It’s time for another Best of booklist! Since I’m closing out the Curse of Magic posts (unless there’s something more you guys want me to cover that isn’t spoiler filled) I thought it would be fun to list the best Heroines from Epic and adventure Fantasy. I decided to specify epic fantasy, because there are a ton of amazing heroines in Paranormal and Urban fantasy, so much so I was having a hard time choosing, so I’ll be taking a dive into those subsections later. But here are my top heroines! Note: I was tempted to put a lot of my usual favorites, but in the interest of trying to vary my book lists so they aren’t all repeats of my favorite series, I refrained and instead listed them as honorable mentions.
Disclaimer: The following books vary in terms of blood/gore, swear words, and romance, so you might want to check out the reviews before reading them.
Kelandry of Protector of the Small: by Tamora Pierce
I love many of Tamora Pierce’s books, but my favorite heroine by far is Kelandry. The series follows her fight to become a Lady Knight in the fantasy land of Tortall. But what sets Kelandry apart from Pierce’s other heroines is that Kelandry–while talented at fighting and noble to her bones–is not gifted with magic, nor is she considered chosen by the gods. She has a regular family and…to put it plainly she’s something of an average noble girl. Perhaps a bit taller than most girls, but every fight she wins and battle she launches is done in her own power. Moreover, she is an excellent leader and commander. Most fantasy books follow a rag tag group of heroes–or sometimes even a single hero–who are on a mission to save the world. Kel works with soldiers, other knights, and members of nobility to achieve her goals. If you want a realistic Lady Knight, Kel is your gal.
Sabriel: By Garth Nix: Sabriel is the heroine of Book 1 of the Old Kingdom series. She is brave, competent, and not afraid to jump into a dangerous situation if it means saving the world. Her story follows her journey as she leaves the safety of her school for the dangers of the Old Kingdom, where the dead don’t stay dead, in a journey to find her father, the Abhorson who is responsible for keeping the kingdom safe. Sabriel is my favorite book by Garth Nix, and is a spectacular example of Nix’s ability to weave new kingdoms and unique brands of magic into a glorious adventure. (It should be noted that the heroines of the Old Kingdom books do change. Sabriel is the title character only in book 1.)
Amaranthe of The Emperor’s Edge: By Lindsay Buroker
Amaranthe is the incredibly likable heroine of The Emperor’s Edge series, which follows Amaranthe’s adventures after she experiences a fall from grace as a law enforcement officer, but does everything in her power to help the Imperial Emperor despite her wrongly deserved reputation as a traitor. She’s smart (And not just intellectually, but in a people-smart, street-smart sort of way as well) clever, and good with a weapon. Her crew of friends get her flung into some of the wackiest situations ever, but for those readers who prefer their books on the clean stuff I would say this series rates along the lines of a PG-13 movie so proceed with review reading. Amaranthe is awesome–as are her friends. If you love long fantasy reads and want to laugh, this is so absolutely your book!
Meliara of Crown Duel: by Sherwood Smith
There is no story like Crown Duel–a fantastic tale that takes you from the fight on the battlefield with weapons and blood, to an altogether different sort of fight in glittering palaces. Similarly, there is no heroine like Meliara, a gutsy young lady who is more comfortable with fighting than she is with typical female pursuits. The lengthy book follows her struggle as she learns that overthrowing the evil king doesn’t mean the struggle for the kingdom is over. If you enjoy plot twists, tales of political maneuvering, and strong heroines, Meliara’s tale will be perfectly to your taste!
Ryn of Darkest Drae: by Kelly St. Clare and Raye Wagner
Ryn is one of my favorite heroines, hands down. She’s clever, fast-thinking, and she is more emotionally stable than most of the heroines you read about, despite the tough things she goes through in her series. When she is captured by the deadly Lord Irrik–the dragon-shifter-servant of the evil King Irdelron–Ryn knows her life, by all rights, is forfeit. But our plucky heroine doesn’t give up, even though she is embroiled in the politics between the king, his dragon, and the starving people of her homeland. Seriously, though this book has many grim and dark moments with some scenes of torture, Ryn will keep you laughing and engaged.
Giannine of Heir Apparent: By Vivian Vande Velde
To my Champions this won’t come as a surprise, but Heir Apparent is one of my absolute most favorite books, and Giannine is also one of my favorite characters EVER. Though Giannine is from modern society (actually a slightly futuristic society) the bulk of her story takes place in a video game that has an epic fantasy setting. The story follows Giannine as she stumbles through a castle siege, fighting a dragon, encounters with wizards, and more. Giannine is an incredibly sympathetic character–you will laugh and scream with her as she progresses through the game. If you are a fan of fantasy, you will LOVE this book, even if you don’t like video games!
Coriel of Summers at Castle Auburn: By Sharon Shinn
Coriel is on this list because her story is an interesting twist on an old fantasy trope. Coriel is the younger daughter who stands in the shadow of her beautiful and talented sister who is engaged to a prince–the same prince Coriel herself has fallen in love with. The book follows her journey and some interesting plot twists as she matures and becomes more confident and competent young lady.
As usual, I have my list of honorable mentions, and I’ll be starting it off with a plug for one of my own series. 😉
- Angelique of Fairy Tale Enchantress by K. M. Shea — Angelique is feared by mage kind for her deadly powers. While harboring such destructive magic, can she ever make the highest mage rank, Enchantress?
- Beka Cooper by Tamora Pierce: Yeah, yeah, I knew taking two heroines from the same author was cheating, so I had to demote Beka to an honorable mention, but if you like Kel, you’ll love Beka!
- Lucia of Moss Forest Orchid by Shari L Tapscott: Sea captains and pet dragons, ‘nough said!
- Meanne of An Exchange of Gifts by Anne McCaffrey: A runaway princess who fakes her own death–that’s a solid recipe for a great adventure!
- Hermione of Harry Potter by JK Rowling: I love Hermione’s intelligence and loyalty!
- Lucy of Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis: Lucy was the first character I ever came to love and adore, so she always has a special place in my heart!
Who else would you include on this list? Comment below with your suggestions, and feel free to share this post with your friends! 😉 Until next time, thanks fore reading, Champions!