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Single volume fantasy recommendations

Victoria Silverwolf

Vegetarian Werewolf
Dec 9, 2012
Chattanooga, Tennessee, USA
I always answer questions like this with the novella (available as a separate book or in a collection with three other of the author's novellas) The Unconquered Country (1986) by Geoff Ryman, which is brilliant and unlike any other fantasy you will ever read.

The Unconquered Country Critical Essays - eNotes.com

Another unique favorite of mine is The Circus of Dr. Lao (1935) by Charles G. Finney.

The Circus of Dr. Lao - Wikipedia

Besides that, I should ask: What kind of fantasy do you like? What are some of your favorites?


Senior Member
Jan 2, 2008
The Silvered by Tanya Huff. Set in an early industrial sort of world, expanding empire attacking its neighbours, story starts as they attack a nation with magicians and werewolves - the werewolves are the ruling family. Strictly speaking not called werewolves - known as the pack.

Randy M.

Well-Known Member
Mar 7, 2012
Seconding Victoria's suggestion of The Circus of Dr. Lao, a great satirical fantasy. (Noting to self to look into the Ryman.)

Some stand alone fantasies, a mix of various types, not just secondary world:
The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkein (yes, I would have mentioned if you'd asked for series/trilogies, since that's how it was packaged; Tolkein saw it as one large work, though)
Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susannah Clarke (there's a companion volume of short stories, The Ladies of Grace Adieu, that isn't necessary for enjoying the novel, but are good reading on their own)
Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury
The Land of Laughs, The Voice of Our Shadow, Bones of the Moon by Jonathan Carroll
The Last Unicorn, A Fine and Private Place, Tamsin, The Innkeeper's Song by Peter Beagle (not related novels; there is a story collection related to TIS, Giant Bones, but it's not necessary to read it with the novel)
The Red Tree by Caitlin Kiernan (dark fantasy)
A Feast of Sorrows by Angela Slatter (story collection, with the feel of fairy tales)
The Forest of Forgiving by Theodora Goss (story collection, with the feel of fairy tales)
Briar Rose by Jane Yolen
The Face in the Frost by John Bellairs
Deadfall Hotel by Steve Rasnic Tem

Victoria is right, though, that a little information on what you like would make it easier to hit that target.

Randy M.

Toby Frost

Well-Known Member
Jan 22, 2008
I'm quite a fan of Homunculus by James Blaylock, a sort of early steampunk adventure that definitely on the fantasy side of things. It's pretty crazy and has a lot of humour.

There's also The War of the Flowers by Tad Williams, but I'm not sure on this. I'm reading it at the moment and, strangely, I'm enjoying the real-world bits much more than the fantasy world parts.


Well-Known Member
Sep 15, 2007
UK, Yorkshire
I second Tigana. Still the only Kay book I've got (limited reading time), but it's very good.

I also really like The Silmarillion, but that's a bit of a Marmite book.


There Are Always new Things to Learn.
Jun 29, 2014
Crom by Eric Flint
The Anubis Gates by Tim Powers
The Forgotten Beasts of Eld. By Patrica McKillip
Magus Rex by Jack Lovejoy
The Star Rover by Jack London
The Lost Continent by C J Cutcliffe Hynd
The Dark World by Henry Kuttner
Black Gods Kiss by C L Moore
Conan The Hour of the Dragon by Robert E Howard
The Ship of Ishtar by Abraham Merritt
And the Devil Will Drag You Under by Jack Chalker
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Well-Known Member
Apr 28, 2006
Some suggestions that I've read in the last few years:
Adrian Tchaikovsky's Guns of the Dawn
Katherine Addison's The Goblin Emperor
Naomi Novik's Uprooted
Chris Wooding's The Fade
Claire North's The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August

Many of Kay's books would qualify (although he has done a couple of series). The Lions of Al-Rassan would be another good option.

The Big Peat

Darth Buddha
Apr 9, 2016
I must fourth Tigana - arguably as good a stand alone as has been written in the genre - and echo williamjm in pointing out a lot of GGK's books are stand alones if you get along with it.

The Bridge of Birds by Barry Hughart is technically part of a series but works very well as a stand alone and is a wonderful blend of humour, mystery and Chinese myth.

Beyond that, which I recommend to everyone, do you have a preference for what type of stand alones/do you object to stand alones that are loosely tied to other books (i.e. the Discworld standalones)? The Hour of the Dragon and Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell are both highly thought of stand alones, but very different experiences.


Well-Known Member
Jun 28, 2007
A fifth for Tigana and I would also second The Lions of Al-Rassan. Legend by David Gemmell.


We're in the pipe, five by five.
Jun 7, 2015
Liverpool, United Kingdom
I want to third The Lions of Al Rassan. As good as Tigana is, I absolutely love Lions.

Uprooted by Noami Novik

The Golem and the Jinni by Helen Wecker



Well-Known Member
Jul 3, 2011
Lud-in-the-Mist by Hope Mirlees
Little Big by John Crowley
Last Letters from Haf by Jan Morris