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Fantasy novels featuring strong women (or women that aren't constantly abused)


Books

51 to 97 of 97 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | next > last >>

deusvult wrote:

If you don't draw a distinction between fantasy & space opera, David Weber's Honor Harrington series fits the bill of what you're looking for.

It's actually less science-fiction-y than you might think at first glance.. it's nearly a reskinned telling of the napoleonic wars from the perspective of a young british (make that manticoran) naval officer.

I love Weber, and especially Honor Harrington, but if I'm reading the original poster correctly, she's looking for books/series which don't include rape as a story element at all.

Spoiler:
That would rule out The Honor of the Queen, in which the surviving crew of a destroyed Manticoran ship are taken prisoner by Taliban-like fanatical misogynists who rape and torture most of them to death. There's also the past rape attempt on Honor by Lord Pavel Young; even though she not only fought him off, but beat him to a bloody pulp, the incident still left her badly traumatized. Rape/torture/murder of prisoners on Hades comes up as a plot element in Echoes of Honor, and of course the shift from the Manticore-Haven conflict to the struggle against Mesa brings in genetic slavery, and introduces several female characters who are survivors of severe sexual abuse (notably Berry Zilwicki, Ginny Usher, and Princess Judith Winton, though to be fair those characters were introduced by Eric Flint and Jane Lindskold, not Weber himself).

The horrible thing is, the reason that's rare is that it's unrealistic: rape is appallingly common in the real world today, and even more so in the past, especially in the context of warfare where, historically, raping enemy women has often been treated as a victor's prerogative, rather than a crime. The absence of rape in a fantasy with a medieval-type setting that features warfare or tyranny as sources of conflict would count as one of the more extreme fantastical elements. It may be more apt to break suspension of disbelief for many readers than things like magical spells, because it ignores not just the laws of physics but human nature, with which most readers are far more familiar.

Andoran

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Try Steven Brust. The Vlad Taltos books, in particular. Really good, lots of strong women, and no sexual abuse. Well, none I can remember.


Lawrence Watt-Evans has written a string of fantasy novels with strong, virtuous, and effective heroines.

Barbara Hambly's fantasy includes strong women characters.

In service,

Rich
http://zhalindor.com


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Chevalier wrote:
War for the Oaks, Emma Bull.

Chevalier, you get props for this one!! I was going to mention it myself. Happy to know others out there have read this EXCELLENT novel.

DeathSpot wrote:
Try Steven Brust. The Vlad Taltos books, in particular. Really good, lots of strong women, and no sexual abuse. Well, none I can remember.

You get props, too, as I was going to mention Brust (I *always* mention Brust!) as another excellent choice. And no, no abuse in them.

Now, with those out of the way... These aren't pure fantasy, but I highly recommend:

The Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde (starting with The Eyre Affair)

Kim Harrison's "Rachel Morgan" series (starting with Dead Witch Walking)

As someone with similar tastes, it seems, you can't go wrong with any of the above. :)


My suggestions are as follows.

The Darkwalker on the Moonshea series by Douglas Niles. The druids in that series are kick butt however it was written in 2nd ed D&D terms and it is the first of the Forgotten Realms novels.

The next author I can suggest is Jennifer Roberson( not sure of the spelling) and her Chronicles of the Cheysuly series.

It kindda has a sorrta rape tone because the main heroine is kidnapped specifically for breeding purposes and in order to preserve their race the men of the cheysully have to kidnap and impregnate any woman they can in order to stop their race from becoming extinct. Over the course of the books she becomes an honored hero and her great grand daughter is a warrior and a queen in her own right. All in all a very enjoyable series.

Last suggestion is any of the Heralds of Valdemare series by Mercedes Lackey. Yes she does have rape in her series however she uses it as a overall effect not a focal point, when she describes the crushing of the heroes feet and the torture she endures then mentions the rape as an after thought as in what more can be done it's a plot device not a intense subject. Plus the hero Vanyel gets gang-raped as well so she touches on male-male sexual violence as well.

I hope that you like my suggestions and wish you the best of luck on your quest.


