More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now download Stephen R. Donaldson's Lord Foul's Bane, the opening chapter of one of the very best fantasy series of all time, for only 0.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

He called himself Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever because he dared not believe in the strange alternate world in which he suddenly found himself.

Yet the Land tempted him. He had been sick; now he seemed better than ever before. Through no fault of his own, he had been outcast, unclean, a pariah. Now he was regarded as a reincarnation of the Land's greatest hero--Berek Halfhand--armed with the mystic power of White Gold. That power alone could protect the Lords of the Land from the ancient evil of Despiser, Lord Foul. Only...Covenant had no idea of how the power could be used!

Thus begins one of the most remarkable epic fantasies ever written...

This week's New York Times Bestsellers (November 13th)

In hardcover:

Stephen King and Owen King’s Sleeping Beauties is down three positions, ending the week at number 7. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

In paperback:

Stephen King's It maintains its position at number 3 (trade paperback). For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe

Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid’s Tale is down one spot, finishing the week at number 6 (trade paperback). For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Peter Newman contest winner!

To help promote the release of Peter Newman's The Seven (Canada, USA, Europe), this winner will receive a full set of the series, compliments of the folks at HarperVoyager. The prize pack includes:

- The Vagrant
- The Malice
- The Seven

The winner is:

- Tommy Morrison (Khartun on Reddit), from Amarillo, Texas, USA

Many thanks to all the participants!

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now get your hands on the digital edition of Iain M. Banks' The Hydrogen Sonata for only 2.99$ here. There is a price match in Canada.

Here's the blurb:

The New York Times bestselling Culture novel...

The Scavenger species are circling. It is, truly, provably, the End Days for the Gzilt civilization.

An ancient people, organized on military principles and yet almost perversely peaceful, the Gzilt helped set up the Culture ten thousand years earlier and were very nearly one of its founding societies, deciding not to join only at the last moment. Now they've made the collective decision to follow the well-trodden path of millions of other civilizations; they are going to Sublime, elevating themselves to a new and almost infinitely more rich and complex existence.

Amid preparations though, the Regimental High Command is destroyed. Lieutenant Commander (reserve) Vyr Cossont appears to have been involved, and she is now wanted - dead, not alive. Aided only by an ancient, reconditioned android and a suspicious Culture avatar, Cossont must complete her last mission given to her by the High Command. She must find the oldest person in the Culture, a man over nine thousand years old, who might have some idea what really happened all that time ago.

It seems that the final days of the Gzilt civilization are likely to prove its most perilous.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now download Jim Butcher's Cold Days for only 1.99$ here. There is a price match in Canada.

Here's the blurb:

After a brief interlude in the afterlife, Harry Dresden’s new job makes him wonder if death was really all that bad in this novel in the #1 New York Times bestselling series.

Harry Dresden is no longer Chicago’s only professional wizard. Now, he’s Winter Knight to Mab, the Queen of Air and Darkness. Her word is his command. And her first command is the seemingly impossible: kill an immortal. Worse still, there is a growing threat to an unfathomable source of magic that could mean the deaths of millions.

Beset by enemies new and old, Harry must gather his friends and allies, prevent an apocalypse, and find a way out of his eternal subservience before his newfound infinite powers claim the only thing he has left to call his own...

His soul.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now download Frank Herbert's Dune Messiah for only 1.99$ here. There is a price match in Canada.

Here's the blurb:

Book Two in the Magnificent Dune Chronicles—the Bestselling Science Fiction Adventure of All Time.

Dune Messiah continues the story of Paul Atreides, better known—and feared—as the man christened Muad’Dib. As Emperor of the Known Universe, he possesses more power than a single man was ever meant to wield. Worshipped as a religious icon by the fanatical Fremens, Paul faces the enmity of the political houses he displaced when he assumed the throne—and a conspiracy conducted within his own sphere of influence.

And even as House Atreides begins to crumble around him from the machinations of his enemies, the true threat to Paul comes to his lover, Chani, and the unborn heir to his family’s dynasty...

David Walton contest winners!

Our winners will get their hands on copies of David Walton's The Genius Plague, courtesy of the folks at Pyr. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

The winners are:

- Guillermo Cantu, from Hidalgo, Texas, USA

- Carrie Dollar, from Grosse Pointe Woods, Michigan, USA

Many thanks to all the participants!

