Book series are great. There’s nothing more interesting for a bookworm than a nice set of books with the same world and the same characters. But sometimes they can get a little boring and sometimes you simply don’t have the time for them.
If you are one of those who don’t want to commit to a long series or are just looking for a nice standalone, here’s a list of books which have an entire series in just book with epic world building, politics and intriguing characters you can’t help but root for.
Note – Some of these books are marked as parts of a series but can actually be read as standalones since they are based in the same world or were marketed as standalones.
1. Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell
Author – Susanna Clarke
There was a time when the English could perform magic. But by the 1800s that art had been lost. However, a certain Mr. Norrell, who has collected and learned quite a lot of magical tricks decides that its time to get it all back and then there’s his equally competent rival, Jonathan Strange.
2. The Priory of the Orange Tree
Author – Samantha Shannon
One of the many books based on Saint George and the Dragon story, it is much more feminist in its retelling. Told from various perspective- a queen expected to produce an heir, a girl training to be a dragon rider, a desperate physician etc – the book is full of politics and intrigues.
Author – Guy Gavriel Kay
The people have been living under the most cruel and despotic ruler. In fact, the struggles have been so many that all former glory of their land has been lost, including its name – Tigana. But people have had enough and they decide to rebel against the black sorcery.
4. The Night Circus
Author – Erin Morgenstern
With its black and white striped tents, Le Cirque des Reves is one of its kind. It is only ever open at night. Behind the scenes, Celia and Marco have been training forever for a competition from which only one will come out alive. But what if they fall in love?
Author – Brandon Sanderson
Elantris was once a prosperous magical city. But something went horribly wrong and the people were stricken with destitution and the city fell. Kae is now Arelon’s new capital but it can not compete with Elantris. But when Princess Sarene comes to wed Elantris’ prince, Raoden and find that he’s died, the responsibility to protect the lands fall on her shoulders.
6. The Goblin Emperor
Author – Katherine Addison
The Emperor’s youngest son never had to worry about the court life and neither was he allowed to. When his brothers and father are killed, the half-goblin son has to take the throne. Considered naive and easy to manipulate, the new Emperor must proceed with caution.
Author – Neil Gaiman
Perfect for the fans for books like The City We Became by N. K. Jemisin, Neverwhere takes us into a magical London, where under all the regularity, there is a whole city of fantastic proportions. A young businessman, Richard Mayhew finds himself right in the middle of it.
8. The Golem and the Jinni
Author – Helen Wecker
The Golem and the Jinni takes inspiration from Middle Eastern and Yiddish folklore, to create a beautiful story of friendship between Chava, a golem created by a fallen wizard and Ahmad, a jinni born in the ancient Syrian desert.
Author – David Eddings and Leigh Eddings
A book of truly epic proportions from the much loved husband and wife writing duo, it runs a good 800 pages and is enough to keep one occupied for a long time. Althalus is a small time thief who his hired by a wizard to steal a magical book but finds himself fighting him with a goddess, Dweia.
Author – Michael Ende
If you love the story of Alice, you will love this book. Bastian is pulled into the world of Fantastica which is falling into ruin and the only way to save it is by giving the ruler a new name. But the path to the ruler is full of danger and things not afraid to hurt humans.
11. The Devourers
Author – Indra Das
Based in Kolkata, India, Professor Alok encounters a strange man one day and his strange story. Enamored by the man’s story, he decides to transcribe the bunch of notebooks which are left with him. As the story proceeds, Alok gets deeper and deeper into it.
12. Ninth House
Author – Leigh Bardugo
Alex Stern has had a difficult life. Recently she has been the only survivor of a homicide and when she wakes up in the hospital, she is given a place in Yale University. And under the prestigious institution, there’s an entire magical world.
13. The Curse of Chalion
Author – Lois McMaster Bujold
Cazarial has to return to the household he once served as a page but now as a tutor to the sister of the future ruler. Politics is abound in the house of Chalion and Cazarial is inevitably pulled into it.
14. The City & The City
Author – China Mieville
Equal parts detective story and urban fantasy, the book is about detective Tyador Borlu of the Extreme Crime Squad in the city of Beszel. To investigate a murder, Borlu has to travel to another city Ul Qoma and work with Detective Qussim Dhatt.
15. The Ghost Bride
Author – Yangtze Choo
The writer of The Night Tiger gives a historical fantasy based on an ancient tradition. In Imperial Malacca, Li Lan of humble standings, is approached by a rich family to be the ghost bride to their recently deceased son. But the house has more secrets than that and every night Li Lan is pulled into the spiritual world.
16. The Once and Future Witches
Author – Alix E. Harrow
A standalone fantasy list without the tower of Avalon retelling is not complete and if you are thinking of reading The Mists of Avalon, let me stop you right there. Harrow’s book is told from the perspective of three witchy sisters – Juniper, Agnes and Belladonna – with a suffragette twist.
17. Perdido Street Station
Author – China Mieville
In the city of New Crobuzon, unsual things are quite usual. Isaac, a scientist is especially used to them until a half-bird, half-human Garuda approaches him with a request.
18. The Hobbit
Author – J. R. R. Tolkien
The Hobbit needs no introduction especially after the movies which were made based on this one book. It tells the introductory story of the Hobbits especially Biblio Baggins, Gandalf, Elves and Dwarfs and their adventures together.
Which other fantasy standalone would you recommend? Let me know down below.