LazarX wrote:
Kolokotroni wrote:
Polgara in David Eddings' books (The Belgariad series and the Malloreon) would definately fall under the strong female character list (she constantly pushes around the most powerful men in the realm) and though she goes through hardship and heartbreak certainly, I dont think there is a point where she is abused.

I'm abit ambivalent about Polgara, She shows strength but it's a male chauvnistic of a woman's strength, she seems to win her arguments in more of a "don't anger your wife" mode rather than her personal strength. Her mother Poledra, is a bit more free of that trope.

Xena is a better example of a woman who's strong on her own terms.

Interesting I didnt find it chauvinistic when put in the context of a mideval fantasy world. If observed through that lense it is kind of progressive. Here were women wielding real power (in some cases direct and in some cases poltical) in a world that openly states women are unfit for such things. In many cases they had to do it by manipulating their men, but considering the social norms involved that would be the reasonable way to go about it besides directly cracking heads (which polgara does by direct threats fairly often as well).

I also dont know that the 'dont anger your wife' trope is chauvanistic in and of itself. I would imagine a real chauvanist doesn't care whether his wife(or in many cases daughter) is or isnt angry, her opinion isnt important. The idea that there are negative consequences to your wife being angry with you implies at least some balance of power and concern for not just practical well being but personal and emotional well being as well. I guess its all just a matter of degree but then few things are more subjective then prejudice and literature right?

I actually think the portrayal of some of the male characters was negative and prejudiced with for instance Belgarath the pinacle male character being portrayed often as a petulant child in the face of his daughter's managment of their 'household'.

Shadow Lodge

Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I'll put in a vote for the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher. Your fiance may find it interesting to read a book with a protagonist that feels just as strongly about women being abused as he does, and can set the people performing the abuse on fire. I know I find the combination of humor and mass destruction cathartic, and Mr. Butcher does a great job writing characters that feel real.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

My first choices, David & Leigh Eddings and Patricia C. Wrede have already been mentioned, so let me also drop Howl's Moving Castle, by the late Diana Wynne Jones onto the list.

It's a cliche that the book is always better than the movie, but in this case it has to be doubly emphasized that, as good as the Miyazaki movie is, the book is BETTER.

Andoran

Never read Sara Douglass. Her female characters exist solely to be abused.


i would agree with Polgara that entire series is amazing.

also raymond feist has written more than the rift war and empire trilogies. Prince of the blood, kings buccaneer and the krondor trilogy.
now granted the krondor books were written for a game or maybe t was the other way around, still good though


If the fiance ain't too ill-disposed to anime-related properties, the Slayers series, Moribito series, and Spice and Wolf series of Light novels might be a good fit. Of the three, the Slayers series (published by Tokyopop) would be hardest to find since they've gone out of print. Moribito (published by Scholastic) and Spice and Wolf (published by Yen Press, which also publishes the manga version of this title).

Otherwise, you might want to look for the paperback titles of:

The Good Fairies of New York by Martin Millar

An Unexpected Apprentice by Jody Lynn Nye

Some of the later books in the Magic Kingdom of Landover series by Terry Brooks, recently reprinted.

If going to a used bookstore, maybe keep an eye out for:

Heroing by Dafydd Ap Hugh

Silverglass series by J.F. Rivkin

Both are older books, now out of print.

While I'm sure that I can't recall anything about rapes in the listed books, you may want to give them a quick look thru just in case- my memories aren't what they used to be.


Benoc wrote:

also raymond feist has written more than the rift war and empire trilogies. Prince of the blood, kings buccaneer and the krondor trilogy.

now granted the krondor books were written for a game or maybe t was the other way around, still good though

I think you missed the sarcasm. :)

He's written a lot more than that. They're still coming out, IIRC. I gave up years ago. I wasn't impressed with anything other than the original series and Empire.


The River King's Road and Heaven's Needle by Liane Merciel both have a strong female protagonist that doesn't get abused, raped, or molested.

I also think Katherine Kerr's Deverry series would fit the OPs criteria somewhat well.

Paizo Employee Associate Editor

Kajehase wrote:
I also think Katherine Kerr's Deverry series would fit the OPs criteria somewhat well.

I was thinking about that series too—though as a warning, two male characters are mind-controlled and raped in Darkspell and... unfortunately I'm not sure which the other book was. I believe either The Bristling Wood or The Dragon Revenant?