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now download Terry Pratchett's Nation for only 1.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

When a giant wave destroys his village, Mau is the only one left. Daphne—a traveler from the other side of the globe—is the sole survivor of a shipwreck. Separated by language and customs, the two are united by catastrophe. Slowly, they are joined by other refugees. And as they struggle to protect the small band, Mau and Daphne defy ancestral spirits, challenge death himself, and uncover a long-hidden secret that literally turns the world upside down.

This week's New York Times Bestsellers (November 6th)

In hardcover:

Stephen King and Owen King’s Sleeping Beauties maintains its positions at number 4. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Joe Hill’s Strange Weather: Four Short Novels debuts at number 9.

In paperback:

Stephen King's It is down one position, ending the week at number 3 (trade paperback). For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe

Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid’s Tale maintains its position at number 5 (trade paperback). For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now download Anne McCaffrey's Dragonflight, first volume in the classic The Dragonriders of Pern series, for 2.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

Volume I of The Dragonriders of Pern®, the groundbreaking series by master storyteller Anne McCaffrey.

On a beautiful world called Pern, an ancient way of life is about to come under attack from a myth that is all too real. Lessa is an outcast survivor—her parents murdered, her birthright stolen—a strong young woman who has never stopped dreaming of revenge. But when an ancient threat to Pern reemerges, Lessa will rise—upon the back of a great dragon with whom she shares a telepathic bond more intimate than any human connection. Together, dragon and rider will fly . . . and Pern will be changed forever.

You can also get your hands on the digital edition of Jennifer Roberson's Sword-Dancer for only 2.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

The first book in the Sword-Dancer saga introduces the legendary adventures of Tiger and Del, magic wielders and skilled warriors.

He was Tiger, born of the desert winds, raised as a slave and winning his freedom by weaving a special kind of magic with a warrior’s skill. Now he was an almost legendary sword-dancer, ready to take on any challenge—if the price was right.

She was Del, born of ice and storm, trained by the greatest of Northern sword masters. Now, her ritual training completed, and steeped in the special magic of her own runesword, she had come South in search of the young brother stolen five years before.

But even Del could not master all the dangers of the deadly Punja alone. And meeting Del, Tiger could not turn back from the most intriguing challenge he’d ever faced—the challenge of a magical, mysterious sword-dancer of the North....

Flashback: Mystar vs Game of Thrones

I was discussing Game of Thrones, Season 7, with some long-time Hotlist readers a few days ago. And now that it's one of the most watched TV shows on the planet, we had a good laugh reminiscing about Mystar (Terry Goodkind's friend) lying about the HBO deal falling through and saying that the show would never appeal to the masses the way the Sword of Truth TV adaptation inevitably would. You may recall that Legend of the Seeker ended up being a travesty and was soon taken off the air, while Game of Thrones went to become an international success.

Found the original thread on Here are a few nuggets of entertainment for you to enjoy in case you missed it back in the day:

Actually, I was talking to a friend at TOR today, the TV/mini-series deal for ASOIAF fell through. HBO decided not to take it and the production company was said to have discontinued with the option In other words, they backed out. I was truly looking forward to seeing how this would be adapted to cinema.

It is a pretty reliable source, but like any only time will tell

Hopefully someone else will be able to pick it up...


The problem is the breath and scope of the story line. Condensing that down into a project for the TV is not an easy task. That and the fact that there really is no demonstrable reason to the story line that woudl appeal to the masses... No hero figure..who doesn't get killed, to many random killings for no more than someone was in someones elses way...things like that. HBO kicked it out, but that doesn't mean another could take it and make it work...


No malace at all.

I was polite and quite frank.

While I understand it GRRM's GF may offer her opinion, we also have to understand her possable reluctance(sp) to let out the fact that it did in fact get dropped....and perhaps having dinner with several agents in New York and jabbering about projects and books my information could also be rhumor heard and passed along.


So what?

I was simply stating what I was privy to. I also said I hoped it would be picked up....if in fact that was the case.

There is no need to insult or attack me for simply discusing my thoughts. We can be civilized and polite, or at least I can...


I was however in Vegas a few weeks ago at the convention, while bidding, discussion and other news was being bantied about, So I would guess my information is just as creditable, as I was specificly asking HBO, agents and the money reps...


But thepoint is, I don't have to offer any proof... the proof will be know when it never happens.


