The Assassin (Safe Haven Series Book 3)

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Using that magic, Vlad takes on an assassination contract that could start a war. The tale from there is a blend of sci-fi, detective, fantasy, and action. It spans a total of fourteen books in non-chronological order, with more on the way. That extreme number means it covers everything you want in a fantasy assassin series. There's heists, twists, intricate plots, romance, teleportation, floating castles, and more. This intelligent blend of traditional fantasy elements and other genres makes it one of the best in its category. It's not often you get a likable murderer, but in his Tales of the Kin series Douglas Hulick manages to do just that.

Drothe lives in a world of snitches, killers, and thieves, and he's perfectly suited to that world. He's not an incredibly powerful magician, instead relying on supernatural night vision and good fighting skills to keep him alive. Drothe's forte is information brokering, not killing, but he doesn't shy away from murder if will get him what he wants.

When his line of work leads him to a valuable artefact, he becomes the target of entire empires and has to fight tooth and nail to stay alive. Other than the incredible character building, Hulick brings years of expertise to the sub-genre. The man has an MA in medieval history and is a martial arts and 17th-century rapier expert.

That shines through heavily in this book, with a Byzantine-inspired setting and incredible action scenes. If you're tired of drawn-out, unrealistic swordfights, it's safe to say this book is for you. Drothe is not immune to injury and often survives through dumb luck. This combines with some truly satisfying moments as the puzzle pieces form a cohesive bigger picture. The result is a gritty, fast-paced series that keeps you entertained the whole way through.

Poison Study is another novel that toes the line between young adult and mature. It opens with an incredible hook and drags you all the way through the story on a wave of suspense and fascination. The story starts with Yelena on the chopping block, where she is offered a choice. She can either test the crown's food for poison or die. She makes the obvious choice and ends up beholden to her employer via a poison that needs an antidote every day. You know the sub-genre, so I'll let you connect the dots from there.

Let's just say that Yelena's latent magical powers can be used for more sinister means, as can her first-hand knowledge of poisons. There's just one small problem: magic is punishable by death. In some ways, the Study series is a coming of age story. There's training montages, a progression from broken to badass, and even a bit of romance. It's a story where the main character slowly recovers from trauma and learns more about herself along the way.

However, Snyder manages to push it past clich with concise prose, interesting characters, and fantastic world building. She pays particular attention to the detailed political system, a factor instrumental in fantasy assassin novels but often overlooked. In all, it's an addictive read, with a good blend of new and traditional elements. Brandon Sanderson is a name that most avid fantasy readers have heard, and the internationally best-selling Mistborn was one of his breakout successes.

It's not a traditional assassin tale, in that there's just one main target. Not a nobleman, not a politician, but the god-like ruler himself. Sanderson builds an incredible world in which magic is fuelled by ingesting twelve metals, with very few 'Mistborns' that can use all of them. One such rarity is Vin, a young girl who grew up with abuse on the streets. The series detail Vin's struggle to protect the people she loves without being used a killing tool. The ever-evolving plot brilliantly details a band of rogues as they set their ambitions far higher than anyone expected. It's a perfect blend of swordplay, character, intrigue and environment.

The world is so rich and detailed that it almost hurts to leave it behind. A fantasy assassin list would not be complete without a mention of David Dalglish's Shadowdance series. Through the course of the novels, we get the viewpoint of not one, but two trained killers. Aaron Felhom a.

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He's been trained since birth to kill, but that doesn't mean he's happy with his father's ambitions. Throughout the course of several books, Dalglish drags you through a story of growth, political intrigue, and action. It's fast, deadly, and home to interesting and developed characters. Some of these make an appearance in the Half-Orc series, and those tie-ins give the reader a more detailed impression of the author's dark and brilliant world.

Of course, the series also features magic, and this is another place the books shine. Haern doesn't have any powers of his own, giving a refreshing viewpoint and opening the plot up to some more great characters. Unlike some fantasy, magic isn't used to get the hero out of any sticky situation. Instead, the protagonist has to rely on wits, skill, and brutality. As you can imagine, it doesn't always play out well, and Dalglish creates a GRRM-like world where characters can die at any moment. Kan Savasci: a legend, a warrior, a mage… hero and villain. Tears of a Heart marks the tale of a young man, Aeden, who unwittingly shapes the world.

