The best fantasy books about assassins

Who am I?

I’ll start with my passion for the topic. I find it irresistible to think of a profession where people are the absolute best at what they do – not just weapons, but many different skills that enable them to plan, blend in, get around, and improvise. There is a brutal kind of selection in the assassins’ world that makes sure only the best of the best survive. Added to the rich backstories these people tend to have, with the conflicts and moral choices they face, assassins make for some of my favorite fiction characters. I have published seven novels, four of them assassin-themed, and I claim my expertise on the topic as a scientist, ballroom dancer, and student of martial arts.

I wrote...

Blades of the Old Empire: The Majat Code, Book 1

By Anna Kashina, Alejandro Colucci (illustrator),

Book cover of Blades of the Old Empire: The Majat Code, Book 1

What is my book about?

When Prince Kythar falls under attack in his own castle, he has no idea that his enemies are none other than the ancient Kaddim Brotherhood. Kyth's inborn ability to control the elements is the only power that can stop the plot to destroy his royal line. But there is one problem: Kyth's fighting skills are no match for the Kaddim.

To defeat the Kaddim, Kyth must rely on his bodyguard Kara, a beautiful Diamond-ranked assassin from the elite Majat Guild. But Kyth's enemies are smarter than he gives them credit for—and they develop an elaborate plan to remove Kara as an obstacle. Acting through treachery and scheming, they pitch Kara against the Majat, marking her as a target for the only warrior who can defeat her in battle. With the deadly assassin on their trail, Kythar and Kara must face impossible odds to save the kingdom and their lives.

The books I picked & why

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The Way of Shadows

By Brent Weeks,

Book cover of The Way of Shadows

Why this book?

This book is a great, expert portrayal of what assassins are all about. It shows the good and the bad in a very believable way, through the eyes of a boy who strives to escape from a life among street gangs into the elite world of top-level assassins. 

I love this book for its authenticity and the way it immerses the reader into the cutthroat environment of a kingdom in turmoil, filled with politics and danger. To me, there is a romantic thrill in an assassin’s profession, and Brent Weeks is so good at conveying it. I put it first because I think this book is the best in highlighting both the skill and the moral sacrifice that comes along with it for the best assassins.

Throne of Glass

By Sarah J. Maas,

Book cover of Throne of Glass

Why this book?

To me, this book is pure entertainment, and it strikes the exact right balance between action, intrigue, and humor, to highlight the reason why assassins tend to be so popular and attractive. They are the best at what they do. They are also human, with passions, humor, and flaws that make them so relatable. Of course, this is only one side, but to me, this is exactly the reason I love to explore assassins as characters in my own work.

The main character, Celaena, is the best of the best. She is also strong, independent, sassy, and unpredictable. Added to an exciting story full of intrigue, adventure, and action, it’s a definite winner. If you want to know why many authors and readers find the assassin theme to be so much fun, you can’t miss this one.

The Assassin's Curse

By Cassandra Rose Clarke,

Book cover of The Assassin's Curse

Why this book?

Talking about romanticizing assassins. The main character, Ananna, is a pirate’s daughter, and assassins are the only people she truly fears – until her fate becomes irreversibly tied to one. Naji is a blood magician who travels through shadows and never misses a mark – until a curse binds him to his target, Ananna. 

I absolutely love the characters in this book. Naji is both powerful and flawed, and the combination is really irresistible in someone so good at what he does. He is by far the older and more experienced of the pair, yet Ananna is every bit his equal, and more often than not she comes through as the one in charge. The romantic interest between them is perfectly balanced to maintain the tension without crossing any lines. This book taught me so much about character development.

Assassin's Gambit: The Hearts and Thrones

By Amy Raby,

Book cover of Assassin's Gambit: The Hearts and Thrones

Why this book?

This book was originally marketed as a “romance for the fans of the Game of Thrones”, and it is one of the books I really enjoy. The main character, Vitala, is sent by her secret order of rebels to assassinate the powerful Emperor of Kjall. When she arrives at court, she is quickly dropped into a torrent of intrigue that makes her question everything she’d learned, including her own mission. 

This book is pure fun, from start to finish. From the assassins’ standpoint, Vitala is a refreshing one, because her powers come from a special skill she possesses rather than weaponry. In fact, most of the imperial guards, as well as the Emperor himself, are much more capable than her when it comes to combat, and yet in the end the danger she brings outpowers them all. This book taught me a lot about writing action, intrigue, and romance.

Night Watch

By Terry Pratchett,

Book cover of Night Watch

Why this book?

Well, this is probably a bit unconventional, but to me, no recommended book list can possibly be complete without a title by Terry Pratchett. He is one of my absolute favorite authors, and his concept of an Assassins’ Guild inspired some of my books. In Night Watch, we follow one of my favorite Discworld characters, Captain Vimes, into the past on an adventure that pushes every kind of boundary. 

There are many potential assassins in this book, but the professional one – here and in the series – is Lord Vetinari, a man that keeps to the shadows and is never ever seen with a weapon in hand. He is the force behind the scenes that makes things happen, both in the present and in the past. I learned a lot from this book on how to be subtle, and on the power of things you don’t show explicitly compared to the ones you do. And of course, with a book by Terry Pratchett one cannot possibly go wrong.

5 book lists we think you will like!

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