While I didn’t read too many queer protags growing up, I did read many strong female characters that I was immediately drawn to. I was appalled to find out that most people didn’t have the luxury of exploring what I thought was the common trope of powerful females throughout childhood. So, while I may not have too many queer poc characters to put into the Pantheon, I do have a few top women who are my candidates, and one who definitely makes it into the Pantheon.
- Alanna the Lioness (The Song of the Lioness quartet by Tamora Pierce)
In the land of Tortall, only boys of noble birth were trained to become knights. Though born of a noble, Alanna was a girl who wanted to become a knight more than her twin brother. Her father would not allow either child to stray from the norm. Being twins, they switched anyway. And thus launches the tale of Alanna becoming a badass squire to the Prince of Tortall and eventually becoming a full-fledged knight, (dubbed the Lioness once knighted), they weren’t able to take her title away.
Amongst the many hiding-gender stories that exist, this one was one of my favorites because once Alanna became a knight, she no longer hid that she was a girl. Though her friends had a hard time, they all stuck with her and accepted her as who she was as both a boy and eventually a girl. She worked hard and though she had to train harder to do the physical aspects, she did it well and eventually came out as one of the top squire candidates, beating all the boys that had been making fun of her.
As a YA book, it was one of my introductions to the badass women trope and I loved it.
- Petra Arkanian (Ender’s Game and Ender’s Shadow by Orson Scott Card)
A girl living as a young military tactician in an environment where she is considered an aberration for being so aggressive. What else can I say besides: Awesome.
She first befriends and gives Ender extra lessons in Ender’s Game, recognizing him as a fellow outsider. Then she goes onto becoming one of his most trusted commanders as they take on alien life. In the later Ender’s Shadow series, she goes on to challenging and becoming partners with Bean in a world stricken with fighting. She even continues to long to seize power under her own terms while starting a family.
A main point in the beginning of her story is the knowledge that she was tested for being a boy because of her aggressive nature. Since then, she is twice as hard and becomes a leader of an army at Battle School. She’s hard on Bean, she’s hard on Ender, but she’s hardest on herself. She comes from a small country with no real power in the scramble in the world, but she somehow positions herself in the thick of it. She starts off as an angry girl and through the series becomes a woman to be reckoned with. She is a badass woman.
- Xena: Warrior Princess
Now, anyone who knows me knew that I grew up with Xena. She was the original badass woman in my life.
As a mortal woman, she becomes a warrior that is feared by even the gods and goddesses of ancient Greece and Rome. Throughout the series, she is on a redemption arc, making up for all the lives she’d taken, with a companion, Gabrielle, at her side.
We see her deal with past decisions and mistakes in an exciting albeit over-dramatic way, but she is allowed to feel the gambit of emotions while still being a crazy bad-ass woman warrior. She becomes a mother and shows the depths of her emotions while dealing with Gabrielle, but in a way that doesn’t inhibit her fighting and combative nature.
At nearly six-feet tall with leather ‘armor’ and a sword that is nearly as tall as she is, with black hair and blue eyes, she has been the embodiment of the Woman Warrior throughout my life.
- Cassandra Cain (Batgirl and Black Bat)
Cheri mentioned her in an earlier post (found HERE), but she deserves to be mentioned again.
Throughout an entire arc, Cass Cain is mute. She reads people’s bodies and uses that to communicate. She was born and bred to be a living weapon and assassin, but after her first kill as a young girl, she gave it up and lives to protect lives rather than take them.
She is a master of her body and several martial arts. She has the power to kill and the skill to refrain. She is quick witted and learns and dons the mask of the bat with Batman’s eventual approval. I will never, for one second, believe that Batman could defeat her in hand-to-hand combat or really combat of any kind.
A huge plus for me: She’s Asian.
In situations where instincts override sense, she seeks to protect rather than run and save herself. She is a badass woman.
- Phedre no Delaunay (Kushiel Legacy trilogy by Jaqueline Carey)
She is the best. Absolutely the bestest best best. And she’s not even a bad-ass woman like the others.
She is described as having a mother who was ‘exotic’ and her features are darker than most in her world so she is definitely half-poc (though the races don’t match up precisely in the book world).
She is the woman that I gush about nearly every post. She is one who taught me that those who yield are not always weak and that sometimes it takes courage to love as thou wilt. She is smart and brilliant, able to learn languages at the drop of a hat and make connections with wide scopes of information. She has the courage to love and live through all that she goes through and she is definitely graceful and magnanimous. She has suffered and she has gained, but through it all, she remains humble and does not forget from where she came.
She is strong though she yields, makes mistakes and yet, works hard to make up for them. She is human, but always more so.
She is fearlessly queer.
I could never say enough about this wonderful woman who is in no way shape or form a warrior, but is my number one favorite female protag of all time. She is:
Phedre no Delaunay, Patron Saint of the Marque and Eternal Muse
And so I end this long rant with just one addition to our hallowed Pantheon of Queer Women. I leave you with the knowledge that I am constantly on the lookout for more badass women to add to my list of favorites. If you know any books with the most badass woman, please let me know in the comments and keep on keeping on.