His lasting impact on the fantasy world led to the post-humorous creation of the David Gemmell Awards for Fantasy, with awards going to some of the authors on this list. It's no surprise then, that Gemmell's' legacy includes some of the best assassin fantasy around.
Eleven years after the Drenai Saga's first book, the author wrote Waylander , marking the third in the series but first chronologically. Like Gemmell's previous books, Waylander is an exploration of what makes a hero and if there can be true redemption. As you can imagine, there's plenty of evil to go around, and plenty of gray areas too. The title of the book is synonymous with its main character, a famous assassin who is betrayed after a particularly notorious contract. Waylander is in many ways an anti-hero, but that doesn't stop him from feeling real. Gemmell's characterization carries the story, both through the protagonist and the rich supporting cast.
It's a grimdark novel once more, but one that pioneered the genre rather than emulating it. It's filled with fast pacing, concise writing, and vivid imagery. Though they hinge on existing series, the Waylander books are accessible and brilliant enough to enjoy standalone. It succeeded almost unheard of hype, with trailers, apps, and 'best-seller' labels right off the bat. Admittedly, the quality tails off by the end of the series, but it's easy to see why it garnered so much interest. Hoffman writes a fourteen-year-old character who grows up in order of monks that worship pain.
Understandably, this can warp a boy, and Cale is cold, vicious, and complex. Despite this, he still has a sense of justice, and it's this that leads to the assassination of the Lord Redeemer Picarbo and a subsequent escape from the twisted monastery. Despite some strange contradictions along the way, the characterization and pacing of the novels make it just good enough to deserve a place on the list.
It's a page turner, toeing the line between fantasy and horror, with many diverse characters. Some readers will hate it, and others will love it, but it's definitely a breath of fresh air. Robin LaFever's Grave Mercy drags you into the trilogy with a great hook and only gets better from there. It's set in an alternate 14th century Brittany, where fourteen-year-old Ismae escapes an abusive arranged marriage to a convent, where her unique abilities make her the perfect assassin protg. Though she takes to the profession as a better alternative, there's still plenty of conflict here.
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Part of the story is Ishmae's coming of age, from delicate child to a questioner of the convent's morals. There's a lot of depth to be found in the character, but the rest of the series presents the viewpoint of refreshing new characters. It's in these latter books that LaFevers really begins to find her strength. The second book details the story of Sybella, who trained at the same convent as Ishmae. However, where Ishmae is hesitant and inexperienced, Sybella is trained and deadly. LaFevers manages to create a harrowing, emotional story whilst still developing the other characters in the story.
The third book follows in a similar vein, with the viewpoint of another previously introduced character. In all, LaFever's series is a great combination of history, subverted fantasy tropes, and YA It has romance, vengeance, and strong female characters. The changing perspectives mean that even if one protagonist isn't to your fancy, there's another to try out. On top of that, the author manages to encourage real attachment to the characters and great entertainment without constant action scenes. Best of all, the series isn't yet over. After a four-year hiatus, LaFever will return to the series next year, with a second book following in Pratchett's huge volume of work makes adding him to the list feel like cheating, but at the same time, it wouldn't be complete without him.
For the uninitiated, Pratchett's world consists of a large disc that rests on the backs on four large elephants, which in turn stand on a turtle as it swims through space. It's a bizarre concept, matching the strange yet hilarious tone of Sir Terry's work. In some ways, his world echoes earth, and you can guess which period Pyramids is influenced by. Teppic is the prince of that small realm and is in training at the Assassins Guild. His time there is cut short when his father dies, and Teppic must return home to build his Pyramid and take on the politics of the throne.
The premise is simple, but Pyramids brings something rare to the sub-genre: humor. Pratchett has a hilarious variety of characters, from the High Priest Dios to a camel literally named 'You Bastard'. At pages, it's a short yet incredibly amusing read, with nothing too complex in terms of plot. Despite this, Pratchett's brilliant writing and metaphors bring it to life.
Sci-fi fans may know Kage Baker for her popular series, The Company. It's a blend of fictional world and humor, and her debut fantasy series is no different. The Anvil of the World describes the assassin Smith as he tries to leave his old life behind and become a simple caravan master. Of course, things are never that easy, and Smith is set upon by a myriad of demons, magic, and other kinds of trouble.