Also, seconding anything by Diana Wynn Jones! And while it's historical sci fi rather than fantasy (time travel to the medieval era), Connie Willis's Doomsday Book may also be of interest.


Judy Bauer wrote:
Kajehase wrote:
I also think Katherine Kerr's Deverry series would fit the OPs criteria somewhat well.
I was thinking about that series too—though as a warning, two male characters are mind-controlled and raped in Darkspell and... unfortunately I'm not sure which the other book was. I believe either The Bristling Wood or The Dragon Revenant?

I did think twice before suggesting it, but I'd say this is one of the very few instances where something like this is treated as being as horrific as it is. (And the first is in Book Two: Darkspell, with the second, more significant one being mostly in-between books three and four - which I can't remember the US titles for - with the consequences being shown throughout book four).

And I'll repeat the suggestion, if nothing else because of the very nice spin Kerr does on the Arthur-Lancelot-Guinevere theme in one of the past-lives sections.


Um...

Well...

Nope.

Children’s fantasy maybe?

Even then you’d have to be really choosey. ..

-

I can’t think of one fantasy book I’ve read that would meet his standard as I understand it. Basically it would require either no female characters or no combat on top of the no rapey-stuff. I don’t think that book exists in adult or even young adult fantasy. The majority of children’s fantasy is right out too.

Is it only when the scene is ‘played out’ in the book or does it bother him if such things are just mentioned – like the all too familiar male hero must revenge the death of his lover?

The former, I’d research some of the suggestions here. Don’t just recommend them to him though, because most, if not all will fail his test. (How much you want to bet at least one of the BBEGs that murdered MR. Hero’s wife is a woman? Bonus points if she wears a corset.) You will probably want to read them through first actually, because people that pay a lot of mind to this sort of thing like your BF, don’t read fantasy. Those of us who aren’t as sensitive can easily forget a scene or too like that.

The latter, give up now. Accept that this is just one of those interests you don’t share and get him something he actually wants for the holidays. It is not that every fantasy story ‘nowadays seems to include violence/abuse against women’. They ALL do. They ALWAYS have.

-

I’m not trying to be rude or anything. I wish I could do as you asked and post a list of options, or even just one. But to be honest a lot of these people, who I assume are genuinely trying to be helpful, are filling you with false hope that this thing you are asking for exists.

There may be some unicorn of a fantasy series out there that is exactly what you are looking for. If so I hope you find it, but it is going to take some serious time and research. Good luck.


Because, you know, the real world includes violence/abuse against women.

That doesn't mean some don't go too far, either only featuring women as targets of violence and abuse or obsessing on past abuse as the main motivator for female characters, but that seems less common than it used to be.


Yeah, but if we were talking regular old ‘real world’ fiction, he’d have some options. Maybe not an endless selection, but it’s out there.

The in the fantasy genre, not going to happen.


GoldenOpal wrote:

Yeah, but if we were talking regular old ‘real world’ fiction, he’d have some options. Maybe not an endless selection, but it’s out there.

The in the fantasy genre, not going to happen.

There are plenty of books that don't feature abuse of women. Strong female characters without violence against women is harder, mostly because it's largely an adventure genre. It's hard to have adventure without violence and it's hard to have strong female characters involved in violence without it being directed against them.

Try finding genre mysteries or thrillers that avoid violence/abuse against women. I'll bet it's just as hard.


Just about anything by C.J. Cherryh would fit the bill, specifically the Morgaine Cycle (Gate of Ivrel, Well of Shiuan, Fires of Azeroth and Exile's Gate) or a one off titled The Paladin.

In the Sadly Out of Print catagory, Picnic on Paradise by Joanna Russ and The Northern Girl by Elizabeth A. Lynne.


Hitdice wrote:

Just about anything by C.J. Cherryh would fit the bill, specifically the Morgaine Cycle (Gate of Ivrel, Well of Shiuan, Fires of Azeroth and Exile's Gate) or a one off titled The Paladin.

In the Sadly Out of Print catagory, Picnic on Paradise by Joanna Russ and The Northern Girl by Elizabeth A. Lynne.

I love the Morgaine books, but there's plenty of dead women in them.

