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Topic: Strong female leads

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Subject: Strong female leads
Date Posted: 3/15/2008 9:50 AM ET
Member Since: 10/2/2007
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In fantasy books - who are some of your favorite female leads/heroines? I really enjoy a story where the woman in the lead is a B.A. For instance -I really enjoyed most of the Sword of Truth series but I really believe that Kahlan could have played a stronger role ( and gotten beat up a little less).  Please share some of your favorite fantasy women with me, Thanks!

Date Posted: 3/15/2008 11:21 AM ET
Member Since: 8/15/2007
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Quenthel and Triel from The War of the Spider Queen.  They are, perhaps, the only two females of Forgotten Realms that I can actually stand! ;)

Kim (Mistry) -
Date Posted: 3/16/2008 8:17 AM ET
Member Since: 6/23/2006
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  I'm a big fan of Rhapsody of the Song of the Ages Saga by Elizabeth Haydon.  She kicks butt, but in a subtle way.  Haydon's writing is fantastic and Rhapsody is a heroine in every aspect!

Date Posted: 3/16/2008 3:48 PM ET
Member Since: 1/2/2008
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Paksenarrion Dorthansdotter in Elizabeth Moon's Legend of Paksenarrion series:

Sheepfarmer's Daughter, 1988

Divided Allegiance,1988

Oath of Gold, 1989

Surrender None, 1990

Liar's Oath, 1992

Omnibus: The Deed of Paksenarrion, 1992. (combines Sheepfarmer's Daughter, Divided Allegiance, and Oath of Gold)

Omnibus: The Legacy of Gird, 1996 (combines Surrender None and Liar's Oath)

Date Posted: 3/16/2008 6:04 PM ET
Member Since: 12/19/2005
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Jennifer Roberson's Tiger and Del series is pretty good.

Date Posted: 3/19/2008 3:40 PM ET
Member Since: 9/17/2007
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There's a book called Servant of the Manthycore by Michael Ehart.

It's semi-historical "sword and sandal" stuff. Is the heroine a badass? Judge from the opening (full story for free here):

    The prow of the stitched reed boat sliced into the mud of the riverbank and we came to a grudging stop. The tattered red sail was clumsily rigged and had propelled us across at less than a walking pace. But across we were, and I stepped out into the brown Euphrates water and waded ashore. Behind me the other passengers splashed their way to dry land. I ignored them, as I ignored them the night before as we camped at the caravansary, waiting for daylight and the ferry across.

         They were slave traders and their goods. Being a slave myself, though to no man, I have an aversion to slave traders. No doubt, seeing a woman traveling by herself, they had weighed the possibility of adding me to their inventory but I am no longer comely. The scars of countless battles across 40 lifetimes of men are etched into my face and though I have not aged, the bitterness of my servitude has burned away any sweetness of youth I may have once had.

         The thickness of my wrist where it rested across the well-worn ironwood hilt of my sword may have influenced them as well. Slave traders are cowards. There is easy prey all around them and little profit to be had from quarry that fights back.

         Pity.

Debbie - ,
Date Posted: 3/19/2008 5:16 PM ET
Member Since: 10/7/2007
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I second Elizabeth Haydon's character Rhapsody.  I also think that Cornelia and Genvissa in Sara Douglass's Troy Game series are 2 great female characters as well as Faraday in her Wayfarer Redemption series.

Date Posted: 3/19/2008 10:33 PM ET
Member Since: 7/8/2005
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Megan Whalen Turner's series has two strong female leads-The Queen of Eddis and the Queen of Attolia.  They don't play much of a role in book 1 The Thief but play a large role in book 2  The Queen of  Attolia.

Date Posted: 3/20/2008 2:55 PM ET
Member Since: 8/15/2007
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Muriele from Greg Keyes's book The Briar King is another I like ;)

Date Posted: 3/20/2008 6:12 PM ET
Member Since: 9/17/2007
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In a less serious vein, I'm listening to the audio book "Nina Kimberly the Merciless" from podiobooks.com.

Date Posted: 3/23/2008 8:25 PM ET
Member Since: 3/11/2008
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Elizabeth Haydon's character Rhapsody is a great female lead, and a great read.  Robert Jordens wheel of time series has many strong female charicters.