Or this on Westeros:

BUT ABC/Disney would not be denied. "We know a block buster when we see it"... This also is fleshed out in the aspect that even BEFORE any hype, trailers or much of anything, this series has been picked up in over 98% of the markets...again a record breaker, and stunning ABC/Disney.

All because this is a story about Hero's...TRUE heros!. Heroic people acting in a manor that underscores the true Nobility that is mankind. It proves what Goodkind has been telling us for over 15 years now... People want heros... TRUE Heros. This is the same thing Sam Raimi, Rob Tapert Ned Nallie, ABC and Disney all agree on... This is why you see something like George R R Martin's A song of Ice and Fire always failing by comparison, why it is still sitting on the shelf, why the screen play has had to have been rewritten several times already, and it is still sitting there... It has no true hero's and no honor for life... People want to feel good about their heros, they want Heros, they can believe in!!!

Ah, such great memories. . . Mystar. . . Gotta love the guy! He did make me the original Lemming of Discord, don't you forget! ;-)

The Fall of Hyperion

Wow! I can't believe I waited this long to finally read this book!

Though I owned a few Dan Simmons novels, by 2010 I had yet to read Hyperion, the award-winning work which has become a genre landmark. My bad, I know. . . So when I was caught in a sudden downpour in the Old Town of Dubrovnik, Croatia, like everyone else I ran for it and entered the first store I saw. Fortunately for me, it turned out to be a bookstore. Even better, I was running out of reading material and still had a ways to go before completing my trip in the Balkans. So I browsed around, waiting for the rain to stop. Perusing the SFF section, something drew my attention. I wasn't aware that Gollancz had released an Hyperion omnibus, and I needed very little convincing to purchase it. I later met a bunch of cool people in Bosnia and Herzegovina and then again in Serbia, so I didn't read a whole lot during the rest of that trip. Which means that I didn't get to read it till I was back home. I bought it, so now I had to read Hyperion. I mean, when a science fiction work is compared to Frank Herbert's Dune in scope and originality, what else can one do?

I loved it, of course, and I planned to read the sequel in the following weeks. So why are we here, seven years later? Because I'm an idiot, that's why! Well, better late than never, or so they say. The important thing is that I finally read The Fall of Hyperion and it was awesome!

Here's the blurb:

In the stunning continuation of the epic adventure begun in Hyperion, Simmons returns us to a far future resplendent with drama and invention. On the world of Hyperion, the mysterious Time Tombs are opening. And the secrets they contain mean that nothing--nothing anywhere in the universe--will ever be the same.

The structure of the narrative in Hyperion was extremely unusual. Akin to that of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, it worked perfectly, but it took a little while to get used to. Indeed, not much occurred in "real time" throughout the novel. Which was mostly due to the fact that Hyperion was nothing more than a vast introduction meant to present the protagonists and set up the various storylines for their culmination in The Fall of Hyperion. Hence, Hyperion was not so much about the pilgrims' journey to the Time Tombs and the Shrike. In the end, it was about each of the main character's back story, which elaborated on their reasons for becoming part of the pilgrimage to Hyperion. This sequel features a more traditional narrative structure, but for some reason it's not as compelling as that of its predecessor. Indeed, the unorthodox structure of Hyperion allowed a tighter and more intimate focus on each of the pilgrim's tale.

The imminent war between the Hegemony and the Ousters serves as the backdrop for The Fall of Hyperion. Joseph Severin's dreams are used as a plot device to link the plotlines transpiring on Hyperion with that of CEO Meina Gladstone as she attempts to avert war with the Ousters and the repercussions it could have on the Hegemony as a whole. I loved how Simmons was able to weave each of the pilgrim's storyline into that bigger and more far-reaching arc. And as revelations are unveiled and you discover just how ambitious a work these two books are in both scope and vision, you understand just how epic Dan Simmons' classic truly is. You reach the end thinking that you have just read one of the very best science fiction works ever written. This tale of Hegemony worlds, conniving AIs, strange aliens and the Ousters, the pilgrims, the Time Tombs, and the Shrike is everything a great scifi yarn ought to be and then some!

