“The world could burn around her, the cities turn to dust, the cries of a hundred thousand fill the air, and she would get up after the fire died and walk barefoot and burned over the charred soil in search of clean water, a weapon, a purpose.”
- Nyx – God’s War, Kameron Hurley. Point one: Nyx is bisexual. Point two: she looks out only for herself. Point three: she’s surrounded by similarly ruthless women. She’s not the exception that proves the rule. She’s defiantly female and defiantly murderous.
- Alana – Saga, Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples. Alana is awesomely sassy, unafraid to stand up for herself and her family and her convictions. And she has the most fantastic facial expressions.
- Sabriel – Sabriel, Garth Nix. Sabriel is a young woman in an unfamiliar world, searching for a father who may already be dead. She struggles, she makes mistakes; but she’s never cast as weak, never written as less than a heroine in her own right.
- Snow White – Six-Gun Snow White, Catherynne Valente. I mean, she’s a gun-toting horse-riding half-Native American Wild West lady. What, I ask you, is not to like.
- Granny Weatherwax – Discworld, Terry Pratchett. The Shepherd’s Crown did not happen, OK? In all seriousness, Esmeralda Weatherwax is one of the most interesting female characters I’ve read in fantasy. Like Pratchett’s other most dearly beloved character, Sam Vimes, Granny Weatherwax is constantly fighting against what she could become: against using her power to tyrannise and mete out vigilante justice and live people’s lives for them. And she’s fantastic at headology.
- Eowyn – The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien. Eowyn loses points for giving up her shieldmaidenhood when she gets married. (All she needed was a man! Phew, challenge to the status quo averted.) But she does stab the chief Ringwraith in the back and fulfil an ancient and obscure prophecy along the way, and srsly did you see Miranda Otto in The Two Towers?
- Jane Roland – Temeraire, Naomi Novik. Jane is fantastic: she yells at Laurence for being a romantic idiot and makes all the English generals very uncomfortable when she’s made Admiral of the Aerial Corps. Obviously, she pretends not to notice and just acts as they do. Which makes them even more uncomfortable.
- Lila – A Darker Shade of Magic, V.E. Schwab. Cross-dressing, steampunky AND not interested in romance? Whatever did we do to deserve Lila?
- Death – Sandman, Neil Gaiman. OK, so I’ve only met Gaiman’s Death briefly, but I think she’s actually more interesting than Dream. She knows what’s up, and she’s not afraid to tell him when he’s being a self-indulgent idiot.
- The First of the Search – The Second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, Stephen Donaldson. I’ve been a little bit in love with the First ever since I read the sentence: “The First was a woman who could stand straight under any doom.” Because she’s strong even in the face of despair.
(The theme for this post was suggested by the Broke and the Bookish’s weekly meme Top Ten Tuesday.)