Like Pratchett, Baker uses humor to provide a great critique of society and its flaws. However, her unique blend of humor surpasses even him at points with subtle jokes and great dialogue. Simultaneously, Baker manages to use that dialogue to grow her characters.
Lord Ermenwyris one of the most unique personalities in fantasy, and not just because he's half demon. He somehow manages to be a coward yet strong, selfish yet loyal and annoying but oddly likable. Through all these contradictions Baker somehow makes him feel real, alongside the rest of the odd cast. However, the book is more like a series of novellas than a full novel.
It's split into three distinct parts, the first being quite slow, the second housing incredible description and dialogue, and the third ending on a more serious note. In its entirety, it covers assassination, magic, friendship, and the environment. It takes all of the annoying fantasy tropes and subverts them, leaving the reader grinning and refreshed. If you're a YA fan, you'll be hard-pressed to find a better assassin fantasy book than Throne of Glass. As the novel opens, Celaena is given a chance to end her servitude in the mines of Endovier and her life as a slave behind.
There's only one catch. First, she must win a tournament and become the King's assassin. The story plays out in a beautifully crafted world where the Fae have been overthrown and magic is banned. A human ruler sits on the throne, and he isn't afraid to use Celaena to kill at a whim. The series has plenty of everything, including a love triangle, action, humor and great antagonists. Though the predictable romance may not call out to older readers, a simplistic, page-turning plot and plenty of fun twists make it perfect for its market. As the series progresses, it only gets better, with Celaena finally coming into her role and characters building a real connection with the reader.
When your focus is character and action, it's easy to just settle for generic medieval fantasy and be done with it. However, at some point, you start craving something new, and that's when series like Tales of the Otori really shine.
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Though Hearn stays with the medieval era, she opts for a region that isn't often explored in fantasy. There's no outright statement, but it's clear that the world has a heavy Japanese influence. It's complete with a complex feudal system, samurai-like clans, and shoguns. That rich setting underlies an even richer story of love, politics, and betrayal. Society is made up of complex social classes, religions, and clans, but Hearn introduces them slowly and with finesse.
His descriptions are similar; colorful but not unnecessarily wordy, making it an enjoyable read. The series follows two viewpoints. In first-person, there is Takeo, the adopted son of a noble with the ability to create illusions. Then there is Kaede, a teenage girl and political prison written in the third person.
It's an unusual mix of perspective, yet Hearn manages to pull it off flawlessly. The blend gives distinct views while still creating a feeling of depth for both, pulling you into the fast-paced narrative. That excellent combination continues through the series, creating a masterpiece of death, love, and tragedy.
Tales of Pawan Kor. Despite the similarity in name, there's little to connect Tales of Pawan Kor and our previous list item. This world is very clearly high fantasy, with beautifully detailed creatures, religions, and magic. It's very much 'sword and sorcery', but with a flair Persia, India, and China that brings a refreshing environment.
The world building is simply incredible, with plenty of detail that will please fans of epics. Equally impressive is Hayden's magic system, rooted in spirit stones of a dead race. The limited nature creates real concern for the well-being of the characters, with no ability to simply magic a way out of situations. And those tough scenarios make an appearance quite frequently. Though Jaska is of a knightly order, his activities are far from savory. He carries out every command, including assassinations.
However, one particular task turns out too much. The request to kill a priestess reveals his master's real ambitions and pits him against the empire he once worked for. It's an intricate, weaving plot, with several pieces that fall into place at just the right time.
Believable characters exist on both sides of the spectrum, forcing the reader to question black and white assertions of good and evil.
All the while, the story maintains the fast pace, action, and entertainment that we have come to expect from fantasy assassin stories. The examination of morality is a common theme in assassin novels, but none do it quite like Eve Forward's Villains by Necessity. The author takes the concept and turns it on its head, asking what would happen if good is completely dominant. The answer is nothing positive. The world is out of balance, and it might cease to exist entirely if nobody intervenes. Thus, an assassin, thief, druid and knight have to step in and bring some evil back. It's a straightforward plot made great by likable characters, humor, and good pacing.
