Swashbuckling Fantasy Books

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A publicly ranked list of swashbuckling fantasy books
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1

The Three Musketeers

by Alexandre Dumas

Not fantasy, but this is the novel by which all swashbuckling fiction is measured, fantasy or not!
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The Princess Bride

by William Goldman

William Goldman's modern fantasy classic is a simple, exceptional story about quests—for riches, revenge, power, and, of course, true love—that's thrilling and timeless.

 

Anyone who lived through the 1980s may find it impossible—inconceivable, even—to equate The Princess Bride with anything other than the sweet, celluloid romance of Westley and Buttercup, but the film is only a fraction of the ingenious storytelling you'll find in these pages. Rich in character and satire, the novel is set in 1941 and framed cleverly as an “abridged” retelling of a centuries-old tale set in the fabled country of Florin that's home to “Beasts of all natures and descriptions. Pain. Death. Brave men. Coward men. Strongest men. Chases. Escapes. Lies. Truths. Passions.”

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Traitor's Blade

by Sebastien de Castell

With swashbuckling action that recall Dumas' Three Musketeers  Sebastien de Castell has created a dynamic new fantasy series. In Traitor’s Blade a disgraced swordsman struggles to redeem himself by protecting a young girl caught in the web of a royal conspiracy.

The King is dead, the Greatcoats have been disbanded, and Falcio Val Mond and his fellow magistrates Kest and Brasti have been reduced to working as bodyguards for a nobleman who refuses to pay them. Things could be worse, of course. Their employer could be lying dead on the floor while they are forced to watch the killer plant evidence framing them for the murder. Oh wait, that’s exactly what’s happening.

Now a royal conspiracy is about to unfold in the most corrupt city in the world. A carefully orchestrated series of murders that began with the overthrow of an idealistic young king will end with the death of an orphaned girl and the ruin of everything that Falcio, Kest, and Brasti have fought for. But if the trio want to foil the conspiracy, save the girl, and reunite the Greatcoats, they’ll have to do it with nothing but the tattered coats on their backs and the swords in their hands, because these days every noble is a tyrant, every knight is a thug, and the only thing you can really trust is a traitor’s blade.
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Lies Of Locke Lamora

by Scott Lynch

5 avg rating
“Remarkable . . . Scott Lynch’s first novel, The Lies of Locke Lamora, exports the suspense and wit of a cleverly constructed crime caper into an exotic realm of fantasy, and the result is engagingly entertaining.”—The Times (London)
 
An orphan’s life is harsh—and often short—in the mysterious island city of Camorr. But young Locke Lamora dodges death and slavery, becoming a thief under the tutelage of a gifted con artist. As leader of the band of light-fingered brothers known as the Gentleman Bastards, Locke is soon infamous, fooling even the underworld’s most feared ruler. But in the shadows lurks someone still more ambitious and deadly. Faced with a bloody coup that threatens to destroy everyone and everything that holds meaning in his mercenary life, Locke vows to beat the enemy at his own brutal game—or die trying.
 
Praise for The Lies of Locke Lamora
 
“Fresh, original, and engrossing . . . gorgeously realized.”—George R. R. Martin
 
“Right now, in the full flush of a second reading, I think The Lies of Locke Lamora is probably in my top ten favorite books ever. Maybe my top five. If you haven’t read it, you should. If you have read it, you should probably read it again.”—Patrick Rothfuss, New York Times bestselling author of The Name of the Wind

“A unique fantasy milieu peopled by absorbing, colorful characters . . . Locke’s wit and audacity endear him to victims and bystanders alike.”The Seattle Times
 
“A true genre bender, at home on almost any kind of fiction shelf . . . Lynch immediately establishes himself as a gifted and fearless storyteller, unafraid of comparisons to Silverberg and Jordan, not to mention David Liss and even Dickens.”Booklist (starred review)
 
“High-octane fantasy . . . a great swashbuckling yarn of a novel.”—Richard Morgan


From the Hardcover edition.

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The Blade Itself

by Joe Abercrombie

4 avg rating
Logen Ninefingers, infamous barbarian, has finally run out of luck. Caught in one feud too many, he’s on the verge of becoming a dead barbarian – leaving nothing behind him but bad songs, dead friends, and a lot of happy enemies.

Nobleman, dashing officer, and paragon of selfishness, Captain Jezal dan Luthar has nothing more dangerous in mind than fleecing his friends at cards and dreaming of glory in the fencing circle. But war is brewing, and on the battlefields of the frozen North they fight by altogether bloodier rules.

Inquisitor Glokta, cripple turned torturer, would like nothing better than to see Jezal come home in a box. But then Glokta hates everyone: cutting treason out of the Union one confession at a time leaves little room for friendship. His latest trail of corpses may lead him right to the rotten heart of government, if he can stay alive long enough to follow it.

Enter the wizard, Bayaz. A bald old man with a terrible temper and a pathetic assistant, he could be the First of the Magi, he could be a spectacular fraud, but whatever he is, he's about to make the lives of Logen, Jezal, and Glotka a whole lot more difficult.

