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.
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.
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.
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!