Morgaine tends to leave whole civilizations devastated in her wake. Not to mention plenty of violence against her.

Nothing sexual, IIRC. It depends on how strictly you take the OPs stated limits.

If you don't take them strictly there are plenty of examples.

Paizo Employee Associate Editor

thejeff wrote:
It's hard to have adventure without violence and it's hard to have strong female characters involved in violence without it being directed against them.

At the same time, I think it's useful distinguish between books where there's violence directed at women as women (killing the hero's woman to motivate him, most rape, etc.) and violence directed at people in general, some of whom are women.

In Garth Nix's Sabriel, for example, while the main character is female, she's not a target because of that, but because she's Abhorsen-in-Training. And when women and girls die, it's because everyone is dying.

Does that make sense?


Judy Bauer wrote:
thejeff wrote:
It's hard to have adventure without violence and it's hard to have strong female characters involved in violence without it being directed against them.

At the same time, I think it's useful distinguish between books where there's violence directed at women as women (killing the hero's woman to motivate him, most rape, etc.) and violence directed at people in general, some of whom are women.

In Garth Nix's Sabriel, for example, while the main character is female, she's not a target because of that, but because she's Abhorsen-in-Training. And when women and girls die, it's because everyone is dying.

Does that make sense?

not really, primarily because it results in a double standard when bad things happen to men. This isn't to say that female characters should be raped on a regular basis or anything so horrible, just that the silence when anything happens to male characters is deafening.


Judy Bauer wrote:
thejeff wrote:
It's hard to have adventure without violence and it's hard to have strong female characters involved in violence without it being directed against them.

At the same time, I think it's useful distinguish between books where there's violence directed at women as women (killing the hero's woman to motivate him, most rape, etc.) and violence directed at people in general, some of whom are women.

In Garth Nix's Sabriel, for example, while the main character is female, she's not a target because of that, but because she's Abhorsen-in-Training. And when women and girls die, it's because everyone is dying.

Does that make sense?

I agree completely. That's a very useful distinction. The first set is the one's I find creepy.

The thing is books in the second set are quite common, probably a majority so it's hard to what the OP was complaining about using that criteria.


Freehold DM wrote:
Judy Bauer wrote:

At the same time, I think it's useful distinguish between books where there's violence directed at women as women (killing the hero's woman to motivate him, most rape, etc.) and violence directed at people in general, some of whom are women.

Does that make sense?

not really, primarily because it results in a double standard when bad things happen to men. This isn't to say that female characters should be raped on a regular basis or anything so horrible, just that the silence when anything happens to male characters is deafening.

So three categories then:

Violence directed at women as women.
Violence directed at men as men.
Violence directed at people in general.

I suspect the second category would be quite small.


thejeff wrote:
Freehold DM wrote:
Judy Bauer wrote:

At the same time, I think it's useful distinguish between books where there's violence directed at women as women (killing the hero's woman to motivate him, most rape, etc.) and violence directed at people in general, some of whom are women.

Does that make sense?

not really, primarily because it results in a double standard when bad things happen to men. This isn't to say that female characters should be raped on a regular basis or anything so horrible, just that the silence when anything happens to male characters is deafening.

So three categories then:

Violence directed at women as women.
Violence directed at men as men.
Violence directed at people in general.

I suspect the second category would be quite small.

I think that you are likely right, and that the reason for this is both cultural and psychological.

[Warning: Bellow are some rather significant generalizations and I dont expect the opinions presented here to accurately represent those of everyone reading this, nor do I feel they match exactly my own opinions on the subject. They are instead the views of a hypothetical 'normal person' in western culture.]

Due to some combination of social and biological facters (I make no claim to know the weight of each component but I do believe both are involved) men are viewed as protectors and providers. This comes through in our literature. A measure of a man's character comes less from his ability to protect himself from harm (after all a heroic death is a very common trope) but to protect his loved one(s) /Nation/Leader/etc.

Simply defending himself is not enough to endear a male hero in the eyes of the readers. The male hero is PRESUMED to be able to defend ones self and be able to overcome violence directed at his person. His obstacle to overcome is the threat to some larger unit (his family, his organization, his nation, his race etc). When james bond is captured and being tortured except in very specific cases, the tension does not come from the threat to 007 himself, but the existential threat of his failure to stop the big bag guy's evil plan (which is presumably a threat to england or the world).

