I’d hazard a guess and say we’ve all thought about hiring an assassin from time to time, especially when someone nicks the last digestive biscuit.
But alas, they don’t often pop up in the Yellow Pages, and frankly, they don’t come cheap.
If you, like me, have a morbid fascination with these masters of shadow and intrigue, you’ll likely find these ten fantasy literature assassins a delightful bunch of homicidal maniacs.
FitzChivalry Farseer from Robin Hobb’s Farseer Trilogy
Fitz is the illegitimate son of a prince who gets handed the delightful job of royal assassin. It’s all fun and games until you have to murder for a living. Even with a name that sounds like a medieval dating service, Fitz is the bloke you’d want on your side. He does have a terrible knack for getting nearly killed, but who doesn’t love a trier?
Arya Stark from George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire
Arya has a hit list and she’s not afraid to use it. Who knew ‘Stick ‘em with the pointy end’ could be such profound life advice? Atta girl, Arya. Not all heroes wear capes. Some wear the faces of other people.
Vin from Brandon Sanderson‘s Mistborn Trilogy
Vin knows her way around a knife and a secret identity. A street urchin turned assassin, she’s proof that life can turn on a penny, or in her case, a coin. If you thought your teen years were tough, try adding ‘assassin-in-training’ to the mix.
Azoth/Kylar Stern from Brent Weeks’ Night Angel Trilogy
Azoth masters the deadly art of assassination under the mentorship of Durzo Blint. Durzo, by the way, is a lad who’s seen it all, done it all, and has the emotional capacity of a rock. Azoth’s rise from gutters to greatness is a tale to behold, especially for those who love a good ol’ rag-to-riches… or perhaps rag-to-homicidal-maniac story.
Jorg Ancrath from Mark Lawrence’s Broken Empire Trilogy
Jorg, the poster boy for troubled youth, is what happens when you mix a prince, a traumatic childhood and a lawless band of outlaws. He may not be a traditional assassin, but with his moral compass lodged somewhere south of ‘chaotic evil’, he certainly gets the job done.
Celaena Sardothien from Sarah J. Maas’s Throne of Glass Series
A badass with a taste for fashion, Celaena proves that one can indeed kill and look great doing it. Her speciality? Delivering death with a side of fabulous.
Severian from Gene Wolfe’s Book of the New Sun
Not an assassin in the traditional sense, but as an executioner, Severian definitely has an intimate relationship with death. He’s got the melancholic brooding down to a fine art and a memory that’s sharper than his blade (or, so he would lead us to believe).
Jerek Mace from Michael Moorcock’s The Eternal Champion series
More of a warrior than a straight-up assassin, Jerek’s blighted life will have you laughing, crying, and questioning your own existential dread. Nothing like a bit of light-hearted anguish over a cuppa, right?
Locke Lamora from Scott Lynch’s Gentleman Bastard Series
He’s the cheeky chappy who could swipe the skin off a rice pudding and make it look like an accident. Less of an assassin, more of a con man, but let’s not split hairs. If there’s one thing to learn from Locke, it’s ‘why murder when you can manipulate?’
The Lady from Glen Cook’s The Black Company Series
She’s the epitome of ‘Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.’ The Lady is a formidable sorceress with a casual side gig in ruling empires and killing dissidents. It’s multi-tasking at its finest.
So, there you have it. A smorgasbord of fantasy assassins who’ve spiced up our literary lives with their unique takes on professional homicide.
Just remember, the next time you get the urge to toss a blade at your annoying flatmate, maybe just settle for a strongly worded Post-It note.
Murder, as these characters have shown us, is rather a messy business.
If you enjoy reading about thieves and assassins, download my novel Birth of Assassins as part of your free Ravenglass Universe starter library!