The writing is beautiful, layered, and timely. Chase Blackwood weaves an intricate tale that hints at so much more. And that may be its greatest challenge. Tears of a Heart, the first book in the series, was beautifully written, and interesting. It shows us an amazing world filled with detail and depth, but for a portion of it, just a touch slow. The writing, such beautiful writing, overshadows this, as does the ending. Tower of the Arkein , the next book in the series, is where the story truly begins to unfold, and where Chase Blackwood shines as an author. It is fast paced, full of action, adventure, and love.

A very strong entry in the fantasy genre, and if the next book is equally as good, expect it to make quite a splash. You can buy on Amazon now. However, there's also something to be said for books that are just effortless to read, and Sprunk's Shadow Saga is definitely that. Caim lives in Othir: a crime-ridden, corrupt holy city that perfectly suits his profession. Augmented by dark magic and a ghostly familiar, he becomes involved in a plot far bigger than himself. It's not a complex plot, nor is it a particularly original one. However, Sprunk's simple execution brings new twists to familiar tropes and creates a series that's an absolute joy to read.

Part of that is due to the excellent pacing of the books, with short chapters that end with you turning the page to the next every time. You get the impression that everything in this novel is carefully and conservatively crafted. There isn't unnecessary exposition, yet the reader still gets a good sense of the world. Action scenes are perfectly placed to keep interest, while good character building provides plenty of entertainment in the downtimes.

Though there's plenty to love about the series, it's this simplicity that makes it so exceptional. Sprunk hasn't fallen into the trap of telling rather than showing. Instead, he's a perfect example that, with finesse, thousands of pages aren't required for a great fantasy novel. Though Graceling is marketed as YA , it leans further towards adult than others.


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The book accurately explores both teenage life and the moral struggle of a born killer. Katsa develops a magically enhanced ability to kill, her first victim slain in an accident at the age of eight. The story follows her in Cashore's beautifully crafted world as she fights not just her King's enemies but her own desire to do the right thing. As with many YA books, there is an element of romance, but it plays out in a more realistic and non-intrusive way.

This creates an excellent addition to the fantasy assassin genre that's suitable for a range of ages. Michael J. Sullivan's Ryria series is one of the highest rated in fantasy, and for good reason. His books have sold over one million copies in English and thousands more across their fourteen languages.

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There's plenty to love here for fans of Tolkien, and just as much for those who aren't. Sullivan's world is set a thousand years after the fall of an empire, with magic all but gone and clashes between religion, race, and philosophies. However, the true marvel is Sullivan's incredible characterization. Riyria tells the story of the warrior Hadrian and assassin Royce, their adventures together and how they came to meet.

Over the course of the six book series, Hadrian and Royce become one of the most iconic pairs in fantasy, with a depth and growth rarely seen in any genre. Together, the two infiltrate fortresses, carry out assassinations, and flee with an entire kingdom at their back. It's an astounding series made even better by its humble roots in self-publishing.

David Gemmell's Drenai Saga burst onto the heroic fantasy scene in and bears no relation to the Draenei from World of Warcraft. 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.

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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.

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.

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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.


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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. 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. It stands as one of the rare sequels to best the original. And one of the most supremely entertaining guilty pleasures you could ever imagine. Through a series of expertly choreographed and elaborately staged fight sequences, the action reaches gargantuan levels that will drown the appetite of those who crave this style of cinema.

If any film makes a strong case for the Academy to introduce a category honouring stuntwork, this is it. The colour palette of this film is a work of art, as are the spectacular sets the action takes place in. Witnessing this set shatter into pieces, as our hero faces off against his toughest opponents, is actually rather heartbreaking to watch. In a career of several iconic performances, John Wick has proven to be the legacy Reeves should be remembered by. Surrounding Reeves is a sparkling supporting cast, who appear to be having the time of their lives, all while spouting off some rather absurd dialogue that would feel horribly out-of-place elsewhere.

McShane brings an intoxicating swagger and old school charm as only he can. Fishburne is all sorts of nutty, as the underground crimelord with a love of pigeons. But the real scene-stealer is Dillon, whose icy presence and stoic demeanour is truly captivating to behold.



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