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Customer Discussions > Fantasy forum

Books with Strong Female Characters

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Showing 26-50 of 536 posts in this discussion
Posted on Jan 28, 2010, 8:37:03 PM PST
L. Tolis says:
I can't believe that no one has mentioned Honor Harrington! Assuming you like a little sci-fi, too. They're by David Weber who takes Honor Harrington (the protagonist) from hesitant commander to bold admiral in a very believable way. Well, okay, it's a little fantastic, but isn't that what fiction is for? Regardless, lots of facing personal demons and then kicking the enemy's butt.

I second the recommendations for Anne Bishop, Trudi Canavan, and Jacqueline Carey. Bishop in particular writes strong and believable characters.

I would add the following authors:

1 - C. S. Friedman, who writes sci-fi and fantasy. Her current trilogy (2 books out, 3rd due late this year) has a strong, ground-breaking female anti-hero protagonist.
2 - Kate Elliott. I'm in the middle of her Crown of Stars series (7 books, all published) and all her female characters are well drawn, both strong and weak.
3 - Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn Trilogy. The main character is a girl named Vin who grows very believably from runaway to hero... and that's just the first book. :-D
4 - Anne Bishop... I just have to mention her again because her books are awesome. Her characters Jaenelle, Morag, and Ashk in particular. The series are called The Black Jewels series (start with Daughter of the Blood) and the Tir Alainn trilogy. :-)

Posted on Jan 29, 2010, 8:32:10 AM PST
I love C. S. Friedman's anti-heros. They are sometimes more interesting than the heroes. I didn't know there was a series with a female anti-hero. At this rate, I'd better hope for a big tax return.

Posted on Jan 29, 2010, 9:36:12 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 10, 2010, 1:25:16 PM PST
Arolem says:
L. Hathaway, I feel yah. My to-read list just hit 19 pages, sigh.

If we're leaking over a little into sci-fi (and yes! Honor Harrington! so smart to bring her up), there's also Debra Doyle and James Macdonald's Mageworlds series. The main three books are outstanding, and both female major characters (one the protagonist, one a secondary) are strong and interesting. So are the men :-)

Posted on Jan 29, 2010, 1:17:29 PM PST
C. Parker says:
Big mix of genres and reads from a lifetime of devouring books:

Cherie Priest's heoine in "Boneshaker" is a strong, practical, single mom who risks her life to save her son.
Anne Rivers Siddons' female leads are usually strong, amazing women but there's sometimes a whiff of Mary Sue.
Try some of Terry Pratchett - he clearly loves and respects women, and his satirical wit is, in my mind, unmatched.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 29, 2010, 7:24:44 PM PST
I'd say Morganville Vampire series, it's YA so not too heavy on romance which I like. I couldn't stand how weak Bella was in Twilight series. Rachel Caine and Richelle Mead both have paranormal series with strong female leads.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 29, 2010, 8:10:36 PM PST
Darkover series from Marion Zimmer Bradley like: Hawkmistress, The Shattered Chain, Thendara House, City of Sorcery

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 29, 2010, 9:15:43 PM PST
Monque says:
Doppelganger- by Marie Brennan
Mistborn- by Brandon Sanderson

Both very good :)

Posted on Jan 29, 2010, 10:01:33 PM PST
Bill King says:
Lillith by George McDonald, written in the 1800's. Pure fantasy though (he also wrote "Back of the North Wind").

Posted on Jan 30, 2010, 1:56:18 PM PST
silverlady says:
I agree, I like to read and I want my daughters as they grow to read books with strong feminist and post feminist characters no matter genre or author's time period.

A recent poster mentioned Marion Zimmer Bradley, she and Ursula K Le Guin are the foremost classic feminist authors of the science fiction fantasy genre. Why it took til the 30th post to mention one of them is beyond me.

Plus over analyzing books aimed at teenagers is a bit silly. As a former teenager for almost 30 years, and a high school teacher, being a teenager is a big deal, at least when you are one. We all grow up, and some of us forget what it was like to be one. Most young adult fiction, and some adult fiction is about what it's like to be a teenager (Twighlight, RA series, Eragon, Harry Potter, Earthsea, Ender's Game, The Belgarion books, etc). You need to be able to relate to that, and it you can't then, they aren't for you, thats OK, and it doesn't make them bad books or you a bad person for not liking them.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 30, 2010, 2:10:05 PM PST
Boric says:

I love Earthsea but I wouldn't call the original 3 books "classic feminist" by any means--almost the reverse in fact. I know she has tried to "revise" that in the later novels from Tehanu on, but not entirely successfully imo ... And looking at Le Guin's adult novels, I tend to think of her as "Anthropological" rather than 'feminist".

Posted on Jan 30, 2010, 2:24:55 PM PST
C. B. Harris says:
mistborn trilogy by brandon sanderson, and elantris

Posted on Jan 30, 2010, 2:29:07 PM PST
I've got a few recommendations

1. The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley. An Arthurian Tale with fantasy elements through the perspective of women in the time. 1000 amazing pages. 3 very strong women who overcome epic struggles throughout the story and a few week ones as weak.

2. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins - a YA novel about a girl who takes her sisters place in a terrifying survival game

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 30, 2010, 4:13:15 PM PST
roby says:
Try The Santa Louise Kid - Murder - Mother Isobel DeMolay moves the family from Languedoc France to the new world during the Inquistion.

Posted on Jan 30, 2010, 4:21:44 PM PST
Rebecca Lee says:
Jeff Smith's Bone series features more than one strong, female character who kicks butt. This graphic series is called "all ages" and it really fits. It's a story for all ages, not just for kids, even if you can find it in the elementary school library.

I'd echo the recommendation for anything by Terry Prachett. Start with Monstrous Regiment, if you can find it.

