Fantasy booklist: women warriors

Some women warriors.

51evljSGbFLJessica Amanda Salmonson‘s Tomoe Gozen trilogy tells the legendary history of a famous woman samurai from the 12th-13th century, in an alternate universe Japan called Naipon where all the fantastical and mythical creatures (like dragons and demons and ghosts) are real. Best read in order: *Tomoe Gozen, *The Golden Naginata, and Thousand Shrine Warrior.

Robin McKinley‘s early books are about young women who become warriors due to fate and necessity; the books also feature strong equine (The Hero and the Crown, The Blue Sword) and/or canine characters. Although *The Outlaws of Sherwood (a re-telling of the Robin Hood legend with a reluctant hero and some unruly, can’t-keep-em-down women) has neither horses nor dogs in main roles, it kicks ass.

McKinley’s Deerskin is based on a little-retold fairy tale about rape and incest, in which the ‘warrior’s’ struggle is to escape, survive, and speak out. (Some very good dog characters in this book.)

In Sunshine, the story of a baker turned vampire-killer and her vampire friend, McKinley moves away from YA and classic fantasy.

In Chalice, a very original fantasy world is built around the importance of humans staying in connection with the land, and the woman beekeeper who restores that connection in a besieged and damaged country. (A different kind of ‘warrior’, but since we’re on McKinley…)

UnknownJo Clayton’s Duel of Sorcery trilogy is about Serroi, woman warrior and magician, a ‘misborn of the windrunners’ who was abandoned by her people and raised by a powerful wizard named Ser Noris. Throughout her childhood the wizard used her  affection for him to harness her magic for his own ends. (The puppies she befriended were turned into demon-dogs, for instance.) The trilogy – Moongather, Moonscatter, and Changer’s Moon – follows Serroi’s escape from Ser Noris, her training and life as a warrior and a mage, to her final confrontation with the wizard. (Best read in order, hard to find but saw some on Amazon.)

Tamora Pierce‘s Tortall has many women warriors, including Keladry and Alanna; the ‘dog’ (cop) Beka Cooper (see earlier post); Aly, a master spy and revolutionary (who is more of a strategist, but can certainly fight) in Trickster’s Choice and Trickster’s Queen; Dane the wild mage who can transform into and speak with animals; and so on.

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