The best assassin books

6 authors have picked their favorite books about assassin and why they recommend each book.

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By David Gemmell,

Book cover of Waylander

Gemmel is still the only author who writes heroic fantasy in a way that inspires you. His style is unmatched, his heroes are all larger than life and their battle scenes are exquisite. He has an attention to detail that allows you to bond with the character and care for each of them.

Who am I?

I've been passionate about Fantasy ever since I found a used copy of the Dragonlance Chronicles in a second-hand book store in India. I was 10 years old and immediately fell in love with the idea of fantasy worlds with magic and dragons. Soon after I read Terry Brooks, Neil Gaiman, Piers Anthony, RA Salvatore, Edgar Burroughs, and a host of other writers from the 1980s. What I like about the books I've chosen is that these characters are memorable. They are stories that can be re-read because the plot doesn't feel like rehashed tropes. The uniqueness of the settings, the challenges they face, and the solutions they engineer are what make them worth reading.

I wrote...

Keep Calm and Go Crazy: A Guide to Finding Your Inner Hero

By Rohan Monteiro,

Book cover of Keep Calm and Go Crazy: A Guide to Finding Your Inner Hero

What is my book about?

He had it all: a spot on the couch, a bunch of friends, and a semi-decent-paying job... What more could anyone want? But when an unexpected offer took him to Dubai, Rohan realized he was completely clueless about how to survive. And when he found the girl of his dreams, survival was no longer an option. He needed to discover the hero within him, and he was buried way too deep. In a journey across mountains, rivers, and jungles, with half-baked plans and misadventures, Rohan reinvents himself in the pursuit of true love and along the way inspires us to discover our true selves.

Blood of Elves

By Andrzej Sapkowski,

Book cover of Blood of Elves

Stunning character visualization and world-building make for a good read. Throw in some good humor, some daring fights and beasts to slay, and a plot filled with twists and you have yourself a great read. Andrzej Sapkowski has done a fantastic job of carving great characters for your enjoyment.

Who am I?

I spent the better part of a decade honing my writing skills and pushing the bounds of imagination after my debut fantasy novel Mercury Dagger - A Tale From Kraydenia. When I am not off exploring the wilds of Australia, I am dreaming up new adventures and monsters to cause chaos in a fantastical world filled with twists, loyalty, honour, and great and terrible battles. Originally from South Africa, I have travelled the African continent, visiting numerous countries, seeing first-hand the differences in many cultures who roam the lands and found it fascinating. It is this fascination that inspires my love for creating new characters and finding out what makes them tick.

I wrote...

Mercury Dagger: A Tale From Kraydenia

By Marius H. Visser,

Book cover of Mercury Dagger: A Tale From Kraydenia

What is my book about?

Kraydenia used to be a relatively peaceful land, until the release of Ortega Bloodbane. Now the evil sorcerer and the forces he commands is spreading terror and fear. Gordon, a youth that only set out to complete his rite of passage is quickly ensnared by the growing threat and forced to defend the land. Joined on his quest by three others, they would do their best to save their world:

Baldrake, the fierce general of the Gar hounds, who was shunned from the pack and stripped of his title by the last remaining wolves of Gar. Malachai, who not only fights for the land but also the turmoil raging inside him. Melche, the maniacal little old Mekkel who causes problems wherever he goes. A classic tale of good versus evil told in a way unlike you have ever heard.

The Gray Man

By Mark Greaney,

Book cover of The Gray Man

The story of a onetime CIA assassin who is now doing work for hire, meanwhile dodging the assassins who replaced him. While he is a killer, his personal code—for one thing, he only takes out those he considers truly evil—makes you, somehow, improbably, root for him. And the action, the twists, the turns, the writing…everything is dazzling. Greaney’s enthusiasm—no, love—for the subject matter is readily apparent. And infections. In the past ten years, in addition to ten Gray Man novels, he has also written a good half-dozen thousand-page Tom Clancy novels, among other books, in each case traveling all over the world for research, and, consequently, it is as though each novel comes with a free James Bamford book. For writers, Greaney is simply an inspiration.

Who am I?

I played semi-professional baseball in France in 1986. If your baseball career has brought you to France, you should be rethinking your professional aspirations. No problem, I thought. I will write. I like to write. To my dismay, publishers were not fans of novels about French baseball players. The world of espionage I became acquainted with in Europe, however….

I wrote...

