The best fantasy books with a prominent feminist theme

Who am I?

As a fantasy author and professional counsellor, I am incredibly passionate about topics which are relevant not only to mental health, but to us in contemporary society. Feminist themes such as those discussed in my book list comes under than umbrella—we deal with these in our day to day lives. I experience them personally and also see it within my counselling clients. I believe that being able to read about these issues within fantasy stories is really important to allow us to understand and process the difficult thoughts and feelings they can bring up within us.  


I wrote...

Awakening

By Lucy A. McLaren,

Book cover of Awakening

What is my book about?

In a kingdom oppressed by a ruthless cult, a young woman fights to cope with her past trauma while protecting two children who are being hunted relentlessly by the cult's soldiers. They must learn who to trust and survive a harrowing journey to the uncertain safety promised by rebel leaders. Exploring issues including mental health, trauma, toxic relationships, abuse, and patriachal oppression, Awakening is a debut young adult fantasy that launches an exciting new dark fantasy trilogy.

The books I picked & why

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The Priory of the Orange Tree

By Samantha Shannon,

Book cover of The Priory of the Orange Tree

Why this book?

The Priory of the Orange Tree is a wonderful epic fantasy story, filled with memorable characters and interesting settings. I found myself drawn to the strong feminist elements, from the diverse range of characters to the different issues explored (from sexuality to cultural differences, child loss to patriarchal violence). An incredibly powerful story, where the female characters take front and centre-stage in a refreshing show of female power and strength. 

The Priory of the Orange Tree

By Samantha Shannon,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Priory of the Orange Tree as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Get ready for Samantha Shannon's new novel, A Day of Fallen Night, coming in February 2023!

The New York Times bestselling "epic feminist fantasy perfect for fans of Game of Thrones" (Bustle).

NAMED A BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR BY:
AMAZON (Top 100 Editors Picks and Science Fiction and Fantasy) * CHICAGO PUBLIC LIBRARY * BOOKPAGE * AUTOSTRADDLE

A world divided.
A queendom without an heir.
An ancient enemy awakens.

The House of Berethnet has ruled Inys for a thousand years. Still unwed, Queen Sabran the Ninth must conceive a daughter to protect her realm from destruction--but assassins are getting…


Alanna: The First Adventure

By Tamora Pierce,

Book cover of Alanna: The First Adventure

Why this book?

One of the first books I read as a young girl which made me realise that I could be a fantasy hero, we follow Alanna—the eleven-year-old protagonist who longs to be a knight and so disguises herself as a boy in order to train. At the time of its release in 1983, other fantasy books were filled with male heroes and mentors, wizards, and knights. This book broke that mould. Alanna must fight against the established patriarchy to learn the ways of a knight, and along the way she begins to question what it is to be female. An essential read for any fans of fantasy, in my opinion—and the rest of the series, too! 

Alanna: The First Adventure

By Tamora Pierce,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Alanna as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From Tamora Pierce, the first book in the Song of the Lioness Quartet, honored with the Margaret A. Edwards Award.

“From now on I’m Alan of Trebond, the younger twin. I’ll be a knight.”

In a time when girls are forbidden to be warriors, Alanna of Trebond wants nothing more than to be a knight of the realm of Tortall. So she finds a way to switch places with her twin brother, Thom. Disguised as a boy, Alanna begins her training as a page at the palace of King Roald. But the road to knighthood, as she discovers, is not…


The Golden Compass (Northern Lights)

By Philip Pullman,

Book cover of The Golden Compass (Northern Lights)

Why this book?

Another book I read as a child, and one which has remained a firm favourite ever since. Lyra Belacqua and her daemon, Pantalaimon, find themselves thrown into an epic fight against the the Magisterium in the hopes of saving her own world (and multiple others) against the repression of the Authority. Lyra is a female protagonist who is not particularly strong or powerful (she is a child, after all), but she is able to overcome some incredibly challenging situations using her intelligence and wit which was endlessly inspiring to me as a child, and remains so this day. I highly recommend this series. 

The Golden Compass (Northern Lights)

By Philip Pullman,

Why should I read it?

18 authors picked The Golden Compass (Northern Lights) as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The first volume in Philip Pullman's groundbreaking
HIS DARK MATERIALS trilogy, now a thrilling, critically
acclaimed BBC/HBO television series. First published
in 1995, and acclaimed as a modern masterpiece, this first
book in the series won the UK's top awards for children's literature.

"Without this child, we shall all
die."

Lyra Belacqua and her animal daemon live
half-wild and carefree among scholars of Jordan College, Oxford.

The destiny that awaits her will take her to the frozen lands
of the Arctic, where witch-clans reign and ice-bears fight.

Her extraordinary journey will have immeasurable consequences
far beyond her own world...



This…


Ship of Magic

By Robin Hobb,

Book cover of Ship of Magic

Why this book?

The Liveship Traders books explore the roles of women in arguably more depth than previous and subsequent books within Hobb’s massive Realm of the Elderlings series. In Ship of Magic, we are introduced to multiple characters including female protagonists Althea and Malta, two members of the Vestrit family who, throughout this series, try to establish their place in a society that very firmly places women within restricted roles. Hobb is a master at character work, and following the stories of these two young women is a journey in itself. We see them evolve, grow, and, ultimately, overcome the oppressions placed upon them by those around them. In the trilogy as a whole, Hobb explores these issues alongside historic abuse and trauma, mental health, and equality. An excellent exploration of feminist issues.  

Ship of Magic

By Robin Hobb,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Ship of Magic as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'As addictive as morphine' THE TIMES

From the author of the classic Farseer trilogy, SHIP OF MAGIC is the first part of the Liveship Traders. Set in a land bordering the Six Duchies, Robin Hobb begins her epic tale of pirates, talking ships, magic, sea serpents, slave revolts, dashing heroes and bloody battles.

Wizardwood, the most precious commodity in the world, comes only from the Rain Wilds. But only a liveship can negotiate the perilous waters of the Rain Wild River, and liveships are hard to come by. They quicken only when three family members from successive generations have died…


The Worthy

By Anna K. Moss,

Book cover of The Worthy

Why this book?

A grimdark fantasy in the tone of Abercrombie, Moss’s The Worthy is a brilliant debut that explores a fractious sibling relationship between brother and sister Prince Barsten and Princess Ailith, both of whom are battling to become heir to the kingdom of Crell. Ailith herself is hiding her lover, Lady Avalon, at the same time as trying to protect the kingdom when it quite literally begins to tear itself apart due to a mysterious magical entity. The book explores issues of patriarchal oppression, historic abuse and trauma, sexuality and homophobia. Despite the grim world and morally grey characters, I found myself drawn into this story because of the important themes it considered. 

The Worthy

By Anna K. Moss,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Worthy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Blood is thicker than water. Tell that to Prince Barsten, betrayed and abandoned on foreign soil. His sister is intent on claiming the throne and he’s intent on stealing it back. One of them might succeed, if it weren’t for a sacred creature infecting people with its emotions. Rage, fear, paranoia, despair. As their country collapses, the royal siblings must stay true to themselves or find out just how thick their blood really is.

Moss’s compelling debut novel dives into a desperate kingdom, full of intrigue, treachery and sapphic-longing. Fast-paced and awash with sinful characters and fetid settings, The Worthy…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in feminism, knights, and good and evil?

7,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about feminism, knights, and good and evil.

Feminism Explore 231 books about feminism
Knights Explore 45 books about knights
Good And Evil Explore 89 books about good and evil

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