Menu
Jump to content

What's with the ads?

4KookieKids

Epic fantasy with strong female protagonists?

Recommended Posts

I have a nephew who’s into epic fantasy and his mom Is just wondering where the strong women are! Any ideas? He’s 11 and is into HP, Gregor (current fav), Percy Jackson, etc.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
32 minutes ago, Amateur Actress said:

https://rivetedlit.com/2018/01/03/10-ya-books-featuring-strong-female-characters/

Also check out Goodreads...they have book lists for everything.  

 

 I do think his is a little bit trickier though, because we wanted a strong female protagonist in a book that would still hold a boys attention, you know?

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The girl who circumnavigated fairyland series is a good one.

Once he's finished Gregor, Hunger Games has a strong female lead.

Cherie Priest just brought out a YA novel called I am Princess X. My teen daughter liked her adult stuff which was darkish, steam punky and had kick ass female leads.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There is some (very non-explicit) sex in most of the Tamora Pierce books... I'd let an 11 yo read them, but I know a lot of people wouldn't. However, her Circle of Magic series (the first one - later ones also have non-explicit references to sex) is clean. Three female and one male protagonist in those. 

Some other thoughts...

The Hero and the Crown
The Dealing with Dragons series
So You Want to Be a Wizard (one female and one male protagonist)
A Wrinkle in Time
Sabriel and the sequels
Dragonsong and Dragonsinger (but watch out for the other books set in that world, which are adult books - these stand alone fine)
Howl's Moving Castle
Akata Witch
Leviathan (again, one female and one male protagonist split the action)
Westmark trilogy (central protagonist is male, but there's a very strong secondary female protagonist, especially in the final book - The Beggar Queen)
Enchantress from the Stars
Inkheart
The Golden Compass
City of Ember (again with the multiple protagonists)

Honestly, there is a lot out there. There's even more in YA. And there are a lot of titles, like, say, Gail Carson Levine, Jessica Day George, and Shannon Hale, whose books, IMHO, are going to have more appeal to girls than boys, but some boys might really like them. But the above titles and series definitely have cross-gender appeal.

Edited by Farrar
  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm more of a Sci Fi Girl.

First in mind -- Narnia has Lucy and Susan.

Or how about A Wrinkle in Time?

Stardust has Yvaine.

Ooh Hero and the Crown by Mckinley? That's a good one!

Lyra in the Dark Materials books?

And of course Dorothy and Alice ? though I don't know that I'd consider either "strong protagonists'.

I can think of some that aren't really for an eleven year old -- there are some great female protagonists in the Pern books but there's a lot of sex in those (I'd look at Moreta for a younger reader, and Nerilka) ... I definitely read them around that age, though.

There's great female leads in Game of Thrones but that is definitely not for kids LOL Same for the Mists of Avalon books.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Fantasy of various types (ages 9-11)
Where the Mountain Meets the Moon (Lin)
The Borrowers series (Norton)
The Night Fairy (Schlitz)
Rowan Hood series (Springer) -- daughter of Robin Hood
Children of the Lamp series (Kerr) -- girl + boy protagonists
Pennyroyal Academy (Larson)
The Uncommoners (Bell) -- girl + boy protagonists; Harry Potter-ish

Fantasy of various types (ages 10-12)
Enchanted Forest Chronicles (Wrede)
Keeper of the Lost City series (Messenger)
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making (Valente)
Howl's Moving Castle (Jones)
The Wolves of Willoughby Chase (Aiken)
The Great Good Thing (Townley)
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland; Through the Looking Glass (Carroll)
Serafina series (Beatty)
Tiffany Aching series (Pratchett)
Wildwood Chronicles (Meloy)
The Kane Chronicles (Riordan) -- girl + boy protagonists
Chronicles of Narnia (Lewis) -- girl + boy protagonists, with some books being more heavily girl point of view
    (Voyage of the Dawn Treader = Lucy; Silver Chair = Jill)

Fairy Tale Fantasy
Sisters Grimm series (Buckley)
Fablehaven series (Mull) -- girl + boy protagonists
The Girl Who Drank the Moon (Barnhill)
The Ordinary Princess (Kaye)
Ella Enchanted (Levine

Sci-Fi / Fantasy
City of Ember (Du Prau)
A Wrinkle in Time; A Wind in the Door (L'Engle)
Enchantress from the Stars (Engdahl)
Leviathan, Behemoth, Goliath trilogy (Westerfeld) -- rollicking steam-punk alternative WW1; girl + boy protagonists