Once a Spy

By Keith Thomson,

Book cover of Once a Spy

What is my book about?

When Charlie Clark takes a break from his latest losing streak at the track to bring home his Alzheimer’s-addled father, Drummond, they’re attacked by two mysterious shooters. At first, Charlie thinks his Russian “creditors” are employing aggressive collection tactics. But once Drummond effortlessly hot-wires a car, Charlie discovers that his unassuming father was actually a deep-cover CIA agent . . . and there is extremely sensitive information rattling around in his troubled mind.

Now the CIA wants to “contain” him, so the two embark on a wild chase through the labyrinthine world of national security that will force them to confront unspeakable danger, dark conspiracies, and what it means to be a father and son.

The Matarese Circle

By Robert Ludlum,

Book cover of The Matarese Circle

It’s too easy when reading Ludlum to get caught up in the Bourne Trilogy and overlook the author’s other great political thrillers. For me, The Matarese Circle best captures a theme that appears in most of Ludlum’s work – “We shouldn’t always trust our own intelligence community.”  

In The Matarese Circle, two disaffected covert agents—one American and one Soviet—team up to identify members of an international league of assassins bent on achieving world domination to promote commercial gain. This corpse-laden, globetrotting chase is one of Ludlum’s finest. 

Who am I?

Four of my formative years were spent in Iran and England where I became intrigued by the history and politics that shaped the Middle East. An avid reader, I was intrigued by how effectively international thrillers, particularly those by British authors, captured the mystery, complexity, and murky ambiguities of global politics. When I launched a second career as a writer, I committed to using international thrillers as a vehicle for exposing readers to other peoples and cultures and to the unending moral dilemmas that shape our political world. My aspiration is to present those stories as effectively and provocatively as the five writers recommended in my list! 

I wrote...

The Shield of Darius (The Unit 1 Series)

By Allen Kent, Jillian Farnsworth (illustrator),

Book cover of The Shield of Darius (The Unit 1 Series)

What is my book about?

In this first novel in Allen Kent’s gripping Unit 1 Thriller Series, businessman Benjamin Sager is abducted while vacationing with his family in Europe, awakening in a small cell occupied only by another captive American. As Sager struggles to determine where he is and why he is being held, Chris Falen, an agent of the CIA’s covert Unit 1 team, uncovers a disturbing pattern of unexplained American tourist disappearances, seemingly vanishing without a trace.

A timely and relevant thriller, The Shield of Darius explores the complexities and ambiguities of global politics while taking the reader on a heart-stopping dive into the maze of international espionage and political intrigue. Falen’s investigation of the missing Americans and Sager’s desperate will to survive collide head-on as both are drawn into the deadly web of the Shield of Darius.

Fool's Assassin

By Robin Hobb,

Book cover of Fool's Assassin

Writing at its absolute finest. I adore all the Robin Hobb novels. I revere all her characters, her world building, and her carefully traced storylines she never loses, and never labours. But the Fool, the Fool was my favourite. Ambiguous, indefinable, irresistible, brave, beautiful, and self-sacrificing. The Fool's Assassin is so beautifully crafted from Robin’s words, dancing out from the page in mischief, magic, and melancholy, that you are left feeling like you knew them.

Who am I?

I’ve been a connoisseur of all things terrifying and fantastical since I was 5, and so scared of my Baba Yaga book downstairs I couldn’t sleep. I pursued the delicious fear of a well-written monster through my teens and into adulthood but found that so many books within the horror and fantasy genres are aimed at younger readers. So I wrote the books I wanted to read. I’d always planned to write, but it was developing extreme anxiety that inspired me to nurture my creative side and finally do it. I was having terrible nightmares at the time, and these awful dreams became the central scenes of my novels.

I wrote...

Darkly Dreaming: Book 1 of the Darkly Vampire Trilogy

By Chloe Hammond,

Book cover of Darkly Dreaming: Book 1 of the Darkly Vampire Trilogy

What is my book about?

Darkly Dreaming is for readers who savour rich characters and carefully crafted writing; it’s as much about friendship as it is about vampires. It’s been accused of giving people ‘the feels’. Rae and her best friend Layla have just moved back in together after their marriages ended. They’re busy being violently happy, pretending everything is fine. They stumble into a party infested with vampires.