If a James Bond movie consisted of a series of injuries(physical, emotional, or otherwise) directly against 007, the movie would likely be considered uninteresting to most people.

Female heroes on the other hand are NOT presumed to be able to handle violence directed at their person. And there is less of a cultural/psychological role of women as protectors of the larger unit. Even the concept that a mother will protect her children with her life is underlied with a presumption of likely failure after a valiant but futile effort on the womans part.

Woman are presumed as nurturers and care givers, and not normally linked with violence. As such there is no ingrained sense that a woman is responsible for the protection/preservation of the larger group. Thus unless the violence is directed at her personally, there is no tension. Where as when the violence IS directed directly at her personally, then the question of responsibility is moot, she must face this adversity or be harmed (or overcome the damage caused by said harm).

Imagine this scene: It is the start of world war II. You are in a small town in poland, Nazi Soldiers are scattering through the city looting and taking people prisoner.

In the outskirts of the town, a group of 4 nazi soldiers break into a house, and drag a young family from their home screaming. 4 Young polish men (who are the heroes of our story) stand nearby with grave looks on their face.

What do you expect to happen here (assuming this is a novel or a movie, not reality). You expect the young men to intervene in some way do you not? You might even wonder why they had not already been fighting the invading army in the first place (however futily).

Now picture the same scene with 4 polish young women as the heroines of the story. Would you have the same expectation?


thejeff wrote:
Graendal has magic sex slaves, doesn't she. It's not explicit or really dwelt on, but it's there.

Oh yeah, but as said most of them are men and it's part of Graendal's character (she's a bad guy and her behaviour is meant to be reprehensible). It's also a rather implied situation (i.e. Graendal is up to something unpleasant with her slaves but what that is is left up to the reader's imagination) rather than anything overt.

Quote:

also raymond feist has written more than the rift war and empire trilogies. Prince of the blood, kings buccaneer and the krondor trilogy.

now granted the krondor books were written for a game or maybe t was the other way around, still good though

I think you've fallen afoul of the Raymond E. Feist Sarcasm Meme :-) There seems to be a general consensus that somewhere in the 1990s Feist's ability to write abruptly disappeared and he went from writing passable epic fantasy to churning out terrible work for money (to pay his alimony, as rather bitter blog entries from the time suggest).

When exactly this occurred seems to vary depending on the fan. DM Dan E is rather hardcore in suggesting that only the original trilogy and the EMPIRE books are worth reading. I'd add the first three SERPENTWAR books and KING'S BUCCANEER to the 'okay-to-good' category as well.

Osirion

Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

Here are a couple of books. Both are set in the modern world. One is fantasy and has magic and everything, the other is into the realm of aliens living on earth and helping humans fight a parasitic invader.

The first is the Witches of Horngate series by Diana Pharaoh Francis.

Spoiler:
SOMETIMES YOU CHOOSE YOUR BATTLES. AND SOMETIMES, THEY CHOOSE YOU...

Once, Max dreamed of a career, a home, a loving family. Now all she wants is freedom...and revenge. A witch named Giselle transformed Max into a warrior with extraordinary strength, speed, and endurance. Bound by spellcraft, Max has no choice but to fight as Giselle's personal magic weapon -- a Shadowblade -- and she's lethally good at it. But her skills are about to be put to the test as they never have before....

The ancient Guardians of the earth are preparing to unleash widespread destruction on the mortal world, and they want the witches to help them. If the witches refuse, their covens will be destroyed, including Horngate, the place Max has grudgingly come to think of as home. Max thinks she can find a way to help Horngate stand against the Guardians, but doing so will mean forging dangerous alliances -- including one with a rival witch's Shadowblade, who is as drawn to Max as she is to him -- and standing with the witch she despises. Max will have to choose between the old life she still dreams of and the warrior she has become, and take her place on the side of right -- if she survives long enough to figure out which side that is....

The second is the Alien series by Gini Koch (I not talking about the Sigourney Weaver Aliens).

