This roundup of the newest releases in fantasy and adventure features a dragon hunt in a China inspired fantasy, a bishop seeking to save the souls of modern men, and, from Germany, an alternate history in the tradition of 1632 and the Destroyermen series, as a World War I cruiser arrives just before the fall of Rome.

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Army of God – Dennis Bailey

One of the most beloved and enduring stories of all time . . .

One of the most recognizable characters in history . . .

A plot by a rival to kill Noah and his family is thwarted by a beautiful young woman, who joins them as they flee the ancient Biblical city of Eden. A year later, the Lord reveals His plan to destroy the earth by flood and commands Noah to build an ark. Only the news is met with skepticism and opposition from members of his own family. Eventually, word of the ark reaches Eden, prompting the rival to send an army of five thousand men to destroy it.

However Noah has an army of his own.

Action, adventure, and suspense combine with the Biblical account of Noah’s Ark to create a heart-pounding page-turner that will stay with you long after the flood waters have receded.

“At heart, this is a story of faith in action – expressed in discipline, trust, obedience and commitment.”–Amazon Reader Review

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The Heretics of St. Possenti – Rolf Nelson

Bishop Thomas Cranberry finds himself at a loss when he is confronted by a thief and realizes some disturbing truths about himself. The experience sends him in search of the men who are increasingly absent from the Church, who find themselves at a loss in a world that has gone increasingly feral, and who feel that they have nowhere to go and no one to whom they can turn for support. In listening to them and attempting to understand their plight, he finds an unexpected mission.

THE HERETICS OF ST. POSSENTI is for readers who want the backstory of the story and for those who want to know how one inspired man can make a difference in a fallen world. It is a novel for those who need inspiration to get them though the day and those who look for unusual ways to accomplish the mission. It is for people who understand and respect the old ways but know that sometimes a seed cannot grow without splitting the pavement.

“The look into the human condition and motivations, looking at what is rather than what is said to be, resonates with truth like the deep tolling of the bell in a steeple.”–Amazon Reader Review

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In The Lair – presented by Fantasy Bridge

Fantasy Bridge is thrilled to present its first collection from bestselling authors and newly emerging writers. These stories transport you to new and wondrous worlds. Places where dragons roam free and where magic is as natural as blood. From epic battles to the temptations, the exciting stories in In the Lair will thrill, inspire, and keep you up all night wondering what will happen next.

“A couple of Indie writers decided to flex some muscles, figuratively speaking, showing in this compendium of fantasy novellas/short stories why they have already individually become so successful as writers. For readers, this compendium is like finding the font of inspiration”–Amazon Reader Review

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Minds of Men (The Psyche of War #1) – Kacey Ezell

Evelyn Adamsen grew up knowing she had to hide her psychic abilities, lest she be labeled a witch. However, when the U.S. Army Air Corps came calling in 1943, looking for psychic women to help their beleaguered bomber force, Evelyn answered, hoping to use her powers to integrate the bomber crews and save American lives.

She was extremely successful at it…until her aircraft got shot down.

Now, Evelyn is on the run in Occupied Europe, with a special unit of German Fallschirmjager and an enemy psychic on her heels. Worse, Evelyn learns that using her psychic powers functions as a strobe that highlights her to the enemy.

As the enemy psychic closes in, Evelyn is faced with a dilemma in her struggle to escape—how can she make it back to England when the only talent she has will expose her if she uses it?

“Gritty, dark and damp. Much like the war itself.”–Michael Z. Williamson, Author of “A Long Time Until Now”

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Orchestra of Treacheries (The Dragon Songs Saga #2) – JC Kang 

The mightiest dragon threatens the world, and only the power of a Dragon Song can vanquish him.

Two years have passed since Kaiya rediscovered the lost magic of Dragon Songs, yet the power of her voice is untrained. Potential suitors see her as a stepping stone. One ruthless cousin would rather step on her gravestone.

Not one to get walked over or buried, Kaiya is holding out for the exiled foreign prince who inspired her to sing. The only one who appreciates her abilities more is the world’s last dragon, Avarax, and it’s not because he enjoys a good song.

Raw and unproven, she finds mentors in unlikely places. An elf courtier. An ancient healer. A martial arts master. And an evil sorcerer. She’ll need their guidance to survive the final showdown between a girl finding her voice, and a dragon who has no intention of being fooled a second time.