13+ Young Adult Fantasy of various types
Graceling and sequels (Cashore)
The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel series (Scott) -- girl + boy protagonists
Lunar Chronicles (Meyer) - sci-fi world with subtly recognizable fairytale characters
The Tombs of Atuan (Le Guin)
Momo (Ende)
The Perilous Gard (Pope)


ETA - lol, I cross-posted with the last 2 posters, so some repeats in my list above

#2 ETA
While I really enjoyed the creativity of The Hero and the Crown and The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley, I feel a little ish-y and squick-y about the subtle undertone early on in her "origin story" of how she becomes "fully realized" as a woman / heroine -- it is through abduction / s*x with her kidnapper, the male leader of the beduoin-like horse riding tribe that makes her their queen. Not graphically written at all, but I don't feel comfortable with that being what it takes to make a woman a strong character in the world of this story, or to be able to realize her full potential it takes a man.... Just me, and it may not strike everyone that way.

Edited by Lori D.
  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Lori D. said:

 

#2 ETA
While I really enjoyed the creativity of The Hero and the Crown and The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley, I feel a little ish-y and squick-y about the subtle undertone early on in her "origin story" of how she becomes "fully realized" as a woman / heroine -- it is through abduction / s*x with her kidnapper, the male leader of the beduoin-like horse riding tribe that makes her their queen. Not graphically written at all, but I don't feel comfortable with that being what it takes to make a woman a strong character in the world of this story, or to be able to realize her full potential it takes a man.... Just me, and it may not strike everyone that way.

Well, first, they have two totally different heroes. They're connected books, but not a series in the traditional sense in that they're both standalone novels. That's part of the plot of The Blue Sword, except there's no sex in the novel at all. Like, there's a clear sexual tension between them, but if they don't wait until marriage, that's not ever explored or even alluded to. I agree there's a problematic element to that... but I disagree that the same issue is in The Hero and the Crown. There's one very veiled reference sex in to Hero and the Crown (so veiled that I've discussed the books with recent adult readers who missed it) but there's no kidnapping, no abduction plot. And the main character is a totally different person. The world feels totally different - the two books are separated by several centuries so the geography of the world feels different - Aerin's world in Hero and the Crown is more like a traditional fantasy with dragons and forests and mountains. Harry's world in The Blue Sword is more like a colonial, desert, bedouin themed story.

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 minutes ago, Farrar said:

Well, first, they have two totally different heroes. They're connected books, but not a series in the traditional sense in that they're both standalone novels. That's part of the plot of The Blue Sword, except there's no sex in the novel at all. Like, there's a clear sexual tension between them, but if they don't wait until marriage, that's not ever explored or even alluded to. I agree there's a problematic element to that... but I disagree that the same issue is in The Hero and the Crown. There's one very veiled reference sex in to Hero and the Crown (so veiled that I've discussed the books with recent adult readers who missed it) but there's no kidnapping, no abduction plot. And the main character is a totally different person. The world feels totally different - the two books are separated by several centuries so the geography of the world feels different - Aerin's world in Hero and the Crown is more like a traditional fantasy with dragons and forests and mountains. Harry's world in The Blue Sword is more like a colonial, desert, bedouin themed story.


Hmmm... I guess I need to go and re-read.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 hours ago, 4KookieKids said:

 

 I do think his is a little bit trickier though, because we wanted a strong female protagonist in a book that would still hold a boys attention, you know?

 

No, actually, I don't. What do you mean by this?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Lori D. said:

#2 ETA
While I really enjoyed the creativity of The Hero and the Crown and The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley, I feel a little ish-y and squick-y about the subtle undertone early on in her "origin story" of how she becomes "fully realized" as a woman / heroine -- it is through abduction / s*x with her kidnapper, the male leader of the beduoin-like horse riding tribe that makes her their queen. Not graphically written at all, but I don't feel comfortable with that being what it takes to make a woman a strong character in the world of this story, or to be able to realize her full potential it takes a man.... Just me, and it may not strike everyone that way.

Well, but there was no s*x in the Blue Sword until Harry returned to Corlath after taking down the mountain. It's sort of on the cusp, but still.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
12 minutes ago, Ellie said:

Well, but there was no s*x in the Blue Sword until Harry returned to Corlath after taking down the mountain. It's sort of on the cusp, but still.

Right. He kidnaps her because magical destiny and he hates it (I mean, I think this can still be seen as problematic, but...) and she leaves and saves the day on her own without him because he refuses to listen to her. Then she returns to him triumphant and only then do they get together. But there's not any explicit sex (though I think it's pretty obvious at that point that they'll get together) and they get married.

I think the trope that Harry is potentially a great white savior (tm) in the same mold as Daenaerys in Game of Thrones is more narratively problematic by current standards than the abduction story, which is handled surprisingly well considering the time the book was written in. But even that isn't totally as bad... like, she has an ancestor from there... she's basically been passing as white when she wasn't, at least that's the backstory she comes to find out. Though race isn't explicitly explored in that sense in the novel, even though colonialism is.

Great. Now I have to go reread The Blue Sword for the 2,453rd time. ?

  • Like 2
  • Haha 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, Tanaqui said:

 

No, actually, I don't. What do you mean by this?

 

Just that some books more frequently appeal to boys, some more to girls, and some really do appeal to both genders fairly well. I’d rather not be the cause of him bullied for reading “girly” books. Kids are mean sometimes. Especially in middle school.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Okaaaaaaaaay, but can you spell out what you think that means? Does it have to do with the cover image? The romance:violence ratio? Whether or not there's a female protagonist?

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Every time I see Stardust recommended for tweens, I have to pop in with: I love this book, but it does liberally use the f-word and has a mildly-graphic s3x scene. (If a parent is cool with that, then proceed.) ?

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Tanaqui said:

Okaaaaaaaaay, but can you spell out what you think that means? Does it have to do with the cover image? The romance:violence ratio? Whether or not there's a female protagonist?

 

On 11/17/2018 at 1:19 PM, 4KookieKids said:

 I do think his is a little bit trickier though, because we wanted a strong female protagonist in a book that would still hold a boys attention, you know?


I interpret this to mean that fantasy that is more about a fairy world (something like the Rainbow Fairies series), or fantasy that have a more fairy tale-like feel (a modern spin/retelling of a traditional fairy tale like Cinderella) would typically be less interesting to a boy who likes epic fantasy -- a weapon-wielding character on a physical quest in a sword-and-sorcery fantasy world.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
22 hours ago, Farrar said:

Great. Now I have to go reread The Blue Sword for the 2,453rd time. ?

❤️ ❤️ ❤️

  • Like 1
  • Haha 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As for the gender thing... I mean, my boys have loved lots of "girl" books. But the books they don't love are the ones that aren't just with girl protagonists, but the ones that seem to specifically be about gender as opposed to featuring strong female characters. The books that divide up the world into pink and blue - either in the story elements or in the marketing around the book. When they were younger, some of those books (like, say, the picture book Fancy Nancy) were fine. As they've gotten older, they have a distinct "this is not for me" sense about books like, say The Princess Diaries or even the Tortall books.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Mairelon the Magician and its sequel Magician's Ward (Patricia Wrede)

The Tiffany Aching Books by Terry Pratchett (starts with The Wee Free Men)

Most of Terry Pratchett's books have strong female characters, whether they're the main protagonists or not.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Cabinet of Wonders by Marie Rutkoski. It has a  has a strong female lead, epic fantasy, and no s*x. The sequels would probably appeal to girls more than boys, but the initial book is great for either gender.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 11/17/2018 at 7:13 PM, Farrar said:

There is some (very non-explicit) sex in most of the Tamora Pierce books... I'd let an 11 yo read them, but I know a lot of people wouldn't. However, her Circle of Magic series (the first one - later ones also have non-explicit references to sex) is clean. Three female and one male protagonist in those. 

Also, I think the Terrier series was mostly sex-free with some innuendo? I'm one of those that wouldn't let an 11yo read most of Tamora Pierce, but from what I remember I'd be ok with these ones.

https://www.amazon.com/Terrier-Legend-Beka-Cooper-1-ebook/dp/B000W917PQ/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1542643299&sr=1-1&keywords=terrier+pierce

My favorite epic fantasy with a female lead is Paksenarrion, but would generally suggest for maybe 16 and up. It's generally clean but much more about good vs evil, and has 2 scenes that aren't really explicit but I just don't like for younger kids.  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00APA1E96/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, eagleynne said:

The Tiffany Aching Books by Terry Pratchett (starts with The Wee Free Men)

 

I love Tiffany Aching, but moms looking for books for their kids should be aware that the books deal with some mature themes, increasing through the series.  

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 minutes ago, Michelle Conde said:

I love Tiffany Aching, but moms looking for books for their kids should be aware that the books deal with some mature themes, increasing through the series.  


Thanks for that heads-up! I have only read the first one, and did not realize the series became more mature as it went.