Spoiler:
How can a sexy marketing manager join forces with an Alpha Centauri male in Armani to save the planet-using hairspray, a Mont Blanc pen, and rock n' roll?
Easy...

She's Touched by an Alien

Marketing manager Katherine "Kitty" Katt steps into the middle of what appears to be a domestic dispute turned ugly. And it only gets uglier when the man turns into a winged monster, straight out of a grade-Z horror movie, and goes on a killing spree. Though Kitty should probably run away, she springs into action to take the monster down.

In the middle of the chaos a handsome hunk named Jeff Martini appears, sent by the "agency" to perform crowd control. He's Kitty's kind of guy, no matter what planet he's from. And from now on, for Kitty, things are going to be sexy, dangerous, wild, and out of this world.


Both series have strong women who give worse than they get.


I'd recommend some of Patricia Briggs' older books- she writes supernatural/paranormal stuff now that do suffer from the trope, but she used to write excellent high fantasy. When Demons Walk is one of my favorite rereads of all time, featuring a thief sorceress who goes undercover at court to find a serial killer.

The Firekeeper books by Jane Lindskold (first one is Through Wolf's Eyes) are good reads with a bit of magic and lots of politics. The main character is a girl who grew up with wolves and is brought back to civilization to become a player in the scheming at court.


Ceres Cato wrote:


So what I am lookin for, as a present for upcoming Yule, are some fantasy novels without such themes. Price doesn't matter, language can be English or German. If any of you know of one or more fantasy novels with strong women/heroines or at least without the occassionally sexually harrassed female, I would be very grateful.

Lord protector's daughter and the sequel Lady Protector by Modesitt.


thejeff wrote:
Freehold DM wrote:
Judy Bauer wrote:

At the same time, I think it's useful distinguish between books where there's violence directed at women as women (killing the hero's woman to motivate him, most rape, etc.) and violence directed at people in general, some of whom are women.

Does that make sense?

not really, primarily because it results in a double standard when bad things happen to men. This isn't to say that female characters should be raped on a regular basis or anything so horrible, just that the silence when anything happens to male characters is deafening.

So three categories then:

Violence directed at women as women.
Violence directed at men as men.
Violence directed at people in general.

I suspect the second category would be quite small.

I still say The Morgaine Cycle fits the bill. (Look, whatever, I didn't necro the thread, okay?! :P)

Osirion

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber
Ceres Cato wrote:
FallofCamelot wrote:

Hmmm...

Conflict is the essence of drama. However, abusing your female characters has become somewhat of an unfortunate trope in fantasy writing. Using rape and humiliation as drama is depressingly common especially in comics (both Marvel and DC are guilty of this).

This is something my fiancee thinks as well. On of the most recent novels I've read was The Painted Man by Peter V. Brett, which featured the rape of a woman without any reason whatsoever. That was a major cause for anger.

I have no such qualms when it comes to drama, abuse, etc. regardless of gender. But that's just me.

To all of you, thank you for all the recommendations, I'll check them out, as well as the mentioned threat. My fiancee already read the two first Pathfinder Tales, maybe Plague of Shadows would be something.
Again, thank you so much!

While I understand and sympathize with your (and your fiance's ) distaste for such situations in your fantasy novels, I need to call shenanigans on this post. I have also read this book, and the rape in question was committed by bandits who had every intention of killing their victims (by leaving them helpless in the wilderness as the corelings were about to rise). This, while unpleasant, was not gratuitous. It was realistic. There is a reason that the terms rape and pillage go together in the vernacular. In this case, the distateful event (which occurs off camera I might add) is a piece of versimilitude that fits the environs and circumstances of the story.'

Please understand that I am not questioning your reaction, just the statement that it was unwarranted in the novel. I hope you are successful in finding books that appeal to both of your tastes. I recommend the Mara of the Acoma novels (empire?) by Raymond Feist. Very strong female protagonist.


More sci-fi than fantasy, but I highly recommend Snowfall by Mitchell Smith. Catania is the doctor to the Trappers, a group of humans who survive near the Wall, the glacier which has cut across North America since a shift in Jupiter's orbit brought on a new ice age 700 years ago. Catania is an extremely well-written character, a believable heroine.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Pretty much anything by CJ Cherryh is going to have strong women. Particularly the Chanur series, Cyteen & Regenesis, the Foreigner series, and pretty much most of her Alliance-Union 'verse. I'm not a big fan of her fantasy stuff, but Paladin and the Goblin Queen (or Mirror?) were good exceptions.

