The Essential Guide to Assassin Fantasy Tropes

Dive into the essential tropes in assassin fantasy novels. From shadowy guilds to untraceable poisons, discover what makes these killers tick.

So, you’ve met the colourful ensemble of assassins in the realm of fantasy literature.

Now let’s talk about the tropes that make these deadly darlings as predictable as a soap opera plot twist.

You might think assassins are all about shock value, but let’s be honest—they’re as full of clichés as a politician’s promise.

The Untraceable Poison

The quintessential tool for anyone wanting to dispatch someone without muss or fuss.

This poison is always untraceable, available only from a rare flower that blooms once in a blue moon, on a mountaintop guarded by dragons.

Convenient, isn’t it?

Signature Twist: The antidote is just as difficult to procure, leading to a dramatic race against time.

The Mentor Figure

Behind every angsty, overly competent assassin is an even more competent mentor figure.

Usually greying and filled with wisdom, this character is often employed to remind our hero about “the code” and to occasionally slap them back to their senses.

Signature Twist: Mentor turns out to be the villain. Oh, the betrayal!

The Shadowy Assassin Guild

Let’s face it, lone wolves are so last season.

Nowadays, you’re not a legit assassin unless you belong to a highly secretive, ludicrously named guild.

From “The Shadow’s Hand” to “Death’s Whisperers,” it seems assassins are as fond of drama as they are of daggers.

Signature Twist: The guild turns out to be corrupt (shock, horror!), giving our hero a brand new kill list.

The Love Interest Who Changes Everything

This is the equivalent of a midlife crisis but with more stabbing.

Suddenly, our cold-hearted killer meets someone who melts their icy demeanour faster than climate change is melting the polar ice caps.

Cue moral dilemma.

Signature Twist: The love interest is the next target. Love or duty? Ah, the eternal question.

The Loyal Sidekick

The Watson to the assassin’s Holmes.

This character is usually less skilled but provides emotional support, comic relief, or a conveniently timed distraction.

You know, like a human fidget spinner for the assassin.

Signature Twist: The sidekick actually saves the day, reversing the roles and making the protagonist look like a bit of an idiot.

The Perfect Disguise

Apparently, all an assassin needs to remain incognito is a hooded cloak.

Forget DNA, facial recognition, or even a basic “Wanted” poster.

A piece of fabric makes them unrecognizable, and they blend into the crowd like sugar in tea.

Signature Twist: The disguise is penetrated by a child or a beggar—the overlooked members of society. Always a humbling moment.

The Unanticipated Redemption Arc

No one wants to root for someone who’s all bad, hence the redemption arc.

Our assassin, who has hitherto dispatched people with the emotional range of a teaspoon, suddenly discovers empathy. Who knew?

Signature Twist: The redemption is a farce; it’s all part of an elaborate plot twist that leaves readers (and enemies) shocked.

The Not-So-Final Retirement

Finally, the stage where our assassin hangs up their blades, settles down, and considers taking up knitting.

But who are we kidding?

Once an assassin, always an assassin.

Signature Twist: They come out of retirement for one last job. Predictable, yet we eat it up every time.

So, the next time you pick up an assassin-based fantasy novel, you’ll know exactly what you’re in for.

Tropes, like death and taxes, are inevitable.

But they’re also what make these deadly stories as comforting as a cuppa on a rainy day. Enjoy your murderous reading!