There are two things I really enjoy reading about. BAMF female heroes and awesome fantasy settings. So below is a short list of my top five all time favorites…at least to this point in time. This is pulls from both YA and Adult Fantasy and is limited to what I’ve read (duh) and to a fantastical setting.
You know…swords, gods, dragons, fancy language and no indoor plumbing.
5. Sioned, The Dragon Prince by Melanie Rawn
If you haven’t read Melanie Rawn I’m not surprised. I consider myself a really big fan of fantasy and I hadn’t heard of her, nor her work, till about two years ago. But now you have so go find some of her work and give it a look-see. She’s awesome. I received this book as a gift and finished the nearly 600 page novel in about two days time. It was fantastic and more than half of that awesome is because of Sioned.
Sioned is a Sunrunner. A type of cleric magician who can use the power of the sun (which is impressive since the setting is a desert) and the moon (also awesome) to do a lot of things. She is a strong woman who accepts her fate as the wife of a prince and a dragon slayer…no stress there. She’s smart, protective, and strong enough to hold her own against a decidedly stubborn lover.
4. Rhapsody, The Symphony of Ages, Elizabeth Haydon
The Symphony of Ages series is broken into a couple parts. The First Trilogy is referred to as the Rhapsody Trilogy and it’s these three book that I will be focusing on.The stories are rather complicated as they involve a bit of time travel, demons, and remaking things via song but they are worth the read.
Rhapsody is part Skysinger-part Human and all awesome. She is a Singer, which mean she can weave magic through song and use the true name of a person to do magic stuff with. It also means that she can never tell a lie. It was perhaps one of the first stories I had read where the female character had such a trait and I wholeheartedly approved.
It helps that Rhapsody has the oddest ‘brothers’ Achmed the Snake and Grunthor, Child of Earth. They are grumpy, not particularly pretty, and they are the mirror by which Rhapsody sees herself. The only downfall is that Rhapsody herself can get a little…mary-sue.
3. Polgara, The Sorceress Polgara, David & Leigh Eddings
Polgara, in case you didn’t read the title, is a sorceress. In the setting created by David Eddings with his quintessential series about the farmboy who becomes King (the Belgariad)we know that this makes her awesome…also immortal.
Born of Belgarath the Sorcerer and a shape shifted Wolf (yeah you read that right) Polgara has a twin sister. While everything that happens with that would be a big time spoiler Aunt Pol is one of my favorite characters of all time.
She’s strong, she’s snappish, she rules with kindness and a strict way. She struggles against her destined love and I really wish more of the stories had been told from her perspective.
2. Phèdre nó Delaunay de Montrève, Phèdre’s Trilogy, Jaqueline Carey
Okay, I’m going to be upfront. Phèdre is a part angel courtesan in a land descended from angels who has been chosen by the angel of punishment to be a bondage submissive and trained by a fallen courtier to be a spy and a linguist in an alternative history magical earth setting.
Yup. All true. And while that could be the same setting as a terrible fanfiction I have to say that Jaqueline Carey handles it all with a masterful hand. She creates a fully immersive world that is, at once, recognizable and unique. The books revolve around mystery, sex, romance, war, and political intrigues and at the center of it is Kushiel’s Chosen.
1 . Alana of Trebond, Song of the Lioness, Tamora Pierce
Okay, I told you there were YA novels in here too. While Tamora Pierce’s female protagonists could all hold a place on this list because of their individual awesomeness I chose the very first of her heroines, Alana of Trebond and Pirate’s Swoop.
Alana was the girl that got me through middle school. She wanted to be a knight and in doing so had to hide everything about herself that marked her as traditionally female. In training harder and longer than her male counterparts she becomes one of the best knights of the Realm and earns herself a place of honor…after you know…being outed and struggling with her own identity and saving the kingdom…like you do.
The Song of the Lioness is a quintessential series that I would suggest everyone read. And you know…read all the other series in this setting too…they are awesome.