Top Ten Tuesday: Best Female Characters

The Broke and the Bookish: still on hiatus!  I didn’t start doing these posts until after their hiatus began, so I’m looking forward to seeing what they come up with for topics when they return next week.

Yesterday’s review of A Gathering of Shadows got me thinking: what are the qualities that make a great female character?  There’s a lot that I do not like — see my many criticisms of Lila Bard — but what makes a character work?  Here are my top ten female characters in no particular order.


Cersei Lannister: A Song of Ice and Fire

Damn right.  Keep your boring Daenerys and Arya.  Cersei Lannister is my queen, and I absolutely adore her.  She’s proof that a woman doesn’t have to be likeable and fluffy in order to be a great character.  A close second place is Sansa Stark.  I’ve been #teamSansa for years.


Shallan Davar: The Stormlight Archives

Shallan is a character that seems to divide readers of Brandon Sanderson’s Stormlight Archives.  Personally, I think she’s a great character because she is so young, naive, and questionably witty.  The more we learn about her, the more fascinating she becomes — people who have read Words of  Radiance know what I’m talking about.

Image by Soyabeansoldier
Shahrzad : The Wrath and the Dawn

If you want to see the correct way to do a stubborn female character, look no further than Shahrzad.  She’s stubborn and angry, but intelligent.  She is more or less in control of her anger and is a fearsome and formidable woman.


Isabella Riosse: The Girl of Ink and Stars (The Cartographer’s Daughter in the US)

Brave, selfless, and loyal, Isabella sets out on an adventure beyond the boundries of her home in order to save her best friend.  What is more admirable than that?


Nina: Six of Crows/Crooked Kingdom

You could really pick any woman from this book, but I absolutely love Nina.  She completely blew my expectations out of the water with her power, bravery, and loyalty to her friends (particularly Inej).

Illustration by Kevin Wada
Pepper: A Closed and Common Orbit

Again, you could really pick any character from Becky Chambers’ wonderful Wayfarer novels, but Pepper is my favorite.  Her story is utterly heartbreaking that made me bawl my eyes out.


Amani: Rebel of the Sands

Amani is one of my favorite YA characters because she’s an interesting character despite her romantic side story.  In Traitor to the Throne, everything that should make her interesting is stripped away — she has no guns, no Jin, and no merry band of rebels.  She  still manages to hold her own in the story and this is what all characters should be.

Unknown credit.  Let me know if you have their name
Breq: Ancillary Justice

This is a tough one because there is no gender in Ann Leckie’s Imperial Radch novels — everyone uses the she/her pronouns.  Breq’s backstory is absolutely incredible, as is her plot for revenge.

Image courtesy of Deliciousboards
Hermione Granger: The Harry Potter series

There’s not much that hasn’t been said here.  You all know that Hermione is queen of the book nerds.


Monza Murcatto: Best Served Cold

Monza is the actual definition of a strong female character.  She’s physically strong, completely terrifying, and dedicated to her cause, which in this case is revenge against her former employer for murdering her brother and unsuccessfully trying to murder her.  Monza is perfect and Best Served Cold is the best revenge story since The Count of Monte Cristo.

Illustration by Raymond Swanland
Faith Sunderly: The Lie Tree

I’m opening and closing with two deeply unlikable characters, (hopefully) proving that a woman doesn’t have to be likeable in order to be beloved by readers.  Faith is unusual in YA because she’s so angry.  She is not a good person.  She is unkind to the point of cruelty in some cases, but you cannot help but sympathise and love her regardless.


Who are your favorite female characters and why?  What makes a female character work for you?  Let me know!

2 thoughts on “Top Ten Tuesday: Best Female Characters

  1. HERMOINE! But i’d say Luna. I LOVE HER!

    I didn’t really like Rebel Of The Sands that much and found Amani’s sass to be straight up dry and boring. Sorry not sorry

    I found The Girl Of Ink & Stars SOOOOOOOOOOO boring and rubbish and I did not like. i feel it got so much undeserved attention with it’s pretty cover but not for me at all.

    But finally one I can agree on Nina from Six Of crows. She’s fabulous and loves waffles. THIS IS ME.

    Liked by 1 person

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