Subject: Strong female leads
Date Posted: 3/24/2008 3:15 PM ET
Member Since: 12/21/2007
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Mercedes Lackey's Arrows of the Queen series, also her Diana Tregarde books (Children of the Night, Jinx High, Sacred Ground), but most especially Oathbound, Oathbreakers, Oathblood, and By the Sword. These are all early Lackey and among her best. Lois McMaster Bujold's Paladin of Souls. Best read after Curse of Chalion, but a minor and powerless character in the first book becomes the strong heroine of the second book. One of my favorites. Also, in a SF crossover, her Shards of Honor and Barrayar. Margaret Ball's fantasy books, especially the Flameweaver trilogy. If you want early feminist fantasy, find Gael Baudino in used books. C.J.Cherryh has a couple of fantasy series with strong female protagonists, although my favorites are the female Chanur leads in the Chanur series, which is SF. Suzette Haden Elgin's Ozark series, but for even more strong women, look at her SF Native Tongue. And you cannot forget Jasper Fforde's Tuesday Next as one of the premier current female protagonists!!! She definitely kicks ass. I assume you've read Friesner's Chicks in Chain Mail series of collected short stories? Barbara Hambly's Circle of the Moon and Sisters of the Raven. Another quality series with a fascinating heroine is Nina Kiriki Hoffman's A Red Heart of Memories and Past the Size of Dreaming, while several of the Chapel Hollow books have good protagonists as well. The first book of that series, The Thread that Binds the Bones, is one of my favorite all-time fantasies. And do not leave out Jame of the Kencyr, beginning with Godstalk by P.G. Hodgell. Another of my all-time favorites. The Blue Sword and The Hero and the Crown are two of my favorites by Robin McKinley, but try Sunshine for edgier fantasy. Moon of Three Rings by Andre Norton Anything by Tamora Pierce has strong female protagonists. Try the Granny Weatherwax books among Terry Pratchett's Discworld series. Sharon Shinn has been writing a fantasy series most recently, starting with Mystic Rider, with a strong female lead. Sheri Tepper is well-known for her strong female characters, and she has written both fantasy and sf. And who could forget Cimorene, the princess who rebelled, and her adventures in Pat Wrede's Dealing with Dragons series? Her Lyra books are also excellent, with strong female protagonists. Not all of these are Kick Ass heroines--some are subtler--but they all are strong, strong women in good stories. Rhonda
Date Posted: 3/24/2008 11:21 PM ET
Member Since: 5/23/2005
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The Tamir Triad by Lynn Flewelling has a strong female lead.  Of course, in the first book, the female actually thinks she's a male, because of some magic.  Am I confusing you yet?  :D

Date Posted: 6/17/2009 12:41 PM ET
Member Since: 4/18/2009
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My favorite female lead of all time is Phedre from Jacqueline Carey's Kushiel's Legacy series. She's thoughtful, quick-witted, and unabashed in everything she does. She is knows exactly who she is and glories in it, and despite all the battles in the novels she drives them and wins them with her own special talents -- her loyalty, her skill with language, and the gift/curse her particular god has given her.

 

Honorable mentions go to:

Senneth in Sharon Shinn's Twelve Houses novels, who singlehandedly makes the series for me, mostly because she reminds me so much of Camilla in Marion Zimmer Bradley's Renunciate novels, who doesn't qualify here because those are SF.

Ista in Lois McMaster Bujold's Paladin of Souls and Fawn in The Sharing Knife: Beguilement; the only thing that makes me sad is that Bujold writes these really strong women in one novel, then relegates them to (albeit still very strong) supporting character status in everything else.

Aerin, Rae, Beauty, Deerskin, and Rosie in Robin McKinley's various novels; she really can't write a novel without a strong female character.

And for old times' sake, Lessa and Menolly from Anne McCaffrey's Pern series. Even though the Pern series is really SF too, the novels these characters are in are pure fantasy if you don't know the rest of the series, so I'll count them here.



Last Edited on: 6/17/09 3:27 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 6/17/2009 1:11 PM ET
Member Since: 4/4/2009
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Has no one in this thread ever heard of Octavia Butler? A major difference in all of hers and the ones I have read that I see mentioned is that Butler's female leads are credible (Jordan's women excepted).

