19 Dec

Book Haul: Murderbot’s Mama and Standalone Fantasy

I’m buying more than reading lately, so I thought I’d start sharing what looks interesting enough to part me from my money. I tend to stick full-price books on my wish list until they’re discounted, so most of the books mentioned will be on sale at the time of posting. The big spender today is only $3.99.

Links go to Amazon and are affiliate coded.

The Tor blog recently posted about standalone fantasy novels for those of us who hesitate to commit to a 3-million-word series that might not be finished before we die. The first three books here came directly from their list.


UNDER THE PENDULUM SUN by Jeannette Ng

$1.99 at time of post

Victorian missionaries travel into the heart of the newly discovered lands of the Fae, in a stunningly different fantasy that mixes Crimson Peak with Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell.

Catherine Helstone’s brother, Laon, has disappeared in Arcadia, legendary land of the magical fae. Desperate for news of him, she makes the perilous journey, but once there, she finds herself alone and isolated in the sinister house of Gethsemane. At last there comes news: her beloved brother is riding to be reunited with her soon — but the Queen of the Fae and her insane court are hard on his heels.

I ordinarily would take a hard pass on a book about missionaries, but I’m hoping these will be handed their asses by the Fae.


IRON CAST by Destiny Soria

$2.99 at time of post

It’s Boston, 1919, and the Cast Iron club is packed. On stage, hemopaths — whose “afflicted” blood gives them the ability to create illusions through art — Corinne and Ada have been best friends ever since infamous gangster Johnny Dervish recruited them into his circle. By night they perform for Johnny’s crowds, and by day they con Boston’s elite. When a job goes wrong and Ada is imprisoned, she realizes how precarious their position is. After she escapes, two of the Cast Iron’s hires are shot, and Johnny disappears. With the law closing in, Corinne and Ada are forced to hunt for answers, even as betrayal faces them at every turn. An ideal next read for fans of Libba Bray’s The Diviners.

Fun fact: If you search “Boston 1919” while checking whether you’re correct to label this Jazz Age, you will fall down the sticky rabbit hole that is the Boston Molasses Flood. That year is right on the cusp of Prohibition and speakeasies, which sets the scene well enough for me.


CITY OF BONES by Martha Wells

$2.99 at time of post

Khat, a member of a humanoid race created by the Ancients to survive in the Waste, and Sagai, his human partner, are relic dealers working on the edge of society, trying to stay one step ahead of the Trade Inspectors and to support Sagai’s family. When Khat is hired to find relics believed to be part of one of the Ancients’ arcane engines, they are both reluctant to become involved. But the request comes from the Warders, powerful mages who serve Charisat’s Elector. 

Khat soon discovers that the deadly politics of Charisat’s upper tiers aren’t the only danger. The relics the Warders want are the key to an Ancient magic of unknown power, and, as all the inhabitants of Charisat know, no one understands the Ancients’ magic.

Before Murderbot generated well-deserved recent SF acclaim, Wells wrote several novels with more of a fantasy bent. Given a choice between magic and space ships, I’ll choose magic 99% of the time, so this is good news for me. The opening pages reflect the same wry characterization that won me over in All Systems Red, so I grabbed a whole bunch of her books that were on sale.


WHEEL OF THE INFINITE by Martha Wells

$2.99 at time of post

With chaos in the wind, a woman with a shadowy past has returned to Duvalpore. A murderer and traitor — an exile disgraced, hated, and feared, and haunted by her own guilty conscience — Maskelle has been summoned back to help put the world right. Once she was the most enigmatic of the Voices, until cursed by her own actions. Now, in the company of Rian — a skilled and dangerously alluring swordsman–she must confront dread enemies old and new, and a cold, stalking malevolence unlike any she has ever encountered.

For if Maskelle cannot unearth the cause of the Wheel’s accelerating disintegration — if she cannot free herself from the ghosts of the past and focus on the catastrophe to come — the world will plunge headlong into the terrifying abyss toward which it is recklessly hurtling. And all that is, ever was, and will be will end.


THE DEATH OF THE NECROMANCER by Martha Wells

$2.99 at time of post

Nicholas Valiarde is a passionate, embittered nobleman with an enigmatic past. Consumed by thoughts of vengeance, he is consoled only by thoughts of the beautiful, dangerous Madeline. He is also the greatest thief in all of Ile-Rien. Under cover of darkness on the streets of the gaslit city, he assumes the guise of a master criminal, stealing jewels from wealthy nobles to finance his quest for vengeance: the murder of Count Montesq. Montesq orchestrated the wrongful execution of Nicholas’s beloved godfather Edouard on false charges of necromancy, the art of divination through communion with spirits of the dead, a practice long outlawed in the kingdom of Ile-Rien.

But now Nicholas’s murderous mission is being interrupted by a series of eerie, unexplainable, fatal events. Someone with tremendous magical powers is opposing him, and traces of a necromantic power that hasn’t been used for centuries appear. And when a spiritualist unwittingly leads Nicholas to a decrepit old house, the truly monstrous nature of his peril finally emerges.


THE ELEMENT OF FIRE by Martha Wells

$2.99 at time of post

The kingdom of Ile-Rein lies in peril, menaced by sorcerous threats and devious court intrigues. As the weak King Roland, flattered and misled by treacherous companions, rules the country, only his ruthless mother, the Dowager Queen Ravenna, guards the safety of the realm. But now rumors arise that Urbain Grandier, the dark master of scientific sorcery, has arrived to plot against the throne. And Kade, bastard sister of King Roland, appears unexpectedly at court. The illegitimate daughter of the old king and the Queen of Air and Darkness herself, Kade’s true desires are cloaked in mystery. Is she in league with the wizard Grandier? Or is she laying claim to the throne?

It falls to Thomas Boniface, Captain of the Queen’s Guard and Ravenna’s former lover, to sort out who is friend, who is foe in a deadly game to keep the Dowager Queen and the kingdom she loves from harm. But is one man’s steel enough to counter all the magic of fayre?


THE WIZARD HUNTERS by Martha Wells

$3.99 at time of post

Ile-Rien is in peril. A mysterious army known only as the Gardier has surrounded the country, attacking in ominous black airships. Hope is not lost though, for a magical sphere created by Ile-Rien’s greatest sorcerer may hold the key to defeating the faceless enemy. But the sphere is unpredictable and has already claimed several lives. When a magical spell goes disastrously awry, young Tremaine Valiarde and a brave band are transported to another world. A world of rough magics, evil mages, honorable warriors — and a secret Gardier base.

This is Book 1 of a trilogy. It takes place in the same kingdom as two previous books on this list, but the trilogy has its own arc and the others reportedly stand alone.

Any of these tickle your fancy?

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