Tough Travelling: Women in SFF
Welcome intrepid adventurers to Tough Travelling with the Tough Guide to Fantasyland!
That’s right, we’ve dusted it down and brought back this feature (created by Nathan of Fantasy Review Barn, revived by our friends over on Fantasy Faction, then dragged kicking and screaming to the Hive).
It is a monthly feature in which we rack our brains for popular (and not so popular) examples of fantasy tropes.
Tough Travelling is inspired by the informative and hilarious Tough Guide to Fantasyland by Diana Wynne Jones. Fellow bloggers are absolutely welcome to join in – just make your own list, publish it on your site, and then comment with the link on this article!
It’s Women in SFF! Have I said that enough yet?
For the photo challenge, today’s prompt is Independent Women – our favourite Self-Published authors, so to link with that, we’ll talk about our favourite (female) characters from Self-Published novels
A big thank you to Nils, Julia, Peter, Asha and Beth for their recommendations…
Lovis from Timandra Whitecastle’s Queens of the Wyrd. She’s a character who made me laugh and made me root for her every step of the way. Rather than falling into the ‘mother’s stay behind’ trope, it was so satisfying to see Whitecastle turn that on its head and deliver a tale consisting of a band of female warrior mothers going on one last quest.
Eska de Caraval from T.L. Greylock’s Shadows of Ivory. She’s an archaeologist who shows a great love and respect for her occupation. ‘The Powerful Artifact’ trope runs through Eska’s story arc as she’s on a mission to uncover one. I really admired her passionate personality and her strong will to overcome any obstacle set before her. Indiana Jones eat your heart out!
Sarilla from Rachel Emma Shaw’s Last Memoria. She’s quite a complex character who has a rather dark side to her. She fulfils the ‘innate magic’ trope as she has the ability to erase people’s memories and keep them in her own mind, and this continuously makes her question whether she is a monster, which I found to be such a compelling story arc.
Lidan Tolak from Blood of Heirs by Wanstall-Burke
She fulfils quite some tropes, while also turning others on their head. She’s a strong kick ass fighter, she’s also the heir in a world where girls are mostly used to barter or marry off. I love her development throughout the series!
Victoria of Ourtown from A Wizard’s Forge by AM Justice
Being ripped from her old life and a rather scholarly education, Victoria ends up a sex slave. She manages to get out, and from there on she learns to fight and protect herself and the people she cares for. She still has to deal with her past and the trauma it caused.
Misaki from Sword of Kaigen by ML Wang
Two different lives and souls in one single body, or so it feels. Misaki is a diligent and obedient wife. Misaki is a strong, capable fighter. Misaki is what society expects of her. Misaki is so much more than that…
Incredible character development and the responsibility for your family and your social standing in a rigid society are handled brilliantly.
Kyrra d’Aliente from Fortune’s Fool by Angela Boord
We meet Kyrra as a sort of mercenary, but we learn she went from pampered noble to hapless outcast, before she ends where we meet her at the start of the story. So she goes through quite some tropes before she finds her own way.
Sable from Dragon’s Reach by JA Andrews
A young orphaned thief, trying to care for herself and her family. Joining a troupe of traveling actors to get away, Sable is growing and stretching and becoming much more throughout the story.
Calidra from The Iron Crown by L.L Mcrae. This is a great example of a character on a journey, one of realization and acceptance. She doesn’t fall into any tropes and instead embarks on a journey which pushes her to realise who she really is.
Hetta Valstar from The Lord of Stariel by AJ Lancaster is a perfect example of a female character with quiet mental strength, which is something I love to see. She has to tackle how her relationship to her family has changed over time, and it’s a great portrayal of that awkward mid-twenties feeling – but with the added complication of a semi-sentient magical estate!
I love an intellectual heroine and Cassandra Harwood from the Harwood Spellbook series by Stephanie Burgis is a great one. Not only is she smart and resourceful, she also has the guts to forge an unusual path in a very rigid society – plus the whole series is set in an alternate Regency England where politics is for women only, so it’s full of great female characters.
Caitlyn from Elizabeth Davies’s Caitlyn series is definitely an interesting one. She’s a medieval Welsh queen cursed into cat form and forced to be a witch’s familiar, and her struggles to be free and safe are very compelling – I loved her voice, which has an ironic and honest tone.
I adored prickly Adelaide from Spellbound by Ophelia Silk. An outcast witch whom everyone avoids out of fear, she’s actually a sharp, sweet and spirited young woman who bristles at their rejection. Her bluntness and sarcastic nature made me love her instantly, and I really enjoyed watching her blossom under a bit of kindness.
Larkspur from A Song for the Road by Catherine Labadie is a great example of a heroine who won’t let anything stand in her way – not her lung problems, not her family’s neglect, and not the fairy child she suddenly has to be a mother to. She refuses to be powerless, but it’s not framed as some kind of gentle fairy tale determination to be better, but absolute fury – this felt so realistic to me!
Llewen from Megan Haskell’s Forged in Shadow is handmaiden to an elven princess. She’s quiet, and assuming, and toes the line for her princess; until she becomes embroiled in a political plot and must act as secret messenger. It was great seeing how far she’d go once pushed!
Talyn Dynan is the protagonist from Lisa Cassidy’s A Tale of Stars and Shadows. She’s left heartbroken after she loses her warrior partner, so she’s sent on a mission to get her away from home and focusing on something else. What follows is a story of underdogs facing adversity, training and working together to become a guard for a spoilt prince. I loved seeing Talyn lead her found family.
I want to talk about Ayla from Suzannah Rowntree’s A Wind from the Wilderness, but I’m still not sure I’m entirely over it!! Ayla is a scrappy orphan hell-bent on avenging her father; she is full of secrets and tough as a nut, but so very vulnerable beneath it all.
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