Swashbucklers, Rogues and Assassins: The Bad Boys of Fantasy


The bad boys of Fantasy, like the buddy cop flicks we all love, are full of friendship, ribald comments, one-upmanship and enough jokes to lighten up the darkest story. Set in places that range from the epic to the intriguing, their exploits run the gamut from world-ending to a simple heist gone hilariously wrong. Whatever these guys get up to for their clients, you can be certain of one thing: you’re in for a fun ride.  Without further ado, I bring you the bad boys of fantasy.

Royce & Hadrian


Royce and Hadrian’s exploits are penned by Michael J. Sullivan in his Riyria Chronicles series and in the Riyria Revelations series. The Riyria Chronicles series covers the twenty year period between the boys’ founding their unique partnership and the events in the Riyria Revelation series. Mr. Sullivan will keep writing those prequels as long as fans request them and I will keep requesting more. I love these guys!

So what’s Riyria all about? It stars warrior Hadrian Blackwater and thieving ex-assassin Royce Melborn. The two form a less-than-friendly pairing that turns into a long running friendship that is tested by their employers, some of the jobs they are paid to do, Hadrian’s conscience and all manner of things both accidental and planned by their foes. Yet the guys always win through at the end, though sometimes they are the worse for wear.

Not sure if these guys appeal to you? Pick up a novella for FREE and get yourself hooked on them: The Jester, Professional Integrity. Then go directly to either the first book in the Riyria Chronicles, The Crown Tower, or start in on the epic adventure that first introduced them: A Theft of Swords.

Egil & Nix


I discovered Egil and Nix in the short story A Better Man as part of the anthology Blackguards: Tales of Assassins, Mercenaries, and Rogues which I had bought solely because it advertised a new tale about Riyria. I loved A Better Man. Witty dialogue, insults that were both creative and intelligent plus a fast paced story that centered around two unlikely friends. It was love at first listen. So I stopped Blackguards and picked up The Hammer and the Blade where Egil and Nix’s story began and I’m glad I did.
So who are these guys? Well Egil is a hammer toting warrior-priest and Nix is his sword bearing, gewgaw owning, sneak thief buddy. Their adventures are straight up sword and sorcery with a lot of tongue in cheek comedy. In The Hammer and the Blade, their mission is simple and leaves so much room for magical gewgaws to go wrong.

All they want to do is Kill the demon, steal the treasure, and retire to a life of luxury. That plan goes horribly awry leading to some very interesting plot twists that tests the boys’ mettle. Go on and pick up the novella A Better Man or pick up book one, The Hammer and the Blade. You won’t be sorry that you did.

Alec and Seregil


The Nightrunner series by Llynn Flewelling offers up a partnership with a twist, one I’ll let you discover in book one on your own because that twist affects books two and all the books that follow. That twist plays not much of a role in book one if memory serves. It starts with Luck in the Shadows which starts out as a coming of age tale. Once Alec comes into his own and the plot gets thick enough to hack through with a two-handed broadsword, he teams up with his mentor–spy, rogue, thief, and noble–Seregil of Rhiminee to thwart their foes. 

The Gentlemen Bastards


Locke and Jean are the Gentlement Bastards. The series is written by Michael Page. They are a group of orphans whose light-fingered ways lead them to notoriety and a lot of trouble. The fun begins with book one, The Lies of Locke Lamora, which tells the tale of how Locke came to join the Gentlemen Bastards and to eventually lead them into the kind of high stakes trouble that kills. This close knit group of petty thieves ends up taking on the crime world’s new kingpin to right an egregious wrong. Full of lighthearted friendship and epic danger, these boys’ antics will have your pulse racing and your nails bitten to the quick.

Be forewarned though, Page chose an interesting method for telling Locke’s story. Instead of shooting straight from beginning to end, Page intersperses scenes of the adult Locke with interludes that dive back into his past and those of the principle members of the Gentlemen Bastards. The book is really good, though at times the proliferation of interludes gets annoying and interrupts the narrative flow. However, the end more than makes up for the interruptions.

That’s all for now. I’m always looking for the next great listen. Did my list of bad boys and team ups miss out on a series you adore? Let me know! Be sure to check back next Friday when we take a look at camaraderie under fire in the realm of fantasy again but this time, it takes a group to save the world.