Core Best Fantasy Lists
Best Yearly Lists
Best Decade Lists
Best Thematic Lists
Best Subgenre Lists
Fantasy Award Winners
Fantasy Guides
Movies & Games Lists
Fantasy Subgenres


img img img img img img img img

Assassin Fantasy

What is Assassin Fantasy?

The name of this sub-genre says it all—these are stories about assassins set within a fantasy world. Intrigue, secrecy, espionage, mystery, shadows, corruption—dark ideas and themes permeate the Assassin Fantasy sub-genre. The world these stories take place in are not happy ones. Indeed, the grey morality of an assassin is incredibly useful in these worlds.

Assassins have a unique ability to blend into the shadows and yet, they shape nations. While assassins have been around for centuries, it is only recently that this sub-genre of fiction has become popular—books, video games, movies, comics and more.

Other Features of Assassin Fantasy

  • Level of Magic

    Variable. Magic may be a part of the world, or not. The assassin may be a magic user, or may hunt down magic users.

  • Level of Grand Ideas and Social Implications

    Variable. Some stories focus more on character and therefore skip over wider social commentary. Others will expend much effort in discussions of morality and politics.

  • Level of Characterization

    Badass. Assassin Fantasy stories are character driven, so a well developed protagonist is key. Assassins are captivating characters who are not perfect, they have flaws. 

    There are some common types of assassins, which can be typecasting and lead to simple characters, but also has a lot of potential for development. 

    Professional Assassin: trained killers who see it as just a job and often belong to a guild (or similar organization) with a code, morally grey; another incarnation of this type is Puppet Masters, pulling strings from the shadows to protect people or gain power

    Reluctant/Inept Assassin: they don't want to kill people, or are hopelessly bad at it

    Honorable Assassin: sees assassination as a calling and has a strong sense of duty and personal honor, money is not the strongest motivator

    Moral Assassin: only kills those who they believe are deserving and leads to the greater good

    Hunter Assassin: trained to kill specific targets: magicians, supernatural creatures, morality isn't really a factor

  • Level of Plot Complexity

    High. Expect the stories to be intense with plenty of action. Twists and reveals that complicate the plot are also common to the plots of Assassin stories.

  • Level of Violence

    High. When the profession of a story's protagonist is killing people, violence is going to be a big component of the narrative.

Related Fantasy Subgenres




    Urban Fantasy. Urban and Assassin Fantasy share a gritty atmosphere and are natural complements.

  • Sword and Sorcery. Both sub-genres share several common features: Violence-check, excitement-check, romance-check, character driven-check.

  • Epic Fantasy. Assassins are often key players in Epic Fantasy, so while these sweeping stories may not focus on singular characters, assassins still play pivotal roles.

  • Young Adult Fantasy. Assassin Fantasy is becoming increasingly popular in the YA audience.

Assassin Fantasy Isn’t For You If...

If you don't like stories that center on people who kill other people, no matter the reason. This is a straightforward sub-genre, if you won't like it you probably know so already..

Popular Assassin Fantasy Books