Second-world fantasy with brainy/scholarly female leads


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Second-world fantasy with brainy/scholarly female leads

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Muokkaaja: joulukuu 18, 2017, 8:22 pm

I'm on the hunt for heroines who love learning, heroines for whom the acquisition of knowledge and understanding is a goal and a passion.

Female characters like, say, Nepenthe in McKillip's Alphabet of Thorn, a lovely little book I really need to re-read.

Amalia of The Tethered Mage is something like what I'm looking for, but unfortunately her scholarly side and her interests in artificery and alchemy don't figure very much into the plot. I'm hoping we'll see it come more into focus in the sequel, which, after all, is named for her.

I'm very fond of Jasnah Kholin in The Stormlight Archive. She would be a perfect example, except for one thing: I'm halfway through Oathbringer, and I'm still not quite sure whether Sanderson really intends for us to like or admire her. Is she a heroine, or... something else? I have my fingers crossed that I'll be able to love her as much at the end as at the beginning.

What I do NOT want: villain protagonists. Elsewhere, someone recommended Cyteen to me. Ariane Emory is just a bit too Evil for my tastes. I'm looking for characters whose moral compass is at least in something like working order. The very last thing I want is any suggestion that love of learning or pursuit of knowledge is inherently corrupting to a woman.

So, who are some of the best scholarly heroines in fantasy, outside of urban/contemporary fantasy?

joulukuu 18, 2017, 11:14 pm

You want A College of Magics by Caroline Stevermer. High fantasy, main character is learning to be a witch. She does a lot of studying, and also some shenanigans. It has a sequel, which is good too, but I like the first one better.

joulukuu 19, 2017, 12:51 am

>2 reconditereader: +1 A College of Magics is one of my favorite books.

joulukuu 19, 2017, 6:48 am

A group of fabulous and erudite women characters have come to life in The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter. Myself, I've only read the prequel novelette The Mad Scientist's Daughter and absolutely loved it.

The prequel can be found in the short story collection The mad scientist's guide to world domination.

The Athena Club consists of Mary Jekyll, Justine Frankenstein, Catherine Moreau, Diana Hyde and Beatrice Rappaccini. If you are not familiar with the last, do look up and read the short story Rappaccini's Daughter by Hawthorne before you begin these stories. Here is a PDF version.

Muokkaaja: joulukuu 19, 2017, 7:41 am

There's surprising instances of this in The Breaking of Northwall, given it's an early 1980s publication by a male author. Pelbar is a matriarchy, filled with intelligent women who specialize in various pursuits and have no time for mansplaining. They aren't the central characters, however, more periphery.

joulukuu 19, 2017, 8:25 am

An obvious one, but Rowan in the Rosemary Kirstein's Steerswoman books.

Muokkaaja: joulukuu 22, 2017, 6:22 am

Bellis Coldwine spends a good amount of time doing some research in books in The Scar, though she might be on the grayer end of the "moral compass in working order" spectrum I guess if you found Ariane Emory "evil" (I see her more as a pragmatist and a survivor, raised under a lot of pressure and expectations but none of them because of her gender, by someone who knew what she would be up against, in a situation where she would not have survived stepping down, and those most eager and likely to take over would most likely cause much more, wider-scale grief).

One of the protagonists in The Winged Histories is a singer and lore-master. There are sections of the book that are not dedicated directly to her, but they might prove quite satisfying too as the whole book is about who gets to collect stories and history and to tell them and how.

The protagonist of The Moon and the Sun is a scholar but (1) it is alternate history, not a secondary world, though it is sufficiently alternate that she isn't given too much grief for being a female scholar in 17th century France, and (2) it suffers from other considerable weaknesses that didn't quite break it for me but might for you, so check a few trusted reviewers first I guess.

joulukuu 19, 2017, 10:18 pm

Second the Steerswoman suggestion -- though really not fantasy, but should appeal to the same readers.

toukokuu 25, 2018, 5:07 am

Marie Brennan's Lady of Trent series starting with A natural history of Dragons is a secondary world Victorian flavour female natural historian

Mary robinette Kowal's Glamourist books Shades of Milk and Honey is an Austen feel but she studies magic

kesäkuu 5, 2018, 12:45 am

The Traitor Baru Cormorant is an accountant, basically. But we don't know if she's a villain yet. In Australia it seems to be published as YA but I don't think this is right.

kesäkuu 5, 2018, 6:13 am

Wow, another interesting post with so many new (to me) reads! Dangerous place - thank you!

elokuu 2, 2018, 2:03 pm

>1 kceccato: I think The Invisible Library would fit the bill.

Muokkaaja: elokuu 4, 2018, 2:23 pm

The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe

eta: huh, not sure why the touchstone isn't working...
eta2: now it is. Weird.

elokuu 2, 2018, 3:33 pm

Hmmm... I wonder if Thursday Next would qualify? You might want to take a peek at The Eyre Affair.

elokuu 3, 2018, 9:53 am

>14 Jim53: oooh, definitely!
Can our modern world very modified only in certain aspects be considered 'secondary'?

elokuu 3, 2018, 10:06 am

>15 ScarletBea: I think the Bookworld can be considered secondary. I guess we don't get into that till the second book.

elokuu 3, 2018, 12:11 pm

>12 humouress: Just picked up a copy. Thanks for the recommendation.

elokuu 3, 2018, 10:59 pm

You’re welcome.