This atypical structure of Hyperion influenced the pace of that novel. Depending on the pilgrim's back story, the rhythm could be crisp or sluggish. Yet Dan Simmons' evocative prose and multilayered tale sucked you in, regardless of the fact that it was page-turning or not. The Fall of Hyperion doesn't suffer from any pacing issues. With the groundwork already laid out within the pages of its predecessor, the sequel is all killer and no filler. As the plot progresses and its many secrets revealed, this book makes for a compulsive and captivating read.

Moving, thought-provoking, entertaining, astonishing; Hyperion and The Fall of Hyperion are all that and more!

Science fiction novels don't always age well. And yet, though these books were first published nearly thirty years ago, they deserve the highest possible recommendation. Believe you me: It doesn't get much better than this!

The final verdict: 9/10

For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe

Quote of the Day

Bribery wins more arguments than reason.

- JOSIAH BANCROFT, Senlin Ascends (Canada, USA, Europe)

Mark Lawrence and Wert were right! This one is pretty good thus far! =)

Win a copy of Stephen R. Donaldson's SEVENTH DECIMATE

I have two copies of Stephen R. Donaldson's Seventh Decimate, first volume in The Great God's War trilogy, for you to win, courtesy of the folks at Berkley! For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Here's the blurb:

Fire. Wind. Pestilence. Earthquake. Drought. Lightning.

These are the six Decimates, wielded by sorcerers for both good and evil.

But a seventh Decimate exists—the most devastating one of all…

For centuries, the realms of Belleger and Amika have been at war, with sorcerers from both sides brandishing the Decimates to rain blood and pain upon their enemy. But somehow, in some way, the Amikans have discovered and invoked a seventh Decimate, one that strips all lesser sorcery of its power. And now the Bellegerins stand defenseless.

Prince Bifalt, eldest son of the Bellegerin King, would like to see the world wiped free of sorcerers. But it is he who is charged with finding the repository of all of their knowledge, to find the book of the seventh Decimate—and reverse the fate of his land.

All hope rests with Bifalt. But the legendary library, which may or may not exist, lies beyond an unforgiving desert and treacherous mountains—and beyond the borders of his own experience. Wracked by hunger and fatigue, sacrificing loyal men along the way, Bifalt will discover that there is a game being played by those far more powerful than he could ever imagine. And that he is nothing but a pawn…

The rules are the same as usual. You need to send an email at reviews@(no-spam) with the header "DECIMATE." Remember to remove the "no spam" thingy.

Second, your email must contain your full mailing address (that's snail mail!), otherwise your message will be deleted.

Lastly, multiple entries will disqualify whoever sends them. And please include your screen name and the message boards that you frequent using it, if you do hang out on a particular MB.

Good luck to all the participants!

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now get your hands on the digital edition of Melanie Rawn's Dragon Prince for only 2.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

First in the bestselling Dragon Prince series, explore a lush epic fantasy world replete with winged beasts, power games of magical treachery, and a realm of princedoms hovering on the brink of war • “Marvelous!”—Anne McCaffrey.

When Rohan became the new prince of the Desert, ruler of the kingdom granted to his family for as long as the Long Sands spewed fire, he took the crown with two goals in mind. First and foremost, he sought to bring permanent peace to his world of divided princedoms. And, in a land where dragon-slaying was a proof of manhood, Rohan was the sole champion of the dragons, fighting desperately to preserve the last remaining lords of the sky and with them a secret which might be the salvation of his people...

Sioned, the Sunrunner witch who was fated by Fire to be Rohan’s bride, had mastered the magic of sunlight and moonglow, catching hints of a yet to be formed pattern which could irrevocably affect the destinies of Sunrunners and ordinary mortals alike. Yet caught in the machinations of the Lady of Goddess Keep, and of Prince Rohan and his sworn enemy, the treacherously cunning High Prince, could Sioned alter this crucial pattern to protect her lord from the menace of a war that threatened to set the land ablaze?

The two sequels, The Star Scroll and Sunrunner's Fire are also on sale at 5.99$ each.

Stronghold, the first volume in the second trilogy, is also 2.99$ here.

Final extract from Brandon Sanderson's OATHBRINGER

The folks at have just posted the final extract from Brandon Sanderson's forthcoming Oathbringer (Canada, USA, Europe). Which means that you can now read the prologue and the first 32 chapters for free!

Here's the blurb:

In Oathbringer, the third volume of the New York Times bestselling Stormlight Archive, humanity faces a new Desolation with the return of the Voidbringers, a foe with numbers as great as their thirst for vengeance.

