the nightclub just in time, before it explodes from a bomb. Of course, Lorcan gets all the credit for saving their lives.
Zosia is stuck in a life she doesn’t want and can’t escape from. And she whines about it. I don’t like books about petulant teenagers, so I don’t think I’ll be sticking with it. Although, to be completely honest, if this was a Disney movie, I’d totally watch it.
Meanwhile, I haven’t seen any signs of magic or anything paranormal yet. I think the fantasy part comes in because she’s the princess of an imaginary kingdom, but maybe there will be something more further into the book.
5. A Sword of Blood and Roses by Jessica Ash
This is the first of four books in the Hunted by the Faery Queen romantic fantasy series. The other books are $4.99 each but the series is in Kindle Unlimited. The fourth book isn’t out yet but is scheduled to be released in October and is currently available for preorder.
From Maria Korolov:
The book title makes me think of epic fantasy, one of my favorite genres, but despite having elves and trolls, this book is not epic fantasy. There’s more romance, to start with. And the tone is lighter. I actually like the lighter tone.
The book starts with Logan, an elf, being kicked awake by a one-eyed troll. He’s spent fifteen years in a hole in prison. He survived by going into a state of hibernation.
Now the Faerie Queen of the Black Court wants him for something. She’s destroyed his life and thrown him into the dungeon, but will release him if he does her a favor. She wants him to kill a few witches for her.
He doesn’t believe her, but he’s going to play her game — at least, he’ll play along enough to make his escape.
He’s heading to Wyoming.
Yup, turns out, it’s an urban fantasy. The dungeon he’s been kept in was in Underhill, and now he’s going to our modern world to hunt down those witches the fae queen has a problem with.
Then we switch to a different point of view, that of Trina. I’m guessing she’s one of the witches because she’s carrying a duffle bag filled with ritual tools, candles, and incense. She lives in Wyoming. And her family of witches has just received a vision that the “queen’s dog” would descend on them at sunset. I’m guessing that Logan is the dog the vision meant.
The family speeds away in a van while Trina heads to her sacred sage labyrinth. There, she strips naked and casts a spell to help her catch and interrogate a magical creature.
Logan shows up in her labyrinth instead. And the minute he sees Trina, he decides what his plan is going to be. Instead of killing her, he’s going to use the witch for leverage against the queen. And, first, he forces Trina to agree to serve him for a year and a day in return for sparing her life.
I don’t like the premise here. I know that the two of them will end up together, but he literally kidnaps her and makes her his slave. It’s not my thing, but if the story appeals to you, I do have to say that it’s an easy read and pretty sexy.
4. Iron by Lisette Marshall
This is the first of three books in The Queen & The Assassin romantic fantasy series. The other books are $0.99 to $1.99 each but are both in Kindle Unlimited.
From Sydney Levinson:
First things first, this book really lives up to its genre as fantasy romance. It’s spicy from the get-go, so if that’s your sort of thing then this might be just the book for you.
The opening scene of the book is a somewhat explicit sex scene where we find a duke with a very bored Tamar, who can not seem to think of anything aside from what she might eat for dinner later. The duke continues to attempt schmooze his way into a second meeting, to which Tamar responds by shutting him down and kicking him out. We find out she is the Queen of Redwood, and that despite her best efforts, cannot seem to find anyone decent in all of Redwood.
The next chapter opens with a new character, Runo, who works for the empress. We find out he is a trained assassin who’s current mission is to kill Queen Tamar. He gathers a key and a note from a shady character in a tavern and goes on his way.
As Runo arrives at the palace, he blends into a crowd of people where he finds Tamar putting the uncle of one of her Duchesses in his place for stealing money from his niece. Runo’s first impression of Tamar is that she is power hungry, beautiful, and that he would rather teach her a lesson than put a dagger in her heart, but business is business after all, and the empress wouldn’t be too pleased if he failed his mission. So he patiently waits to kill her in the adjacent room to her bedroom and takes a nap.
This is where to book really starts to fit the trope. Tamar is sitting at her desk when she hears Runo come into the room. She has a knife under her pillow but it’s too far to reach and her walls are sound proof. Tamar is able to talk Runo into having sex with her before he kills her, where she, of course, pulls the knife on him, and is able flee the room to get the guards — but not before she gets distracted, at first, by his better-than-average skills in the bedroom.
Although this book does seem like it may continue in this somewhat cliché trope of enemies to lovers, it grabbed my attention right from the start. It is very readable and I like both characters so far. Tamar is very strong, independent, and very cunning, which is always fun to see in a female character. Runo seems somewhat surface level standard male antihero right now, but I’m excited to see where his character goes. Although this is not typically a genre I follow, I think I will keep reading.
