Swashbuckler Fantasy: A Simple Guide (2024 Edition)

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Action, adventure, and magic are all of the elements that make up a great fantasy novel. There is nothing that compares to sitting down with a good book and getting lost in its pages of intrigue, fascinating plot lines, and incredible magic. Everything that you are looking for in an action-packed fantasy novel can be found in the pages of a swashbuckler fantasy. If this sounds like the genre for you, keep reading to find out all the details about swashbuckler fantasy, and get a few recommendations for novels in the genre to start with. 

What is a Swashbuckler?

Before diving into a new genre, it is important to know what exactly the genre is about. You probably know the term “swashbuckler,” but do you actually know what a swashbuckler is? By definition, a swashbuckler is someone who engages in daring adventures. Swashbucklers are also known for having a bit of a dramatic flair to them. They often have a devil-may-care attitude about them and the setting for swashbucklers is sometimes a pirate story on the high-seas.

Swashbucklers are found in novels, movies, and tv series. They have been prominent in pop culture for many years. Some of the swashbucklers that you may know of include Captain Jack Sparrow, Inigo Montoya, and the Three Musketeers. There are countless swashbucklers, both fictional and historical, throughout history. 

Swashbuckler Fantasy

Swashbuckler fantasy is pretty simple to define. It is any fantasy novel that also contains swashbucklers as either the main characters or as secondary characters. In general, the swashbuckling adventures are a main element of the story, and they are the focus of the novel. This is not always the case, however. There are swashbuckler fantasy novels out there that do not revolve around swashbuckling adventures, but instead feature them as a secondary element.

In a good swashbuckling fantasy there will be plenty of action and adventure. Crime, sword fights, and betrayal are common elements of a swashbuckling fantasy. Swashbucklers are often depicted as pirates, but that is not always the case. Romance is a common element of a swashbuckler fantasy, but it is not a requirement. This genre does not usually focus on romance. It may be part of a story, but it is not the main storyline. It is common for the hero of a swashbuckler fantasy to have women following him around pining for his attention. 

Examples of Swashbuckler Fantasy

swashbuckler fantasy fanart

The great thing about swashbuckling fantasy is that, in some ways, you know what you are getting before you even pick up a novel. Of course, each story is different, but you can be sure that you will see action, adventure, and dramatic scenes. Swashbuckler fantasy has something for everyone to enjoy. Take a look at the recommendations below for some incredible examples of swashbuckler fantasy. 


The Greatcoats series is a trilogy of novels by Canadian author, Sebastian de Castell. For a great adventure full of fantasy and magic, look no further than this series. It has action on every page and excitement around every corner. The first novel in the series is Traitor’s Blade and it certainly fits into the swashbuckler fantasy genre the best. Every novel in the series, however, is full of action. 

This series follows the adventures of the Greatcoats, who are descendants of ancient magistrates and duelists. The three main characters are a group of very different men, but they come together to navigate the intrigue and drama of the political landscape of their city. They travel the city as traitors and deal with the repercussions of their ancestors. The entire series is a swashbuckling adventure with twists and turns that will leave you hanging. 

This series is reminiscent of The Three Musketeers, and it takes inspiration from the book in regards to style, plot points, and characters. It is, however, completely original, making it a great next step for those who enjoy The Three Musketeers and fantasy in general. 

Tales of the Ketty Jay 

Tales of the Ketty Jay is a series of fantasy novels by Chris Wooding. There are four books n this series. This series contains elements of steampunk as well as swashbuckler fantasy, making it a great read with a lot of unique aspects to it. Within this series, there are many adventures and broken laws for the reader to enjoy. 

This series follows a group of people who have hit rock bottom in their lives. They have nothing going for them, and it seems that nothing will ever go right. They come together and form a group called the Ketty Jay, and live out their lives in the grey areas of morality. The leader of this group is named Frey, and he gets framed for a crime he may or may not have committed. This group of swashbucklers faces battles, romance, and demons in the pages of this series. 

Tales of the Ketty Jay is a great way to get into swashbuckler fantasy. Not only does it feature swashbuckling adventures, but it also pulls in elements of science fiction and steampunk fantasy. Magic, adventure, and suspense await the reader in the pages of this story. It is definitely one that you won’t want to miss. 

A Darker Shade of Magic 

A Darker Shade of Magic is a 2015 novel by V. E. Schwab. This novel is the first book in the Shades of Magic trilogy. This novel is not as typically swashbuckling as some of the others in this article, but it has a great story and even better characters. 

The novel follows Kell, a young magician who can travel between four parallel universes. While he technically serves the royal family of one of these parallel universes, he also has a secret life as a smuggler, and this is where the swashbuckling comes into play. Kell uses his power as a magician to earn extra money, and he faces many adventures and problems along the way. He escapes to one of the parallel worlds after one of his smuggling jobs goes wrong, and he teams up with a boy who wants to go along on all of his adventures. 

The two boys team up and head out on their crime-ridden adventures. Of course, they do it all with a bit of a flair. These two swashbucklers take on the world in this novel and the following two novels. This series is a fantastic choice for those who enjoy urban fantasy and fantasy that includes elements of time travel. There are so many adventures, obstacles, and betrayals to read about in this novel.


I hope this article has helped clarify what this genre is all about and given you some ideas of books to read in this subgenre.

And if you want to read more about unique fantasy subgenres on this blog, check out:

Lastly, feel free to leave a message in the comments below if you have questions about this or another fiction-literature-related topic!

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