Dalinar Kholin’s Alethi armies won a fleeting victory at a terrible cost: The enemy Parshendi summoned the violent Everstorm, which now sweeps the world with destruction, and in its passing awakens the once peaceful and subservient parshmen to the horror of their millennia-long enslavement by humans. While on a desperate flight to warn his family of the threat, Kaladin Stormblessed must come to grips with the fact that the newly kindled anger of the parshmen may be wholly justified.

Nestled in the mountains high above the storms, in the tower city of Urithiru, Shallan Davar investigates the wonders of the ancient stronghold of the Knights Radiant and unearths dark secrets lurking in its depths. And Dalinar realizes that his holy mission to unite his homeland of Alethkar was too narrow in scope. Unless all the nations of Roshar can put aside Dalinar’s blood-soaked past and stand together—and unless Dalinar himself can confront that past—even the restoration of the Knights Radiant will not prevent the end of civilization.

Follow this link to read the extracts.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now download Fritz Leiber's Our Lady of Darkness for only 3.82$ here.

Here's the blurb:

From a Grand Master of Science Fiction and Fantasy.

Fritz Leiber may be best known as a fantasy writer, but he published widely and successfully in the horror and science fiction fields. His fiction won the Hugo, Nebula, Derleth, Gandalf, Lovecraft, and World Fantasy Awards, and he was honored with the Life Achievement Lovecraft Award and the Grand Master Nebula Award. One of his best novels is the classic dark fantasy Our Lady of Darkness, winner of the 1978 World Fantasy Award.

Our Lady of Darkness introduces San Francisco horror writer Franz Westen. While studying his beloved city through binoculars from his apartment window, he is astonished to see a mysterious figure waving at him from a hilltop two miles away. He walks to Corona Heights and looks back at his building to discover the figure waving at him from his apartment window—and to find himself caught in a century‑spanning curse that may have destroyed Clark Ashton Smith and Jack London.

Kevin Hearne contest winner!

This lucky winner will receive my copy of Kevin Hearne's A Plague of Giants. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

The winner is:

- Martin Bournel, from Rosemère, Québec, Canada

Many thanks to all the participants!

This week's New York Times Bestsellers (October 30th)

In hardcover:

Stephen King and Owen King’s Sleeping Beauties is down two positions, ending the week at number 4. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Alice Hoffman's The Rules of Magic is down nine spots, finishing the week at number 14.

In paperback:

Stephen King's It maintains its position at number 2 (trade paperback). For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe

Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid’s Tale is down one position, ending the week at number 5 (trade paperback). For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now download the 40th anniversary edition of William Peter Blatty's The Exorcist for only 1.99$ here. There is a price match in Canada.

Here's the blurb:

Originally published in 1971, The Exorcist, one of the most controversial novels ever written, went on to become a literary phenomenon: It spent fifty-seven weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, seventeen consecutively at number one. Inspired by a true story of a child's demonic possession in the 1940s, William Peter Blatty created an iconic novel that focuses on Regan, the eleven-year-old daughter of a movie actress residing in Washington, D.C. A small group of overwhelmed yet determined individuals must rescue Regan from her unspeakable fate, and the drama that ensues is gripping and unfailingly terrifying. Two years after its publication, The Exorcist was, of course, turned into a wildly popular motion picture, garnering ten Academy Award nominations. On opening day of the film, lines of the novel's fans stretched around city blocks. In Chicago, frustrated moviegoers used a battering ram to gain entry through the double side doors of a theater. In Kansas City, police used tear gas to disperse an impatient crowd who tried to force their way into a cinema. The three major television networks carried footage of these events; CBS's Walter Cronkite devoted almost ten minutes to the story. The Exorcist was, and is, more than just a novel and a film: it is a literary landmark. Purposefully raw and profane, The Exorcist still has the extraordinary ability to disturb readers and cause them to forget that it is "just a story." Newly polished and added to by it author and published here in this beautiful fortieth anniversary edition, it remains an unforgettable reading experience and will continue to shock and frighten a new generation of readers.

Cover art and blurb for Kameron Hurley's APOCALYPSE NYX

The folks at just unveiled the cover art and blurb for Kameron Hurley's Apocalypse Nyx. The art is by Wadim Kashin and the design was done by Elizabeth Story.

Here's the blurb:

Move over Mad Max—here comes Nyx.

