Hi everyone! Welcome back to Five of the Best! It’s my very own intermittent series of posts. Intermittent being the key word, really.
The premise is pretty simple: I pick a theme for the post, and then I pick five books that I believe showcase this the best.
The theme this time is Female Characters. These are books full of strong females of all varieties. The worlds they inhabit, whether sci-fi or fantasy, have tried to break these girls and they aren’t having any of it as they clawing their way to the top through sheer will, determination, physical prowess and intelligence.
So, if you want to hear about some SFF books that have some kick-ass women in them, then read on…
Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri
Honestly, it’s just ridiculous that this book was a debut. Tasha Suri’s writing is superb and draws you in from the very beginning. And this includes her character work. Our protagonist here, Mehr, is just superbly written. She’s fiercely proud of her nomadic heritage and she’ll fight tooth-and-nail before she abandons this, no matter who comes for her. Not the Ambhan Emperor or his mysterious mystics. Not her new husband. Not her step-mother. No one. I loved cheering her on the whole way through this book.
The Bear & the Nightingale by Katherine Arden
I think this might be The Bear & the Nightingale‘s second appearance on Five of the Best, and it would be the first book to achieve that! What an accolade! But seriously, Vasya, our main protagonist, is someone you can’t help but cheer for. The whole of medieval Russia, ancient and evil forest spirits, and the Christian Church are all gunning for her to submit to her place… And she’s not having any of their nonsense! She’s absolutely charming in a spiky way that, being honest, can sometimes be annoying, but is absolutely nailed here. Katherine Arden has done a masterful job with her character in this book, and the two others that continue Vasya’s story.
Best Served Cold by Joe Abercrombie
I bet you were all wondering if there’d be a Joe Abercrombie book on here, weren’t you? Silly question really! Our main character here, Monza Murcatto, is just a terrible, terrible person, but oh so engaging! You want her to win. You want the madness she is unleashing to continue beacause you need to see what she does next. In typical Abercrombie fashion, he makes you cheer for someone awful and you don’t even feel ashamed about it. Murcatto is almost a force of nature in this book, her willpower carrying her through some awful situations as she plots revenge on Duke Orso for his betrayal and the murder of her beloved brother. Honestly, she is not someone you would want to piss off!
Skyward by Brandon Sanderson
Might this be the second book to get a second mention? Congrats to Brandon Sanderson too! Anyway, Skyward revolves around Spensa, a teenage girl who is attending flight school to become a starfighter- and who has the galaxy’s largest chip on her shoulder. This stubbornness and determination prove others wrong helps her overcome many obstacles, but what’s actually really pleasing about her story is the fact that she grows as a person. She never loses her stubbornness. She never lets anyone tell her she can’t do something, but she learns so make. She learns to make friends, to accept other people, to accept help, and does this without ever truly compromising herself. That is some true strength!
City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty
I loved Nahri in this series, especially this first book. I do enjoy a good origin story, so first books often end up as some of my favourites. Nahri’s compassionate and smart and wants nothing more than to help people as a healer. Of course, life hasn’t let her have this, so she lives on the streets of Cairo as a con woman. But her heart is in the right place and even when she discovers magic IS real and is whisked off to the djinn city of Daevabad and it’s byzantine politics, she never loses her desire to help people and make the world a better place. Really, you have to respect that.
So there you have it, my ‘Five of the Best’ for strong female characters! What do you think of my choices? Do you agree? Are there any books that you think I should have included instead? Got any recommendations in this area for me? Let me know in the comments!
Have a great day!