Discover the captivating world of thieves in fantasy novels. From daring heists to cunning schemes, these must-read books offer action, suspense, and thrilling twists. Explore the top picks that will keep you on the edge of your seat. #fantasybooks #thieves #mustreadnovels
Fantasy novels often offer a unique twist to traditional crime stories, and tales about thieves are no exception.
Whether it’s a heist gone wrong, a daring escape, or a cunning scheme, these stories are full of action, suspense, and thrilling twists.
Here are ten must-read fantasy novels about thieves that will keep you on the edge of your seat:
1. “The Lies of Locke Lamora” by Scott Lynch.
Set in the city of Camorr, the Gentlemen Bastards series follows the adventures of Locke Lamora and his band of thieves. The books are filled with complex heists, daring escapes, and political machinations, and the characters are both lovable and deeply flawed. Lynch’s writing is sharp and witty, and the world of Camorr is a rich and fully realized setting.
2. “Thief of Time” by Terry Pratchett.
Set in Discworld, this novel follows the adventures of thief-turned-monk Lu-Tze and his journey to prevent Time itself from being stolen. Pratchett’s signature wit and humour shine in this book, making it a must-read for fans of his work.
3. “Six of Crows” by Leigh Bardugo.
Set in Bradugo’s Grishaverse, this story follows a group of six criminals hired for a nearly impossible heist. With a diverse cast of characters and fast-paced action, Six of Crows is a thrilling ride from start to finish.
4. “Farseer Trilogy” by Robin Hobb.
This classic fantasy series follows the story of FitzChivalry Farseer, an assassin and thief who is forced to navigate the dangerous world of the Six Duchies. Hobb’s writing is rich and descriptive, and the characters are complex and fully realized. Fitz is a compelling protagonist, and his adventures are both thrilling and thought-provoking.
5. “Riyria Revelations” by Michael J. Sullivan.
This six-book series follows the adventures of Royce and Hadrian, two thieves who find themselves caught up in a web of political intrigue and ancient magic. The witty banter between the two leads, combined with Sullivan’s intricate world-building and fast-paced action, make Riyria Revelations a must-read for fans of the genre.
6. “The Master Thief series” by Ben Hale.
A delightful romp through a world of thieves, con artists, and other unsavoury characters. The main character, Jute, is a street thief who finds himself drawn into a larger scheme that will test his skills and loyalty. The books are filled with twists and turns, and the writing is both witty and action-packed.
7. “Lightbringer series” by Brent Weeks.
This series follows the adventures of Gavin Guile, a powerful magician and master thief who must navigate the dangerous world of the Chromeria. Weeks’ writing is fast-paced and action-packed, and the world of the Chromeria is rich and complex. The characters are fully realized, and the twists and turns of the plot will keep you on the edge of your seat.
8. “Mistborn series” by Brandon Sanderson.
Set in the world of Scadrial, the Mistborn series follows the story of Vin, a young thief who discovers she has the ability to use magic. Sanderson’s writing is fast-paced and action-packed, and the world of Scadrial is rich and complex. Vin’s journey from street urchin to powerful Allomancer is both thrilling and heart-warming, and the twists and turns of the plot will keep you on the edge of your seat.
9. “Thief of Magic” by Trudi Canavan.
This second book in the Millennium’s Rule series follows the adventures of Rielle, a young thief who discovers she has a talent for magic.
10. “The Thief’s Gamble” by Juliet E. McKenna.
This book is the first in a series of novels that follow the adventures of Kaira, a young thief who finds herself caught up in a world of magic and political intrigue. With a strong and likable protagonist, fast-paced action, and intricate world-building, The Thief’s Gamble is a must-read.
If you love fantasy with thieves, you can get my novel Birth of Assassins for free as part of the Ravenglass Universe starter library.
Dive into fantasy’s darker corners with our top 10 novels featuring cunning thief heroes, who prove that sometimes, moral ambiguity steals the show.
In the usual realm of swords, sorcery, dragons and direwolves, aren’t we all occasionally partial to a protagonist that’s a bit, well… shifty?
I’m not talking about the big muscle-bound, honour-bound heroes that are as predictable as the British weather, I’m talking about the sneak-thieves, the tricksters, the rogues!
There’s something devilishly enjoyable about a character that walks the line of morality, their pockets full of ill-gotten goods, their minds full of cunning plans, and their hearts (eventually, after some character development) full of the right intentions.
This ensemble cast of characters, led by the wily thief Kaz Brekker, are about as far from virtuous knights as you can get.