Date Posted: 6/17/2009 1:15 PM ET
Member Since: 4/4/2009
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A homegirl of yours, Phoenix. :). You should have seen her: Over six feet, basic build like a middle linebacker, voice like Odetta, big, easy smile. As you can tell, she is already greatly missed.

Date Posted: 6/17/2009 3:26 PM ET
Member Since: 4/18/2009
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I actually just got Wild Seed in the mail today; I've been meaning to read Octavia Butler for a while but there was never much of a selection at any of my local bookstores. I'm excited!

Date Posted: 6/17/2009 9:29 PM ET
Member Since: 12/29/2008
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Phoenix, I love all of Robin McKinley's books - and it was a little odd to read Dragonhaven, the only book of hers that I have read where the main character is a boy/man and it's told in the first person.

Date Posted: 6/17/2009 11:12 PM ET
Member Since: 4/18/2009
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Yeah, though the fact that the main character was male was the least of my worries with that book. . . I objected more to the aggressively teenage perspective. But still. . .

 

One of my favorite short stories/novellas of hers actually has a man as the protagonist. It's in the anthology The Door in the Hedge and is a retelling of the fairy tale "The Twelve Dancing Princesses." But those could well be the only two male leads in all of her writing. I read something she wrote about that once, where someone had the gall to ask her why she only wrote women, and she said something along the lines of "There are plenty of male authors only writing men, so I feel I should balance the scales a bit." :)

Date Posted: 6/18/2009 2:19 AM ET
Member Since: 7/19/2008
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P G Hodgell's Jame from God Stalk.

 

Date Posted: 6/18/2009 7:24 AM ET
Member Since: 6/26/2006
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I'll second The Thief/The Queen of Attolia/The King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner.

The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley

Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr

Date Posted: 6/19/2009 3:28 AM ET
Member Since: 7/19/2008
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Lisa Shearin's books. 

Nina Kiriki Hoffman.   But hers run more towards urban fantasy / magical realism than straight up fantasy.

Date Posted: 7/8/2009 5:53 AM ET
Member Since: 7/6/2009
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Rachel Morgan from the Hollows series!  (Author Kim Harrison)

She's funny, impulsive, quirky, and isn't afraid to kick butt when the situation calls for it. 

Date Posted: 7/8/2009 11:30 PM ET
Member Since: 6/28/2009
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I'm currently reading the "Sword of Truth" series and I have a few misgivings about naming Kahlan as a strong female lead. Although she is skilled with a sword and battle tactics, she is often placed in the role of damsel in distress who needs to be rescued by Richard or uses her powers to get another man to protect her. She relies too much upon her power rather than trusting in her own physical and mental abilities. In fact, I'm not very fond of Terry Goodkind's portrayal of women in general. Aside from Kahlan, there are the Sisters of Dark and Light who must collar a man's to control him, the Mord-Sith who have been abused beyond imagination to destroy their feminine aspects to make them more fierce and deadly than other soldiers, Adie the sorceress, and Shota the witch woman. All the women have been tarnished by some past horror done specifically to them or by them - or both. And in the end, they all bow to the supremacy of one man or another, whether it be enlisting Richard's help or forced to do Jangang's bidding. However, I did love the scene when Rikka delivered the head of an enemy using her brains rather than the Agiel to take him down.

I love the character of Morgaine in Marion Zimmer Bradley's Mists of Avalon. Torn between her duty to her brother, King Arthur, and her heritage, she struggles to somehow heal the breach between her worlds. Though she is sometimes a pawn in a larger scheme, she learns to rely on herself rather than the men around her.

A series with strong female characters is Melanie Rawn's Exiles. Unfortunately, she's only written two books in the trilogy and it's beginning to look like the third will never be written. But it's worth a look anyways. In her world, women are the ruling class and men are appreciated for their looks and brawn. Not to say that men are merely decorative. There are several strong male characters that provide a good counterbalance to the strong female leads.

Date Posted: 7/9/2009 12:14 AM ET
Member Since: 4/4/2009
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Ah, yes, The Wheel of Time. Just how many strong females do you want? There are over ten, I am sure. They are believable. At least five are three-dimensional characters who will get 300-500 pages of their own in the series.