Murderous conspiracies rise to the surface, old scores are ready to be settled, and the line between hero and villain is sharp enough to draw blood. Unpredictable, compelling, wickedly funny, and packed with unforgettable characters, The Blade Itself is noir fantasy with a real cutting edge.

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Treasure Island

by Robert Louis Stevenson

Another Swashbuckling classic. Not fantasy, but this is one of those books to compare all swashbuckling books to
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Vlad Taltos Series

by Steven Brust

When a Dragaeran employee absconds with more than two thousand imperials, Lord Vlad Taltos, must follow him to Dzur Mountain and face Sethra Lavode, a dangerous vampire
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Captain Blood

by Rafael Sabatini

Peter Blood is a physician and an English gentleman who becomes a pirate out of a rankling sense of injustice. Barely escaping the gallows after his arrest for treating wounded rebels who were fighting the oppressive King James, Blood flees England and becomes enslaved on a Barbados plantation of buccaneers. When he escapes, no ship sailing the Spanish Main is safe from Blood and his companions. Abounding with adventure, color, romance, and strong social commentary on the evils of slavery and the dangers of intolerance, this classic adventure is a story about how oppression drives men to desperate actions, how fate plays a hand in everyone's life, and how love is ultimately the greatest power of all.

For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.
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On Stranger Tides

by Tim Powers

“Powers writes action and adventure that Indiana Jones could only dream of.”
Washington Post

“Tim Powers is a brilliant writer.”
—William Gibson

The remarkable Tim Powers—who ingeniously married the John Le Carrè spy novel to the otherworldly in his critically acclaimed Declare—brings us pirate adventure with a dazzling difference. On Stranger Tides features Blackbeard, ghosts, voodoo, zombies, the fable Fountain of Youth…and more swashbuckling action than you could shake a cutlass at, as reluctant buccaneer John Shandy braves all manner of peril, natural and supernatural, to rescue his ensorcelled love. Nominated for the Locus and World Fantasy Awards, On Stranger Tides is the book that inspired the motion picture Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides—non-stop, breathtaking fiction from the genius imagination that conceived Last Call, Expiration Date, and Three Days to Never.

BSFA
World Fantasy
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Cyrano De Bergerac

by Edmond Rostand

Regarded as one of the greatest dramas ever written, Cyrano de Bergerac is the story of the silver-tongued soldier whose unfortunate looks drive him to woo his love by speaking for his handsome but dull-witted rival.

Cyrano de Bergerac occupies a unique place in the modern theater. Deliberately disavowing realism and contemporary relevance, Edmond Rostand’s masterpiece represents a turning back in both time and spirit to an earlier age of high adventure and soaring idealism. Its magnificent hero, Cyrano—noble of soul and grotesque in appearance, gallant Gascon soldier, brilliant wit, and timid lover, alternately comic, heroic, tragic—represents one of the most challenging of all acting roles in its complexity and mercurial changes of mood. From its original production to the present day, Cyrano de Bergerac has enjoyed a charmed existence on the stage, its unflagging pace of action and eloquence of language enchanting critics and public alike. Here, in a superlative translation, is the ultimate triumph of the great French romantic tradition—a work which, in the words of the French critic Lemaître, “prolongs, unites and blends…three centuries of comic fantasy and moral grace.”
 
Translated by Lowell Bair
With an Introduction by Eteel Lawson
and an Afterword by Cynthia B. Kerr
 
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Element Of Fire

by Martha Wells

4 avg rating
The kingdom of Ile-Rein lies in peril, menaced by sorcerous threats and devious court intrigues. As the weak King Roland, flattered and misled by treacherous companions, rules the country, only his ruthless mother, the Dowager Queen Ravenna, guards the safety of the realm. But now rumors arise that Urbain Grandier, the dark master of scientific sorcery, has arrived to plot against the throne. And Kade, bastard sister of King Roland, appears unexpectedly at court. The illegitimate daughter of the old king and the Queen of Air and Darkness herself, Kade's true desires are cloaked in mystery. Is she in league with the wizard Grandier? Or is she laying claim to the throne?

It falls to Thomas Boniface, Captain of the Queen's Guard and Ravenna's former lover, to sort out who is friend, who is foe in a deadly game to keep the Dowager Queen and the kingdom she loves from harm. But is one man's steel enough to counter all the magic of fayre?

Originally published by Tor Books in hardcover in 1993.
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Pirate Latitudes

by Michael Crichton

“Crichton’s ultimate adventure.”

San Francisco Chronicle

 

Pirates Latitudes has the loot: Gore, sex, action….A lusty, rollicking 17th century adventure.”
USA Today

 

“Riveting….Great entertainment….The pages and minutes fly by.”
Cleveland Plain Dealer

 

#1 New York Times bestselling author, the incomparable Michael Crichton (“One of the great storytellers of our age” —Newsday) takes to the high Caribbean seas for an irresistible adventure of swashbuckling pirates, lost treasure, sword fights, duplicity, and hair-breadth escapes in the New World.

