October 30, 2012

Top Ten Favorite Kick-Ass Heroines

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by the bloggers of The Broke and the Bookish. This week's topic is our lists of favorite kick-ass heroines. This list is me in my element right here. There's nothing that draws me into a book like a tough female protagonist who is willing to fight (with brawn and brains) for her beliefs. I believe that kick-ass is more of a state of mind than simply a display of physicality, so I wanted to feature heroines with both inner and outer strengths.
Alanna the Lioness (The Song of the Lioness quartet by Tamora Pierce) — Alanna should be topping any list that features kick-ass fantasy heroines. I mean, she masqueraded as a boy because she felt that Tortall's laws that prohibited women from becoming knights were unfair. Alanna is also not a naturally gifted warrior; her books go into detail about how much effort she puts into training and that her status as the King's Champion is the result of hard years of self-sacrifice and work. I love that this bigger-than-life legend is actually a tiny redhead with a fiery temper.

Éowyn (The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien) — Again, I can't resist the girl masquerading as a boy! Éowyn cannot let all those she cares about fight against the armies of Mordor while she sits at home because a little thing like gender makes fighting not allowed. And of course I love how she's able to kill the Witch King. There are other strong female characters in this epic book, but I appreciate how Éowyn's strength is through defying the norm and proving that she's a valuable asset in the battle.  

Katsa (Graceling by Kristin Cashore) — Katsa doesn't want to live life on anyone's terms but her own. Her Grace has given her amazing skills, but for years she's suffered as the king's thug under her cruel uncle's reign. She's a wave of emotions and doesn't quite know what she wants out of her life, but Katsa does have a strong sense of morality and a determination to use her fighting and survival skills to help others instead of hurting them. Katsa is without a doubt one of the strongest and most independent heroines I've ever read.

Katniss Everdeen (The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins) — Katniss is an easy choice for this. She is resourceful, determined, and is incredibly talented at using the bow. It doesn't hurt that her strongest motivation in life is to take care of her younger sister and all of those harmed by her dystopian government. Although Katniss could have easily fallen in to the "do whatever it takes to harm the enemy, even if others have to be sacrificed in the process" train that Gale is on, she doesn't. Not only is she a fighter, but she's a fighter with strong morals.  

Hermione Granger (Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling) — Although Hermione is not  kick-ass in the traditional fighting sense (though I'm sure she'd be victorious in any duel), she still is a fierce heroine. She prefers to abide by order and rules but is not above breaking ones she finds to be unjust. And no one can match Hermione in terms of loyalty. Although she may tell Harry in book one that books and cleverness can't rival his bravery, I disagree. It's a different sort of strength, but a strength nonetheless.

Kahlan Amnell & Cara Mason (Sword of Truth series by Terry Goodkind) — I can't pick just one of these heroines from this series. Kahlan is the freaking Mother Confessor, an elite order of woman that has the power to determine the truth through a single touch. Cara Mason is a Mord'Sith, another solely-female order that is able to manipulate and negate the magic of others and also has the ability to mix pleasure and pain upon its victims. They both have radically different views of justice, yet are protective of those they love and are proven warriors.

The Queen of Attolia (The Queen's Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner) — My love for Irene Attolia is hard to explain since I don't want to give away any spoilers for the series. Suffice it to say that while she doesn't wield a weapon, she's easily one of the strongest heroines I've ever read about. She is fully adept at playing games of politics, able to manipulate those who would threaten her kingdom through her looks, her words, and her charms. She is resolute and relentless, always doing what is best for her country, regardless of her personal desires.

Sansa & Arya Stark (A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R. R. Martin) — Once again, I refuse to limit myself by picking only one character from a series. Arya is clearly the stereotypical "kick-ass" female who learns how to wield a sword and defies gender conventions, but Sansa should not be so easily dismissed. Sansa haters baffle me, because I think Sansa is one of the strongest characters. Sure, she's not physically strong and her defiances work within the system, but subtlety should never be underrated. 

Meliara Astiar (Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith) — Oh Mel! Mel is a heroine who has to learn how to become a heroine. She's more than willing to fight against a corrupt kingdom but quickly realizes she understands absolutely nothing about battles, fighting, or intrigue. But she's willing to learn whatever it takes to protect her family's lands. The two books show Mel's progression from a young girl with lots of ideals but without a clue in how to bring them about to someone able to hold her own at court and face down the most dangerous enemy.

Lyra Belacqua (His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman) — Lyra is without a doubt the fiercest literary child-turning-teenager I've ever had the pleasure to read. She's scrappy, crude, and coarse, yet she is one of the most loyal protagonists ever. Again and again she follows her heart and shows that she's willing to do whatever it takes to protect those that she loves. And her friends (a shape shifting-daemon, a boy with a knife that cuts windows into other worlds, sentient polar bears, witches) help make her that much more kick-ass.

These are some of my favorite kick-ass literary heroines, so now let me know some of yours!
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Amanda loves few things better than sitting down with a cup of tea and a book. She frequently stays up far too late, telling herself she just needs to finish one more page. When she's not wrapped up in the stories of others, Amanda works as a children's librarian in a public library.


  1. Great list. I love Sansa as well she's my second favorite character in the series and I'm always glad to see that other people love her as well.

    1. I know, right?! Sansa lovers unite! She's just as good and strong as others. She makes mistakes, but hers actually haven't been as profound as say some that Catelyn or Daenerys have made.

  2. Amanda, I LOVE your list! It's the only one I've seen with Lyra, Eowyn (HOW do people forget her??), Alanna and Irene (IRENE! Squeee!), so I love that you pick kick-ass protagonists that deserve attention but don't get it. FANTASTIC list! :D

    1. Thank you, Keertana! :) I know - Eowyn's the best most literal literary kick-ass heroine ever. But she's just too good for most people I guess haha. And yes Irene! <3

  3. What a great post! These all sound like great kick-ass heroines. The only one I've read for myself would be The Hunger Games and I would definitely agree about Katniss! Like you said, she has many talents but she is always driven by strong morals, which is what I loved most about her <3

    1. Oh you definitely need to read some of these books, Amanda! They're all among my favorites. If you're not feeling fantasy too much I'd say The Queen's Thief series or Graceling are places to start - both fantasies, but not overwhelmed by the fantasy elements too, too much. And me too! Katniss is just such a GOOD heroine, even if she's a bit ignorant. Thanks, Amanda!

  4. We have several of the same picks! Great list! Sansa's growing on me. I'm in book 4 and she's come a long way since the beginning (I didn't like her so much in the beginning).

    Check out my TTT.

    Sandy @ Somewhere Only We Know

    1. I just adore Sansa! She deals with things differently than perhaps we'd like our fantasy heroines to behave, but she's much more relatable because of it, at least to me. I hope you continue to enjoy her more!


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