3. Possessed by the Alien King by Krista Luna
This is the first of six books in the Fated Mates of the Varool sci-fi romance series. The other books are $0.99 to $3.99 each but the entire series is in Kindle Unlimited. The sixth book isn’t out yet but is scheduled to be released later this month and is currently available for preorder.
From Maria Korolov:
The bare chest on the cover — and the title — tells me everything I need to know about the book. Namely, that I’m probably not going to like it. I know there are people — lots of people — who read these books like they were eating potato chips. Me, I’d rather have the potato chips. I prefer my books to have less romance and more of other kinds of action.
Deirdre is being forced to marry someone she’s never met. She’s the daughter of a space fleet admiral, and the aliens are demanding her hand in marriage because she’s the closest the humans have to nobility.
Seems that the humans have accidentally killed every alien woman by releasing a virus. It had been intended to just make them sick. Now, the man who gave the order to release the virus — the fleet admiral himself — is dead. And so are all the other scientists who created the virus. At least, that’s what the aliens think. Deirdre herself is a virologist and is partially responsible. Now the aliens will have to interbreed with the humans in order to survive as a race.
The humans don’t have a choice, either. In an ironic twist of fate, the virus killed all the human men.
But when Deirdre is about to meet the alien noble who’s supposed to marry her, their king steps forward and claims her as his own instead. Turns out, there’s a scent to her — to the king, Deirdre smells like his fated mate.
Oh, no, not a fated mate!
Okay, I’m out. But if this is your jam, the writing is breezy and readable and Deirdre a sympathetic heroine.
2. Dead Like Ned by A.A. Albright
This is the first of three books in The Infernal Artefacts Trilogy of cozy magical mystery books. The other books are both on sale today for $0.99 each and are both also in Kindle Unlimited.
From Carla Nordlund:
It’s rare that an opening line makes me literally laugh out loud, but Dead Like Ned accomplished it. Seriously, go read it for yourself. It’s gold. But onto the review…
Ned — short for Nedina — wakes up very grumpy because her flatmate is moving out to be with his new beau. That flatmate was once enchanted and spent a good portion of their time as a dog but that’s all old history now. At the urging of her talking cat familiar, Ned rolls out of bed to reluctantly say goodbye.
In the next chapter, we find out that Ned is witch, and is unusual in her ability to speak to ghosts not only around Halloween, but year-round. She lives in somewhat seedy magical neighborhood in Dublin, running a magical shop. To keep her mind off losing her flatmate, she heads out early to make deliveries, one of which is to the magical police station’s medical examiner. She meets him in the morgue — always dangerous for her due to the amount of traumatized ghosts — where he shows her a dead neighbor and says the case is connected to her.
This book is hilarious, cozy, and just looks like a ton of fun. I like the relationship chemistry between Ned, her housemate, and the medical examiner, am curious about everyone’s backstory, and always love a good talking cat. I’m all in, and just found my new weekend read.
1. Dragon Trial by Debbie Cassidy
This is the first of four books in the Dragon Guard series. The other books are $4.99 each but the series is in Kindle Unlimited. The fourth book isn’t out yet but is scheduled to be released in December and is currently available for preorder. The author has been on this list before. Last month, we reviewed For the Blood, the first of four books in the For the Blood action and adventure romantic fantasy series.
From Alex Korolov:
Dragon Trial is mainly a fantasy book with sci-fi elements, so it could appeal to readers who like either genre.
The book is set in a world that was overrun by dragons. The dragons bred with humans and created two distinct hybrid offspring — the Dragon Bloods and the Skins. The Dragon Bloods are strong, smart, and beautiful with golden hair and blue eyes. The Skins all have some visible mutation and varying levels of intellect and strength.
The Dragon Bloods used to enslave the Skins, but the Skins fought back and moved to the Outlands, where they seem to live Mad Max style in ramshackle settlements.
Anya and Helga are two Skins who work odd mercenary type jobs to make money, but their most recent job turns out to be a set up, and they get captured by the Dragon Bloods to be used for some nefarious purpose.
I read the first couple of chapters, and I definitely plan to finish the book. I like the mix of fantasy — which includes magic and dragons — with modern sci-fi elements like guns, vehicles, and advanced floating sentinels that can knock a person unconscious with a beam.
The main characters are gritty and interesting, and the world of Dragon Trial is a unique one that’s interesting to read about.
Have you read any of these books? Are you planning to? Let us know in the comments!
Or watch Maria talk about all ten books in the video below: