Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Lady-Centric Sword and Sorcery Fantasy

So Game of Thrones ended its season, not to return until 2013, and you’re fiending for more epic fantasy. You’ve read all five books, so those are out of the question, and besides, that’s not exactly what you’re in the mood for right now. You’ve been watching rapings and killings for months. You know that George R.R. Martin has been praised for his willingness to let awful things befall his main characters, which is a rarity in mainstream fantasy, but still, you wish things would work out once in a while for the characters you have grown to know and love. You know that Martin is just attempting to be faithful to the Medieval-type society he has created when he puts his female characters in such powerless fixes, but still, you just want to read something where the ladies have some control over their destinies. Well you’re in luck, because I have compiled a list of fantabulous lady-centric sword and sorcery fantasy, especially for you! 

Princeless – written by Jeremy Whitley, art by M. Goodwin
Princess Adrienne is shut up in a tower by her parents to await a prince to rescue her. This is not malicious; it’s tradition. But Adrienne gets tired of waiting and watching lame princes be eaten by her dragon guard, so she and the dragon escape together. This hilarious and charming comic about a princess who decides to rescue herself is certainly the anti–fairy tale and may just be the perfect sweet antidote to the male-centric death and mayhem on Game of Thrones.

Song of the Lioness Quartet, and beyond – Tamora Pierce
Alanna wants to be a knight, but her inattentive father is sending her off to the convent to learn to be a lady. So Alanna dresses up as a boy named Alan and heads off to the castle. This four-book series follows plucky Alanna’s adventures over the ten years that she becomes a knight and then a hero. She’s such a wonderful character to spend time with that you won’t want to leave her world. Luckily, you don’t have to, as Pierce has written four other series (Immortals, Protector of the Small, Daughter of the Lioness, and The Beka Cooper Trilogy) that take place in Tortall, Alanna’s kingdom.

The Heir Chronicles and Seven Realms books – Cinda Williams Chima
Chima is an engaging and inventive writer, and she has two wonderful series to get addicted to. The Heir Chronicles features a deadly series of tournaments used by wizards to divide up their power over the other magical guilds, and the innocent warrior-born who they use to fight their battles. The Seven Realms books take place entirely in another world, starring Han Allister, a former street gang leader who divides his time between the city and the clans in the mountains, and Princess Raisa, heir to the throne of the kingdom and aspiring warrior, whose father is a clan member. The two become embroiled in intrigue involving a group of powerful wizards, who will stop at nothing to win the throne and control of the kingdom.

Graceling, Fire, Bitterblue – Kristin Cashore
Companion books rather than a series, Cashore’s novels are set in a world where humans are gifted with extraordinary capabilities, such as (in the case of Katsa in Graceling) the ability to kill. These books are the stories of the corrupt, who seek to use these powers for their own power and advancement, and the dedicated few who oppose them and seek to use their abilities for the good of all people.

The Blue Sword/The Hero and the Crown – Robin McKinley
The Blue Sword tells the story of Harry Crewe, an orphan who is kidnapped by a group of desert tribesmen and turns out to become the warrior who will save their land and their people. The Hero and the Crown is the prequel to The Blue Sword, focusing on Aerin Dragon Killer, a character who was mentioned as a legend in The Blue Sword. Both Aerin and Harry are tough and resourceful, and you will cheer for them to triumph against slim odds.

Mists of Avalon – Marion Zimmer Bradley
An alternate telling of the King Arthur legend, this book has possibly the most in common with Game of Thrones of all the books on this list. It is more adult in theme and tone, and it is about an extended political and military struggle for control of a kingdom. But it wouldn’t be on this list if it wasn’t all about the ladies, and this retelling has a decidedly feminist slant. Be forewarned that after reading this book, whenever you see depictions of Morgan Le Fay as an evil witch, you will shake your fist and say, “That’s not how it was at all!”

What are some other female wizard and warrior stories you enjoy?

(Images: Game of Thrones, advertisement, from AdWeek; Princeless, issue 1 cover [October, 2011], from the Action Lab web site; Song of the Lioness, books 1-4, from Amazon; Warrior Heir/Demon King, covers, from the author's web site; Graceling, cover, from Goodreads; Blue Sword/Hero and the Crown, covers, from Goodreads; Mists of Avalon, cover, from Goodreads)

No comments:

Post a Comment