Sometimes I need a quick win. I do love a chonky fantasy book, but sometimes I just need to get through a nice story that keeps my interest. Before I know it, the story is over. A novella let's you read it in three or four sittings unlike a Mr. Sanderson novel that will take you literally months (but I do mention him. The irony!). So if you need a little fix for a fantasy story, these should do it.
"The Emperor's Soul" by Brandon Sanderson "The Emperor's Soul" is a novella set in the same world as Sanderson's "Elantris." The story follows Shai, a renowned thief who is imprisoned for attempting to steal an artifact of great importance. She is given a chance at freedom if she can use her skills to forge a new soul for the emperor, who has been rendered brain dead. The novella is a masterful exploration of identity, power, and the nature of art, with Sanderson's signature world-building and magic system at the forefront.
"The Black Tides of Heaven" by J.Y. Yang "The Black Tides of Heaven" is the first novella in the "Tensorate" series by J.Y. Yang. The story follows the twin children of the Protector, a powerful ruler in a world where magic and technology are intertwined. The novella explores themes of family, rebellion, and the tension between tradition and progress. The world-building is rich and immersive, with a unique blend of magic, technology, and politics that make for a compelling read.
"The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps" by Kai Ashante Wilson "The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps" is a novella that blends elements of fantasy and science fiction with African mythology. The story follows the sorcerer Demane, who travels with a caravan through a dangerous wilderness known as the Wildeeps. As they journey deeper into the wilderness, Demane must confront his own past and the nature of his powers. The novella is beautifully written, with a richly imaginative world and complex characters that will leave readers wanting more.
"Every Heart a Doorway" by Seanan McGuire "Every Heart a Doorway" is a novella that explores the lives of children who have returned from fantastical worlds to the mundane world of reality. The story is set at a boarding school for such children, who are struggling to adjust to a world that doesn't understand or accept them. The novella is a poignant exploration of identity, belonging, and the power of imagination, with an inventive premise and a cast of diverse and engaging characters
These four fantasy novellas demonstrate the range and depth of the genre. From Sanderson's masterful world-building to Yang's unique blend of magic and technology, from Wilson's imaginative melding of African mythology with science fiction to McGuire's poignant exploration of identity and belonging, these novellas offer something for every fantasy reader.
Ryan McRae is the author of the website and a lover of fantasy novels.