10 Intriguing Fantasy Books About Spies and Espionage

Whether it’s for their mystery, suspense or something else, fantasy books with spies mesmerize readers. Some are set in royal courts, others in armies or even secret schools.

Are you curious what books are out there? If so, today’s post has what you’re looking for.

Here are 10 intriguing fantasy books about spies and espionage to read:

I’ve included book descriptions, readers’ ratings and summaries of positive and negative comments for each book below. 

On the other hand, if you’d like a quick summary, here’s a comparison chart.

The Ambassador’s Mission by Trudi Canavan


Sonea, once the despised commoner in the Magicians’ Guild, is now a Black Magician of Kyralia. Though she is now part of the establishment, she comes to find that the past is not so easily left behind… 

Lorkin, Sonea’s rebellious son, has volunteered to join the formidable Lord Dannyl in his new post as Guild Ambassador to Sachaka – a land ruled by cruel, slave-owning black magicians. There is suspicion that some of the Sachakans still harbor dreams of conquest, so when word comes that Lorkin has gone missing, Sonea is desperate to find him. However, Guild law states that if a Black Magician leaves the city he or she will be exiled forever. 

As she fears for her missing son, Sonea dedicates herself to helping her old friend Cery. For some time, there has been fear and paranoia on the streets of Imardin. Leading thieves have been dying under irregular circumstances. The need to discover who has been picking off the leading thieves of the city is now a very personal crusade – one that Sonea must aid, for the killer appears to be using magic. 

Either a member of the Guild is leading a double life as a hired killer, or there is – once again – a rogue magician on the streets of Imardin…

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating3.92

Most Common Rating: 4

Positive Comments

Next on our list of fantasy books with spies and espionage is The Ambassador’s Mission, the first book in the Traitor Spy trilogy. While this trio is a sequel to the earlier Black Magician trilogy, fans reported that new readers will be well at home and don’t need to be familiar with the prequel.

Enthralled by The Ambassador’s Mission‘s ever-growing mystery story, readers praised the story as full of excitement. The multi-layered plot treated them to a political thriller, murder mystery and adventure. Having all three at the same time gave the book a wonderful complexity as well as different reasons to love it. 

Aside from that, fans described Sonea as a fantastic protagonist. Those familiar with her from the prequel trilogy said she was an authentic portrayal of an older, more mature Sonea. Other readers said that the way she made mistakes, grew and more made her come across as well-fleshed out and life-like.

Negative Comments

If readers didn’t enjoy The Ambassador’s Mission, what did they say?

Overall, critics tended to either say that the mystery was predictable to them or that the characters didn’t interest them. 

Trickster’s Choice by Tamora Pierce


When you gamble with kingdoms, all bets are off.

Aly is from a family known for great deeds. She is the daughter of Alanna, the famed knight and King’s Champion of Tortall. But even though she is bold and brave, like her mother, her true talents lie on her father’s side, in the art of spying.

When Aly is captured by pirates and sold as a slave to an exiled royal family in the faraway Copper Isles, she strikes a bargain with the trickster god. If she can keep young noblewomen Sarai and Dove safe for the summer, then he will return Aly to her family.

The task should be simple, but Sarai and Dove are anything but. It’s a time of murderous plotting at court, and Aly will need to rely on her training and the insights of a strange young man named Nawat to survive in a world where trust can cost you your life.

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 4.21

Most Common Rating: 5

Positive Comments

Second on our list of fantasy books with spies and espionage is Trickster’s Choice

Fans said this exciting novel is jam-packed with intrigue, disguises and secrecy, something they loved. The plot kept them guessing and its unexpected twists kept them racing through the pages. 

In addition, these readers praised its characters. Describing Aly as intelligent, sassy and kind, they described her as a wonderful protagonist to follow. Others were delighted by Dove and Sarai, whose growth, dreams and unique personalities made them easy to empathize with and root for. Together, the trio enthralled fans.

Negative Comments

No book is without its critics, including Trickster’s Choice. If readers didn’t enjoy this book, what did they say?