Bardugo creates a motley crew of criminals and misfits, each with their own set of unique skills, emotional baggage, and snappy one-liners.
The group’s mission? To infiltrate an impenetrable fortress, of course!
What could possibly go wrong?
4. “The Hobbit” by J.R.R. Tolkien:
Remember our good old friend Bilbo Baggins?
Yes, that cuddly, comfort-loving hobbit who got dragged on a journey by thirteen dwarves and a wizard with an apparent disregard for proper notice.
Hired as a burglar to reclaim the dwarves’ treasure from Smaug the dragon, Bilbo might be the most unlikely, and yet most endearing, thief in all of fantasy literature.
5. “The Queen’s Thief” series by Megan Whalen Turner:
If you’re a fan of political intrigue, clever schemes, and a thief who’s a touch more regal than your average cutpurse, then you’ll love Gen, the protagonist of this enthralling series.
Starting with “The Thief,” the series follows Gen’s evolution from a simple (if ridiculously talented) thief to a player in the highest echelons of power.
6. “Among Thieves” by Douglas Hulick:
What’s that? You want more thieves? Well, I hope you’re not tired of twisty alleyways and shadowy figures because that’s exactly what you’re getting in the form of Drothe, a Nose (information gatherer) for one of the criminal organizations in the city of Ildrecca.
With its gritty atmosphere and compelling plot, you’ll feel like you’re right there in the criminal underworld (without the risk of being pickpocketed).
7. “Mistborn: The Final Empire” by Brandon Sanderson:
Our next stop on the larceny express takes us to the heart of the “Mistborn” series.
The story begins in a city oppressed under the iron fist of the Lord Ruler, where our resourceful heroine Vin exists as part of a thieving crew.
But Vin isn’t just any common thief—she’s a Mistborn, able to consume metals and gain powers from them.
She’s soon embroiled in a plot to overthrow the tyrant, and you can bet your last bent copper that there will be heists, intrigue, and a fair amount of metal-fuelled mayhem.
8. “The Blacktongue Thief” by Christopher Buehlman:
This is a tale with a fresh and compelling voice that might just swipe the top spot on your favourite thieves list.
Our main character, Kinch Na Shannack, is a thief trained by the Takers Guild (so he’s got a professional edge, you see).
He owes the guild an awful lot of money (or ‘guilders’ as they call it), so he’s trying to earn… or, let’s be honest, steal, his way out of debt.
He’s sardonic, rough around the edges, and utterly captivating.
This book is a wild, action-packed ride filled with danger, dark humour, and a dash of magic.every.
9. “The Palace Job” by Patrick Weekes:
Want some audacious heists with a side of snappy dialogue and a diverse cast of characters?
Look no further than “The Palace Job.”
This tale follows Loch and her eccentric crew (which includes a death priestess and a unicorn, among others) as they attempt to steal from the most secure building in the Republic.
It’s Ocean’s Eleven meets high fantasy, and it’s every bit as delightful as that sounds.
10. “Master Thief” series by Ben Hale:
Rounding off our list, we have Ben Hale’s “Master Thief” series.
Here, we follow the (mis)adventures of Jack Myst, the titular master thief who’s so adept at his craft that he’s practically an artist.
Well, an artist in stealing everything from precious gems to tightly guarded secrets.
The story is a delightful romp of thievery set against a backdrop of a richly built world.
And Jack? Well, he’s as charismatic a rogue as they come.
So, go ahead, immerse yourself in these fascinating worlds of fantasy where the thieves reign supreme.
Remember, though—stealing is wrong.
But reading about it? Now that’s a crime I’m willing to commit.
Exploring Scott Lynch’s monumental impact on modern fantasy literature through his ‘Gentleman Bastard’ series, shaping characters, world-building & narrative style.
Scott Lynch’s tour de force, ‘The Lies of Locke Lamora’ burst onto the fantasy scene in 2006, marking a significant turning point in the genre’s evolution.
The book, and its subsequent sequels in the ‘Gentleman Bastard’ series, introduced readers to a unique and innovative world of fantasy that has since greatly influenced countless authors and contributed to the development of modern fantasy literature.
Lynch breathes life into the city of Camorr, imbued with a Renaissance Venice-like setting, complete with a network of canals, grand structures, and a dark underworld.
This type of detailed and vivid cityscape, one that is both fantastical and grounded in historical reality, has inspired subsequent authors to create rich, detailed, and believable fantasy worlds of their own.