Ex-government assassin turned bounty-hunter, Nyx, is good at solving other people’s problems. Her favorite problem-solving solution is punching people in the face. Then maybe chopping off some heads. Hey—it’s a living.

Her disreputable reputation has been well earned. To Nyx’s mind, it’s also justified. After all, she’s trying to survive an apocalyptic world full of giant bugs, contaminated deserts, scheming magicians, and a centuries-long war that’s consuming her future. Getting through that while paying the rent and managing her ragtag squad of misfits requires a lot of morally gray choices.

Lethal though she is, Nyx’s past keeps trying to catch up to her. Every new job is another day alive. Every new mission is another step toward changing a hellish future—but only if she can survive.

Really looking forward to this one! =)

Patrick Rothfuss Is About to Be Fantasy’s Next Superstar

The folks at (and a version of that article has also appeared in New York Magazine) have just posted an interesting piece on fantasy author Patrick Rothfuss and the upcoming TV adaptation of his bestselling series. It's a great article that explores how the whole thing came together and it's worth a read.

Problem is, a lot of people have pointed out this passage regarding the yet-to-be-published final volume:

Today, the third and final volume remains unpublished, and everywhere Rothfuss goes, fans ask when it will be ready. “They don’t realize this is so wearying,” he said with a sigh when we spoke a few weeks ago. “It’s like asking, ‘When are you going to get married? When are you going to go to law school?’ It’s like, just fuck off. Just die. I don’t need any more of that in my life.”

I've had the pleasure of meeting Rothfuss in person and I've been interacting with him since before The Name of the Wind was published. He's always been a class act.

Given how long it's been since The Wise Man's Fear was released, I can understand how frustrating it must be to have countless readers ask about the third installment incessantly. And yet, to refer to your fans in such a fashion (thus putting the minority of angry nutjobs AND the majority comprised of respectful readers who understand that writing novels takes time into the same category) seems to be a little thoughtless and insensitive. Especially when you're supposed to be trying to appeal to the mainstream masses that will either make or break the TV show. . . :/

Follow this link to read the full article.

Win a full set of Myke Cole's Shadow Ops series!

Myke Cole's Siege Line (Canada, USA, Europe) came out yesterday and I have a full set of the series up for grabs, courtesy of the folks at Ace. The prize pack includes:

- Shadow Ops: Control Point
- Shadow Ops: Fortress Frontier
- Shadow Ops: Breach Zone
- Gemini Cell
- Javelin Rain
- Siege Line

Here's the blurb for Siege Line:

In Myke Cole’s latest high-octane, action-packed military fantasy, the fate of undead Navy SEAL James Schweitzer will be decided—one way or another…

The Gemini Cell took everything from Jim Schweitzer: his family, his career as a Navy SEAL, even his life. Hounded across the country, Schweitzer knows the only way he can ever stop running, the only way his son can ever be safe, is to take the fight to the enemy and annihilate the Cell once and for all.

But the Cell won’t be easily destroyed. Out of control and fighting a secret war with the government it once served, it has dispatched its shadowy Director to the far reaches of the subarctic in search of a secret magic that could tip the balance of power in its favor. Schweitzer must join with the elite warriors of both America and Canada in a desperate bid to get there first—and avert a disaster that could put the Cell in control.

The rules are the same as usual. You need to send an email at reviews@(no-spam) with the header "SHADOW." Remember to remove the "no spam" thingy.

Second, your email must contain your full mailing address (that's snail mail!), otherwise your message will be deleted.

Lastly, multiple entries will disqualify whoever sends them. And please include your screen name and the message boards that you frequent using it, if you do hang out on a particular MB.

Good luck to all the participants!

L. E. Modesitt, jr. contest winner!

This lucky winner will receive a copy of L. E. Modesitt, jr.'s The Mongrel Mage, compliments of the folks at Tor Books. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

The winner is:

- Joses Meijers, from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Many thanks to all the participants!

Small Favor

After a Dresden Files marathon during which I read and reviewed Blood Rites, Dead Beat, and Proven Guilty over the course of about two weeks last year, it took a lot of self-control to forgo continuing reading subsequent installments. This series has definitely become one of my favorite SFF reads.