For the most part, these readers had two comments. The first was that Aly wasn’t presented as having flaws, even when it seemed she acted on a character flaw. Similar to that, some said she didn’t seem psychologically affected by being sold into slavery.

Other readers didn’t like the story’s setup, which they interpreted as a White Savior scenario. Because of this, they felt the book mishandled its racial politics and didn’t enjoy the novel.

Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger


It’s one thing to learn to curtsy properly. It’s quite another to learn to curtsy and throw a knife at the same time. Welcome to Finishing School.

Fourteen-year-old Sophronia is a great trial to her poor mother. Sophronia is more interested in dismantling clocks and climbing trees than proper manners – and the family can only hope that company never sees her atrocious curtsy.

Mrs. Temminnick is desperate for her daughter to become a proper lady. So she enrolls Sophronia in Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality. 

But Sophronia soon realizes the school is not quite what her mother might have hoped. At Mademoiselle Geraldine’s, young ladies learn to finish…everything. Certainly, they learn the fine arts of dance, dress, and etiquette, but they also learn to deal out death, diversion, and espionage – in the politest possible ways, of course.

Sophronia and her friends are in for a rousing first year’s education. 

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 3.81

Most Common Rating: 4

Positive Comments

Third on our list of fantasy books with spies and espionage is Etiquette & Espionage. This novel entertained fans with its lighthearted adventure tale and its fascinating steampunk world.

According to these readers, it’s a fun story that doesn’t take itself too seriously, peppered with humor and charm. Moreover, they described the school and the world as reminding them of a spy version of Hogwarts. While the book features the manners, dress and expectations of a Regency and Industrial-inspired society, its supernatural elements created an intriguing magical atmosphere.

Lead through the story by intelligent, spirited characters, readers found exploring Etiquette & Espionage’s unique world a delight. 

Negative Comments

If readers didn’t enjoy Etiquette & Espionage, what did they say? Typically, critics focused on the book’s plot. Some described it as slow, while others thought that nothing much happened.

Kingdom of Ash and Soot by C.S. Johnson


Everyone Lies. 

PRAGUE, 1870.

For the last ten years, nineteen-year-old Eleanora Svobodová has worked as a servant in her stepmother’s household. Along with her older brother, she dreams of the day they will be free to live life on their own terms.

But everything changes when their estranged grandmother comes to Prague on behalf of Queen Victoria. Throughout Bohemia, a string of murders and secret whispers hint at a larger coup.

As the leader of the Order of the Crystal Daggers, an ancient order of spies and soldiers that protect kingdoms and their rulers, Lady Penelope is determined to discover the perpetrators.

Now, Eleanora must make the choice between a life of intrigue and saving the lives of others.

Can Eleanora find a way do the right thing and still find freedom?

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 4.22

Most Common Rating: 5

Positive Comments

Next on our list of fantasy books with spies and espionage is The Kingdom of Ash and Soot. Readers said that this story’s refreshing setting as well as its twist on the classic Cinderella tale and its characters enchanted them.

Action-packed and atmospheric, Eleanora’s journey from servant girl to deadly assassin immediately had fans wondering what would happen next. They also mentioned that The Kingdom of Ash and Soot features a sweet, banter-filed romance that made them truly feel for the couple.

Negative Comments

If readers didn’t enjoy The Kingdom of Ash and Soot, they typically said it was because the story slowed in the middle.

Others, though, mentioned that they were bothered by Eleanora’s naivete. These readers expected her to outgrow this by the end of the book and were disappointed that she didn’t.

Sunbolt by Intisar Khanani


The winding streets and narrow alleys of Karolene hide many secrets, and Hitomi is one of them. Orphaned at a young age, Hitomi has learned to hide her magical aptitude and who her parents really were.

Most of all, she must conceal her role in the Shadow League, an underground movement working to undermine the powerful and corrupt Arch Mage Wilhelm Blackflame. 