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Codex Alera

by Jim Butcher

5 avg rating

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Legend

by David Gemmell

4 avg rating
Druss, Captain of the Axe, was the stuff of legends. But even as the stories grew in the telling, Druss himself grew older. He turned his back on his own legend and retreated to a mountain lair to await his old enemy, death. Meanwhile, barbarian hordes were on the march. Nothing could stand in their way. Druss reluctantly agreed to come out of retirement. But could even Druss live up to his own legends?

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Kings Blades

by Dave Duncan

As unwanted and rebellious boys, they find refuge in Ironhall....Years later they emerge as the finest swordsmen in the realm—A magical ritual of a sword through the heart binds each to his ward—if not the king himself, then to whomever else the monarch designates—with absolute loyalty.And the greatest Blade of them all was—and is—Sir Durendal.

But a lifelong dream of protecting his beloved liege from enemies, traitors, and monsters is dashed to bits when Durendal is bonded till death to an effete noble fop at his king's orders. Yet Destiny has many strange and inscrutable plans for the young knight—for a mission, a contest, and, perhaps, a treasure await him in a faraway land. But he soon finds himself enmeshed in treason and foul intrigues, compelled to betray the king he had hoped to serve. The Blades have ways to protect their own, but death and madness haunt the path to salvation—and few ever return unscathed. As unwanted and rebellious boys, they find refuge in Ironhall....Years later they emerge as the finest swordsmen in the realm—A magical ritual of a sword through the heart binds each to his ward—if not the king himself, then to whomever else the monarch designates—with absolute loyalty. And the greatest Blade of them all was—and is—Sir Durendal.

But a lifelong dream of protcting his beloved liege from enemies, traitors, and monsters is dashed to bits when Durendal is bonded till death to an effete noble fop at his king's orders. Yet Destiny has many strange and inscrutable plans for the young knight—for a mission, a contest, and, perhaps, a treasure await him in a faraway land. But he soon finds himself enmeshed in treasonand foul intrigues, compelled to betray the king he had hoped to serve. The Blades have ways to protect their own, but death and madness haunt the path to salvation—and few ever return unscathed.

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Throne Of The Crescent Moon

by Saladin Ahmed

A finalist for the Hugo, Nebula, Crawford, Gemmell, and British Fantasy Awards, and the winner of the Locus Award for Best First NovelThrone of the Crescent Moon is a fantasy adventure with all the magic of The Arabian Nights.

The Crescent Moon Kingdoms, home to djenn and ghuls, holy warriors and heretics, are at the boiling point of a power struggle between the iron-fisted Khalif and the mysterious master thief known as the Falcon Prince. In the midst of this brewing rebellion a series of brutal supernatural murders strikes at the heart of the Kingdoms. But these killings are only the earliest signs of a plot for the Throne of the Crescent Moon that threatens to turn the great city of Dhamsawwaat, and the world itself, into a blood-soaked ruin.
Nebula
Hugo
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Rigante Series

by David Gemmell

Fierce and proud, the Rigante dwell deep in the green mountain lands, worshiping the gods of air and water, and the spirits of the earth.  Among them lives a warrior who bears the mark of fate. Born of the storm that slew his father, he is Connavar, and tales of his courage spread like wildfire.

The Seidh--a magical race as old as time--take note of the young warrior and cast a malignant shadow across his life. For soon a merciless army will cross the water, destroying forever the timeless rhythms of life among the Rigante.

Swearing to protect his people, Connavar embarks on a quest that will take him into the heart of the enemy. Along the way, he receives a gift: a sword as powerful and deadly as the Seidh who forged it. Thus he receives a name that will strike fear into the hearts of friend and foe alike--a name proclaiming a glorious and bitter destiny . . .

Demonblade.
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Death Of The Necromancer

by Wells M.

Master criminal Nicholas steals jewels from wealthy nobles to finance his quest for vengeance: the murder of evil Count Montesq, the man responsible for Nicholas' beloved godfather's death. But now Nicholas's mission has been interrupted by a series of eerie, unexplainable--even fatal--events.
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Peter And The Starcatchers

by Dave Barry


Don'teven think of starting this bookunless you're sitting in a comfortable chair and have lots of time. Afast-paced, impossible-to-put-down adventure awaits as the young orphan Peterand his mates are dispatched to an island ruled by the evil King Zarboff. Theyset sail aboard the Never Land, a ship carrying a precious and mysterious trunk inits cargo hold, and the journey quickly becomes fraught with excitement anddanger.

Discoverrichly developed characters in the sweet but sophisticated Molly, the scary butfamiliar Black Stache, and the fearless Peter. Treacherous battles withpirates, foreboding thunderstorms at sea, and evocative writing immerses thereader in a story that slowly and finally reveals the secrets and mysteries ofthe beloved Peter Pan.
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