I read this book back in the 90s, I believe, but it could have been published earlier. It was a fantasy novel that begins in a city.

I think it starts with an assassin who was going to kill a king or some royal. The assassin kills some guards and sets up in an old towee. While waiting either a witch or elflike woman comes in and magically binds him. Not sure if there are magic chains or ice chains. There may have been children hiding that see the whole thing. I remember the author creating a sense of the assassins terror. This all occurs at the very start of the book, prologue or first chapter.

The assassins weren't the main characters. I think the assassins were the children (the witch may have been a child) or there were children who witnessed the assassin preparing for the hit, killing a couple of guards and then he murdered them or it could have been the assassin was preparing for the hit and was killed by the children. I just remember them as being a plot point that stuck out, and happened early in the book.

I believe it took place during wintertime. I think it had knights and mages and creatures the army fought in a forest.

The tone was serious, dark fantasy. The city had a medieval Europe feel to it.

  • 1
    My first thought was Brent Weeks' Night Angel trilogy, but it doesn't match exactly and was published much later than you said you read this. Aug 6, 2014 at 12:45
  • No, that's not it as the main character was not an assassin
    – Jordan
    Aug 6, 2014 at 13:18
  • Thank you but it isn't Silverthorn. The assassin was definitely killed by a witch or elf type of character.
    – Jordan
    May 22, 2019 at 11:39
  • That's probably Gardens of the Moon.
    – Mithoron
    Mar 17, 2021 at 22:28

4 Answers 4


This sounds somewhat like the start of Silverthorn by Raymond Feist. All the items mentioned appear in this novel.

Silverthorn is a fantasy novel by American writer Raymond E. Feist, the sequel to Magician. Released in 1985, it was followed by A Darkness at Sethanon, the final book in The Riftwar Saga.

A year after his brother Lyam's coronation as king, Arutha returns to his city as the new Prince of Krondor, to begin plans for his wedding. Jimmy the Hand, a young thief, foils an assassination attempt on the prince by a fellow thief, and feeling loyalty toward the prince from previously aiding his escape from the city with Princess Anita (in Magician), he chooses to warn the prince of the attempt on his life instead of reporting the traitor to the Mockers, Krondor's powerful and highly organized guild of thieves. Arutha seeks the Mockers' cooperation to obtain more information on the assassins, and at their request, makes Jimmy a squire of his court. Setting a trap, they capture two agents, who are revealed to be operating out of the temple of Lims-Kragma, Goddess of Death, one of whom is a moredhel whose appearance has been altered. During interrogation, both prisoners will themselves to death rather than divulge their plans. As the High Priestess of Lims-Kragma seeks the truth by bringing them back from beyond the grave, one of the prisoners rises by the power of an unknown enemy, and attacks his captors, slaughtering many royal guards, and addressing Arutha as "Lord of the West" before being destroyed by Father Nathan, a priest of Sung.

  • I dont believe it is Silverthorn. I think I remember the killer getting murdered by children before they can do the assassination.
    – Jordan
    Dec 11, 2015 at 16:51
  • 1
    Definitely not Silverthorn, it did not have Jimmy the hand. I think I remember the author writing about the terror the assassin felt when the witch appeared.
    – Jordan
    May 23, 2019 at 1:09

I think I've read this too - five children witness the murder — I have a feeling its less fantasy and more straight historical — Ken Follet's Pillars of the Earth (1989) perhaps.

In a time of civil war, famine and religious strife, there rises a magnificent Cathedral in Kingsbridge. Against this backdrop, lives entwine: Tom, the master builder, Aliena, the noblewoman, Philip, the prior of Kingsbridge, Jack, the artist in stone and Ellen, the woman from the forest who casts a curse. At once, this is a sensuous and enduring love story and an epic that shines with the fierce spirit of a passionate age.

  • 2
    Could you add some more details about this 'Pillars of the Earth', so that people including the OP can judge whether it is the right answer or not?
    – Rand al'Thor
    Dec 2, 2015 at 0:42
  • It's definitely not Pillars of the Earth. It was a fantasy novel and the assassins used magic.
    – Jordan
    Dec 11, 2015 at 16:03

This sounds a little like Brent Week's Night Angel series. The information given is a closest match for the opening of book 2 Shadow's Edge. Though the publication date is way off. As the Night Angel series was first published starting in 2008.

Shadow's Edge opens in Cenaria, a medieval city state that has been invaded by the Godking of Khalidor a neighbouring kingdom that's into dark magic and conquest. One of the opening scenes is an assassination attempt by a "Wetboy" a kind of magical assassin against the Godking as he punishes units of soldiers that performed poorly in the invasion.

The wetboy uses a kind of magic called Talent that amongst other things provides him with a magic hand that holds arrows ready for his bow so he can shoot more quickly. He takes out numerous gaurds on the way. The Godking uses his dark magic called The Vir to defeat this attack.

There's quite a large cast in the series including a large number of knights or warrior characters including Lantano Garuwashi a peerless leader held back by the customs of his homeland that do not allow a commoner to rule. Solonariwan Tofusin, a fire mage of unusual strength.

Later in the book a particularly important scene involves retrieving a sword thrown into a forest that is guarded by some strong unseen and ill-defined spirit or creature.

  • That's not it but thank you. I definitely read it in the 90s and I've read the night angel trilogy. The assassination is in the prologue or first chapter. I think the assassin is going to shoot the king with a crossbow during a parade or speechange the next day and is killed while preparing.
    – Jordan
    May 22, 2019 at 10:27

Assassin's Apprentice (1995) by Robin Hobb?

From Goodreads:

In a faraway land where members of the royal family are named for the virtues they embody, one young boy will become a walking enigma.

Born on the wrong side of the sheets, Fitz, son of Chivalry Farseer, is a royal bastard, cast out into the world, friendless and lonely. Only his magical link with animals - the old art known as the Wit - gives him solace and companionship. But the Wit, if used too often, is a perilous magic, and one abhorred by the nobility.

So when Fitz is finally adopted into the royal household, he must give up his old ways and embrace a new life of weaponry, scribing, courtly manners; and how to kill a man secretly, as he trains to become a royal assassin.

  • 5
    What about this book matches up with the details in the question?
    – phantom42
    Aug 6, 2014 at 12:33
  • 1
    I don't think that is it. The assassins weren't the main characters, the assassins were children and I just remember them as being a plot point that stuck out.
    – Jordan
    Aug 6, 2014 at 13:13

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