If Dead Beat turned out to be the point where the Dresden Files shifted into high gear, for its part Proven Guilty did build on the storylines introduced in basically every other volume and pushed the envelope even further. Far from losing steam like so many other speculative fiction series, the Dresden Files continued to grow in size, scope, and inventiveness. Having matured as an author with each new book, Jim Butcher has definitely hit his stride and he definitely became more confident, more ambitious. And with so many plot threads coming together to form an impressive tapestry, the potential for what came next was indeed enormous. But with the bar being raised with each new volume, the possibility that Butcher would somehow lose control of his tale, or allow himself to lose focus and simply milk his popularity for all it's worth, remained risks that could become all too real if he did not avoid certain pitfalls that had plagued some of his peers also writing bestselling urban fantasy sequences.

Understandably, White Night had lofty expectations to live up to. But even if it was a fun and entertaining read in its own right, it was not as good as its last few predecessors. Don't get me wrong. White Night raised the stakes yet again and the odds are now stacked even higher against Harry Dresden and his allies. The novel was not as intricately plotted and satisfying as Dead Beat and Proven Guilty turned out to be, yet it nonetheless set the stage for another chapter in the Dresden Files. One that would undoubtedly raise the series to another, deeper and more complex, level.

And I'm glad to report that Small Favor is definitely a return to form for Jim Butcher. Indeed, the book elevates the series to an even higher level, with several hints of an even bigger and more ambitious story arc that is gradually becoming more and more discernible.

Here's the blurb:

Harry Dresden's life finally seems to be calming down -- until a shadow from the past returns. Mab, monarch of the Sidhe Winter Court, calls in an old favor from Harry -- one small favor that will trap him between a nightmarish foe and an equally deadly ally, and that will strain his skills -- and loyalties -- to their very limits.

Snow came early that year in Chicago, and harsh winter conditions will plague Harry's existence as he tries to repay one of the favors he owes the faerie Winter Queen and somehow survive this endeavor. The wintertime backdrop was apropos and gave this latest Dresden Files installment its unique vibe. Not sure if Butcher has ever lived in Chicago or anywhere where heavy snowfalls and subzero temperatures are a reality for three or four months a year, but at times his depiction of the blizzard and its repercussions on people did not always ring true. But hey, that's just nitpicking and it doesn't take anything away from the story.

As always, the book features the first person narrative of the only wizard in Chicago's phonebook, Harry Dresden. Harry's voice as the only POV remains witty and irreverent, filled with dark humor that makes you chuckle every couple of pages or so. And yet, as has been the case with the majority of the last few Dresden Files volumes, it's the supporting cast which helps make this one another unforgettable read. The usual suspects are there for the ride; Murphy, Thomas, and Molly Carpenter. The rest of the Carpenter family plays a major role in this novel, one that is quite emotional at times. As Knights of the Cross, Michael Carpenter and Sanya got Harry's back when things take a turn for the worse and go down the crapper. But with Nicodemus and the Denarians, both the Summer and Winter faeries, members of the White Council, Marcone and his entourage, as well as Kincaid and the Archive all involved in a multitude of ways, you know that poor Harry is in over his head and may not survive to see the end of this conflict and go on a dinner date with Anastasia Luccio.

Small Favor was hands down the most convoluted installment yet. One of the principal themes explored would have to be promises. Made and broken, both. What begins as a relatively simple rescue operation quickly turns into an extremely complicated and intricately plotted ensemble of storylines that links this one with plotlines from past volumes. Like its predecessors, Small Favor is an elaborate and interesting self-contained story. And yet, in my humble opinion, no other book in the series was this complex and unveiled so many secrets that keep readers begging for more.

In terms of pace, Small Favor is a fast-moving page-turner. There is never a dull moment and you get through this book before you know it. Although all Dresden Files are more or less stand-alone tales, Small Favor doesn't offer as much in terms of resolution. One of the main characters' fate ends with a cliffhanger, and a number of wider issues aren't wrapped up as neatly as I expected them to be. It doesn't rob the ending of its poignant impact, but it closes the show with the readers feeling that something is missing.

Be that as it may, it made it impossible for me not to immediately jump into the sequel, Turn Coat. Which, hard as it is to believe, is even better! Time will tell if I have enough self-control not to scrap my reading schedule for the rest of the year and just continue reading the next few volumes of the Dresden Files.

Jim Butcher is awesome and he keeps getting better! If only reading could always be this fun. . .

The final verdict: 8.5/10

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