When the League gets word that Blackflame intends to detain — and execute — a leading political family, Hitomi volunteers to help the family escape. But there are more secrets at play than Hitomi’s, and much worse fates than execution. When Hitomi finds herself captured along with her charges, it will take everything she can summon to escape with her life. 

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating4.23

Most Common Rating: 5

Positive Comments

Another story on our list of fantasy books with spies and espionage is Sunbolt. This short, fast-paced novel seized readers from page one and engaged them throughout the entire story. Fans particularly praised Hitomi, its protagonist, as well as its refreshing, seamless world-building.

Hitomi won them over with her intelligence, resourcefulness and resilience. Several fans mentioned how they admired her strength, particularly in moments where she experienced prejudice for her biracial heritage. Moreover, in a genre where many protagonists are powerful warriors, readers enjoyed seeing her use her wits to overcome challenges rather than combat skills.

Other fans raved about the story’s world building, which captivated them with its richness and creativity. It included many of readers’ favorite elements: magic, supernatural creatures, and politics. Not only did these aspects of the world mesh seamlessly together, but the magic stood out as especially convincing. Though it inspired awe, it also felt dangerous.

Negative Comments

What did critics of Sunbolt say? For the most part, these readers focused on the characters and the plot.

In terms of the characters, critics typically said they couldn’t connect with the protagonist. This made it difficult for them to invest in the story.

As for the plot, critics described it as feeling either incomplete or as more of a setup for the next book. Some mentioned that this was because the story brought up several plot threads but didn’t complete them. Others, however, said that the incomplete threads made it seem like the book diverted into too many directions.

The Hills Have Spies by Mercedes Lackey


In this new series, set in the bestselling world of Valdemar, Heralds Mags and Amily must continue to protect the realm of Valdemar while raising their children and preparing them to follow in their footsteps.

Mags, Herald Spy of Valdemar, and his wife, Amily, the King’s Own Herald, are happily married with three kids. The oldest, Peregrine, has the Gift of Animal Mindspeech — he can talk to animals and persuade them to act as he wishes. Perry’s dream is to follow in his father’s footsteps as a Herald Spy, but he has yet to be Chosen by a Companion.

Mags is more than happy to teach Perry all he knows. He regularly trains his children, including Perry, with tests and exercises, preparing them for the complicated and dangerous lives they will likely lead. Perry has already held positions in the Royal Palace as a runner and in the kitchen, useful places where he can learn to listen and collect information.

But there is growing rural unrest in a community on the border of Valdemar. A report filled with tales of strange disappearances and missing peddlers is sent to Haven by a Herald from the Pelagirs.

To let Perry experience life away from home and out in the world, Mags proposes that his son accompany him on an expedition to discover what is really going on.

During their travels, Perry’s Animal Mindspeech allows him to communicate with the local wildlife of the Pelagirs, whose connection to the land aids in their investigation. But the details he gleans from the creatures only deepen the mystery.

As Perry, Mags, and their animal companions draw closer to the heart of the danger, they must discover the truth behind the disappearances at the border — before those disappearances turn deadly.

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating3.64

Most Common Rating: 5

Positive Comments

Next on our list of fantasy books with spies and espionage is The Hills Have Spies. What did fans say?

Overall, they praised The Hills Have Spies as a warm, comforting tale featuring a compelling father and son relationship, coming of age story line, and adventure.

Unlike its grittier counterparts, The Hills Have Spies struck readers as a wholesome read that made them appreciate the simple things in life. For instance, a soft bed, good food and more.

While the book had excitement and danger, it’s ultimately a story where goodness triumphs over evil and there is a happily ever after. Fans considered this a wonderful highlight.

Negative Comments

What did critics say? In general, these readers mentioned two reasons for why they didn’t enjoy The Hills Have Spies.

The first was that they didn’t think the story conveyed a sense of urgency, even though the stakes were high. Because of this, they didn’t feel a strong desire to know what would happen next.

The second was that several of the characters’ decisions or plot events seemed artificial rather than, say, true to their personalities.