“I am in awe of the worldbuilding behind this series. It’s one of the most finely detailed I have seen. Similar enough to Old China and India to be recognizable, yet each nation is distinctively itself.”–Amazon Reader Review

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Passage (The Emperor’s Men #3) – Dirk van der Boom

Shortly before the First World War, the German light cruiser Saarbrücken leaves the port of Wilhelmshaven to make its last big journey before being decommissioned. But near Portugal the old ship encounters a mysterious phenomenon, and the crew unexpectedly finds itself in the Mediterranean, 1500 years in the past, at a historical moment: It’s the year 378, the beginning of the end of the Western Roman Empire, the start of Völkerwanderung. The crew of the Saarbrücken decides that to survive they must make friends of the Romans. They had been the Kaiser’s men in the 20th century, and now, in the past, another emperor might need their services.

The victory over the Goths has only brought temporary peace to the Roman Empire. Unrest and intrigues threaten to jeopardize the achievements made. The time travelers from the Saarbrücken not only help to reform Empire but also have to take first steps against the threat posed by the Huns. An expedition is sent to Africa to spread new ideas in the Empire and begin the search for profitable commodities. But the opponents of the new order are not asleep and begin their preparations to restore the old ways – and this with the help of a man who was believed to be dead.

Starting with a space pirate raid of Hell, Brian Niemeier introduced us to the universe of the dead gods Thera and Zadok in the Dragon Award winning Soul Cycle as it wound down like clockwork towards its end. To cataclysm and rebirth, and to the Souldancers, wounded men and women with fractured souls and great power. Now, in THE OPHIAN RISING, the Soul Cycle weaves its way towards its conclusion.

The Zadokim healed the cosmos from the ravages of the Cataclysm, and the survivors made them kings. Now the Ophians, a ruthless insurgent movement, wage a vicious uprising against their immortal rulers’ two hundred year reign.

Xander and Astlin have transformed the desert world of Tharis into the hub of a flourishing trade empire. Their Nesshin subjects spread a new faith promising true freedom in another universe. But when Astlin seeks forbidden knowledge to resurrect her long-dead family, sinister forces exact a terrible price from those she loves.

With the Ophian threat engulfing the spheres and a primeval terror rising from its prison, Astlin must turn to a shiftless gambler, the outlaw squire of a fallen knight, and a mismatched pair of smugglers to escape the ghosts of her past and save all souls from eternal death. But can mortals succeed where even gods have failed?

In anticipation of its imminent release, CastaliaHouse.com is pleased to bring you a preview of THE OPHIAN RISING, the concluding volume of the Soul Cycle.

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“Which ether-runner should we go to for help?” Will asked.

“Not an ether-runner,” Astlin said the moment she set eyes on the angular black hull of Night Gen nexus-runner parked at the two o’clock position of the circular landing strip below.

They made their way down to the field and crossed to the obsidian ship. True to her word, Astlin let Will take her place propping up the stabilized but still weak Brell. The Night Gen ship’s general design reminded Astlin of her lost Kerioth, but it was of much newer construction with five knife-edged tines fanning out from the central hull instead of three.

Xander and I had that ship for over two hundred years, she thought bitterly. Another debt the Ophians owe me.

When she and her companions had approached to stand before the nexus-runner’s tapered spike of a nose, Astlin projected her thoughts to the ship’s telepathic comm system. We’re survivors of the recent Ophian attack. One of your people is with us. He needs a medic.

“Did you signal them?” Tallon asked when a minute passed with no sign of activity from the ship.

“Yes, I did,” said Astlin.

“Are you sure they heard you?”

Astlin didn’t respond, but Brell answered Tallon for her. “My people have reason to be cautious, especially after tonight. They are most likely attempting to determine if we pose a danger to their ship.”

“The only one they’re endangering is you,” said Will.

A floodlight cast a blinding white beam on the five supplicants. The familiar whirring of a descending nexus-runner boarding ramp sounded from the darkness behind the light. A wary female voice spoke in the Night Gen dialect. Read More

Vandals of the Void by Robert Wilson appeared in the Spring 1945 issue Planet Stories. It can be read here at Archive.org.

Vandals of the Void is an apocalyptic invasion tale with a lot going for it. Despite some over-reliance on expository dialogue, Wilson gives us something that would be perfect fodder for an invasion flick, classic or modern.

