6 Intriguing Fantasy Books With Mystery to Read


Fantasy books with mystery plots or elements add an intriguing twist to the genre. These novels may have exciting action and deep characters, but they generally trade the more common fantasy quest for a battle of wits.

Here are six great fantasy books with mystery to read:

I’ve included books descriptions, ratings and a summary of what readers said below. In addition, here’s a comparison chart of all these stories side-by-side.


Age of Assassins by R.J. Barker

Description

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: 3.96

Most Common Rating: 4

Positive Comments

First on our list of fantasy books with mystery 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

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 Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison

Description

The youngest, half-goblin son of the Emperor has lived his entire life in exile, distant from the Imperial Court and the deadly intrigue that suffuses it.

But when his father and three sons in line for the throne are killed in an “accident,” he has no choice but to take his place as the only surviving rightful heir.

Entirely unschooled in the art of court politics, he has no friends, no advisors, and the sure knowledge that whoever assassinated his father and brothers could make an attempt on his life at any moment.

Surrounded by sycophants eager to curry favor with the naïve new emperor, and overwhelmed by the burdens of his new life, he can trust nobody.

Amid the swirl of plots to depose him, offers of arranged marriages, and the specter of the unknown conspirators who lurk in the shadows, he must quickly adjust to life as the Goblin Emperor.

All the while, he is alone, and trying to find even a single friend . . . and hoping for the possibility of romance, yet also vigilant against the unseen enemies that threaten him, lest he lose his throne – or his life.

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 4.03

Most Common Rating: 5

Positive Comments

Another fantasy book about mystery is The Goblin Emperor. Rather than an action-packed tale about battles and wars, this story captivated readers with court intrigue and a coming of age story.

As for the mystery plot, this takes place as the protagonist tries to discover who assassinated his father and brothers – and who might try to assassinate him.

Fans praised the book for giving them Maia, the kindhearted main character. Especially given the current slew of grim dark fantasy novels around, he stood out to them as a refreshing change.

He’s a noble and heroic character that they immediately bonded with and wanted to see succeed. In particular, his efforts to improve his new kingdom him and serve his people endeared him to them.

Other readers mentioned the world-building. Some mentioned the nuanced way characters spoke to each other, which took into account the social standing of the person they conversed with. Others mentioned the description of court life. But in either case, readers thought the world was fascinating and vividly realized.

Negative Comments

So why didn’t critics like The Goblin Emperor? Overall, readers tended to cite either the plot or the way the author used language to portray court life.

In terms of the plot, critics said that it meandered: there didn’t seem to be a connecting thread between the events or an ultimate point the plot drove toward.

Others, though, were frustrated by the terminology the story used in its dialogue. For instance, Maia would use the royal ‘we’ instead of ‘I’ to refer to himself when he acted in the capacity of a monarch. While this was and is standard protocol for kings and queens, it nevertheless was too off-putting for critics.

Similarly, some were either confused or bothered by how the story used both ‘you’ (formal second person) and ‘thou’ (informal second person). While there’s a historical basis for using the terms, these readers found it grating.


The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch

Description

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.

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 4.30

Most Common Rating: 5

Positive Comments 

Next on our list is The Lies of Locke Lamora. Readers who rated this electrifying novel  highly praised its dark humor as well as how fun the schemes and the gang’s camaraderie was to read. White it starts off as more of a caper story, the book shifts to a mystery plot in its later portions.

Aside from that, others mentioned that they liked that the author didn’t shy away from making the world-building violent or dark; it gave the story a sense of realism and depth they appreciated.

Negative Comments

What about critics? Well, readers who didn’t enjoy The Lies of Locke Lamora often mentioned that they found it lingered too long on descriptions of the world. To them, it felt like digressions.

The story is also told from both the present and the past – readers either perceived this as either increasing the tension or interrupting the fast-pace.


The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

Description

My name is Kvothe.

I have stolen princesses back from sleeping barrow kings. I burned down the town of Trebon. I have spent the night with Felurian and left with both my sanity and my life.

I was expelled from the University at a younger age than most people are allowed in. I tread paths by moonlight that others fear to speak of during day. I have talked to Gods, loved women, and written songs that make the minstrels weep.

You may have heard of me.

So begins a tale unequaled in fantasy literature — the story of a hero told in his own voice.

It is a tale of sorrow, a tale of survival, a tale of one man’s search for meaning in his universe, and how that search, and the indomitable will that drove it, gave birth to a legend.

