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 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.

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.

Continue reading

Top 5 Wednesday #16: Classics and SFF

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.

I skipped last week’s topic because I was too busy to post and it was difficult to think of answers for it. Last week’s topic was

Future classics

which refers to books that we think will one day be considered classics. I consider a book a classic not because it’s old or very popular, but because it presents an idea/topic in a novel way, sparks conversation or change by upseting norms, or is a forerunner of a genre, type of writing, or certain trend. Such books are also well composed. With that in mind, I chose these 5 books as my future classics:

Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling

Continue reading

Top 5 Wednesday #15: Catching Up

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.

Like the Top Ten Tuesday meme, I haven’t done one of these in a long time. I’ve decided to return to it for now because they are helpful in providing blogging topics when one is in a blogging slump, which is how I feel at the moment. It’s hard to find the time and energy to think and write.

I don’t plan to do all the topics I missed because that would take forever. Instead, I’ll start with last week’s topic. I enjoyed reading and watching people’s response to it. In honor of the Booktube SFF Awards, last week’s topic was:

Favorite science fiction & fantasy books

Of course, it’s hard to minimize my favorites to just 5 books; so instead, I’ll mention 5 great fantasy books that immediately came to mind when I saw the topic. I won’t include the Harry Potter books because we all already know how awesome they are.

Continue reading

“Gilded Cage” by Vic James

gilded-cageHave you ever read a book that’s so compelling you can hardly put it down but is so annoying that you wish you could? That’s how I felt over the 8 days I spent reading Gilded Cage. I was curious about some of its plot points, but I had so many issues with it that I was frustrated the entire time I read it.

Quick summary:

Gilded Cage is a young-adult fantasy novel set in the present day, where some people (the Equals) have magical abilities (the Skill) and enslave those who lack such abilities (the Commoners). Some countries have improved their policies and allowed equal opportunities for both Equals and Commoners; however, in the U.K., where the story is set, slavery is still in effect.

When the story begins, one of our protagonists, Abigail, and her family are about to begin their slave days. Commoners must dedicate 10 years of their lives to being a slave, however individuals can choose when to begin. Parents can choose for children under 18, but all Commoners must begin before they are 60.

Abigail is 18 and is studying to be a doctor. However, she is willing to set her aspirations aside to start her slave days with her family, which includes her mom and dad, her 15-year-old* (I forgot his age, but it’s about there) brother Luke, and her 10-year-old sister Daisy. Abigail plans for them all to have an easy time working their slave days at the Kyneston estate, one of the most powerful Equal families in the country that is managed by brothers Gavar, Jenner, and Silyen Jardine. However, her family is ripped apart when Luke is taken to Millmoor, the harsh factory town that mistreats its slaves.

Continue reading

Book Haul #30: Last One for the Year

Well, I haven’t been posting much lately. At first it was because I was sick, but then I lost enthusiasm as work got busier and the weather got colder. These days I prefer to laze around the house, read, and stay warm. However, I am trying to perk up and at least get interested in blogging again; but the cold, overcast, sometimes rainy and threatening snow weather is making it so, so hard. Hopefully this book haul will perk me up. They are always fun and sometimes they help to get me out of a blogging rut.

Continue reading

Weekend Reads #62: This Is My Genre, Tell Me Yours, Book Tag

Weekend Reads is a weekly post in which I discuss a variety of topics and mention the books I plan to read on the weekend. Since I can’t think of anything, I’ve decided to do this tag created by Drew, the Tattooed Book Geek, which asks us to discuss our favorite genre.


Continue reading