We’ve got multiple alien menaces, neutral/possibly ally extraterrestrials in the form of the Martians, a mad scientist traitor to the human race, and a power couple who are challenged with love in the face of annihilation. Really great stuff!

Scientists have discovered these strange worm-things; they seem semi-carbon-based, but they can’t quite figure out their metabolism. They’re not much more than a tube body and a mouth, and they’ll bore upward through just about anything. Sideways, down, notsomuch, but you put something above them, they’ll eat their way straight up and out. Cities all over earth begin to be destroyed and devoured by these critters as they eat their way upward through the crust.

Read More

The third anthology of the Four Horsemen series rides forth.

It’s the Twenty-Second Century. Humanity has taken its first steps into the galaxy, and we’ve found ourselves in a vast playground of alien races, environments, and cultures. As the newest players on the universal stage, though, our position is readily apparent—we’re at the bottom of the food chain.

Welcome back to the Four Horsemen universe, where only a willingness to fight and die for money separates Humans from the majority of the other races. While some of the stories inside deal with mercenaries, others introduce readers to the other guilds, organizations, and races that make up the landscape of the Four Horsemen universe, as well as providing additional insight into the characters of the mainline novels. What’s it like to be a medic on the beach or to learn how to kill from a mother not your own? Come find out!

Edited by bestselling authors and universe creators Mark Wandrey and Chris Kennedy, The Good, the Bad, and the Merc includes sixteen all-new stories in the Four Horsemen universe by a variety of bestselling authors—and some you may not have heard of…yet. In a galaxy this big, you’ll find that some of the races are good and others are bad, but only the best are mercs!

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Reader Praise for the Four Horsemen anthologies:

“What I like about Chris and Mark is the amount of action in their stories, now they’ve rounded up some like-minded authors, given them the seed and expanded a universe that was already bristling with possibilities. You don’t need to read the previous Four Horsemen stories to enjoy this, but it does help. Just be warned, it is addictive.”

“A diverse and clever collection of intelligent mil-scifi. A sense of humor, perhaps the gallows kind, is evident. Well done!”

“What can I say? I am really loving this universe. The stuff by Chris and Mark is outstanding and in these short story anthologies, some great writers are coming in to play and they are bringing their A Game.”

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Explore the Dragon Award nominated Four Horsemen universe

The fear and awe are immortal, written onto our souls with scarlet ink, of some Great Thing coming for us or what we guard, too big to handle and too strong to fight as it shakes the ground with its coming, and the only hope is that it passes by. Welcome to playing Steve Jackson’s Ogre,where the home team has a collection of scrappy infantrymen, tanks, artillery, and missiles against a juggernaut that does not care about any of them.

I recently purchased the Sixth edition, after reading about the new Ogre digitization that is coming to Steam on October 5th. The game is excellent, especially for introducing new players to the hobby. With only one unit to control on the attacker side of the scenario—the nigh-invincible, massively destructive AI battletank the game is named for—there are fewer but weighty decisions to be made, and the newbie can focus on learning instead of managing from the get-go. The teacher, unfortunately, must watch his men blasted, run over, ground under treads, shot with nuclear missiles, and otherwise slaughtered en masse.

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Image result for death note near melloSo I wasn’t going to do another post on “Death Note” – and I can promise you this will be the final one – but I decided on this topic because I realized that the flaws actually had a lot to do with the superversive philosophy. So I think this will be instructive even for people who aren’t necessarily fans of the franchise.

“Death Note” is basically two different animes with one title (as usual, this is my catch-all for both the anime and the manga, though in this case there are actually some instructive differences). The first half is an absolute masterpiece of concept, characterization, and (particularly) plotting, with multiple iconic moments and a level of consistent suspense that would make Alfred Hitchcock turn green with envy.

The second half is…meh.

I am sure fans of the franchise know where I’m going with this, and it’s really impossible to avoid spoilers if I’m going to discuss it. If you haven’t seen the show yet, do so before you read ahead.

Ready?

All right, let’s do this. Read More

We'll hide the obvious 'cold hands warm heart' joke behind the alt-text, though is is appropriate.Jeff Duntemann’s collection, “Cold Hands and Other Stories” shouldn’t work.

