I believe I have mentioned this before but I find it difficult to get into books (usually but not always) with male protagonists. I simply cannot slip into their bodies and minds though there have been notable exceptions. A conversation with a friend (hi Kathleen!) over Instagram leads me to make a list of books I have read that have female protagonists. This list is, in no way, conclusive, and if I have missed some, please do let me know as I’m always on the lookout for more titles to read. So here we go:
- Wheel of the Infinite by Martha Wells
This is a rare standalone and works perfectly as one. It has an awesome female protagonist who challenges stereotypes and is just generally awesome.
- The Fall of Ile-Rien trilogy by Martha Wells
This is SO AWESOME omg. I cannot gush about it enough. All the books are perfect. The writing, the story, the little bit of romance. Read it.
- Chronicles of Elantra by Michelle Sagara
My love for this series is waning fast but the first few volumes were amazing. It’s at volume 10 now and hopefully wraps up soon because it’s just becoming annoying. It’s always sad when that happens.
- Child of a Hidden Sea by A. M. Dellamonica
This is a portal fantasy and rather more academic in tone than anything else I’ve read so far. But if you give it a chance, it grows on you. I liked it.
- The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Real Magic – Emily Croy Barker
Another cerebral fantasy that I enjoyed quite a bit. Also a portal fantasy. Sort of.
- The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison
Okay this does not have a female protagonist but it is still super awesome so I snuck it into the list. Read it. You won’t regret it.
- Hero series by Moira J. Moore
This has a female/male pair as protagonists and the first few volumes are quite fun though it does get a taaad bit trying afterwards. It wraps up well though.
- Among Others – Jo Walton
Not high fantasy but it’s such an awesome book that it deserves (an exception) mention.
- Paradox trilogy by Rachel Bach
This is space fantasy…sorta like high fantasy but plays out in space. Anyway, this is an awesome series with a most satisfying ending.
- Medair (volumes 1 and 2) by Andrea K. Host
All her books are fantastic but I really liked this one.
- Hunting – Andrea K Host
Yep, this standalone is close to my heart.
- Champion of the Rose by Andrea K. Host
It thrills me how she can manage to tell a complete story with such few words.
- The Black Jewels trilogy by Anne Bishop
Okay, this didn’t really gel with me all that much but other people seemed to like it a lot so I figured it deserved a mention.
- The Cadet of Tildor by Alex Lidell
I thought this one did quite well with court politics and intrigue. It is a bit more dense and doesn’t really read as YA but occupies the liminal crossover space in its ability to appeal to fans of both YA and adult fantasy.
- The Flora trilogy by Ysabeau S. Wilce
This is so underhyped it’s a tragedy. Though not a conventional high fantasy, it still contains enough similar elements and a very strong female protagonist to warrant a mention.
- The Tamir Triad by Lynn Flewelling
This one is really amazing. Gender stereotypes, hidden identities, ghostly siblings. And an exceptional story.
- The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N. K. Jemisin
This is very different from the usual high fantasy but quite wonderfully done. I enjoyed it.
- Eon/Eona duology by Alison Goodman
YA. Well developed and seriously beautifully told.
- Spiritwalker trilogy by Kate Elliott
Just read it. Honestly, I’ve spoken so much about this one, even I’m tired of myself.
- Dark Angel trilogy by Meredith Ann Pierce
I’m throwing this one but with the warning that the ending will make you angst. So…um, be prepared for that.
- Moorehawke trilogy by Celine Kiernan
A wonderful mix of historical fiction and diversity. This one doesn’t have magic largely featuring but the writing is wonderful. I still need to read the last one.
- The Books of Pellinor by Alison Croggon
Dense, magicked, fantastic. I loved this one.
- Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews
This is urban fantasy but has a wonderful female protagonist. Each book gets stronger.
- The Hollows series by Kim Harrison
This one is also urban fantasy and equally well done. The latter ones do seem a bit tired the characterizations are wonderful and the pace of each book is tight and tense.
- Valdemar: Mage Winds by Mercedes Lackey
I read these a very long time ago but I remember enjoying them quite a bit at the time. I don’t know if I still would but hey, can’t hurt to try it out?
- The Abhorsen series by Garth Nix
I read these a long time ago as well. The prequel to the series came out not long ago and I haven’t tried it out but I hope to enjoy it as much if not more than the entire series.
What have I missed? Know any other titles that would be fitting on this list? Let me know!
p.s: I did intentionally overlook some of the more popular YA high fantasy because I feel that they have greater focus on character relationships and emotions than the world and story. This does not mean I like them any less, it just means that I don’t think this is the right list for them.
p.p.s: The list will be updated as I read more high fantasy novels so maybe bookmark it if you are interested.