Forward manages to keep a light tone, yet force the reader to see things from a different perspective. It's this unique exploration that lands the book a place on the list. Though there's nothing exceptional, it's hard to deny that Villains of Necessity is a whole lot of fun. The subject of McCullough's Fallen Blade series is fairly obvious from the title, yet the series has more depth than you may expect.
The opening sucks the reader into the mind of an assassin without his order. With no solid job, Aral has fallen into a cycle of drinking, thievery, and smuggling. He wants this old life back, and when a delivery job goes sour he gets just that. From there, it's full of action, strong characters, death, and magic. It takes on the form of a mystery, stringing the reader along on a number of clues and forcing them to piece them together.
Though there are natural lulls in the story, they're augmented by character building of Aral and his dragon familiar, Triss. This understanding is only heightened as McCullough continues his six book series, exploring both the relationship of Triss and Aral and the magic system that underlies them. You can't help but urge the protagonist along as he pulls himself out of depression and back into the role of a fighter. History and fantasy nuts should find an amazing middle ground with The Lion of Cairo.
It's set between the Second and Third Crusade, and it's clear Oden has done his research. Assad is a trained assassin, sent by his master to Cairo not to kill, but to protect a young ruler. Unfortunately, there's a necromancer in his way, and he has his own group of assassins.
Now there's talk of sending Charlie away again. Far away. But the worst is yet to come. Charlie is kidnapped and forced to summon one of the murder victims - but she's unable to send him back. With an angry dead supernatural on the loose and the committee determined to get rid of her, Charlie's time with the Ministry of Curiosities, and Lincoln, is in grave danger of coming to an end. Ten-year-old Ada has never left her one-room apartment. So begins a new adventure for Ada, and for Susan Smith, the woman who is forced to take the two kids in. As Ada teaches herself to ride a pony, learns to read, and watches for German spies, she begins to trust Susan—and Susan begins to love Ada and Jamie.
But in the end, will their bond be enough to hold them together through wartime? Or will Ada and her brother fall back into the cruel hands of their mother? This masterful work of historical fiction is equal parts adventure and a moving tale of family and identity—a classic in the making. Account Options Sign in. Top Charts. New Arrivals. Archer May 15, While investigating the mysterious deaths of Edith Myer's family, Quin is summoned once more to help Cara and the other Freak House residents. But their reunion is cut short by the return of Everett Myer through the portal, and the man he brings with him - Quin's nemesis: Edward de Mordaunt.
More by C. Archer See more. Book 4. Glancia is plunged into perilous times, but it's the events in her village that worry Josie more. A terrible fire puts the lives of those she loves at risk and threatens to shatter the uneasy peace. Book 8. India's study into the language of spells is interrupted by the arrest of her teacher for an unpaid debt.
Before Matt can repay it for him, the powerful magician escapes from his prison cell. To make matters worse, the moneylender is murdered and the magician is implicated. Reviews Review Policy. Published on. Flowing text, Original pages. Best For. Web, Tablet, Phone, eReader. Content Protection. Read Aloud. Learn More. Flag as inappropriate. It syncs automatically with your account and allows you to read online or offline wherever you are. Please follow the detailed Help center instructions to transfer the files to supported eReaders.
Continue the series. See more. Book 1. A really fascinating story which I couldn't put down, so this is easily a 5 stars. Isn't there a 6 star option? Banished: Book 2 of the 3rd Freak House Trilogy. Book 2. An infestation of evil ghosts is too much for spirit medium Cara to handle alone. She summons Quin, and together they attempt to discover where the ghosts came from, and why they refuse to leave this realm. To protect the residents, Cara and Quin must work closely together, leading to old feelings resurfacing between them.
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But as Cara learns about Quin's mysterious past, she has more answers than questions. More in historical drama. People are now hunting Charlie all over London, but only one man succeeds in capturing her. To ask other readers questions about The Book of Djinn , please sign up.
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Building on what began on a dusty country road three books ago, the saga spreads further over space, time and politics. Only time will tell where it goes from here. Can a trilogy have six books? This one will. Theo marked it as to-read Feb 03, Nancy marked it as to-read May 25, Brenda Knight marked it as to-read Nov 10,