Is This Just Fantasy?: Celebrating The Hub’s Favorite Women In Fantasy Fiction

Just Fantasy women in fantasyMarch is Women’s History Month. Woohoo! In that spirit, I wanted to dedicate this edition of Is This Just Fantasy? to the fabulous women of fantasy fiction and I asked my fellow Hub bloggers to join in the fun.  Here are some of The Hub’s favorite female characters in young adult fantasy fiction.

alannaAlanna of Trebond from Song of the Lioness series by Tamora Pierce (2013 Margaret A. Edwards Award)

“The heroine who comes immediately to my mind (and no doubt others as well!) is Alanna.  So strong, brave, courageous and while in the first novel she must hide her sex and pretend to be a boy, I really loved how ultimately she embraced being a woman as the series evolved.” – Sarah Debraski

Dealing-with-dragons-first-editionPrincess Cimorene from Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia C. Wrede

“After first encountering Cimorene in Dealing with Dragons, I was hooked. She is a princess who is bored with everything that goes with being a princess. She wants nothing to do with the not-very-bright princes she encounters and is so eager for more excitement in her life that she leaves her home to find a dragon to ‘capture’ her – the only acceptable alternative for a princess. Once she finds her dragon, she becomes the dragon’s chef and librarian (a fact I had forgotten until I recently reread this book). With Cimorene, Wrede turns princess stereotypes on their head and creates a funny, compelling, and exciting protagonist.” – Carli Spina 

SabrielSabriel from Sabriel by Garth Nix

“My vote is for Sabriel! I am re-reading (listening to Tim Curry’s great narration in audiobook!) Sabriel by Garth Nix right now and I am remembering how great of a character she is. She’s smart but willing to learn; capable with a compassionate personality; and emotional in the best possible way. She – and Lirael in the next two books – are favorite female characters who are strong and well-drawn without being the one-note ‘strong female characters.’ ” – Anna Tschetter

tam linJanet from Tam Lin by Pamela Dean

“Janet is smart, curious, confident. She’s unapologetically intellectual, as well as snarky, judgemental, and impatient, but she’s also very aware of her own shortcomings, and she’s honest, kind, and supportive. Janet forms believable and complicated friendships (especially with her roommates); navigates the complexities of boyfriends, libido, and 1970s birth control; keeps her grades up; and triumphs in a life-or-death struggle with the Queen of Elfland.” – Julie Bartel

Girl-of-Fire-and-Thorns-USElisa from The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson (2013 YALSA Top Ten Best Fiction for Young Adults)

“The other fantasy heroine who I admire and find so amazing is Elisa from Rae Carson’s The Girl of Fire and Thorns. Having always been coddled and sheltered she really is thrown into adventure and danger unprepared and has to work to find her inner strength. I loved watching her become a fierce courageous leader (and loving woman as well) in this trilogy.”   – Sarah Debraski

ValiantVal from Valiant by Holly Black (2006 YALSA Best Books for Young Adults)

“Val is a runaway who gets mixed up in the faerie world and I really like her development from a confused runaway to a strong fighter in Black’s novel.  This character has resonated with me, even though I read the novel years ago.  There is something awesome about Val and her willingness to leave a bad situation and try to survive on the streets, and then, when she learns about the faerie world, her fight to survive and fight to protect her new family!  Just writing this makes me want to go back and read Val’s story again!” – Colleen Seisser

Vampire AcademyRose Hathaway from Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead (2008 YALSA Teens’ Top Ten)

Rose is just kick ass and I love it! She has the fighting skills (some from her Dhampir training and some just instinct), strength of character, and sharp tongue that every female warrior should have.  Her development through the course of Mead’s Vampire Academy series is a fantastic one and makes her such an interesting character to read and relate to.” -Colleen Seisser

Katsa from Graceling by Kristin Cashore (2009 YALSA Teens’ Top Ten, 2009 Morris Award Finalist, 2009 YALSA Best Books for Young Adults)

graceling“I’m sure I won’t be the only one to say this, but I LOVE Katsa from Graceling. Kristin Cashore created a character that lives in a fantasy world, but faces personal decisions that mirror real world situations. She is a strong, smart female who finds a way to balance her independence with her desire for friendships, family, and romance.”    – Jessica Lind

“I’m probably not alone in that I really liked Katsa in Graceling. I liked how the book had adventure, romance, special powers, a journey, survival — a bit of everything! I really felt Katsa’s internal dilemmas regarding her Grace and what is expected of women.” – Becky O’Neil

Bitterblue by Kristin CashoreBitterblue from Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore (2013 YALSA Best Books for Young Adults)

“Not as flashy as Katsa (whom I loved too), Bitterblue has a lot of responsibility for someone so young.  She has no parents and a pretty traumatic past.  Yet she is brave and moral and never gives up.” – Tara Kehoe

RavenBoys_coverBlue Sargent from The Raven Cycle series by Maggie Stiefvater  (2013 YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults, 2014 YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults)

“I have been in awe of Blue and her fascinating matriarchal family since the first sentence of The Raven Boys. Blue is integral to the plot of the entire series; she is no mere tagalong. Blue’s ability to influence other powers still leaves her powerless at times. For her strengths  and her weaknesses, Blue is a heroine I’d proudly idealize. I also love her snarky dialogue as she verbally spars with other characters rather than passively float along in someone else’s story.” – Laura Perenic

Finnikin-of-the-Rock-0763643610-LIsaboe from Finnikin of The Rock by Melina Marchetta (2011 YALSA Top Ten Best Fiction for Young Adults)

“Isaboe is clearly the hero of Melina Marchetta’s Finnikin of The Rock.  While Finnikin tells the story and is important too, it’s Isaboe who saves Lumatere.  She is strong, smart, and has a sense of humor.   Isaboe isn’t afraid to be ugly (as she makes herself in the beginning of the book to hide her true identity), or to fall in love, or to talk about her period.” – Tara Kehoe

handbook for dragon slayersPrincess Tilda from Handbook for Dragon Slayers by Merrie Haskell (2014 Schneider Family Book Award Winner)

“Princess Tilda is a fairly unusual type of princess, at least in modern popular fiction: she has a disability that has not only a physical impact on her life due to the pain she encounters on a regular basis, but also because of the way that it makes the people of her kingdom view her with distrust and suspicion. At the start of the book, Tilda wants nothing more than to be left alone to become a scribe copying books, but over the course of the story she gets swept up into a mission to hunt dragons and along the way comes to a new understanding of herself and her responsibilities.”    – Carli Spina

Who are some of your favorite women in fantasy fiction?

-Kelly Dickinson, currently reading Bone Gap by Laura Ruby

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Kelly Dickinson

I am a librarian at an independent girls' school in the DC-Metro area. I am a compulsive baker, book addict, and genre fiction fan with passion for social justice. Find me on Twitter as @onesmartcupcake.