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 4.54

Most Common Rating: 5

Positive Comments

Another story on our list of fantasy books with mystery is The Name of the Wind. This novel is predominately a coming of age story, but a search for answers and a mystery is involved.

Apart from that, it also has legions of raving fans. In fact, as of this writing, 69% of Goodreads reviewers rated this story a 5!

Why did this story captivate so many people? Readers suggested that its power came from a convergence of several strengths. First off, fans praised the nuance and believably of the main character’s, Kvothe’s, point of view.

Kvothe felt real and so very human to these readers, who immediately bonded with him. They described The Name of the Wind‘s character portrayal and development as incredible.

Other readers pointed to the story’s simultaneously intricate and expansive world-building, as well as the poetic prose used to describe it. The Name of the Wind details legends, religions, magic systems and more in a vivid and engaging manner. All of this happened without ‘info-dumping’ on or confusing readers.

Negative Comments

If so many readers adored The Name of the Wind, what reasons did critics give for disliking it? Typically, those who didn’t enjoy this book had two main reasons.

The first was that they came into the story expecting a fast-paced, thrilling ride with clear direction and purpose. Instead, The Name of the Wind is a character-driven story that focuses on immersing the reader in its characters and world. Because of this, critics described the story as slow, with several asking themselves, ‘Where is this story going?’ as they turned the pages.

The second main reason had to do with the main character, Kvothe. Unlike fans, critics simply didn’t like him.

Some attributed this to his extraordinary skills across multiple disciplines. At some point, they thought that this wasn’t just unrealistic, but irritating. Kvothe stopped seeming like character to them and started seeming like a wish-fulfillment tool.

Along the same lines, another reason these critics cited was Kvothe’s character flaws. It wasn’t his arrogance that bothered them; instead, these readers were frustrated because they didn’t feel that it was portrayed negatively.

As such, they saw this as another instance of the story unduly favoring him.


Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder

Description

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

Next on our list of fantasy books with mystery is Poison Study, a story bristling with mystery and intrigue.

Readers who enjoyed this novel often mentioned how well the book delivered on its exciting premise and the main character’s moral and psychological depth.

Others remarked that the romantic chemistry between Yelena, the tenacious and determined female lead, and Valek, the stoic assassin, gripped them.

Negative Comments

No book is without its critics, including Poison Study. So if readers didn’t enjoy this novel, what reasons did they give?

In general, they said that the language of the story jarred them by alternating between older ‘historical’ verbiage and a modern one.

Along a similar vein, Poison Study‘s writing is straight to the point. Some readers felt that this flattened the emotions in the story.

On the other hand, others said that the slow-burn approach to the romance wasn’t their preferred style.


Mistborn: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson

Description

Where ash falls from the sky, and mist dominates the night, evil cloaks the land and stifles all life. Criminal mastermind Kelsier teaches Allomancy, the magic of metals, to another Mistborn, urchin Vin 16.

The unlikely heroine is distracted by rich Venture heir Elend. Can Kelsier’s thieving crew take on the tyrant Lord Ruler and bring back color to their world?

What Do Readers Say?

Goodreads Rating: 4.45

Most Common Rating: 5

Positive Comments

Last on our list of fantasy books with mystery is Mistborn: The Final Empire. Readers described this novel as having elements of and an air of mystery to it that they found delightful.

Moreover, Brandon Sanderson has a reputation for unique magic systems, and this story features just that. The refreshing system of Allomancy delighted fans, many of whom praised how thoroughly it was developed.

Other readers raved about Vin’s exciting journey from distrusting and quiet street urchin to confident and ferocious assassin. They described her growth as authentic and compelling, while also praising her well fleshed-out character along the way.

On a similar note, readers also thoroughly enjoyed Vin and Kelsier’s mentor/mentee relationship. He and Vin’s interactions, fans said, were one of the highlights of the story.

Negative Comments

Not everyone enjoyed Mistborn: The Final Empire. These readers said that while the world-building impressed them, they thought the story was slow. The crew’s plans proceed in a rather straightforward manner, while critics hoped for more conflict or complications.

Others expressed disappointment that more female characters didn’t feature in the crew or take part in the revolution overall. While these readers appreciated Vin as the main character, it struck them as unrealistic.


6 Intriguing Fantasy Books With Mystery to Read

How Do These Fantasy Novels Compare?



6 Intriguing Fantasy Books With Mystery to Read


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