Infected with the vampire virus, which mutates and distorts their DNA, Rae, and Layla struggle to come to terms with losing their humanity and their old lives, and coming to terms with their strange new gifts. They should be wary in a Pride rife with jealousies and ancient rivalries. They aren’t safe, but will they recognise the threats in time?

Assassin's Quest

By Robin Hobb,

Book cover of Assassin's Quest: The Farseer Trilogy Book 3

Quest is in the name, and does it ever live up to it! As the culmination of The Farseer Trilogy, it does the previous books justice. The journey is arduous, full of twists and turns, and the reader feels every wound Fitz suffers. Yet as in every good quest, in the end, he achieves what he aims to do though not in the way he expects, and at an unimaginable cost. This is Hobb at her finest, and I cannot recommend it highly enough.

Who am I?

Like many people, The Lord of the Rings captivated me as a child. I read those books as well as The Hobbit half a dozen times before I was twelve, and a couple of times more since. What’s more, I was lucky enough to be nine when the first movie came out, which only furthered my childhood obsession. Though I’m less enthralled by the series now, the classic quest it represents still has a place in my heart. I’ve tried to reproduce the grandeur and adventure of that story in my writing, and I’ve found a good portion of it in the books I recommend below. May they take you on captivating new journeys!

I wrote...

A King's Bargain: Legend of Tal: Book 1

By J.D.L. Rosell,

Book cover of A King's Bargain: Legend of Tal: Book 1

What is my book about?

The legend of Tal Harrenfel is sung across the Westreach—and with each telling, the tales grow taller. But though he's declared a hero by his king, Tal has never claimed to be more than a man…

After three decades of fighting warlocks, killing mythical beasts, and hunting enchanted treasure, Tal has had enough. But when he receives a mysterious visitor, Tal is thrown into a journey across the kingdom and brought into conflict with a fabled sorcerer, one whose mere name makes mortals tremble. Can Tal live up to his legend and overcome the forces pitted against him?

Point of Impact

By Stephen Hunter,

Book cover of Point of Impact

This first in a series of 12 novels about Vietnam Marine sniper veteran Bob Lee Swagger. The book focuses on time after his return home and is set up as the patsy in an assassination plot. To survive and bring revenge and justice, Swagger has to rely on all the skills and knowledge he learned as a sniper in Vietnam. Hunter is a combat veteran of the war and knows about what he writes. He is one of the finest novelists of his generation.

Who am I?

I served as an infantry platoon leader, reconnaissance platoon leader, and rifle company commander in Vietnam and observed the direct results of snipers. I am the author of 30 non-fiction books on the military (six specifically about the Vietnam War), sports, and health that have sold more than 1.1 million copies in 15 countries and 12 languages.

I wrote...

Inside the Crosshairs: Snipers in Vietnam

By Michael Lee Lanning,

Book cover of Inside the Crosshairs: Snipers in Vietnam

What is my book about?

At the start of the war in Vietnam, the United States had no snipers; by the end of the war, Marine and army precision marksmen had killed more than 10,000 NVA and VC soldiers--the equivalent of an entire division--at the cost of under 20,000 bullets, proving that long-range shooters still had a place in the battlefield. Now noted military historian Michael Lee Lanning shows how U.S. snipers in Vietnam--combining modern technology in weapons, ammunition, and telescopes--used the experience and traditions of centuries of expert shooters to perfect their craft.

Oswald's Tale

By Norman Mailer,

Book cover of Oswald's Tale: An American Mystery

There are numerous books that seek to prove Oswald was the lone assassin, and Mailer’s is probably the most open-minded and convincing one. Rather than descend into name-calling against authors of more conspiratorial works, Mailer sticks to the topic of Oswald’s mysterious time in Russia. Based on interviews with former acquaintances and research gathered from Russia, the book uncovers fresh details about Oswald’s time there. While Mailer theorized that Oswald executed Kennedy to shake up the world and cement his place in history, he leaves the door open, if just ever so slighty, to other potential gunmen in Dallas.

Who am I?

In 1978, I happened to be the only person present in the cramped office of my college newspaper in Texas, when Kennedy assassination eyewitness Bill Newman entered. It was during the midst of the U.S. House Select Committee on Assassinations’ investigation into the matter. Newman was standing no more than 15 feet from Kennedy when he was shot. His account intrigued me, sending me on a search that has yet to end. I witnessed Kennedy’s funeral in Washington, D.C., as a boy, grew up in Dallas, and even shared the same birthday with him. Several articles I wrote on the assassination and ensuing research have won awards, including a Best in Show Feature Writing Award from the Maryland-Delaware-D.C. Press Association. I have written books on other topics, but this is the one that most consumed me.

