The Ultimate List of Fantasy Books Starring Strong Female Leads

The Ultimate List of Fantasy Books Starring Strong Female Leads

Reading has been a common and beloved pastime for centuries, transporting people to completely different worlds. However, it was only relatively recently that we enjoyed a rise in books featuring strong female characters. If you're looking to embark on a new fantastical journey, make sure to keep reading to learn more about our top list of fantasy books starring strong female leads.

Throne of Glass Series

When it comes to epic high fantasy books, we had to start this off with one of the most iconic female-led series, Throne of Glass, written by Sarah J. Maas. Although we'd like to mention the fact that you'll probably want to get the e-book version.

You might ask, why are e-books better than paper books in this case? Well, this is an eight-book series, well, technical seven with a prequel that features a collection of short stories. In any case, it's quite a hefty stack so the convenience of e-books and the fact that the digital alternatives are cheaper will make it easier on you.

Let's get back to the series in question, here, we follow the complex character that is Celaena Sardothien. She's the most renowned assassin in all of Adarlan, a land where magic no longer exists. Forced into a deadly tournament to earn her freedom back, with the alternative of dying or returning to Endovier, a horrifying slave camp.

Not only does she have to deal with all of this, but she has to navigate a web of treacherous politics, and startling betrayals. However, our girl certainly has plenty of secrets of her own, with quite a jarring past. Luckily, she's swift not only with a blade but also with her wit and strategies.

The deeper you get into the series, the more hooked you'll become. Especially once meeting all of the most powerful characters, some of whom you will love or hate with a deep passion. You will laugh, you will most certainly cry, but you'll never be bored.

The Poppy War Trilogy

Next up we have The Poppy War trilogy, by R. F. Kuang, a grimdark fantasy inspired by the Second Sino-Japanese War. If you want a book that features a controversial female protagonist who defies all odds, and is set in a location that is not based on the standard European medieval setting - this one is for you.

Fang Runin, also known as Rin, most certainly does not fall under the Mary Sue trope. She is a deeply flawed character, who doesn't make the most moral of decisions but they are sometimes the necessary ones to make given her circumstances. When stuck between a rock and a hard place, this character ends up choosing fire.

An orphan who was raised in an impoverished area in the south, the Rooster Province, which is part of the Nikan Empire. Rin dreams of escaping her current reality by passing the Keju and entering the Sinegard Academy. Getting in is hard, and staying in is even harder - but that's not all that is looming, the danger has just begun.

We'll avoid spoiling any further details, and just say that the book manages to depict the harsh realities of abuse, warfare, and poverty all in an intricately built world. It masterfully combines magic with history, without ever being outlandish.

In fact, the most gut-wrenching parts of the books are based on actual history. So be warned, your heart will break several times throughout this whole series. This trilogy is most certainly not for the faint of heart, however, the pain is worth it in our eyes.

Six of Crows Duology

You have probably heard of the Grishaverse by Leigh Bardugo thanks to the immensely popular Shadow and Bones book series and TV show on Netflix. Here, you get to enjoy a book with six diverse main characters, whose POVs we all get to enjoy, and two of them are impeccably written strong female characters.

This duology is set in Ketterdam, inspired by Dutch Republic–era Amsterdam, and it follows a crew of misfits and thieves led by the mastermind that is Kaz Brekker. But we're here to talk about Inej Ghafa, a spy for Kaz known as the Wraith, and Nina Zenik, a formidable Heartrender and spy for the Ravkan Second Army.

These two characters couldn't be more different, and we don't mean just in looks. Inej is quieter and constantly analyzing, using secrets and knives as weapons, while Nina is a boisterous foodie who mainly uses her gifts wiles to win in fights - both play a crucial and active role in missions. Together with the other characters they embark on a heist filled with twists and turns you won't see coming.

Regardless of differences, they have become close and both have garnered plenty of love from readers. Their storylines are not filled with joy, however, they only continue to showcase their strength and resilience. If you opt to read this book, you will get everything, tension, heists, and magic, or small science as per the Grishaverse terminology.


The fantasy genre has been well-renowned to typically have male lead characters, however, times are changing. We now have a myriad of novels written by women such as Trudi Cavanan, Holly Black, and the above female authors that write about great women. So, if you need an inspirational role model, or simply want to relate to a female character, make sure to pick up one of the above options.

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