Not to mention I apparently have mis-remembered about the Blue Sword and the Hero and the Crown -- still scratching my head over how/why I seem to have been so "off" in my memory of those 2 books -- that is totally not like me... Fortunately, others with better memories have set the record straight, lol.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, Lori D. said:


Not to mention I apparently have mis-remembered about the Blue Sword and the Hero and the Crown -- still scratching my head over how/why I seem to have been so "off" in my memory of those 2 books -- that is totally not like me... Fortunately, others with better memories have set the record straight, lol.

I want you to put those on your reading list and report back to us when you finish them. 🙂

  • Haha 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
18 hours ago, Lori D. said:

Not to mention I apparently have mis-remembered about the Blue Sword and the Hero and the Crown -- still scratching my head over how/why I seem to have been so "off" in my memory of those 2 books -- that is totally not like me... Fortunately, others with better memories have set the record straight, lol.

 

Perhaps you were thinking of “Dragonflight” by Anne McCaffery? 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hmm, well, A Wrinkle In Time comes to mind.

The Various, quite a nice novel that isn't as well known as it might be - though I didn't find the sequel as good.

The Golden Compass

Sabriel might work or it might be just a bit too old.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wings of Fire, though the characters are dragons, definately counts!   There are 5 dragonettes which are the main focus of the story and three of them are female and all strong characters.   The main antagonists are female too (dragon Queens).

I don't know if it would count as epic, but the Harper Hall Trilogy (Dragonsinger, Dragonsong, and DragonDrums by Anne McCaffrey has a strong female lead --well, she's not the lead in the third, which switches to a male character who's a minor character in the first two (a lot of her other stories would count too, but most I wouldn't suggest for that age, at least not without previewing). 

Lord of the Rings is mostly male characters, and the female characters are not the main characters, but as side characters they are very strong.  

Others have suggested Wrinkle in Time and I agree.  My son loved that one.

I'm not sure about Inkspell (or Inkheart?   Can't remembe which came first) but I sort of remember the main character of that being a girl...I didn't read the story, just my son.  He loved it.

 

Edited by goldenecho
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 11/17/2018 at 2:11 PM, 4KookieKids said:

I have a nephew who’s into epic fantasy and his mom Is just wondering where the strong women are! Any ideas? He’s 11 and is into HP, Gregor (current fav), Percy Jackson, etc.

My teenage dd recommends Keeper  of the Lost Cities

Edited by AimeeM
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I strongly recommend this series

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enchanted_Forest_Chronicles

Plus, there are dragons.  

It turns the usual fantasy tropes upside down.  For example, in one, the main character the girl is a dragon's princess who doesn't want to be rescued and is quite annoyed by the princes that come to rescue her.   Witches don't melt when you throw soapy water at them, it is Wizards that melt.   But, they appear alive again somewhere else in a couple of days.  My husband liked these books too. 

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 hours ago, shawthorne44 said:

I strongly recommend this series

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enchanted_Forest_Chronicles

Plus, there are dragons.  

It turns the usual fantasy tropes upside down.  For example, in one, the main character the girl is a dragon's princess who doesn't want to be rescued and is quite annoyed by the princes that come to rescue her.   Witches don't melt when you throw soapy water at them, it is Wizards that melt.   But, they appear alive again somewhere else in a couple of days.  My husband liked these books too. 

 

 

I like and own these books. I remember loving them when younger but my 9 yo hasn’t been able to get into them yet. 🙂

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The series that starts with Gilded is a strong female (with a really, really strong martial arts background). It’s similar to Percy Jackson, but focused on Korean Mythology. I’d say it’s more like the later HP or Percy books as far as intensity and romantic content. 

 

On Ann McCafferty, be aware that she has some interesting views that creep in later in the series. The Harper Hall books are fine, but the dragon riders are a little more....questionable...(basically, if dragons mate, so do their riders-regardless of the rider’s feelings for each other). 

 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The School for Good and Evil series. Well written and fun, female characters don't come much stronger than the main two, Agatha and Sophie. 

https://www.amazon.com/School-Good-Evil-Soman-Chainani/dp/006210490X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1543286167&sr=8-1&keywords=the+school+for+good+and+evil+book+1

Edited by Mrs. Tharp
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There are several of the Redwall series by Brian Jaques that have female protagonists, and most, if I remember correctly, have females in leadership roles. Now, these are forest animal females, not human females. There are no humans in Redwall. There’s also no sex, and very little romance.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×
×
  • Create New...