I wrote...

Death of the Rising Sun: A Search for Truth in the JFK Assassination

By Kevin James Shay,

Book cover of Death of the Rising Sun: A Search for Truth in the JFK Assassination

What is my book about?

Historians place the assassination of John F. Kennedy among the biggest watershed events of the 20th century. Since that 1963 tragedy, more than 2,000 books have covered various aspects of the assassination and its aftermath. Some have even claimed to solve the case. Veteran journalist Kevin James Shay focuses on presenting what occurred between Kennedy's 1960 presidential triumph and his assassination in an objective manner. The narrative, infused with behind-the-scenes details that have been brought to light in recent years, provides a compelling account that is particularly geared towards the average reader.

The book unearths some fresh details, such as about other attempts on Kennedy's life and the involvement of a Ku Klux Klan leader who opposed racial violence to the point that he became a government informant and likely helped prolong Kennedy’s life.

The Brotherhood of the Rose

By David Morrell,

Book cover of The Brotherhood of the Rose

On one level, this novel is about Chris and Saul, two orphans raised by Eliot, a CIA operative, to become world-class assassins. After an international incident, Eliot decides Chris and Saul must be eliminated. Solid and engaging on that level, of course. But on a deeper level, it’s about two young men who trust their “father,” the one person who ever cared about them, only to feel the sting of his betrayal rock them to their core. The emotion makes the action matter. Everything is personal. The accurate tradecraft, killer action, and depth of character all combine to make this one of my favorite books. Fantasy readers will appreciate the secret society aspect of the assassins as well as the amazing action set-pieces.

Who am I?

My mother instilled a love of reading in me, and from an early age, I read everything from Agatha Christie to Edgar Rice Burroughs to Louis L’Amour to Marvel Comics. Stories are stories no matter how they’re classified, and genre is primarily a marketing tool to help readers find things they like. When I started writing, I often blended genres because I liked so many things. As I type this, I have 29 novels published with #30 on the way. The novels include science fiction, fantasy, horror, and thriller under my name, westerns as Dan Winchester, and a cozy mystery as Angie Cabot. Go figure.

I wrote...

Modern Sorcery: The First Jonathan Shade Novel

By Gary Jonas,

Book cover of Modern Sorcery: The First Jonathan Shade Novel

What is my book about?

Modern Sorcery at its core is about friendship. On the surface, it blends fantasy with mystery. The hero, Jonathan Shade, is a private investigator who handles cases dealing with magic and the supernatural. His protector, Kelly Chan, is a magically engineered assassin devoted to Jonathan because he showed her she could be more than just a killer. Esther, his secretary, is a ghost from the 1920s flapper era bound to her typewriter, and not-so-secretly in love with Jonathan. It’s the first of twelve novels about these characters. They’re loaded with action and humor.

Assassin's Apprentice

By Robin Hobb,

Book cover of Assassin's Apprentice: The Farseer Trilogy Book 1

A wonderfully written Fantasy that is filled with sorcery, betrayal, war, and love. I read this book so often I had to replace it several times!  In a medieval-type world, a six-year-old boy is dragged from home to live with the animals in the stables of the royal castle. Against great odds, he discovers his powers which are forbidden and have to be hidden. Royal rivalries and attacks on the country from outside lead to the boy, now named Fitz being put in a group of students being trained to use their powers (sound familiar??) to help save the kingdom.

Who am I?

I think I was in my twenties before, with great sadness, I had to accept I was never going to be granted three wishes or activate my flying prowess. Any book that shows me maybe I was wrong or I just didn’t look hard enough fills me with hope. I love to be pulled into worlds that are so real and yet the magic is right there, in front of us, unseen, or where a parallel world is just a side-ways step or the opening of a door away. I read and write to reinforce my belief that it is all still possible.

I wrote...

Shared Skies: Complete

By Josephine O'Brien,

Book cover of Shared Skies: Complete

What is my book about?

What if you could make people do what you wanted simply by thinking about it? What if your grandparents disappeared so completely that even their house was gone? What if they turn up after eleven years, want you to live with them, and you're the only person in the world who remembers they were ever gone?

What if the first time you fall in love you're not sure if they're even human?

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