Thoughtful Thursday: Why Can’t I Get You Alone?

Fantasy is rife with sprawling epics, series that go on and on and on and…  In fact, Bill coined the acronym LRMMVSTLB to describe this phenomenon: the long-running massive multi-volume split-the-last-book epic series.  But sometimes, you don’t want to commit to a whole series.  Sometimes, you want a nice, stand-alone fantasy novel to enjoy for a few days, rather than a tome that is going to require a multi-year commitment.fantasy and science fiction book reviews

So, dear readers, what is your recommendation for the best stand-alone fantasy novel you’ve read?

Leave a comment and we’ll enter you in a drawing to win Shadow Blade by Seressia Glass (isn’t that an awesome name?  I just want to say it over and over.  Seressia.  Seresssssia!) Or, if that book isn’t to your fancy, we’ll let you pick one out of our stacks.


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RUTH ARNELL (on FanLit's staff January 2009 — August 2013) earned a Ph.D. in political science and is a college professor in Idaho. From a young age she has maxed out her library card the way some people do credit cards. Ruth started reading fantasy with A Wrinkle in Time and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe — books that still occupy an honored spot on her bookshelf today. Ruth and her husband have a young son, but their house is actually presided over by a flame-point Siamese who answers, sometimes, to the name of Griffon.

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23 comments

  1. This is a really tough one, because every favorite I can think of is part of a series! I guess my recommendation would be Alex Bledsoe’s The Sword-Edged Blonde”, which is stand alone although part of a loosely-coupled series.

  2. Oooh, fun question! Off the top of my head, Fire and Hemlock by Diana Wynne Jones. Or maybe Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. Also have to plug Stardust,also by Gaiman.

  3. Chuck, I just read the sequel to that book. It was excellent, too. It takes place 10 or more years after the second. I agree that either can be read alone, but you’ll want to keep reading about Eddie LaCrosse! Mr. Bledsoe is working on another installment. I highly recommend these on audio.

  4. Ruth Arnell /

    Gaiman does some great stand alone fantasy. I’ve always had more problems getting into his series than his stand alones. When I was younger, I read Sacred Ground by Mercedes Lackey and loved it. It’s a native american themed modern fantasy, and really enjoyed it. I’m not sure how well it has held up, but I remember loving it at the time, and it’s a one-off.

  5. Dang, thats a tough question. I have been reading a lot of Gemmell lately and really enjoyed Morningstar. Its a fantasy about how a common criminal could become a ‘Robin Hood’ figure. Very interesting and entertaining read.

  6. I’ve always liked Faerie Tale by Raymond Feist. The Princess Bride by William Goldman has a lot going for it as well.

  7. That’s a hard one. It’s hard to find stand alone books anymore. I think my favorite is Too Many Curses by A. Lee Martinez.

  8. I’d say Elantris by Brandon Sanderson.

  9. Wow, tough question. It would be between three books: American Gods by Neil Gaimen, Sandman Slim by Richard Kadry, or Practical Demonkeeping by Christopher Moore. All are great standalones.

  10. The best single-volume fantasy novel I’ve read is To Ride Hell’s Chasm by Janny Wurts. My review of it can be found here: http://www.fantasyliterature.com/wurtsjanny.html#trhcsr

    Very close runners-up would be A Song for Arbonne and The Lions of Al-Rassan by Guy Gavriel Kay.

  11. My favorite stand-alone is also To Ride Hell’s Chasm by Janny Wurts. But I kinda keep hoping she’ll make into another one, like maybe a prequel (hint, hint if you see this Ms. Wurts ;) ) Its been years and years since I read it, but Stephen King’s Eye of the Dragon, is a very close second.
    Another pretty good one was The Barbed Coil by J. V. Jones, but you know what? Unfortunately fantasy stand-alones are so rare, that I can’t even think of any other ones I’ve read besides these three.. That’s really kinda pathetic.
    I don’t think it would count because its a stand-alone book apart from the series, or I would list Best Serverd Cold by Joe Abercrombie as my second favorite.

  12. Best Served Cold by Joe Abercrombie, or I’ll second the mention of Gaiman’s stand alone books.

  13. Brandon Sanderson’s Warbreaker is definitely my favorite stand-alone novel,.

  14. I would pick The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley. I know Hero and Crown is set in the same world, but they both stand-alone. I also like her Beauty. Heros of Zara Keep was a fun read years ago as well. And I remember liking Janny Wurts’ Sorcerers Legacy when I read it eons ago. I have to start reading her again.
    Anyone have any series that should have been left at just one book? Where the first one was good but it really didn’t need to go further?

  15. Pride Mates by Jennifer Ashley I absolutely loved it.

  16. Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson.

  17. I agree with Stardust, To Ride Hell’s Chasm, A Song for Arbonne, The Princess Bride. I’ll add Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay and Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell and David Gemmell’s Knights of Dark Renown.

  18. Thank you Sarah for stealing my book choice!
    :chase:
    Well I have couple more suggestions, besides the stolen ones.
    Zahrah the Windseeker by Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu and The Shadow Speaker (also by the same author).
    They are both young-adult novels and can be read separately but several of the ideas and histories/myths cross over.
    Moving into the vampire category, All the Amelia Atwater-Rhodes books that are not in the Keisher’a series are stand alone novellas (although one of them is getting a sequel.)

  19. Here is a list, compiled by the author herself, of stuff that is included in The Shadow Speaker: “Spontaneous forests, polygamy, strange insects, Nigerian 419 scammers, really really fast cars, a different kind of Sahara Desert, male beauty contests, the apocalypse, life, death, sword fights, fat chiefs, assassins, this novel is kind of nuts. :-)”

    I also forgot to mention Tantalize by Cynthia Leitich Smith and Sunshine by Robin McKinley(both vampire novels, the first young adult the second adult.)

  20. My favourite stand alone fantasy novel is Sunshine by Roben McKinley.

  21. No doubt : Tigana and A song for Arbonne by Guy Gavriel Kay

  22. Our winner is Rick Pasley — Congratulations!
    Rick, Justin is on vacation, so please contact Kat with your address. I’ll send the book out right away. Hope you like it!
    http://www.fantasyliterature.com/contact-fanlit/

  23. Another vote for A Song for Arbonne; Tigana; and Stardust. Don’t forget The Hour of the Dragon by Robert Howard, the only Conan novel and 75k words of sheer S&S action. Gemmell’s books are also solid.

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