Tough Travels #2: Assassins

Tough Travels is a monthly meme that recommends fantasy books based on tropes, themes, and clichés cited in Diana Wynne Jones’s The Tough Guide to Fantasyland. The meme was created by Nathan at Fantasy Review Barn and is now hosted by Fantasy Faction.

Since I haven’t read many fantasy books, I instead create my list at the end of the month, after reading everyone else’s, and include recommendations from them that are interesting to me.

This month’s theme:

Assassins

Assassins are ubiquitous throughout fantasyland. Sharp-eyed readers (or even dull-eyed ones) will notice that their hooded forms often adorn book covers, and that they frequently appear – rather improbably – not to mind being the sole focus of our attention. Whether they’re spotlight hogs or camera-shy and brooding, most assassins will have trained for years and are very, VERY good at their job (i.e. killing people for money).

This topic made me realize that I haven’t read many books that feature assassins. But here are the few I’ve read that do have them:

Grey Men

Again, I start with Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series. The Grey Men are assassins of the Shadow. They are men, and sometimes women, who have given their soul to the Dark One and are thus also referred to as Soulless. They are effective assassins since people’s eyes cannot focus on them, so they are often unnoticed when they kill.

Celaena Sardothien

Celaena is the teenage protagonist of The Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas. She is said to be a notorious assassin, but she was betrayed and imprisoned as a worker in the salt mines for a year. In the first novel, she is released from imprisonment to enter a competition to become champion (basically a personal assassin) to the tyrant king of Adarlan.

Chade Fallstar

Chade is a side character in Robin Hobb’s Farseer Trilogy, a bildungsroman about the bastard child of a prince who becomes apprentice to the king’s assassin, Chade. Chade is loyal only to the throne and operates in complete secrecy. Hardly anyone knows that he exists. When making this list, I almost forgot to consider Chade and his apprentice, Fitz, the bastard and the protagonist of the story. I think of assassins as men dressed in black with a knife always close at hand. I think of them as people who kill by fighting. But Chade uses poisons and political maneuverings to accomplish his tasks. He’s cloaked in shadow and secrecy and is practically a ghost at Buckkeep. He doesn’t stand out in any way, which makes him a perfect assassin.

The following assassins caught my attention as I read the lists linked to the Fantasy Faction post.

From Nathan at Fantasy Review Barn, I got these two:

Men at Arms by Terry Pratchett

Several bloggers recommended the Assassins Guild of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series. Since I haven’t yet read any books from that series, I am willing to add this one to my TBR. Other books from the series that I’d love to read are Mort and Equal Rites, which I own because I’ve decided to start with the Witches books (otherwise I don’t know where to start with this series).

Brothers in Arms by Lois McMaster Bujold

Although this one has an assassin, it’s the author’s name that caught my attention and made me want to add it to my TBR. I don’t often read science fiction, but the one Bujold book I’ve read so far — The Curse of Chalion — was so damn good that I’m willing to follow her anywhere, even to take a dip in sci-fi.

Brothers in Arms is actually the fifth in the Vorkosigan Saga, so I’ll have to start with Shards of Honour. It looks like it will be pretty good with clones and stuff.

From Lynn’s Book Blog, I picked:

Red Sister by Mark Lawrence

This book is quite popular now. I’ve seen much hype about it and I’m inclined to believe the hype is right. I’m just drawn to the idea of assassin nuns, which sounds really damn cool. Lynn describes this as “a great coming of age story with a strong cast of characters,” so I think it’s one I might like. The story centers around a young girl called Nora, who joins the Convent of Sweet Mercy (knowing this is about assassin nuns and reading the convent name makes me laugh) at a young age.

From the Grim Dark Files, I culled:

Theft of Swords by Michael J. Sullivan

In his list, Peter included Royce Melborn, an assassin from the Riyria Revelations and Chronicles, which I’m guessing are two related sets of fantasy series. I have heard of the Riyria Revelations and would like to read Theft of Swords, which contains the first and second books. Peter describes Royce as having “lightning fast reflexes” and “scarily efficient sense,” which makes him seem like a pretty awesome character. It also seems that there’s more to him, like there might be some mystery about his abilities…maybe?

Black Cross by J.P. Ashman

Of all the assassins I read about in the posts linked to Fantasy Faction, Longoss of the Black Powder Wars series by J.P. Ashman is the most appealing to me. Peter describes him as “the filthiest, foulest assassins ever” and for some reason, that held my attention. I guess it’s because I’m used to assassins being regimented and orderly, like what I usually see in movies, so I’m tempted to try the series just to meet this character.