The city of Camorr, much like a character itself, is layered, flawed, and complex.
Its distinct districts, culture, social structure, and even food, craft an immersive and palpable atmosphere.
Lynch’s approach to world-building has changed how modern authors perceive and depict their settings, encouraging them to create worlds that extend far beyond generic kingdoms and forests.
The Significance of Realistic Characters
Lynch has also made his mark on the fantasy genre through his complex, flawed, and deeply human characters.
Locke Lamora, the eponymous protagonist, is no stereotypical hero.
Instead, he’s a crafty thief with his own set of morals, which don’t always align with societal expectations.
The novel’s emphasis on character development, relationships, and moral dilemmas has encouraged authors to break away from traditional, archetypical fantasy characters, forging instead more relatable, complex, and morally grey personas.
Further, the use of camaraderie and brotherhood as a central theme adds depth to the narrative.
The characters in ‘The Lies of Locke Lamora’ are tied together by bonds of friendship and loyalty, rather than destiny or prophecy, which was previously a common trope in fantasy literature.
This has pushed authors (include myself) to explore the themes of loyalty, love, and friendship in more profound and nuanced ways.
The Impact of Lynch’s Narrative Style
Lynch’s narrative style, rich in its use of suspense, humour, and shocking plot twists, represents a departure from the more traditional, linear storytelling techniques previously prevalent in the genre.
This approach adds a level of unpredictability and dynamism to the story, compelling readers to stay engaged and constantly guess what might happen next.
‘The Lies of Locke Lamora’ also excels in its fusion of elements from different genres.
The book blends fantasy with crime, mystery, and thriller elements, creating a diverse and captivating narrative.
This cross-genre style has inspired many contemporary authors to experiment with genre boundaries, resulting in a new breed of hybrid fantasy books.
The Legacy of ‘The Lies of Locke Lamora’
Lynch’s narrative introduced a vibrant blend of genres and a distinctive approach to character and world-building that many subsequent authors have embraced.
Notably, Michael J. Sullivan’s ‘Riyria Revelations,’ Fonda Lee’s ‘Green Bone Saga,’ and Leigh Bardugo’s ‘Six of Crows’ exhibit the profound influence of Lynch’s work.
One of the distinctive qualities of Lynch’s novel is the comradery and complex relationship between Locke Lamora and his partner-in-crime, Jean Tannen.
The bonds of brotherhood that tie these characters together have created a blueprint for ‘bromance’ that is apparent in Michael J. Sullivan’s ‘Riyria Revelations.’
The protagonists of Sullivan’s series, Royce Melborn and Hadrian Blackwater, mirror the friendship and loyalty seen in ‘The Lies of Locke Lamora’.
Sullivan, like Lynch, establishes a balance of humour, camaraderie, and dark pasts in the dynamic between his characters, showing that deep, platonic relationships can serve as a strong backbone for a compelling narrative.
‘Green Bone Saga’ and the Reflection of Realism
Fonda Lee’s ‘Green Bone Saga’ series reflects Lynch’s commitment to grounding a fantasy world in realism.
Much like Camorr, Lee’s city of Janloon is a well-structured, believable world.
Lee’s decision to focus on crime families and their struggles for power within a fantastical setting mirrors the gritty underworld and realistic socio-political structures found in ‘The Lies of Locke Lamora.’
The emphasis on gang wars, politics, and crime within a fantastical setting, strongly resonates with Lynch’s Camorr and the criminal activities of the Gentleman Bastards.
‘Six of Crows’ and the Band of Misfits
Leigh Bardugo’s ‘Six of Crows’ bears the undeniable mark of Scott Lynch’s influence.
Bardugo’s story revolves around a band of misfits who undertake a seemingly impossible heist, much like Locke and his band of thieves.
Kaz Brekker, the leader of the gang in Bardugo’s novel, shares Locke’s cunning and tactical mind, coupled with a moral compass that isn’t always aligned with the law.
Bardugo’s knack for intricate planning, multiple point-of-view storytelling, and the unexpected plot twists strongly echo Lynch’s narrative style, as she takes readers through a thrilling journey full of surprises.
Each of these works, while unique and inventive in their own right, owe a certain level of their approach to the trail blazed by Scott Lynch.
From the strong bonds of friendship, detailed world-building and the intricate blend of crime and fantasy elements, Lynch’s influence is apparent in these modern fantasy sagas.
Lynch’s masterpiece has not only altered the way we perceive fantasy literature but has also served as a stepping stone for other authors to push the boundaries of their own creativity.