Azure Bonds by Grubb & Novak is really fun.

Brust and Butcher are awesome authors with strong females. (Brust even wrote a Firefly novel!)

Jacqueline Carey is really good, with strong female protagonists. It is somewhat sexual, but not involuntarily violent in nature. Rape is heresy in that 'verse. Her Saint Olivia series is good borderline SF. Her riff on LOTR is even better than the original, IMHO.

War of the Oaks is good. Forgot about that.

Charles DeLint is also really good. Sometimes tragic, but always with hope. Also, Newford seems like a city-sized version of my neighborhood! ;-)

China Mieville is good, if weird.

Neil Gaiman has some strong female leads.

Cherie Priest is pretty good.

Gail Carriger has hilarious steampunk with a strong female lead, due to her Italian father. ;-)


Find the Alanna Starbreeze novels by Tymora Pierce. They're really good and Alanna is distinctly a strong female character. Her other book, Wild Magic is also pretty good, but isn't about Alanna and as far as I know, wasn't continued.


Doppleganger by Marie Brennan.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber
Freehold DM wrote:
I would also suggest the Sword and Sorceress anthologies.

And of course anything by the series' original editor, Marion Zimmer Bradley.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules Subscriber

I don't really read for adventure or excitement anymore. Instead, I read for character, theme, ...

It's tough to read in the fantasy genre if one is too averse to reading about violence of various kinds.

There are superficial ways in which my upcoming recommendation may appear not to fit the original poster's criteria. Saying anything more risks detracting from the emotional impact of the story.

With that said, I recommend: The Deed of Paksenarrion

Best fantasy I've ever read? No.

Best novel sequence I've ever read, from among those that happen to fall into the fantasy genre? Certainly a contender. And -- relevant to the OP's request -- written by a woman about a female hero (not just a female protagonist).

PS
I really, really do not recommend The Legacy of Gird.


Elizabeth Bear has some good stuff.
All the Windwracked Stars is about the last surviving Valkyrie, after a (sort of) second Ragnarok.


Rathendar wrote:
Mark Sweetman wrote:
The Deed of Paksenarrion - is a very good book series that features a strong female hero in the lead.
+1 to this, still one of my favorite trilogies of all time.

Besides the two prequel novels she wrote in that setting, isn't there a new trilogy as well? I've got to find that one.


Malazan Book of the Fallen series by Steven Erikson and his co-writer Ian C. Esslemont, although just about everyone in the series is a badass, regardless of gender.

Alan Campbell's The Deepgate Codex series (First book proper is called Scar Night) also has two very strong female leads.

The Empire series by Feist is also good (and like some other people in this thread I almost fell foul of the sarcasm about his later works :P ).


LearnTheRules wrote:
Malazan Book of the Fallen series by Steven Erikson and his co-writer Ian C. Esslemont, although just about everyone in the series is a badass, regardless of gender.

Although just about everyone in the series if a badass abused and screwed by luck or fate, regardless of gender, you wanted to say ;)


No spoilers! :P


DungeonmasterCal wrote:
Besides the two prequel novels she wrote in that setting, isn't there a new trilogy as well? I've got to find that one

It's more than a trilogy. So far she has published Oath of Fealty, Kings of the North, and Echoes of Betrayal, and the story isn't close to being finsihed yet. According to the entry of Wikipedia, there are two more left in the series.


LearnTheRules wrote:

No spoilers! :P

Spoiler:
Darth Vader dies in "Return Of The Jedi"!

The Black Company novels by Glen Cook feature a pretty strong female main character in The Lady of the Tower at Charm (later simply "Lady").

Cheliax

Daughter of the Drow trilogy by Elaine Cunningham

The main character is the daughter of the Archmage of Menzoberranzan, Gromph Baenre. Definitely a strong woman. She never gets raped, though in the first book two villains do briefly talk about the possibility of raping her if she cannot be convinced to join them. Only takes up like 1-2 paragraphs and is then never mentioned again.

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