Among today’s selections you’ll find two fantasies, two historicals and a combination of the two. What could books with widely different genres have in common? The answer is strong female protagonists with an agenda and drive. These characters know what they want as well as what needs to be done. You won’t find weak passive girls in these stories. Read the books and see if these ladies pass the Bechdel test.
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Graceling by Kristin CashoreKatsa has been able to kill a man with her bare hands since she was eight—she’s a Graceling, one of the rare people in her land born with an extreme skill. As niece of the king, she should be able to live a life of privilege, but Graced as she is with killing, she is forced to work as the king’s thug.
When she first meets Prince Po, Graced with combat skills, Katsa has no hint of how her life is about to change. She never expects to become Po’s friend. She never expects to learn a new truth about her own Grace—or about a terrible secret that lies hidden far away . . . a secret that could destroy all seven kingdoms with words alone.
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Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta
Now on the cusp of manhood, Finnikin, who was a child when the royal family of Lumatere was brutally murdered and replaced by an imposter, reluctantly joins forces with an enigmatic young novice and fellow-exile, who claims that her dark dreams will lead them to a surviving royal child and a way to regain the throne of Lumatere.
Aerin is the only child of the king of Damar, and should be his rightful heir. But she is also the daughter of a witchwoman of the North, who died when she was born, and the Damarians cannot trust her.
The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley
The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley
But Aerin's destiny is greater than her father's people know, for it leads her to battle with Maur, the Black Dragon, and into the wilder Damarian Hills, where she meets the wizard Luthe. It is he who at last tells her the truth about her mother, and he also gives over to her hand the Blue Sword, Gonturan. But such gifts as these bear a great price, a price Aerin only begins to realize when she faces the evil mage, Agsded, who has seized the Hero's Crown, greatest treasure and secret strength of Damar.
Warrior Princess by Frewin JonesYou can be a warrior, if you choose to be.
Fifteen-year-old Branwen's life is changed forever when enemy Saxon troops attack her homeland and her brother is killed. Branwen wants to jump into action and avenge her brother's death, but instead she is sent to a neighboring stronghold where she'll be safe from harm. Yet while she is surrounded by exquisite beauty and luxury in her new home—as a princess should be—she feels different from the other girls. Deep down, Branwen has the soul of a warrior.
Then a mystical woman in white foretells a daunting prophecy: Branwen will be the one to save her homeland. Suddenly forced to question everything—and everyone—around her, she realizes that the most difficult part of her journey is still to come. With no time to lose, Branwen must make a choice: continue on the path her parents intended for her . . . or step into the role of a true Warrior Princess.
The Sacrifice by Diane MatcheckAn Apsaalooka (Crow) Indian girl has lived her life as a despised loner, overshadowed by her dead twin brother, who, it was prophesied at their birth, would become a "Great One" among his people. One night, she sets off on a forbidden journey to prove to her village, and her brother's spirit, that she is the one destined to become the true Great One. Her trek over the plains and into the mysterious region of modern-day Yellowstone National Park is a disaster, culminating in her eventual capture by a tribe of Pawnee. Strangely, these foreigners treat her with an unfamiliar respect, and the girl starts to let down her guard. But when it is suddenly revealed that she has been kept alive in order to be killed in a ritual harvest-season sacrifice, the girl is thrown back into her desperate battle for survival.
Who are your favorite strong female protagonists?