Back in January when I bought my ereader, I had doubts whether I would be able to find enough quality content to read on it, given that I don’t buy DRM which still dominates the market. By now I have found enough sources; in fact, I am not quite able to read it all. Here is what I have been reading, in arbitrary order.
- Baen Ebooks has a free library.
- Smashwords has many free titles; it is common for authors to give away extended prologues or even first volumes of series.
- The Firefox plugin GrabMyBooks allows you to pack any web content as EPUB ebook. I regularly do so with CACM and Flash Fiction Online.
- There are some books floating around the open source community. For example, I discovered Pro Git recently.
- Project Gutenberg offers English classics that have entered the public domain in multiple formats.
- Gutenberg DE is the German version. Sadly, there are no downloads, but you can grab the text.
- Project Runeberg is the Swedish version of Project Gutenberg. They have download as plain text and HTML which is easy to convert.
Over these last year or so, EPUB has been entering more and more publishing heads. I am particularly excited about Tor’s move to drop DRM; huge amounts of science fiction and fantasy are viable in electronic form now. Tor has a nerdy audience (both readers and authors) so maybe they felt more pressure than other publishers; let’s just hope that their example catches on.
Once tools for creating EPUB books become better, it will be increasingly simple to offer ebook versions of your content, be it fiction book, scientific article or tech tutorial. In my opinion, the phase of early adopters is past: with the spread of EPUB, ebooks have left the confines of big publishing houses behind and become a medium of the crowd.
Calvin Cross is a successful and loyal officer in Intel Wing, the Empire’s intelligence organisation. He is so good that he has been given his own command, the stealth frigate Nighthawk, despite the fact that he is only a half-citizen and therefore stuck at a junior officer rank. His latest mission has been to track down rogue warship captain Raidan who used his position to destroy civilian alien freighters without provocation. Raidan is tried by a tribunal and found guilty, but his motives remain unknown. The prisoner escapes under suspicious circumstances—hijacking a dreadnought in the process—and Cross is again ordered to find him. Cross suspects foul play as several facts do not add up and decides to investigate the underlying situation rather than hunting down the fugitive. While he tries to keep up appearances his mysterious opponents act to stop Cross and his crew no matter what.
Phoenix Conspiracy has a solid, but not brilliant setup. The futuristic world is very similar to ours despite the fact that humanity travels across space; culture and technology appear unchanged for the most part. It works well enough for this kind of story as the reader feels comfortable from page one and can completely focus on the intriguing plot. The conspiracy is nicely set up and the characters are likeable yet complex enough to feel real, including heart-felt emotion and sometimes funny, sometimes nerve-wracking conflicts. Only the ending seemed a bit too hasty and shallow for my taste; but then, this is only part one of a series so I will give Sanders the benefit of doubt, assuming the rabbit hole is deeper than it seems. Phoenix Conspiracy managed to captivate me and I had a good time reading it. I certainly look forward to the sequels!
Get this great read in a variety of formats for free and DRM-free on Smashwords.
Harvey Barker is on a revenge trip in modern London, killing the people he holds responsible for his sister’s death. He is a professional assassin, but an unorthodox one: he kills using feng shui, manipulating chi and karma to kill his targets without anyone the wiser. But he is not careful enough this time. Detective Amanda Morgan can not shake the feeling that a couple of apparently tragic deaths are connected. Meanwhile, the remaining members of the group Harvey hunts down try to recover and strike back.
I needed to suspend a lot of disbelief regarding the manipulation of chi and karma. The concept seems confused at times, but experienced manga readers should have no problems accepting it. Hall’s prose is not perfect but good enough so it does not distract from his decent story. He builds a good amount of tension towards the end, finishing a very entertaining and thrilling book.
Get this good read in a variety of formats for free and DRM-free on Smashwords.
The Alloy of Law is set in the world of the Mistborn trilogy, about 300 years after the original books. The heroes of that time have become figures of myth and religion. The area around the pre-industrial capital (formerly Luthadel) is fertile and wealthy, farther out in the Roughs live is like in our Wild West. This is where noble-blooded lawkeeper Wax has made it his job to hunt down criminals until personal tragedy prompts his return to the city. He tries to blend in the noble society and behave as he should but is soon intrigued by a series of seemingly impossible thefts. Instead of preparing his inevitable engagement properly he starts to investigate, supported by his friend and colleague Wayne who has come to visit in order to make sure Wax does not die
in of boredom.
Alloy of Law is fast, fun and tragic, but most of all fast. Allomantic-Feruchemic gunfights are probably the most awesome, cinematic thing I have read in a while. They show how incredibly well-conceived Sanderson’s magic system is: it evolves and scales with ease. The story itself is a diverting piece in Sherlock Holmes style, nothing too deep. There is potential for follow-up stories, though, so we’ll see. The main characters are very well-developed considering the size of the book; Sanderson makes every word count. Besides the abundance of action, verbal exchanges between Wax, Wayne and later Marasi provide most of the fun and make the book a light read despite several tragic scenes. As a fan of the series, I enjoyed the many (religious) references—fact distorted to myth by time—to the old heroes, in particular how their way of life evolved to outright schools of philosophy.
That I recommend a Sanderson book is probably no surprise, me being a devoted fan of his. Go and read this book even if you have not read or did not like the trilogy, it is fun!
Before They Are Hanged by Joe Abercrombie continues right from where The Blade Itself left off; in this book, the story starts rolling. While all characters converged in Adua during the prequel, they now scatter in almost all directions. Collem West travels aide to Lord Marshal Burr, the army’s commander-in-chief, into the north; Bethod has finally moved his armies into Angland and forced the Union to fight back. They lead mostly untried lads, the only experienced troops under the command of two generals who put their rivalry before military sense. As if that was not bad enough, pampered Crown Prince Ladisla tags along, his mind set to harvest glory for himself.
Inquisitor Glotka heads in the opposite direction; he has reveiced a delicate mission from the head of Inquisition himself: He is to return to the country of his downfall. The city of Dagoska, won from the Gurkish during the last war, threatens to fall to its old master. Glotka is to make sure the city holds no matter what and solve his predecessor’s mysterious disappearance while he is at it.
The rest of the cast including Logen and Jezal is dragged to the far west by suspicious magus Bayaz. Their goal is to obtain a powerful magical relic with which to fight Bayaz’ former colleague Kalul who draws the strings behind the Gurkish war effort. Not exactly role-models and trusting traveling companions, the party has to meet more than one challenge on their trip, a fair number of them between the members themselves. Read more »