The works included span more than four decades of writing.  His largely Campbellian style gives way to urban magic and deep looks at the role of religion in space exploration. This collection lacks a consistent voice or theme.  And yet it works wonderfully!

This collection of short stories hangs together thanks to the foundation of Duntemann’s solid writing and his clear insights into the human – and not so human – condition.  Duntemann writes cold science stories that have a lot more warmth to them, and technology stories that really look at the human effects in line with the best of the Campebellian stories of the 1950s.

The opening story, Cold Hands, tells the tale of a space freighter pilot who learns that the replacement arms given him by his employers come with a few more strings attached than he expected. Given the recent revelations about tech companies surprising users with their own hidden strings, this story feels like one ripped from the headlines. It was written in 1980. Aside from the normal concern of corporations offering “too good to be true” improvements in quality of life, this story features technology extrapolations that don’t feel dated in the slightest. It also delves into the body horror genre as the pilot struggles to find a way to escape his new prison while keeping his true intentions hidden from his own hands.

It gets better from there. Read More

Action Stars

Action Movies are audience pleasers, which is why the stars are so damn popular: Arnold Schwarzenegger. Bruce Willis. Sylvester Stallone. Mel Gibson. Chuck Norris. Jason Statham. And so many more. All stars who built their career on giving the audience what they wanted: thrills, chills, and a smidgen of sexiness.

Over on Twitter, some gent had the gall to rank the greatest Action Movie stars of all time thusly:

1. Sylvester Stallone
2. Tom Hardy
3. Bruce Willis
4. Wesley Snipes
5. Arnold Schwarzenegger
6. Steven Seagal
7. Charles Bronson
8. Jet Li
9. Chuck Norris
10. Jean-Claude Van Damme

This is TOTALLY WRONG. First off, “Top Ten” lists are for men without the testicular fortitude to bear down and make hard choices. Top Five lists force you to focus on what’s really important.

Here’s mine:

Read More

Bishop Thomas Cranberry finds himself at a loss when he is confronted by a thief and realizes some disturbing truths about himself. The experience sends him in search of the men who are increasingly absent from the Church, who find themselves at a loss in a world that has gone increasingly feral, and who feel that they have nowhere to go and no one to whom they can turn for support. In listening to them and attempting to understand their plight, he finds an unexpected mission.

THE HERETICS OF ST. POSSENTI is for readers who want the backstory of the story and for those who want to know how one inspired man can make a difference in a fallen world. It is a novel for those who need inspiration to get them though the day and those who look for unusual ways to accomplish the mission. It is for people who understand and respect the old ways but know that sometimes a seed cannot grow without splitting the pavement.

Rolf Nelson is the author of BACK FROM THE DEAD, the first book in The Stars Came Back series. This is how Rolf described the connection between the two books:

The first book written in this series of related stories was The Stars Came Back. It had a small but important part played by a somewhat mysterious order of monks, the Order of St. Possenti. It was also said they had a small but significant role in the past as they helped save, metaphorically and physically, the fully self-aware AI aboard the warship Armadillo. It was an unusual order of monks, and it raised more than a few reader questions. It also piqued my own interest: how could such an order of rifle-toting Christian monks come into existence? A fascinating plot device to use as a fully developed entity, but… How?

So I set about exploring the idea. I learned much in the process about Christianity, Catholicism, popes, monks, schisms, and more. I hope you enjoy the results of that labor.

Fiction (Mighty Thor Jrs) The Broken Sword–– “Originally published in 1954 this novel has all the elements necessary for great heroic fantasy. A unknowing or unwilling hero, a villain of unspeakable vileness, epic battles of world changing proportions, and of course a magic sword! With some Norse mythology mixed in what is not to love. When I think Definitive Heroic Fantasy I think of this book, so I had to do a post on this book first.”

 

Fiction (Black Gate) Savage Pellucidar:–– “I’ve told this tale before with Escape on Venus and Llana of Gathol, the sister works of Savage Pellucidar, but once more won’t hurt. At the start of the 1940s, Edgar Rice Burroughs experimented writing novels in three of his settings — Mars, Venus, and Pellucidar — as sets of four linked novellas. Each novella was capable of standing on its own but could later fit together with the other three for book publication. The idea may have been the suggestion of Cyril Ralph Rothmund, business manager for ERB Inc., who first wrote a letter to the editor of Ziff-Davis Magazines with the format proposal. It was an experiment of necessity, since the pulps were turning away from serializations as more of the weekly magazines dropped to monthly publication. Burroughs approached the three books as a round-robin, changing from one setting to the next to finish all the novellas.” Read More

1980 is like a KT event for many sword and sorcery artists. KT stands for Cretaceous-Tertiary and the mass extinction 65 million years ago. The late Steve Tompkins used the term for any cultural extinction event.