As such, ‘The Lies of Locke Lamora’ continues to shape the landscape of fantasy literature through its lasting influence on contemporary works.
Recommended Fantasy Reads for Fans of Scott Lynch’s Gentleman Bastard Series”
If you have been captivated by the charm and intrigue of Scott Lynch’s Gentleman Bastard series, then you’re likely seeking more fantasy books that echo its rich world-building, morally complex characters, and intricate plots.
Below is a selection of excellent fantasy novels that should satiate your craving for more such fascinating stories.
‘The First Law’ Series by Joe Abercrombie
Joe Abercrombie’s grimdark fantasy series ‘The First Law’ offers a realistic portrayal of a fantastical world, much like Lynch’s Camorr. Its morally grey characters and ruthless political machinations will appeal to fans of Lynch’s dark and complex narratives.
‘The Broken Empire’ Trilogy by Mark Lawrence
This trilogy, starting with ‘Prince of Thorns’, introduces readers to Jorg Ancrath, a character whose morally grey persona echoes that of Locke Lamora. The series is filled with complex characters, clever plots, and a dark, gritty world that fans of Lynch’s work will appreciate.
‘The Powder Mage’ Trilogy by Brian McClellan
Brian McClellan’s series is set in a world transitioning from a monarchy to a republic, and like Lynch’s work, it features a richly detailed world, complicated political intrigue, and characters with dubious morality. Its unique blend of gunpowder-era technology and magic adds a distinctive flair to the narrative.
‘Mistborn’ Series by Brandon Sanderson
For readers who enjoy Lynch’s intricate heists and complex magic system, Sanderson’s ‘Mistborn’ series is an excellent choice. The protagonist, Vin, is a young woman adept at allomancy – a magic system involving the manipulation of metals – and her journey is filled with intriguing twists and turns that will appeal to fans of the Gentleman Bastard series.
‘The Night Angel’ Trilogy by Brent Weeks
A dark, gritty fantasy series about a young street rat who becomes an apprentice to the city’s top assassin. Fans of the ‘Gentleman Bastard’ series will appreciate the dark atmosphere and layered characters.
‘The Dagger and the Coin’ Series by Daniel Abraham
This series stands out for its intricate politics and economics, as well as a diverse cast of characters. Its blend of fantasy and political intrigue is reminiscent of the power struggles in Camorr.
‘Low Town’ Series by Daniel Polansky
This series centres on a former intelligence agent turned drug dealer navigating through the criminal underworld. Its noir style and focus on the seedy underbelly of society will appeal to fans of Scott Lynch.
‘The City of Stairs’ by Robert Jackson Bennett
This standalone novel is renowned for its innovative world-building, something Scott Lynch’s fans would be familiar with. The novel’s main character, a spy tasked with solving a murder in a city where gods once lived, will resonate with fans of complex, morally ambiguous characters.
‘The Gutter Prayer’ by Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan
This book is the first in ‘The Black Iron Legacy’ series, and it takes readers into a world of gods, monsters, and thieves. Its mix of horror and fantasy elements, along with its rich world-building and focus on the criminal underworld, should appeal to fans of Scott Lynch.
If you enjoy reading about thieves and assassins, you might also enjoy my Dawn of Assassins series.
You can get the prequel novel Birth of Assassins as part of the Ravenglass Universe starter library.
Explore the allure of rogues in fantasy literature, uncover their charm, and discover some of the genre’s most memorable scoundrel characters.
Fantasy is filled with brave heroes, wicked villains, and wise old mentors.
But some of the most memorable characters are the rogues—those lovable scoundrels and rapscallions who charm their way into readers’ hearts.
Who doesn’t love a witty, wildcard rule-breaker?
Let’s take a look at what makes fantasy rogues so dashingly appealing.
What is a Rogue?
While definitions vary, a fantasy rogue is generally a character who lives by their wits, thumbing their nose at laws and social conventions.
They usually have criminal tendencies, whether picking pockets, running scams, or just generally causing a ruckus.
Think Han Solo rather than lawful good paladins.
Rogues are notoriously unpredictable.
You never know if they’ll swoop in to save the day or make off with the loot.
Their moral compasses are often more flexible than your average hero’s.
But their quips are sharper than the daggers they have hidden up their sleeves.
Why Readers Love Rogues
They’re exciting – Rogues thrive on breaking rules and causing mischief, whether through thievery, assassinations, scams, or just general troublemaking. Their antics and scheming often directly drive the plot forward in unpredictable and kinetic ways. Rogues keep readers on their toes, never knowing what kind of havoc they will wreak next.