Posted on Feb 2, 2010, 12:26:15 PM PST
I love the Bone series. I think that may be where I first began thinking that female characters could be strong, powerful, and kick rear. Up until then, all I ever saw was weak female characters and it was such a norm I'd gotten used to it; it didn't even faze me anymore. Which is pretty distrubing to me.

As far as teen lit., while I understand they won't read what doesn't speak to them, I'd rather encourage them to find books with a good story, solid plot, great (or at least good) characters, and good writing, instead of watching them read poorly written books. There are plenty of really good books that aren't Mary Sue messes, don't have weak characterizations or huge plot holes, and can capture their imaginations if given a chance.

Posted on Feb 2, 2010, 6:21:09 PM PST
I'm going to list authors who have strong female characters, not mary sues with too much testosterone.

D.N. Simmons Knights of the Darkness Chronicles
Patricia Briggs
Kelly Armstrong
Tanya Huff

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 2, 2010, 7:05:03 PM PST
Hey L. Hathaway, check out "Lost in Reality" spiritual fantasy fiction.

Posted on Feb 3, 2010, 11:41:39 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 3, 2010, 11:44:56 AM PST
You know, I've run across a few of those, ReaderFanatic. After the movie Aliens came out, several friends had an arguement about Ripley being a woman or a man with breasts.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 3, 2010, 11:50:54 AM PST
You may enjoy C.J. Roscoe's Chronicles of Armonian Soul: Enter the Southlands. He's a new author but i really enjoyed the book. The female characters in the book are strong and have an exciting role. It's the first in a series. The second book should be out sometime in the next few months.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 3, 2010, 6:02:48 PM PST
I would think there's a fine line between a strong female character who's not a MarySue and a man with breasts. It seems like most of the characteristics that we use to define a "strong character" have been traditionally seen as masculine, so it seems difficult to ask for a female character who exhibits those traits yet does not seem "too male" due to that. Tricky.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 4, 2010, 3:10:34 AM PST
Monniewood says:
Have you ever read The Moon Below by Barbara Bickmore? Hallie is a wonderful character that is definitely strong. There are some rather typical sexist situations that i think are part of the deal as long as authors want their books to sell - but in the long run this character really triumphs and honestly leaves the dudes in the dust of the australian outback during the early years. She not only establishes herself separate from any male during a time when that was unheard of - she also helps other women who are less fortunate (way way less fortunate) to establish themselves. Again - there are situations where it is still the same old getting married = success but only because of the era rather then that being the actual happy ending all women are interested in. If you haven't read it I heartily recommend it - Our heroine is not a superhero but she is strong and though she is fearful at times she finds the courage and does what is needed anyway. She's sort of the Australian Scarlett O'Hara minus the fluff - you know the way Scarlett takes care of EVERYONE even though she's not really ever given the gratitude or acknowledgment for holding it together while the rest of the world is falling apart that she deserves? Hope this is a book you can enjoy - Good luck :)

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 4, 2010, 3:18:09 AM PST
Monniewood says:
Good point! In a man's world - a woman who can earn respect from her fellow women, men, and herself without becoming a "shrew" or a "witch" (though personally i'm okay with both of those alternatives) is the most you can hope for sometimes. But if you're talking fantasy - it is interesting to actually consider the crafting of a "strong" woman that doesn't have to kick-butt to do it and doesn't have to be macha! The truth is that most of us as mothers and wives are amazingly strong women because carrying and enduring and nurturing are some of the most taxing and difficult tasks one ever has to do - and we do it all the time. Ahhh - such is life - we are looking for something to act as an icon - an ideal of the strong, modern woman and here we are - that very person we are seeking just without the fantasy wardrobes (maybe).

Posted on Feb 4, 2010, 3:22:24 AM PST
Monniewood says:
Oh and Mark Helprin's book "A Winter's Tale" has some amazing women in it. It is perhaps my most favorite book ever and it is fantasy and magic and truth so well written it deserves to be read out loud for the sheer beauty of it. This is his best novel as far as I am concerned and Beverly Penn and the other women are awesome in a way impossible to describe - you simply must read it to understand.

Posted on Feb 10, 2010, 2:08:55 PM PST
Arolem says:
Laurel makes an excellent point--it's not so long ago that psychologists stopped treating "masculine" and "feminine" as the two extremes of a range, and started testing them as completely separate characteristic clusters. Lo and behold, there are people who score high on both. The "strong women" I like to read about would often fall in that grouping.

There are a couple different types of "strong women" -- 1) those taking traditionally masculine roles in very gender-defined societies (CL Moore's Jirel of Joiry); 2) those who empower themselves within the traditional roles of said societies (Katherine Kurtz's women pretty much all fall here for me); and 3) those in societies where gender is irrelevant (like Steven Brust's Draegara books, the Vlad Taltos and the Phoenix Guard series). I enjoy all of them, but some people specifically mean one of the three when they say "strong women."

Second A Winter's Tale!

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 11, 2010, 9:49:32 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 11, 2010, 11:17:52 AM PST
Anna-P says:
Re Arolem's post
I like your type analysis. I also enjoy all of them and like that fact that books depict a wider range of the spectrum.
I also find it interesting that at some point in these threads about "strong women", the discussion always seems to reach a "jumping off" point; this far and no further. Strong, but not TOO strong, or unrealistically strong, "masculine" strong. Other boards will label it more crudely; "men with breasts" or "chicks with "d*cks". ("MarySue" is a new term for me that I'm still figuring out.)

Being a female whose chosen profession would fall under "Category 1", but who grew up surrounded by, (LOL! And with a healthy respect for!) "Cat 2" women, I'm curious about what specifically would make a character too much.
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Initial post:  Jan 26, 2010
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