Top Ten Tuesday: Fearsome Females

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.


Today’s topic is character freebie, and this post is long overdue.  The truth is, all my all time favorite characters are male, and most of my favorite authors are men.  I can’t answer why because I honestly don’t know. So today I’m going to give a shout out to the strong female protagonist (or sidekick), which I probably don’t talk about enough.

The characters below, listed in no particular order, are not only not damsels in distress, but they are probably bailing their male counterparts out of a sticky situation.

Mackayla (Mac) Lane of the Fever series by Karen Marie Moning – Admittedly, we know we can count on Barrons to show up when Mac gets in over her head, but let’s not forget the Mac does a pretty good job of holding her own most days.  I mean- I wouldn’t survive a rhinoboy… especially not while keeping my fingernails painted.  I love that she manages to still be very feminine while also being tough.


Inej Ghafa of Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo – Inej has had a really traumatic life.  Honestly I think she should be far more broken inside than Kaz considering what she’s been through, but mentally and physically, she’s a warrior.  I adored her for it.

Kinsey Locke of Locke & Key by Joe Hill – This is one book (graphic novel) where the girl really was my favorite character.  She might be tough due to in-book magic, but she also experiences a lot of growth over the course of all six books.  Far and away my favorite character from that series.

The Mere Wife Maria Dahvana Headley

Willa Herot of The Mere Wife by Maria Dahvana Headley – Have you ever heard the song “Two Black Cadillacs” by Carrie Underwood?  I feel like Willa Herot is the wife in that song.  Like if you cheat on her- she’s not coming for the mistress, she’s coming for you.  And she’s probably going to laugh about it later over tea.

Ferius Parfax of the Spellslinger series by Sebastien de Castell – She’s a fast talking, card slinging, Argosi wanderer with a thousand tricks up her sleeve and a soft spot for a kid named Kellen.  If you’re in a sticky situation- Ferius is the person you ask to clean it up.

Hild of The Saxon Stories by Bernard Cornwell – Sorry Nona Grey, Hild is the original warrior nun.  She don’t take no shit from nobody, and I love that she’s one of the few character’s that’s ever allowed to put Uhtred in his place.


Nemesis of The Diabolic by S.J. Kincaid – Here’s one I don’t mention.  Nemesis is actually a bioengineered weapon.  Only death will stop her.  Seriously.  It’s the way she’s programmed.


Sarah Harding of The Lost World by Michael Crichton – Here’s something you might not know: Michael Crichton was writing strong female protagonists before it was the cool thing to do.  Sure they probably all resemble Lara Croft, but I remember reading the scene where she literally carries Dr. Ian Malcolm out of the trailer hanging over the cliff on her back and I think I might have actually cried.  A) Because he was taken from us too soon, and B) because fuck you Steven Spielberg for changing that scene.  Harding spent this whole novel rescuing the boys and I just loved her for it.


Circe of Circe by Madeline Miller – Circe spends a lot of the early pages being a doormat, but those later chapters when she figures out she doesn’t have to remain a doormat?  Ugh- loved every minute.

Yennefer of The Witcher by Andrzej Sapkowski – In the debate between Triss Merigold and Yenn, I’m always going to be team Yenn.  I love that between her and the supposedly emotionless Geralt, she manages to be the least emotional.  I don’t see this dynamic often in literature or anywhere but it never gets old for me.

The Queens of Innis Lear by Tessa Gratton

Gaela of The Queens of Innis Lear by Tessa Gratton – I had a lot of complaints about this book, and even some about Gaela, but damn it, it didn’t stop me from admiring her.  I can’t really explain why I loved her so much without spoilers – but I was cheering her on the whole time.  If the tragedy in this book had been that the antagonists won, I wouldn’t have shed a tear.

Thisbe Saneer of Terra Ignota by Ada Palmer – Something happens to Thisbe early on in these novels and we don’t actually get to spend a lot of time with her, but we do know that Mycroft is terrified of her.  Which says a lot considering Mycroft’s history.  Also- I really, really want a pair of her killer boots.

Madame D’Arouet of Terra Ignota by Ada Palmer – If Thisbe is the lady putting the knife in your enemy’s back – Madame is the woman framing you for it.  She just gets ickier as the books go on, but she’s never boring.

Gone Girl Gillian Flynn

Amy Dunne of Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (major spoilers ahead) – So Amy is the one most readers love to hate, and while I sort of hated the ending too, I have to admit, I’m not sure Amy would be the same character if the book didn’t end that way.  I mean- she’s cunning enough to frame a man for a murder that, never mind he didn’t commit, but didn’t even happen.

That’s actually more than 10, and I feel like I could keep naming names, so we’ll stop here.  I do want to say that while my list has an excess of women you wouldn’t want to double-cross, I don’t think that’s the only way to portray a strong female protagonist, it’s just those types of characters I gravitate to most, regardless of gender.

What about you? Did you do a Top Ten Tuesday too?  Leave me a link below so I can check it out!