The Assassins of Tamurin by S.D. Tower


The river god had spared the infant girl the villagers found drifting on a boat with a dead man and dying woman, so the superstitious townsfolk believed it would be a sacrilege to let the child die as well.

The name Lale, meaning “lucky,” is the last good thing they give her, and she grows up abused, unloved, and resented – until, at age eleven, she comes to the attention of Makina Seval, “Mother Midnight,” the absolute ruler of the Despotate of Tamurin.

Enrolled in Three Springs, the Despotana’s special school for orphaned and unwanted girls, young Lale finally finds what she has always coveted: respect, affection, community . . . a home.

But Three Springs is an institution of dark and shadowy purpose, a place where the wards of Mother Midnight are trained to become perfect spies and cold-blooded, ruthlessly efficient killers. And Lale has learned her lessons well.

At age twenty, she stands poised to play her role in the Despotana’s grandest scheme: vengeance.

Years earlier Makina Seval’s entire family – including her infant son, the rightful heir to the Bethiyan throne – was brutally slain through the plots of a devious chancellor, who then raised up a young usurper to be the Sun Lord.

Now it is Lale’s duty to insinuate her way into the court – and the bed – of that same usurper, Terem Rathai, no longer a child but a powerful and dangerous foe. And after she has earned Terem’s trust, Lale is to kill him.

Bound by the blackest sorcery to remain loyal to her beloved Mother, Lale will suffer nightmarish torment – even death – if she fails.

But once enmeshed in the web of deceit and treachery that has been spun around her, the young assassin begins to doubt the righteousness of her sworn mission.

For not only will the Despotana’s grand design bring doom upon the world itself, there hangs over Lale yet another appalling catastrophe — one that threatens all that she is, all she has ever believed.

Lale has fallen in love with the man she must destroy. . . .

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 3.89

Most Common Rating: 4

Positive Comments

The Assassins of Tamurin is another fantasy book with spies and espionage that gripped readers. With its vividly cast world and Asian-inspired setting, this fantasy novel tells a coming of age story through first-person narration.

Readers said that this made it easy for them to connect with Lale, the protagonist, and root for her as she begins to question how she’d been raised and who she wants to become.

Others mentioned that they appreciated the novel’s fleshed out culture and social backdrop. In tandem with Lale’s convincing character growth, this had several readers reflecting on similar real-life situations throughout world history.

Negative Comments

What did readers who didn’t enjoy The Assassins of Tamurin say?

Several commented that despite the first-person narration, the story seemed to keep Lale’s motivations and reactions at a distance. Even as events affect her, her emotions aren’t mentioned.

These readers said that this made it difficult to feel attached to Lale and where the story might take her.

Other readers seemed to come in with the expectation that this would be an action-packed adventure. These readers expected daring escapades, assassin training and pages that bristled with secret killings. As such, these readers felt disappointed when The Assassins of Tamurin resembled a coming of age story.

Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder


Choose: A quick deathor slow poison…

About to be executed for murder, Yelena is offered an extraordinary reprieve. She’ll eat the best meals, have rooms in the palace — and risk assassination by anyone trying to kill the Commander of Ixia.

And so Yelena chooses to become a food taster. But the chief of security, leaving nothing to chance, deliberately feeds her Butterfly’s Dust — and only by appearing for her daily antidote will she delay an agonizing death from the poison.

As Yelena tries to escape her new dilemma, disasters keep mounting. Rebels plot to seize Ixia and Yelena develops magical powers she can’t control. Her life is threatened again and choices must be made. But this time the outcomes aren’t so clear…

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 4.15

Most Common Rating: 5

Positive Comments

Anothery story on our list of fantasy books with spies and espionage is Poison Study. What did fans say?

Overall, these readers praised the romantic chemistry between Yelena, the tenacious and determined female lead, and Valek, the stoic assassin, describing it as gripping.

They also mentioned the exciting premise and enthused over the main character’s moral and psychological depth.

Negative Comments

What did critics say? In general, readers who didn’t rate Poison Study said that the language of the story jarred them by alternating between older ‘historical’ verbiage and a modern one.

