Friday, 9 August 2013

Top Ten Female Fantasy Characters (Part Two)

Continuing on from last week's post, I'm charting a course through my favourite ten female fantasy characters. There are some novel additions here, so please do go and check out their stories.

6. Darcie Lock (Darcie Lock series)





I love the way Julia Golding presents her characters- perhaps why I've got two of her creations on the list. But Darcie is as far removed from Connie (number 2) as you could expect. First off: a FEMALE kickass spy! Another trope sadly lacking these days. Darcie is resourceful, clever, and energetic, yet at the same time hindered by her lack of experience and sometimes lack of confidence. The stories also tie in very heavily with Golding's work as a diplomat, so her locations and settings are very believable.

Darcie comes off as a great character. As an inexperienced teenage spy, she runs into a lot of problems, as you'd expect, but she does try her best to figure things out on her own, she's got a keen eye for detail, and a decent memory to boot. She has a charming friendship with SAS soldier, Stingo, too, and the usual teenage-troubled relationship with her parents. However she has to train to acquire her skills, so she's anything but perfect.

Romance of course has a part to play, but thankfully it's not the focus of the plot and it (usually) doesn't derail her character. She is only 14, after all. She's at her best in Empty Quarter, where she gets mixed up with a spoilt President's daughter, and has to use her wits to survive the brutal Sahara. I have yet to read Deadlock but I'm sure it will continue to show Darcie growing as a character, and I look forward to it.

Favourite quote: "Why choose a life where everything is a lie?" - Julia Golding, Empty Quarter

7. Princess Alyrra (Thorn)


The princess of a tiny kingdom on the fringes of her world, Alyrra has always tried to keep out of the limelight, after an incident involving her brother and one of the noble's daughters. However, when she's betrothed to a prince from a powerful kingdom, things start to change. Along with an enchantment cast by a witch, Alyrra has to learn to cope with a new way of living and a new way of seeing herself, yet she can't quite become a different person.

Alyrra was a strong character as, like others on my list, she undergoes real development. Though she initially tries to run from her destiny, even denying it entirely, she eventually confronts it and meets the challenges expected of her. Her inquisitive nature isn't so impulsive that it gets her into trouble, yet it guides her not to take things at face-value (which is one of the key messages of the book). She also managed to be a resilient protagonist whose features weren't defined by the characters around her.

All in all, Alyrra's journey is a great read, and she's a prime example of how characters can and should be written.

Favourite quote: "I know...that, having been born to power, it is my responsibility to see it handled well by myself, by those who come after me." -Intisar Khanani, Thorn

8. Kestrel Hath (Wind on Fire trilogy)


Long before Hunger Games ever existed, this series of books painted just as brutal a picture of a fantasy kingdom as modern dystopian books do for Earth today. And Nicholson, also writer of the famous film Gladiator, does just an impressive job with his novels as with his screenplays.

Kestrel, or Kess, is a rebellious, somewhat impulsive girl, sick of living under the strict rules of her home city, Aramanth. One day her rashness gets the better of her and she goes on a journey with her twin brother Bowman and another boy named Mumpo to try and change her city's ways. Five years later, having succeeded, she's then the sole survivor when Aramanth is sacked and her people taken into slavery. In the final book she confronts her destiny, along with Bowman and her family.

Kess has a lot going for her, but it's her flaws that drew me to her. She shares a psychic connection with her twin brother, cares deeply about her family and is willing to use any means to protect them, almost going too far at times. She's very loyal, as well, and is another rare example where her character isn't defined by her gender. However, she's also hindered through keeping her suffering to herself, and not being as kind-hearted as her twin; traits that lead her to her final choice in the third book.

Favourite quote: “You’ve been kind to me, and you’re very beautiful, but if you hit me again I’ll kill you.” -William Nicholson, Slaves of the Mastery

9. Nikki (Bardo)


Her young life cut tragically short by an accident (no thanks to a certain dog), our young protagonist Nikki ends up in the Bardo, and has to reclaim all pieces of her soul if she wants to escape and reincarnate. Which she's certainly not happy about. What follows is a fun-filled frantic adventure in exotic settings, but will Nikki succeed before her time runs out?

Nikki is a great character, vibrant, reckless, and with a great sense of humour. She's able to puzzle things out, too, with limited information. She works through her various challenges, managing to overcome them, but she also fails a few, too, showing her weaknesses. However, when it comes to the ultimate test at the end, she prevails, having learnt from her experiences. Again this makes her dynamic, and though there's a tiny tiny piece of romance thrown in there, it doesn't interfere with her as a character.

Favourite quote: "We were always taught at school to lead by example. That is why I am now outside running in the field and being chased by an excessively large hawk who, incidentally, happens to be me."- Chris McKenna, Bardo

10. Catherine Baker (Blood, Smoke and Mirrors)


Cat is an estranged Witch, going against the pacifist morals of her clan with her somewhat more 'proactive' tendencies. Working as a waitress, she's thrust into a magical conflict of epic proportions in the kingdom of Faerie when asked to run for a powerful political position. Along with an ex-boyfriend and her warrior faerie friends, she finds out some none too pleasant facts about the candidate she's running against...her father.

Cat is a witty, sarcastic heroine who isn't afraid to speak her mind. She's pretty sharp, too, and knows how to look after herself. Although there are portions of the book where this seems to contradict itself (not really the character's fault, more a bit of author indulgence), I enjoyed her struggles and how she got herself out of all manner of scrapes. Her voice is what kept me glued, though; you feel like you're really speaking with her in the narrative. Her special power, too (no spoilers), is pretty unique and clever, and just gives her that extra edge when she's facing more powerful opponents.

Unlike some of my other choices, she doesn't develop all that much (a bit like Sabriel), but she provides heaps of entertainment, and her none-too-radiant background makes her all the more fun.

Favourite quote: "Great idea, Tybalt. 'Invoke Apollo'. You lit me on fire, damn it!" -Robyn Bachar, Blood, Smoke and Mirrors

And that's it!

Tell me, who are your favourite fantasy heroines and why?

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