Imperial law enforcer Amaranthe Lokdon is good at her job: she can deter thieves and pacify thugs, if not with a blade, then by toppling an eight-foot pile of coffee canisters onto their heads. But when ravaged bodies show up on the waterfront, an arson covers up human sacrifices, and a powerful business coalition plots to kill the emperor, she feels a tad overwhelmed.
Worse, Sicarius, the empire's most notorious assassin is in town. He's tied in with the chaos somehow, but Amaranthe would be a fool to cross his path. Unfortunately, her superiors order her to hunt him down. Either they have an unprecedented belief in her skills... or someone wants her dead.
Stover combines fantasy and SF in this vigorous adventure story. Our world has developed a hyper-rigid, occupation-based caste system in which the reading of freedom-based philosophy, from John Locke to Robert A. Heinlein, is punished. For entertainment, people participate vicariously in recorded Adventures from the Overworld, an other-dimensional realm of sword and sorcery with its own repressive government. On Earth, Hari Michaelson is the most popular Actor in Adventures; in Ankhana, with its rich palaces and criminal slums, he is known as Caine, the Blade of Tyshalle, famous assassin and warrior. Tired of killing, Hari agrees to return to the Overworld, driven to save his estranged wife, Pallas Ril?Actor and sorceress, unable to return to Earth due to a powerful spell?and ordered by the Studio to kill the tyrant Ma'elKoth. Stover's writing throughout is unoriginal but vivid, and his story is well plotted (though relentlessly violent), with numerous noteworthy secondary characters, from Hari's father to Kierendal, the non-human manager of a vice-den in the Overworld's Alien Town. Hari begins as a stereotyped cold-blooded killer but develops credibly, gaining a sense of moral responsibility and realizing that his true enemies are not on the Overworld but within the Studio that directs his life for its profits.
Tara, a trouble-shooter for Abracadabra Incorporated, shuts down black magic all over the world. A dagger with dangerous magic leads her to a small French shop, in business for 900 years. Something has corrupted the shop, something dark and evil, something stronger than Tara. Something she must face alone…
A short story by international bestselling author Kristine Kathryn Rusch.
Acquired Genetic Neurological Syndrome has killed much of Earth’s male population, and women have risen to dominate all aspects of life. The Whole Body governs with chilling efficiency; the Ministry of Termination dispatches those who might threaten the world order. To that end, a select few have been engineered to carry out the clandestine orders of the North American Council — K-Class assassins.
At 19, Kay Black is probably the most talented assassin the Ministry of Births has ever produced. Her career is going brilliantly, although she is troubled by odd shifts in consciousness and vaguely unsettling feelings that she can neither control nor fully comprehend. Then, during an assignment to terminate a renowned scientist with the Central Office for Genetic Research, Kay discovers a mystery about her origins. The information turns her world upside down, and her search for the truth reveals that she has inherited something that makes her even more dangerous than an assassin.
But she is not alone in receiving this unexpected gift, a gift that by its very nature will challenge the foundations of power in the world ... if Kay can survive long enough to use it.
With each kill, I grow wiser, and with added wisdom, I grow stronger.
Powerful assassin Artemis Entreri tightens his grip on the streets of Calimport, driven by the power of his hidden drow supporters. But his sponsor Jarlaxle grows ever more ambitious, and Entreri struggles to remain cautious and in control. Soon, the power of the malevolent Crystal Shard grows greater than them both, threatening to draw them into a vast web of treachery from which there will be no escape.
Bodies litter the pages of this first entry in Estep's engrossing Elemental Assassin urban fantasy series. In the corrupt Southern metropolis of Ashland, weather witches mingle with vampires, giants, and dwarves. A mysterious client hires assassin Gin Blanco, known as the Spider, to murder a whistle-blowing financial officer named Gordon Giles. Then the client attempts a double cross and brutally kills Gin's mentor. Now Gin, a stone elemental with a hard-boiled attitude, a closely guarded heart, and a penchant for throwing knives, has to join forces with one of the few honest cops in Ashland, sexy detective Donovan Caine, who hates her for killing his partner.
The bastard sons of kings play a noble role in fantasy: not only were King Arthur and Modred by-blows, but it is often suggested that Merlin himself came to power from the "wrong side of the bed." While Hobb's offering has a few too many illegitimate heirs backstabbing around, this is still a delightful take on the powers and politics behind the throne. Fitz, who is often called the "Boy" or the "Bastard," was begotten by good Prince Chivalry upon some "peasant" woman. At age six, he is given over to the safekeeping of the prince's man, Burrich. Fitz's impolitic existence causes the prince to abdicate his claim to the throne, and he and his wife leave the court, and the boy, behind. Fitz has inherited the "Skill," a mind-bending talent, and also has the ability to meld his thoughts with those of nonhuman creatures and to mentally "repel" physical advances. When Fitz finally comes to King Shrewd's attention, he is given over to the Royal Assassin's tutelage and trained to carry out the king's devious plans. The novel's conceit-that it offers Fitz's memoirs from childhood through adolescence-allows for several sequels. A gleaming debut in the crowded field of epic fantasies and Arthurian romances.
Princess Kiara Zamir in repulsed by those who perpetuate violence like the brutal attacks on her family. Nykyrian Quiakides, a hybrid human and Andarion (a predatory alien race), is a former assassin for The League, who now leads a group of vigilantes known as The Sentella. Ironically, Nykyrian's team finds themselves serving as protectors of Kiara against kidnappers and assassins, giving Kiara and Nykyrian, two broken individuals, a chance at romance-if they can survive. The story is fast-paced, with graphic violence and sex in almost equal amounts. Kenyon thrives when developing the relationship between the two protagonists, putting the focus on relationships rather than world-building, which may disappoint some readers.
For Azoth, survival is precarious. Something you never take for granted. As a guild rat, he's grown up in the slums, and learned to judge people quickly - and to take risks. Risks like apprenticing himself to Durzo Blint.
But to be accepted, Azoth must turn his back on his old life and embrace a new identity and name. As Kylar Stern, he must learn to navigate the assassins' world of dangerous politics and strange magics - and cultivate a flair for death.
Shivers, obsession, sleepless nights—these are the results not of one of the milder poisons that novice food-taster Yelena must learn during her harrowing job training but of newcomer Snyder's riveting fantasy that unites the intelligent political focus of George R.R. Martin with a subtle yet potent romance. Through a stroke of luck, Yelena escapes execution in exchange for tasting the food of the Commander, ruler of Ixia. Though confined to a dank prison cell and doomed to a painful death, Yelena slowly blooms again, caught up in castle politics. But some people are too impatient to wait for poison to finish off Yelena. With the help of Valek, her steely-nerved, cool-eyed boss and the Commander's head of security, she soon discovers that she has a starring role to play in Ixia's future—a role that could lead to her being put to death as a budding magician even if she hits each cue perfectly. The first in a series, this is one of those rare books that will keep readers dreaming long after they've read it.
Hm, most of these offerings ended up being fantasy. If you'd like to recommend some good science fiction reads featuring assassins, leave a comment and let us know about them!