Tor.com content by

Jeff Wheeler

Five Books Where Assassins Are the Good Guys

I’ve been fascinated by assassins ever since learning about their medieval origins during the Crusades. These interesting fellows were led by the mysterious “Old Man in the Mountain” and wreaked mayhem because of how they infiltrated places of trust. Assassins are the secretive warriors of death, trained with uncanny fighting skills and the various weaknesses of the human body and mind. Throughout my novels, these characters are woven into the storylines with new names such as Sleepwalkers, the Kishion, and most currently, Poisoners. Assassins can get into places that are all but impossible. They are deadly with weapons, with just their hands, or with a little crushed powder. They infiltrate enemy lairs and use disguises to trick the senses.

But what I really find fascinating are novels that use them to help out the good guys. They can be the main hero or sometimes just a supporting role. They are often conflicted because of the beauty they see in life and how often they participate in the release of death. They are a spice to the stew that is savory and interesting to me. These are some of my favorites.

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Series: Five Books About…

Falling Off a Cliffhanger in Terry Brooks’ The Elfstones of Shannara

I have always been drawn to intelligent villains who don’t fall for the Evil Overlord tricks. But even more, I’m drawn to books that keep me up way too late at night, and I can trace this fixation back to 8th grade.

Let me paint the picture. I had borrowed The Elfstones of Shannara from the library. As I started reading it, I made a series of predictions about how the story would end. One by one, the author toppled those assumptions and then jerked me into a perilous journey that left me sitting bolt-upright, eyes wide and straining to read by a humming fluorescent bulb, devouring each scene that got progressively more intense. And this was less than a hundred pages into the book.

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Series: That Was Awesome! Writers on Writing