It seems Ken Kelly and Rowena Morrill were the go to artists for fantasy paperback covers during the 1980s. One breath of fresh air which might surprise you is James Gurney (b. 1958). You probably know him as the Dinotopia guy. For a brief period in the middle 1980s, he produced some covers for some sword and sorcery books.

James Gurney coauthored The Artist’s Guide to Sketching (1982) with Thomas Kinkade (!). Kincade (1958-2012) was a successful artist of lighthouses, cottages, etc. He was also hated by the critics.

Both worked on the movie Fire and Ice (1983) on background scenes. You should know that movie. If you don’t, shame on you.

Gurney also had his first art for science fiction paperbacks and magazine covers in 1983. Ace Books was the first to make use of him, then D.A.W. Books. Read More

This collection of the latest new releases in science fiction features a space-based litRPG, future knights clad in mecha armor, a final confrontation against a conquering empire on an alien world, and, in time for Veteran’s Day, a collection of post-apocalyptic animal stories to support the charity Pets for Vets.

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Blood World (Undying Mercenaries #8) – B. V. Larson

A dirty deal was struck. Humanity was allowed to keep three hundred rebellious worlds. In return, we declared war on a powerful enemy from beyond the frontier.

A frantic build-up of forces has begun, but the task is hopeless. Seeking allies, Earth’s legions are sent to BLOOD WORLD. A planet on the fringe of known space, where the people only respect masters of combat.

Earth’s Legions must impress them, but other alien powers have been invited to join the contest. The prize consists of billions of loyal troops—Earth must win.

Fighting and dying and fighting again, the struggle is half-mad—but so is James McGill.

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Bunker: Book 5 –  Jay J. Falconer

One Battle. One Man. One Mission.

The insurgents are dug in and ready for war. To them, it’s about guns, guts, and glory.

For Bunker, the flag and freedom are paramount. He’s prepared to fight, despite their overwhelming firepower.

As the final confrontation nears, Bunker knows death comes with it.

Some will perish so others can live.

But in the end, who will stand atop the rubble to claim victory and will there be anything left worth protecting?

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Chronicle Worlds: Tails of Dystopia (Future Worlds #17) – edited by Samuel Peralta and Chris Pourteau

1984 meets The Incredible Journey in thirteen dystopian tales by some of today’s most accomplished writers of science fiction.

In this title in the acclaimed Future Chronicles series of speculative fiction anthologies created by award-winning author Samuel Peralta, discover tales of dark futures, tragic pasts, and a present that’s run off the rails are presented in landscapes as varied as their authors’ imaginations.

Set in bestselling worlds fully realized by their authors, the stories of Chronicle Worlds: Tails of Dystopia unfold as seen through the eyes of animals — tamed and feral, domestic and savage — as they traverse a world of perdition where often their capacity for nobility and self-sacrifice transcends our own.

Enter these worlds with some of the most inventive authors writing today, including USA Today bestselling authors David Adams and Cheri Lasota, Wall Street Journal bestselling authors Daniel Arthur Smith and Ann Christy, and Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award winner Rysa Walker.

Dystopian deserts, post-apocalyptic mountain ranges, the medieval English countryside, the far reaches of the galaxy – in each of these and more, animals and their human companions discover heart-stopping adventure among the ruins – and you will, too.

Proceeds from this volume of The Future Chronicles help support the charity Pets for Vets, which rescues and re-trains shelter animals and matches them with military veterans in need of a companion animal.

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Cruel Stars (Ark Royal #11) – Christopher Nuttal

The Royal Navy never expected to fight a full-scale interstellar war. Everyone knew the Great Powers would never risk everything on armed conflict, when there was plenty of room for everyone in outer space. But when a hostile alien force stumbles across humanity’s handful of colony worlds, the Great Powers must set aside their differences and fight to preserve humanity from utter destruction.

