If you want strong feminine girls with female friendships, then check out these fantasy books with strong female characters.
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Strong female characters in fantasy have been somewhat strange lately. It feels like every “strong female”, especially in YA fantasy, needs to be strong in a physical way. More masculine, not like other girls, in competition with females, and all-around a little annoying. This is not what I like to see in my female leads in adult fantasy or YA. So, I wanted to put together a list of books that I felt really encompass the strong female lead without leaning into the “not like other girls” trope that we tend to see all too often.
Strong Female Fantasy Characters
Being strong doesn’t always mean being physically strong. It also doesn’t always mean being good at everything. Characters, both male and female, who are good at everything tend to feel a little flat and unrealistic if we are being honest.
The female characters I like to see in fantasy books are those who are strong in different ways. Who can still be feminine and girly. Those who don’t compete with other women. Females who don’t put other girls down or who don’t “need a man”.
All of the books here fit these requirements. They are packed with amazing, strong female fantasy characters, amazing friendships, and fun plots, and I really think you are going to love them!
Queen of Blood by Sarah Beth Durst
Queen of Blood is the first book in the Queens of Renthia series by Sarah Beth Durst. This is one of my favorite adult fantasy series and for good reason!
The female lead in book one is amazing. She is not the best at anything. No matter how hard she works and practices, she will never be the best magic-user, and she’s accepted that. She never competes with the other women in her life. Friendship is important to her as well as their family.
Book two in the series introduces a new character, another strong female lead. And she may be my favorite in the entire series! She is a kick-ass fantasy mom who is also a reluctant hero.
If you are interested in an amazing adult fantasy series where women have to work together for the greater good, then pick up Queens of Renthia. You won’t regret it.
City of Brass by S. A Chakraborty
If you want a really strong female fantasy character, then you want to read City of Brass. Set around Egypt, we follow Nahri, an orphan on her own on the streets of Cairo.
She cons to survive, and one day she accidentally summons a Djinn. He sweeps her away to the magical city of Devabad where she learns more about herself and her family than she ever expected.
This series is amazing, and Nahri is such a great character. She is strong in her own way. Learning, making friends, and doing what she has to in order to survive in a violent world.
Not only do we get a fantastic female lead, but we also have some great morally grey characters and a side romance that I actually really enjoyed as it wasn’t the main focus of the story.
The Prison Healer by Lynette Noni
While the majority of the books on this list are adult fantasy, there are still a few gems with strong females in the YA age range. The first one that comes to my mind is The Prison Healer.
This is a really fun YA fantasy with a great female lead. She is strong, but also capable of caring for people she cares about.
In this book, we follow Kiva, a 17-year-old girl who is a prisoner and healer in a death prison. She has been there since she was 7, and has had to harden herself in order to protect herself. When a new prisoner, the rebel Queen, comes into the prison on death’s door, she must do everything she can to make sure she survives.
While there are no real female friendships in this book, there are cute friendships. Kiva isn’t worried about romance, only survival.
If you are looking for a fast and fun YA fantasy, then check this one out! Bonus, there is also an awesome fantasy competition element to this one!
Shadow of the Gods by John Gwynne
Y’all know I love a mom in fantasy books. As the main characters, moms just speak to my soul and make me so happy. Shadow of the Gods is one of those fantasy books where there is a strong mom main character, and I love her.
She starts off as a quietly strong woman, raising her son with her husband in peace. Until her husband is killed and her son is kidnapped. Then she has to go, what I like to call, “full Taken vibes”. She has a special set of skills and she won’t stop until she has her son back.
Seeing her as a caring a loving mom as well as a badass warrior is so much fun. There are other PoV characters as well including another strong female lead!
Race the Sands by Sarah Beth Durst
I know this is the second Sarah Beth Durst book on this list. She is just so amazing at writing the best strong female fantasy characters. So just stay with me while I gush about this fantasy standalone book for a minute.
Race the Sands has, you guessed it, a kick-ass mom as the main character. She is strong but struggling to support her daughter. A disgraced monster rider trainer, our main character ends up swept into a political plot she never saw coming. She also has to help a young teen girl run away while mothering her actual daughter as well.
In this story, we get family, found family, monster races, and a lot of political scheming! For a standalone, there is so much packed into the pages of this book, with a satisfying ending!
If you want something fun and quick to read between series, then this book is for you.
An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
Another YA fantasy entry to this list! YA isn’t all “not like other girls” and masculine female protagonists. An Ember in the Ashes proves that female leads in YA fantasy can be feminine, caring, soft, and also strong at the same time.
In this book, Laia is a Scholar, a group of people of the lowest class. When her brother is arrested for being a rebel and her grandparents are killed, she takes it upon herself to save him. She reluctantly joins up with the rebels and goes undercover as a slave in a prestigious military school.
Laia never wanted to be a rebel, but she does what she has to do in order to protect the people she loves. There is also a romance in this book, but it isn’t “I love him, I need him, he completes me”. This story is amazing, and Laia grows and learns so much in the series, making her one of my favorite YA fantasy female protagonists.
Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson
The last book on this list is one of my favorite books of all time. Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson is a standalone book set in his Cosmere universe. This is an adult fantasy but really works well as a bridge book between adult and ya fantasy.
We follow two sisters, both strong in their own unique way. The oldest sister, Vivenna, is a princess who has been raised her whole life knowing she would be a political wife to the God-King of a neighboring kingdom. Siri is the youngest sister. She’s been pretty much left to raise herself and has been allowed to be the wild and free child.
When their dad decides he does not want to send his favorite oldest sister off to be married, he sends the youngest in her place. Vivenna knows her sister is ill-prepared, so she goes to save her from this fate that was meant to be her own.
I love how different, yet strong both of these sisters are. We get feminine characters in pretty dresses who are also badass in their own ways. This story has sisterly love, romance, magic, and everything you would expect in epic fantasy with a strong female lead character.
Read These Fantasy Books with Strong Female Characters
So if you are looking for fantasy books with strong female characters, these are the ones I think you should start with!