They’re funny – Sharp wits and razor-edged sarcasm are signature traits for many rogues. They constantly trade barbs with friends and foes alike, bringing much-needed levity and humor to balance out the seriousness of traditional stoic fantasy heroes. Their cheeky quips and dirty jokes act like spice, seasoning an adventure tale with delightful irreverence.
They’re capable – Rogues rely on their resourcefulness and varied skillsets rather than brute magical or physical strength to survive and succeed. Often starting from underdog positions, a rogue’s cleverness, adaptability, and expertise in areas like thievery, assassination, con artistry, and more allows them to punch far above their weight class. It’s immensely satisfying seeing a rogue turn the tables through creativity rather than combat prowess.
They’re relatable – Rogues in fantasy often operate outside of mainstream society, fighting against corrupt systems and unjust rulers. Their moral flexibility and willingness to question authority makes them more accessible and understandable protagonists than the archetypal lawful good knight errant. Readers recognize the rogue’s roguishness as a product of circumstancxes, rooting for the scrappy antihero.
They’re charming – For all their shady morals, rogues often have an underlying heart of gold that emerges through charming personality quirks and relationships that humanize them. Their care for fellow misfits and outcasts can tug at reader heartstrings. And who can resist falling for a scoundrel with a soft spot? The appeal of redeeming a charming rapscallion makes rogues hard to resist.
Fantasy’s Finest Rogues
From thieves to assassins, pirates to con artists, here are some of fantasy’s most iconic roguish characters:
Locke Lamora (Gentleman Bastard Sequence) – This saboteur leads a band of thief protagonists in Lynch’s Ocean’s Eleven-esque fantasy heist series.
Celaena Sardothien (Throne of Glass) – Assassin turned royal champion Celaena is fiercely independent and not afraid to break rules. A YA fantasy favourite.
Royce and Hadrian (Riyria Revelations) – This thief/fighter duo banters their way through Sullivan’s adventures, stealing from the rich and meddling in conspiracies.
Tyrion Lannister (A Song of Ice and Fire) – The wisecracking “Imp” is one of few characters whose wit can match his intellect in Martin’s gritty fantasy saga.
Kvothe (The Kingkiller Chronicles) – With his magical talents, intellect, and roguish disregard for authority, Kvothe charms his way through Rothfuss’ epic trilogy.
Jalan Kendeth (Red Queen’s War) – Mark Lawrence portrays an enjoyably amoral antihero forced to be brave despite his cowardly instincts.
Vlad Taltos (Dragaera) – Assassin, mob boss, and sorcerer Vlad lives by his wits in Brust’s long-running series of swashbuckling fantasy adventures.
FitzChivalry Farseer (The Realm of the Elderlings) – Hobb’s royal bastard turned assassin has flexible morals yet an underlying heart of gold.
Gen (The Queens of Renthia) – No rogues gallery would be complete without a smart-mouthed thief. Gen steals scenes (among other things) in Dennard’s nature-based fantasy series.
Binti (Binti) – Math genius and intergalactic adventurer Binti hacks, tinkers, and tricks her way through Okorafor’s afrofuturist sci-fi/fantasy series.
Kaz Brekker (Six of Crows) – Leader of a gang of outcasts, Kaz is cunningly ruthless in Bardugo’s YA heist fantasy inspired by the Dutch Golden Age.
Wydrin (The Copper Promise) – Heavily tattooed sell-sword Wydrin is tough, hilarious, and more than a bit amoral in Jen Williams’ dark yet cheeky epic fantasy trilogy.
Locke (Sorcerer to the Crown) – Sharp-witted, magic-wielding Locke disregards rules of race and gender amid 19th century magical politics in Cho’s witty fantasy of manners.
Eloise (His Secret Illuminations) – Scribe, forger, seducer, spy – Eloise plays many roles in Winters’ Renaissance-inspired fantasy full of political intrigue.
Levisor (We Ride the Storm) – De Castell’s former revolutionary wields wit and wiles as weapons against oppressive regimes in this original secondary world fantasy.
So whether they’re carrying out elaborate heists, trading insults with enemies, or just being lovable jerks, roguish characters bring dashing flair and relatable humanity to fantasy tales.
We can’t get enough of these witty rabble-rousers – here’s hoping for many more in the years to come.
Any favourite fantasy rogues or recommendations for great roguish reads?