Along a similar vein, it also tended to be straight to the point – some readers felt that it made the emotions in the story feel flat. Others said that the slow-burn approach to the romance wasn’t their preferred style.

Age of Assassins by R.J. Barker


To catch an assassin, use an assassin…

Book cover of Age of Assassins

Girton Club-foot, apprentice to the land’s best assassin, still has much to learn about the art of taking lives.

But his latest mission tasks him and his master with a far more difficult challenge: to save a life.

Someone, or many someones, is trying to kill the heir to the throne, and it is up to Girton and his master to uncover the traitor and prevent the prince’s murder.

In a kingdom on the brink of civil war and a castle thick with lies Girton finds friends he never expected, responsibilities he never wanted, and a conspiracy that could destroy an entire kingdom.

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 3.98

Most Common Rating: 4

Positive Comments

Last on the list of fantasy books with spies and espionage is Age of Assassins.

This assassin story is jam-packed with mystery and political intrigue. Readers who enjoyed the book came in expecting it to be similar to Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb, a novel they also loved. They weren’t disappointed: it’s a character-driven story with a main character who’s easy to empathize with.

Moreover, readers remarked that the master-apprentice relationship between Girton and Merela was both heartwarming and a highlight.

Other readers mentioned that they greatly enjoyed the plot, a rare combination of a mystery and a traditional fantasy. Not only did these readers find it made the book unique, but it also captivated them.

Negative Comments

So if readers didn’t enjoy Age of Assassins, what did they say? Well, most of these reader expected a thriller bristling with anti-heroes, electrifying fight scenes and a game of cat-and-mouse. Since Age of Assassins is very much a character-driven novel, it didn’t match their expectations.

Other readers said that they thought the mystery plot didn’t have enough suspense. Due to this, these readers found it difficult to get deeply interested in the story until toward the end of the book.

The Traitor’s Kiss by Erin Beaty


An obstinate girl who will not be married. A soldier desperate to prove himself. A kingdom on the brink of war.

With a sharp tongue and an unruly temper, Sage Fowler is not what they’d call a lady―which is perfectly fine with her. Deemed unfit for marriage, Sage is apprenticed to a matchmaker and tasked with wrangling other young ladies to be married off for political alliances. She spies on the girls―and on the soldiers escorting them.

As the girls’ military escort senses a political uprising, Sage is recruited by a handsome soldier to infiltrate the enemy ranks. The more she discovers as a spy, the less certain she becomes about whom to trust―and Sage becomes caught in a dangerous balancing act that will determine the fate of her kingdom.

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 3.97

Most Common Rating: 4

Postive Comments

Last on our list of fantasy books with spies and espionage is The Traitor’s Kiss. This multi-faceted novel dazzled fans with its layered plot, fiery protagonist and authentic romance.

Sporting sharp wit and observational skills, Sage was a breath of fresh air to these readers. They loved how she saved the day through her intelligence rather than through her fists. Seeing her maneuver through her various disguises and pull of espionage thrilled them.

Moreover, the chemistry between her and Ash captivated fans. Describing it as gradual growth rather than love-at-first-sight, these readers were excited to watch their relationship grow.

Negative Comments

 If readers didn’t enjoy The Traitor’s Kiss, what did they say?

Well, critics typically had two reasons for disliking the story. The first was that they thought the story’s pace was slow and as such, the book didn’t keep their attention.

The second reason was the portrayal of women and what they saw as Sage’s chauvinism. Sage’s frequent belittlement of other women frustrated critics. However, overall, they described the novel as pitting Sage  – portrayed as intelligent, deep and likeable – against all the other women in the cast – portrayed as catty, vain and superficial. 

Because of this, these readers said it seemed like Sage was supposed to be special because she was the ‘exception to the rule’ for her gender rather than special for who she was as a person.

10 Intriguing Fantasy Books About Spies and Espionage

How Do These Fantasy Novels Compare?

10 Intriguing Fantasy Books About Spies and Espionage


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