41 thoughts on “Top Ten Tuesday: Fearsome Females

  1. SARAH THIS POST WAS SO GOOD. Even though I haven’t read most of these books (I really need to get better at reading adult SFF), I loved how you described all of these characters. Plus, I love how you included at the end that there is no one way for women to be strong! Also the way you described Circe is so funny and I’m so excited to read that book! Also I never heard that part of the movie was originally different and now I’m mad :(( and ofc I agree that inej is such a fearsome female 😍

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ohh – I hope you get to read Circe soon. That one is one of my favorites!

      And yes I felt really betrayed when I read it in the book later that originally Sarah had rescued everyone else. The scene was just so brilliant- and I just remembered asking myself why would anyone ever change this?!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I love this list! That’s really interesting that most of your favorite authors are men. I’ve actually never sat down to take score with mine, but now I’m curious😁 And yeah, I just love Ferius!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah- Stephen King, Michael Crichton, Joe Hill, Sebastien de Castell, and Bernard Cornwell (among others). I’d count Karen Marie Moning among favorites too, because I’ve read 90% of her books, and of course, Ada Palmer.

      When I was younger I always had more friends that identified as male too. That’s not as true anymore but I think it just might be my personality type? I’m working on finding more “not men” favorites though- by which I mean anyone that identifies as something other than male.

      And Ferius is the best!! After Reichis of course. Lol


    • None at all? I don’t really prefer male protagonists over female protagonists or authors or whatever- but I just notice when I’m making these kinds of lists they are almost always male characters. It has no bearing on what I’ll actually pick up- so that is interesting!


      • Understandable…I don’t know if you’ve read the latter books, but Brida made a brief appearance — I wondered if it was maybe a reference to the TV show, since she’d been gone for years.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I think I know the reference you mean- and I didn’t read it that way. I saw it as Cornwell kind of giving closure/conclusion to Brida’s story line. I will say the last season deviated a lot from what I remember of the books though.


  3. Great list! The Terra Ignota and Spellslinger books are both so lovely! I might have to go check them out just for that. 😉 I think I’m pretty balanced as far as author and character gender goes. It’s not on purpose, though, I agree that I don’t always know why I like what I do when it comes to reading.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s weird right? I always feel bad every time I make a list of characters and 90% of them are all male. I gravitate to action oriented books with battle scenes though so it makes a little sense.


      • That does make sense, most of the action-oriented books are written with male main characters. That does seem to be getting more balanced, though. I’ve seen more non-male characters in blurbs about action stuff lately. One example that I want to read is Heroine Complex, which sounds like a fun action-superhero book with female leads.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I’m going to look that one up because it does sound awesome! And yes – we definitely need more action oriented books with non-male leads.


  4. I’ve been wanting to read Circe. Sounds fantastic. And Hild sounds great- I think I watched the first season of the The Last Kingdom (which adapted the Utrehd stories if I’m not mistaken?) but I haven’t read the books. She sounds badass tho. 🙂

    Also I think I need to read The Lost world now! Love the movie, but I’ve only read the first Jurassic PArk book…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Also- please do read The Lost World because it’s a great book! I think it gets overlooked a lot because the movie wasn’t as good as the first but I think if you enjoy any of it The Lost World is worth reading.


      • That is good to know, thanks! I do have the Lost World on my shelf (I have that Barnes & Noble edition that has both it and the first book together) so I’ll definitely make a point to read it now!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Amazing list! I loved Six of Crows, and I finally read Circe? I haven’t added it to my GoodReads because I completely forgot but at this point, I can’t remember the date I read it so I will just leave it off. It was so good and I can see why you keep recommending it!
    -Emma 🙂


  6. I’m one of those rare people that not only preferred the Jurassic Park books to the films but preferred the sequel to the original. What’s not to like about camoflauged dinos?

    Totally agree, she was a very awesome character!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. WordPress limits nested replies to 3, looks like — I haven’t seen beyond the first season of The Last Kingdom, I think because I invariably compare it to HBO’s The Vikings, as well as to the books, and it didn’t compare well to either — at least, for me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • OMG- I LOVE Vikings!!! Seriously my favorite show ever! (And yes, much better and more complex than Last Kingdom). I do still watch it because I like Dreymon (Uhtred) but prefer Vikings.


      • Vikings is/was amazing — one of the few shows I’d pay full price or even preorder for. (Usually I buy used DVDs. :-D) ) Top-notch acting and production qualities all around, and there are SO many strong characters. I didn’t care much for any of the kids, but Ragnar, Lagertha, Loki, and most of the villains were a treat to watch. That Wessex king was so devious, too!


      • Ragnar will forever be my favorite fictional character. Travis Fimmel made that show. And I loved him and Ecbert and him and Aethalstan together. Of the sons I loved Ivar, and stand by the stance that his actor has done an amazing job with him, despite the character being a generally despicable human being.

        I also love Lagertha, and if I’d been including TV and movies here she would have been at the top of this list.


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