Got Series Fatigue? Try These Ten Standalone Fantasy Novels!

Fantasy fiction is best known for its giant, door-stopping series that come in trilogies or longer. Of course, not everyone wants to embark on a ten-book project. And even if you love series, sometimes it’s nice to read a standalone story that provides a satisfying resolution within a single book. With that in mind, I’ve set out to provide a list of ten fantasy stories that have all the thrills of a series but stand alone as a single volume.

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Rankin & Bass’ The Hobbit Predicted the Future of Pop Culture

J.R.R. Tolkien’s landmark novels The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings have been adapted numerous times for TV and the big screen—with varying quality and results—over the last forty years. The first of these is Rankin/Bass’ animated version of The Hobbit, first released as a TV movie on NBC in November, 1977.

As I rewatched The Hobbit, for the first time since elementary school, I tried to imagine what it would have been like to see the film when it first aired on television forty-three years ago. I picture a child sitting on a lime green couch in a wood-paneled basement, wearing a Darth Vader t-shirt she got after she fell in love with Star Wars (aka A New Hope, then still simply known as “Star Wars”) when it was released in theaters a few months earlier.

Our hypothetical child would have no idea that she was glimpsing, like a vision in Galadriel’s mirror, the future of pop culture.

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Five Fantasy Novels Starring Self-Taught Protagonists

Formal educations are a fine thing if you have access to one. But if the field is new and no training exists, or if you are barred from training (for being the wrong gender, wrong class, having no money, etc.), then there is nothing for it but to teach oneself: scavenging for texts (if they exist) and learning by trial and error. Time to heal from mistakes may need to be factored into the curriculum.  Here are five examples.

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Diving Into Christopher Paolini’s New Science Fiction Epic, To Sleep in a Sea of Stars

When Eragon (and I promise, this review isn’t secretly an Eragon retrospective) released in 2002, I picked it up with deep interest and excitement. By the end of middle school, four friends and myself were obsessed. We started writing our own stories of dragons and eggs, mysterious elves, orcan languages, and flight. We passed notebooks of our handwritten epics around in class the way other kids passed notes of gossip. The four of us even wrote Christopher Paolini fanmail, and he responded with notes of his own—to be fair, I’m still unsure if that was actually him answering his mail or if it was just an adult feeling really bad for us. Paolini, if you’re reading this, do you remember fanmail from a gaggle of young Iowan teens? Did you send them replies? Inquiring minds must know.

Anyway, up until that point, I had been reading fantasy passed down to me: Narnia, Belgariad, and more were stories suggested, placed in my hands. I devoured them, but I never felt like they were my stories to share with others. The Eragon series was the first time I had chosen a fantasy story to read that was just mine.

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Star Trek: Voyager Rewatch: Third Season Overview

Star Trek: Voyager Third Season
Original air dates: September 1996 – May 1997
Executive Producers: Rick Berman, Jeri Taylor

Captain’s log. The primary theme of the third season was that there wasn’t really a primary theme. For the first time, there were no recurring villains. Yes, we got one last look at the Kazon, but that was just resolving the cliffhanger in the “Basics” two-parter, and the Vidiians, but they were illusory in “Coda.”

Instead, Voyager pressed onward. They firmly moved away from the space occupied by the Ocampa, the Sikarians, the Vidiians, the Talaxians, the Haakonians, the Trabe, et al, and instead entered unknown territory, encountering tons of new species. They have at this point gone so far that Neelix’s value as a guide is pretty much gone as they traverse the Nekrit Expanse, so that their remaining journey is a mystery even to their self-styled native guide.

[Three years ago, I didn’t even know your name. Today, I can’t imagine a day without you.]

Series: Star Trek: Voyager Rewatch

Bilbo Baggins Is the Ultimate Icon of Self-Care

We’ve heard a lot of talk of self-care since the beginning of quarantine. For some, this has taken the form of face masks and day-drinking. For others it’s meant disconnecting from the internet as much as possible, or hurling themselves into cottagecore fantasies.

But we think these people are amateurs. You want self-care? Look no further than Bilbo Baggins.

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Brandon Sanderson’s Rhythm of War Launches With a Special Event and Signed Books

Brandon Sanderson’s Rhythm of War is going to be launched with an exciting online celebration this fall. A virtual event will give fans access to an exclusive livestream with the author, and the opportunity to own a signed copy of the book. And it’s all made possible through a digital partnership with a few select bookstores—one of which may even be in your hometown.

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Planetary Romance Under the Clouds: Pirates of Venus by Edgar Rice Burroughs

In this bi-weekly series reviewing classic science fiction and fantasy books, Alan Brown looks at the front lines and frontiers of the field; books about soldiers and spacers, scientists and engineers, explorers and adventurers. Stories full of what Shakespeare used to refer to as “alarums and excursions”: battles, chases, clashes, and the stuff of excitement.

Later in his career, after creating a host of memorable characters like Tarzan of the Apes and John Carter of Mars, Edgar Rice Burroughs decided to create a new character, Carson Napier, and send him to the planet Venus, to journey through planetary and literary territory Burroughs had not yet explored. Some people feel this new planetary adventurer didn’t measure up to his predecessor, John Carter, but Carson Napier was a unique character whose adventures I always enjoyed. And when you are looking for a good summer reading book, you can’t go wrong with one about pirates…

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“Can someone give us some context in here please?” — Star Trek: Lower Decks: “Veritas”

One of the cool things the first Star Trek animated series did was not only bring back most of the cast to voice their characters, but on three occasions, they were able to do the same with guest stars: Mark Lenard (Sarek), Roger C. Carmel (Harry Mudd), and Stanley Adams (Cyrano Jones) were able to reprise their roles from the original series without having to worry about the timing of their ability to be on set, because their lines were recorded individually. (Indeed, Lenard wasn’t available until the last minute, and James Doohan had recorded Sarek’s part initially.)

One of the difficulties of having mortal actors play immortal characters is that the mortal actors will age. Seeing, for example, Q on Picard or Discovery would be problematic, as John deLancie has aged.

But he can lend his voice to the role…

[GORN WEDDING!]

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