And that’s it for this Tough Travels entry.
The next one will feature Non-Human Heroes.
I can’t wait to see what the other bloggers will recommend.

Top Ten Tuesday #25: Summer 2017 TBR

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is a summer reads freebie, so I’ve decided to do my

Summer TBR!!

And since this was also the topic for last week’s Top 5 Wednesday, I’ve decided to list 15 instead of the usual 10 books (I’m just looking for a reason to list more stuff), though I hardly ever read what I place on my TBR, smh. Just once it would be nice to complete my TBR list.

Of the 10 books I listed for spring, I read five, one of which I’m currently reading. I guess I should count that as a success since reading 50% of my list is an improvement over the usual 0%. I still would like to read the other five books I didn’t get to so though I won’t list them all here, I’ll keep them in mind as I read through summer.

The plan for summer is to focus on reading my own damn books, so here’s what I plan to get stuck in:

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Book Haul #34: A month has passed…

This will seem like a large book haul, but a month and few days has passed since I last posted one of these so let’s blame the abundance of books on the passing of time.

However, it’s been such a long time since I’ve bought these books, some of which I’ve read or mentioned in blog posts, that I feel as if I’ve already mentioned them in a haul post. So typing this feels like déjà vu.

Books I bought

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Top 5 Wednesday #17: More Books by These Authors, Please

Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme created by GingerReadsLainey and now managed by Sam from Thoughts on Tomes. For more information on this meme, visit the Goodreads group.

This week’s topic:

Authors you want to read more from

I went crazy with this list at first and then had to remind myself that we’re limited to just 5; so I chose 7.

Lois McMaster Bujold

Bujold is first, of course. So far this year, her Curse of Chalion is the best book I’ve read. I was so hooked on that story that upon completing it, I bought the book (I’d read a copy a borrowed from the library) and the following two books in its series — Paladin of Souls and The Hallowed Hunt. I must read at least Paladin of Souls this year.

With Curse of Chalion, I was immediately drawn to Bujold’s writing and was sucked in by her storytelling. The fact that the story mixes magic with religion was icing on the top. I can’t wait to get stuck in the other books.

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Scavenger Hunt Book Tag

I’ve wanted to do this tag ever since Naz at Read Diverse Books posted it on his blog way back in 2016. (Last year seems so far away.) I consider myself tagged by him.

It’s said that the tag was created by booktuber The Library of Sarah; however, I couldn’t find the original tag video. I instead linked to her YouTube channel.

This tag was fun and a little challenging. It was sometimes difficult to find the books on my shelves (good thing I catalog them, which made this a bit easier). Later, when I was done taking pictures, I realized that other bloggers and vloggers included additional categories in their scavenger hunt posts, so I included them in mine too. I didn’t bother taking pics for them, though, because by then I was lazy. But anyway, let’s scavenge for books.


Find a book with the letter “Z” in its title or the author’s name.

Zana, #1 by Jean Barker, illus. by Joey Granger

Zana is one of the many comic books I picked up at the Small Press Expo last year. I haven’t yet read it, but the characters on the cover make me think it will be exciting.

Here’s a blurb on what it is about: “In a future South Africa in which apartheid never ended, the appearance of an angry ancestral spirit sets two village girls on the path to a dangerous destiny.” (Emet Comics)

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Tough Travelling #1: Beginnings

I’ve decided to participate in the Tough Traveling feature, a monthly meme that features book recommendations based on fantasy tropes, themes, and clichés mentioned in Diana Wynne Jones’s The Tough Guide to Fantasyland.

This feature was created by Nathan of Fantasy Review Barn back in 2014 and will now be hosted by Fantasy Faction. I decided to participate because it seems like a great way to discover new books I may be interested in based on tropes I like. Also, I bought The Tough Guide to Fantasyland about a week before this meme started, so… fate wants me to do this.

Fantasy is my favorite genre, but I reread books so often that my knowledge of fantasy novels isn’t as extensive as I’d like it to be, which means I don’t have a large resource of books read to recommend. Because of this, I’ve decided to compose my lists a little differently and will include one or two personal recommendations based on the topic and then feature books I’ve seen on other bloggers’ lists that I will add to my TBR list.

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