The Gentleman Bastard series by Scott Lynch introduces readers to a world of deceit, thieving, and elaborate raids, set against a wonderfully detailed epic fantasy backdrop.
The hero Locke Lamora, a quick-witted orphan and a master thief, outsmarts his elders to gain control of the city of Camorr, pulling off one outrageous heist after another and heading his own crew of gifted thieves. But is he fully in control, or just another pawn in the city's nefarious power politics?
If you love books with compelling con artists, political intrigue, fast-paced action, and intricate worldbuilding, then these fantasy books like the Gentleman Bastard Sequence just might steal your heart.
The Name of the Wind
The first book in the Kingkiller Chronicles, Name of the Wind tells the story of the charismatic and infamous Kvothe—a young boy who grows up to be a very powerful magician.
Told in a series of flashbacks, the book recounts his childhood spent amidst a troupe of traveling performers, then the years he spends in the slums as a beggar and pickpocket until he finally attains magical training at a university.
Like Locke Lamora, Kvothe has no one to rely on but himself and his wits, making his journey to a ‘kingkiller’ very compelling.
Thieves' World® Volume One
Thieves’ World: Volume One is set in a shared fantasy universe that was created by Robert Lynn Asprin in 1978. The series brings together some of the genre’s finest authors such as Poul Anderson, John Brunner and C.J. Cherryh, as they each weave stories about the citizens of Sanctuary, which is located at the cusp of the Rankan Empire.
If you’ve never read anything set in a ‘shared world’ before, this compendium is the perfect place to start.
Mistborn: The Final Empire
Mistborn: The Final Empire tells the story of one man’s dream to topple an authoritarian regime, and how he skillfully inspires and trains a small group of people to help him achieve his vision, no matter the cost.
Sanderson devises a very unique magic system— “alomancy”—and much of the novel deals with the planning and execution of a heist. Set in the author’s wider Cosmere universe, The Final Empire is sure to appeal to lovers of fantasy, and is packed with action and plausible worldbuilding.
The Adventures of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser Volume One
Fritz Leiber was the writer who coined the term ‘sword and sorcery,’ and is widely regarded as one of the founding fathers of the subgenre.
Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser are two of the most well-known protagonists of his stories—the former is a seven-foot-tall barbarian with a penchant for singing and sword fighting, while the latter is a shorter thief with some skills in magic.
Together, the two rogues embark on several adventures, maturing as characters over the years. The Adventures of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser collects their most memorable escapades in a definitive volume.
Spanning a variety of genres, Rogues is an anthology of 21 short stories featuring con men, scoundrels, thieves, and anti-heroes.
This collection even features "The Rogue Prince, or, a King’s Brother" by George R. R. Martin, a story that chronicles the life and notorious exploits of Daemon Targaryen. Daemon is one of the key players (portrayed by Matt Smith) in HBO’s House of The Dragon—the prequel to Game of Thrones that has already taken the internet by storm.
The Laurentine Spy
The Laurentine Spy tells the story of Saliel—a spy with a past who is also secretly a witch. She wishes to quit her espionage career and retire in a cottage by the sea. But society with its network of Spycatchers has other plans…
If you’re in the mood for a spy thriller with dollops of adventure and romance, set in a British Regency/Victorian era, give this Emily Gee novel a read.
The Mask of Mirrors
The Mask of Mirrors follows a young woman’s carefully-plotted attempts to impersonate the nobility for personal and professional gain. Along the way, she and her companion are wrapped up in an even deeper conspiracy.
If you love stories with intricate worldbuilding, Gothic aesthetics, masquerades, and complex high society, you will fall in love with the twists and turns in this slow-building narrative.
The Traitor Baru Cormorant
An absolute gem of a novel, Seth Dickinson’s debut Traitor Baru Cormorant (based on a short story he published in Beneath Ceaseless Skies) deftly tackles imperialism, homosexuality, and neurodivergence, among other complex themes.
It unfolds the story of one ambitious and ruthless woman’s desire to subvert the Empire from within. But Baru Cormorant knows she is playing the long game, and it will take countless betrayals, blackmails, and sacrifices to achieve her end goal.
Bonus: The novel also has a delicious, smoldering slow-burn sapphic romance, if you squint!
The Bastard King
Harry Turtledove’s tale starts off with two very different characters—a bastard son of a King, and the Captain of a Royal Navy barge. But as the narrative progresses, their paths collide in the most unexpected but memorable ways…
Together, Lanius and Grus must decide the fate of the kingdom before it is too late.
If you prefer YA with some court intrigue, you can’t go wrong with The Queen’s Thief series by Megan Whaler Turner.
The first book, The Thief, introduces the reader to Gen (who is tasked with stealing a precious stone from a remote and inaccessible temple), along with the fraught tensions between the various nations.
The later books explore the power dynamics more deeply, as Gen himself evolves from being a simple thief to someone whose decisions may avert or escalate a war.
Six of Crows
After the success of the Shadow and Bone trilogy, Leigh Bardugo returned to the beloved Grishaverse world to pen further stories, including a duology (Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom) in which the main character is a criminal prodigy.
Kaz Brekker is the 17-year-old leader of the Crows—a group of ragtag teenagers with different skills, who embark on various death-defying missions.
More than the raids, kidnappings, and heists, it is the friendships and love stories that blossom between the characters which makes the books extremely entertaining and engaging to read.
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