Tough Traveling: Assassins, Guild of…
The Thursday feature “Tough Traveling” is the brainchild of Nathan of Review Barn, who has come up with the excellent idea of making a new list each week based on the most common tropes in fantasy, as seen in The Tough Guide to Fantasyland by Diana Wynn Jones. Nathan has invited anyone who is interested to come play along, so be sure to check out the first link for more information. Compulsive list-maker that I am, I’m very excited to take part!
This week’s tour topic is: Assassins, Guild of…
The second most frequent guild after the Thieves Guild. Indeed, it is possible that these are the only two, and that in Fantasyland crime is the sole organized activity. They are said to be very good at their job, which is of course killing people for money, and to proceed on all occasions with strict regard for laws and protocol.
Holy crap, this one is actually tougher than I thought. I can come up with books I’ve read about individual assassins aplenty, but a whole guild of assassins? That’s going to take some thinking to get to five (my own personal goal for these lists).
Death Sworn by Leah Cypess – I went digging into my recently read pile and this was the first example I came across. The assassins in this book are a secret guild, and they live and train in caves their whole lives. Their leader is a real nasty guy, but his men are loyal. If he orders any of them to jump to their deaths, you bet they will. Death isn’t anything to them. Assassinations are not murder, merely tools because each kill presumably serves a greater purpose.
The Assassin’s Curse by Cassandra Rose Clarke – This book is about pirates and assassins (insert joke about a meme here). A young pirate abandons her parents and her ship to avoid being married off to another clan, and the jilted suitor’s family puts out a hit on her. She then winds up binding herself and the assassin Naji together by accidentally saving his life. If I remember correctly, Naji is a member of a notorious sect of assassins, so even though the story mainly focuses on him, I’m going to count it.
Blades of the Old Empire by Anna Kashina – Let’s get away from YA for a second. This book features a group called the Majat Guild. Their member ranks are named after gemstones, with Diamond denoting a warrior as the best of the best, but all of them are extremely skilled in the deadly arts. I’m actually not sure they count strictly as assassins — more like mercenaries, perhaps — but because they can be hired out to do anything from bodyguard work to killing someone, I’m going to count it. And hey, the second book is actually called “The Guild of Assassins“, so there!
Jhereg by Steven Brust – Actually, when I read the title of this topic, my mind immediately went to these Vlad Taltos books. Vlad is a hired killer, member of House of Jhereg, a house whose membership is not based on bloodline or tribe like all the other houses. You can even buy yourself into it if you have the money. Despite being noble house, it’s known to be associated with shady characters and even shadier crimes. Think of them as the mafia of the fantasy world. Need an assassin? Look up a Jhereg boss.
Midnight Thief by Livia Blackburne – I’m actually going to cheat a little here, since this book won’t come out until the summer and even though I have the ARC I haven’t formally read it yet. But I’ve read the prequel novella Poison Dance (which stars James, an assassin in a guild called Assassin’s Guild!) so I think I have a pretty good idea what to expect in this one too. Even though the the story will shift focus to different characters, I know the guild will appear again in Midnight Thief for sure.
Whew! And that’s five. Like I said I’m limiting myself to only books I’ve read or at least I’ve more intimate knowledge of, but I’m sure there are a lot more I’m missing or forgetting. Now I wish I’ve been more diligent with tagging my books with appropriate labels on my Goodreads shelves.