5 Heroic Ladies in Literature


So, I just found out that The Sartorial Geek is doing 5 Fandom Fridays in 2020, so I have decided to follow along with some of their prompts in my series.

This weeks prompt? Literary heroines. There are SO many great examples of badass women in literature, so this will be hard to narrow down. Here are the ladies that make my top five list.

Phèdre nó Delaunay
Kushiel’s Legacy Series by Jacqueline Carey

The Book Blurb:

The land of Terre d’Ange is a place of unsurpassing beauty and grace. It is said that angels found the land and saw it was good…and the ensuing race that rose from the seed of angels and men live by one simple rule: Love as thou wilt.

Phèdre nó Delaunay is a young woman who was born with a scarlet mote in her left eye. Sold into indentured servitude as a child, her bond is purchased by Anafiel Delaunay, a nobleman with very a special mission…and the first one to recognize who and what she is: one pricked by Kushiel’s Dart, chosen to forever experience pain and pleasure as one.

Why I Love Her:

Phèdre is thrust into a world of court politics, treason, and a threat to her beloved country. She is trained as a spy, and uses her wit, cunning, and bravery to navigate her duties. But she also uses something unique – her sexuality.

Sex is a sacred act to d’Angelines, and Phèdre is an acolyte with an exceptional gift. Powerful men (and women) often find themselves willing to confide in her after they have spent a night with her in bed. She is also able to provide healing and build relationships with the use of her sexual prowess.

This may be a strange concept to some, but I think it’s an interesting take on the possibilities of one’s sexual agency.

Phèdre also demonstrates that she is more than a pretty face. She is clever, well-educated (with a special affinity for learning foreign languages), and good at reading people. I love that she is a heroine who doesn’t use physical combat at all to be a hero.

Lisbeth Salander
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

The Book Blurb:

It’s about the disappearance 40 years ago of Harriet Vanger, a young scion of one of the wealthiest families in Sweden…and about her octogenarian uncle, determined to know the truth about what he believes was her murder.

It’s about Mikael Blomkvist, a crusading journalist recently at the wrong end of a libel case, hired to get to the bottom of Harriet’s disappearance…and about Lisbeth Salander, a 24-year-old, pierced and tattooed genius hacker possessed of the hard-earned wisdom of someone twice her age, who assists Blomkvist with the investigation.

This unlikely team discovers a vein of nearly unfathomable iniquity running through the Vanger family, astonishing corruption in the highest echelons of Swedish industrialism – and an unexpected connection between themselves.

Why I Love Her:

Lisbeth is a bit of an unlikely heroine. She’s a goth hacker to whom life has not been very kind. But she is brilliantly intelligent and has a deep sense of justice and the balls to back it up. She doesn’t play by society’s rules in any sense.

She is always being underestimated by those around her, but when she takes action it is formidable and fierce. She doesn’t take anyone’s crap. I wish I had half the courage she does.

Fierce Kingdom by Gin Phillips

The Book Blurb:

An electrifying novel about the primal and unyielding bond between a mother and her son, and the lengths she’ll go to protect him.

The zoo is nearly empty as Joan and her four-year-old son soak up the last few moments of playtime. They are happy, and the day has been close to perfect. But what Joan sees as she hustles her son toward the exit gate minutes before closing time sends her sprinting back into the zoo, her child in her arms. And for the next three hours – the entire scope of the novel – she keeps on running.

Why I Love Her:


What Joan and her son discover upon leaving the zoo is that a mass shooting is underway. Joan spends the rest of the book trying to keep her son safe from a group of young men out to kill everyone at the zoo.

As a mother, reading this book made me feel uncomfortable, terrified, and everything in between. It touches on a mother’s deepest fear – having to protect a young child from danger.

A four-year-old has no concept of mass shootings. A four-year-old will whine that they are hungry even while someone points a gun in their face. I can’t think of anything more frightening than trying to hide or run from a mass shooter with a child. If my life depended on keeping my three-year-old quiet, I would probably die.

Joan has no special powers or gifts – she’s just a mother who is desperate to protect her son. Joan has to make impossible decisions in order to keep her son safe. Her power is a mother’s love, which as Joan proves, is one of the strongest powers out there.

Dagny Taggart
Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

The Book Blurb:

A towering philosophical novel that is the summation of her Objectivist philosophy, Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged is the saga of the enigmatic John Galt, and his ambitious plan to ‘stop the motor of the world’, published in Penguin Modern Classics.Opening with the enigmatic question ‘Who is John Galt?’, Atlas Shrugged envisions a world where the ‘men of talent’ – the great innovators, producers and creators – have mysteriously disappeared. With the US economy now faltering, businesswoman Dagny Taggart is struggling to get the transcontinental railroad up and running. For her John Galt is the enemy, but as she will learn, nothing in this situation is quite as it seems.

Why I Love Her:

Dagny is highly educated, logical and ambitious. She is also an extremely savvy business woman and scientist. The great thing about these traits is they are exactly the sorts of traits misogynists think women don’t have. They fly in the face of outdated gender stereotypes (which is saying something considering the book was first published in 1957).

Dagny’s not afraid to make tough decisions and doesn’t care what anyone thinks about her choices. She knows when she is right and doesn’t let anyone of lesser intellect sway her. She is a boss and a badass in a world usually dominated by men.

Her rational personality unsurprisingly causes people to accuse her of having no heart or emotion. But this is not the case either. Dagny is passionate and loves her country, her work, and the man who sees her for the dazzling woman she is.

The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

The Book Blurb:

One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them

In ancient times the Rings of Power were crafted by the Elven-smiths, and Sauron, the Dark Lord, forged the One Ring, filling it with his own power so that he could rule all others. But the One Ring was taken from him, and though he sought it throughout Middle-earth, it remained lost to him. After many ages it fell by chance into the hands of the hobbit Bilbo Baggins.

Why I Love Her:

Éowyn is the daughter of the House of Eorl and the niece of King Théoden of Rohan. She is royalty in a land where riding a horse into battle is the epitome of honor, and she longs to experience it, but is expected to fulfill the typical duties of a woman at home in her city of Edoras.

When the Riders of Rohan ride out to meet Sauron’s forces outside Minas Tirith, she disguises herself as a man so that she can join her brethren in defending their land from evil.

During the battle, she defends her wounded uncle from the Witch-king of the Nazgûl who believes he is invincible and declares that “no living man may hinder me”.

Éowyn reveals herself by removing her helmet and shoots back, “But no living man am I! You look upon a woman. Éowyn I am, Éomund’s daughter. You stand between me and my lord and kin. Begone, if you be not deathless! For living or dark undead, I will smite you, if you touch him.”

Which is basically the most badass line in the entire book.

With a little help from Merry the hobbit, Éowyn conquers the Witch-king. She is wounded from the battle and is taken into Minas Tirith for healing. While the rest of the Fellowship are doing their thing, she meets Faramir, who she falls in love with and eventually marries once Sauron is defeated.

Éowyn suffers much and sacrifices her own happiness for the love of her uncle and in service to her people. Despite that, she is able to achieve the victory in battle she longs for and is also able to find the peace and happiness she deserves.

You can read my other Five Fandom Friday posts here!

3 comments on “5 Heroic Ladies in Literature”

  1. I’m not a big reader, although I am trying to change that as of this year. So, thank you for the recommendations of books I’ll keep an eye out for.

    A great list, thank you

    Liked by 1 person

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