I know this is a bit of a necro-res, but it's something that hits home with me now.
I actually abandoned some epic-beyond-epic series because these days I simply don't have the time, patience, or energy to dedicate to a huge multi-book series like Wheel of Time, Malazan, or Stormlight Archive. I had to throw in the towel on The Stormlight Archive, because though it is an incredible-beyond-words series, it was simply too much, too dense, and simply eking out any time to read it felt like Sisyphus pushing a rock. Yet I still get those epic fantasy cravings and am always looking for some good standalone fantasy novels.
Anyway, I recently downloaded some Kindle samples that were recommended here.
"The Folding Knife" by K.J. Parker- I recognize it as a good book and I can totally see why D-Rider likes it. I feel like it's the kind of book that resonates with his persona. However, it just didn't do "it" for me. I use this analogy all the time, because it's true. It's like with dating. Sometimes you date a girl and you know she's a great girl but she's not the one for you.
"Warbreaker" by Brandon Sanderson- As much as I love and respect Sanderson, his books are hit-or-miss for me. I mentioned Stormlight Archive before and I LOVED the first Mistborn trilogy; I got my mom to read it and she loved it too (yeah, she's the reason I'm into fantasy. She got me into Tolkien, I got her into Mistborn and Song of Ice and Fire.) In the second Mistborn trilogy, Alloy of Law was okay, but still need to read Shadows of Self which I've been told is really good. I couldn't get into The Rithmatist at all, Steelheart and Legion seemed totally up my alley but somehow didn't do it for me... and unfortunately Warbreaker is among those latter books. I could not get into it at all. The whole "breath" based magic system didn't do it for me, the prose was not as strong as his later works, and the characters weren't very interesting. Still, for a freebie it's solid.
"The Redemption of Althalus" by David Eddings- Now THIS sample, I really enjoyed. Eddings is an American writer, but he very seamlessly incorporates older-timey English syntax to really make me feel like I'm reading an old tome and not reading a digital fantasy book on my Kindle. His prose immersed me. I want to explore this book's world and its characters even though I'm sure I've met their ilk before in other fantasy novels. This is my first experience with a David Eddings book and I'm liking it. I might have to buy this one. Truth be told, I was apprehensive to read it because of all the stuff people have said, like "Eddings' writing is really repetitive" or "you read one Eddings book, you've read them all" or simply that Eddings is a hack writer. All that may be true, but since I don't plan on going into his big series, I'd be happy to start and end my Eddings odyssey on this one positive note since it seems this book is a good representation of his style as a whole.