Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week: top ten kick-ass heroines. This is something I've been thinking about a lot since I saw the topic as I love strong female characters but I don't just define a kick-ass woman as someone who can kick arse. It goes beyond that, which is why some of the characters here don't specialise in beating people up but in getting on with things and winning in their own way. That's not to say that some of them don't do well in fights, but not all of them do. For a somewhat better put version of these thoughts, see Jamie's post at The Perpetual Page-Turner on the subject. I'm also looking forwards to seeing other lists because a strong female lead is one of my favourite things in books.
1. Hermione Granger (The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling) - I could include almost every single female character from this series as they all rock in their own way (not you, Umbridge, you go away) but Hermione is my heroine. She's bookish and clever and she gets teased for being smart, but she never changes to make her life easier and without her the boys would be utterly lost. I wish I'd been younger when I read the books just so I could have had Hermione as role model.
2. Susan Sto Helit (The Discworld series by Terry Pratchett) - again, just about every main female character from the series could be in this list, but Susan is my favourite (Granny and Angua run her close seconds). Partly because she's in two of my favourite Discworlds (Hogfather and Thief of Time) but also because she is just awesome and awkward and chilly and fantastic. And she's Death's granddaughter, you don't get much more kick-ass than that.
3. Nicola Marlow (The Marlows series by Antonia Forest) - Nicola is such a capable character she had to be sent on holiday in The Thuggery-Affair so that she wouldn't get in the way of the plot. She captains the cricket team, has dire enemies, puts up with some sisters who are frankly infuriating (just hit Lawrie, honestly!), copes fairly well with Patrick preferring Ginty (gah!) and fights German agents. There's a reason she's the main focus of most of the books.
4. Eowyn (The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien) - she goes to war disguised as a man when she's told to stay home - though admittedly she was going to be left in charge of Rohan if Theoden and Eomer died - she takes Merry along with her even though he's been told he's too small for battle and she proves that the Witch King really didn't think things through.
5. Alanna (The Song of the Lioness series by Tamora Pierce) - some of my staple reading as a teenager. A girl who fights as well if not better than the boys, saves the kingdom, pulls some pretty awesome men (I never liked who she ended up with when I was 15 though that may change now I'm older) and is generally an icon of badass women in fantasy. Can more really be said about how great Alanna is?
6. Sabriel (The Abhorsen trilogy by Garth Nix) - I could also put in Lirael who is also pretty damn awesome, but I love the story in Sabriel. This was my first introduction to Garth Nix and how fantastic his writing and imagination is, and Sabriel - going off completely alone to find her father, fighting the dead and rescuing people as she goes - is fabulous.
7. Frankie Landau-Banks (The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart) - one of the most feminist books I've ever read, it lists and attacks all sorts of misogynist bullshit (damn you, the patriarchy! Thanks for teaching me that, Caitlin Moran) and does so with a great story. In a fancy pants boarding school, which is one of my favourite settings for any type of story. Need to reread this.
8. Magpie (The Dreamdark series by Laini Taylor) - not including Kaoru because (shame shame shame) I still haven't read Daughter of Smoke and Bone, but I can't leave out a Laini heroine and Magpie rocks. A fairy who fights devils, stands up to the creator and hangs out with a bunch of cigar smoking theatrical crows? So cool. If you haven't read the Dreamdark books but like Lips Touch and Daughter of Smoke and Bone I urge you to read them - they're beautiful and well-written and why aren't there more of them? I want a full series!
9. Kate Lowry (The Liar Society series by Laura and Lisa Roecker) - I reread The Liar Society on Sunday ready for The Lies That Bind and decided that, yes, Kate definitely needs to be in this list. Not just because she uses the word "misogynist" to describe the stuff going on at her school, but because she is a pink haired, bicycle riding, mystery solving badass who takes on the main 'villain' at the end with a sword.
10. All the girls in Beauty Queens by Libba Bray - whether they're setting traps, punching guys, accepting their true selves or taking on a dictator whose real life counterpart I did not recognise at all (oh no) all of the girls in Beauty Queens are amazing. This book is yet another feminist touchstone for me, and I need to stop telling my flatmate to read it and throw it at her instead (she can do work for her PhD later).
A few are missing who will probably be on a lot of lists but some - Katniss, Rose Hathaway - aren't there because I haven't finished their respective series, and some - Tris, Celaena - because I haven't even started their books yet. Need to get on that.
And, finally, honourable mention to Buffy Summers, just because no list of kick-ass heroines from any genre, medium or sense would be complete without her.