Desperate for starships and manpower, the Royal Navy embarks upon an ambitious plan of converting freighters into makeshift carriers and recruiting reservists and criminals to fill the ranks. Classed as expendable, the small carriers will be given the most dangerous missions to slow a remorseless alien foe…

…And the pardons their crews have been offered will be meaningless if they die.

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Forged in Fire (Destiny’s Crucible #4) – Olan Thorensen

Joseph Colsco has survived what many would not have—cast naked on an alien planet amidst humans speaking an unknown language and with a different culture and history. Now, known to the people of Caedellium as Yozef Kolsko, he has risen out of despair to prominence and finds himself a central figure in the culmination of a struggle against an imperialist power bent on subjugation.

The clans of the Island of Caedellium must gird themselves for what is to come. If they can’t unite to a degree previously unimaginable, they will fall into the bottomless abyss of lost history. Their strengths are their determination, bravery, potentially new allies, and a single man with a mysterious history. The options are simple: victory, death, enslavement.

Yozef Kolsko may have transformed from who he had been on Earth, but did the trials he has undergone produced a savior some of his adopted people see him as or is he an illusion? The crucible of fate is about to yield a final product, but is the result enough against a formidable enemy?

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Showdown (Rise of Mankind #10) – John Walker

The decades long conflict comes crashing to a dramatic conclusion as the alliance faces off with their age old enemy to determine the fate of the galaxy. As the massive fleet launches for a final battle, The Behemoth and The Crystal Font are tasked with a dangerous mission to destroy a transmission facility which may well be the deciding factor in the outcome of the attack.

They’ve committed everything, heading into a situation which may well spell their end. Pilots, marines and crewmen alike look toward the moment that will make history regardless if they are victorious. A win means peace for the beleaguered alliance, a chance to heal from the wounds of war while a loss could lead to the destruction of their respective cultures if not civilization as they know it.

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Space Knight #2 – Samuel E. Green and Michael-Scott Earle

To protect the crew against betrayal, Captain Cross sends the Stalwart on a training mission to Ecoma, a gas giant populated by evolved humans with dangerous empathic abilities.

The journey was supposed to be easy: Acquire training from the evolved humans, negotiate the use of magical devices that can protect the knights from mind control, and get a bit of R&R.

Of course, nothing is ever easy with the Stalwart, and Squire Nicholas Lyons soon finds himself battling for his life against sensual mind readers, hordes of bloodthirsty Grendels, enemy kingdom warriors, and a berserker knight named Olav.

“Fun and easy to get into. Great action and likable characters. Tons of fighting which is awesome.” – Amazon reader review

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The Complete Circuit Trilogy – Rhett C. Bruno

Earth is a dying planet. To survive, humanity founds the Circuit, a string of colonies across the solar system, dedicated to mining resources vital to preserving what remains of mankind.

The New Earth Tribunal, a powerful religious faction, rises to rule the Circuit. They believe a Spirit within the Earth will one day appear and welcome humanity back home. Following a string of seemingly random attacks, the Tribunal suspects its mortal enemy, the Ceresians, have again rallied to challenge their absolute rule.

Join an unlikely band of would-be saviors–the Tribunal’s best spy, a roguish Ceresian mercenary, a subservient android and a disgraced general–as they are drawn into a conspiracy destined to change the Circuit forever.

A new, sinister threat has arisen–and it plans to bring down the Tribunal once and for all.

This omnibus contains Executor Rising, Progeny of Vale, and Earthfall.

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The True Measure (Terran Armor Corps #3) – Richard Fox

The Ibarra Nation holds Roland prisoner. The armor soldier’s fate lies in the hands of the inhuman Stacey Ibarra.

Roland will face the truth behind the Ibarra rebellion and decide if his loyalties are to Earth, or his ideals.

While the Iron Dragoons recover from their last battle, dark forces are at work. Gideon is called as a witness to New Bastion, where the treaty that opened the stars to humanity may force all-out war with the Ibarras or turn the rest of the galaxy against Earth.

Beyond the edge of known space, an old enemy readies a vendetta that can only be ended with humanity’s extinction.

“This story (and these stories) bring the guts and the glory of the infantry back, with the added tie to the ancient and honored knights. One of the best military series I’ve ever read!”–Amazon Reader Review