Top Ten Tuesday Rewind: Favorite Heroines

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. Each week we will post a new Top Ten list that one of our bloggers here at The Broke and the Bookish will answer. Everyone is welcome to join.

This week is a free-for all, so I went with one of my favorite things to discuss in any situation: my favorite heroines!  This is gonna be a long list.

1. Eowyn from “The Lord of the Rings” by JRR Tolkien.  A repressed upbringing, a secret dream, a crush on a man who loves someone else, a willingness to disregard authority to do the right thing – Eowyn is just a flat-out great character.  How can she be anything else with lines like this: “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.”

2. Hermione from “Harry Potter” by JK Rowling.  Hermione is clever, sassy, courageous, and would do anything for her friends.  She’s not a gorgeous Mary Sue – Rowling makes a point of Hermione not being traditionally beautiful – and her smarts and loyalty make her an excellent role model for young readers.  Heck, I still look up to Hermione.

3. Eliza from “Daughter of Fortune” by Isabel Allende.  Eliza makes a major mistake as a lovesick teenager and winds up pregnant by a boy who wasn’t as perfect as she thought he was.  Eliza follows him all the way to California from Chile during the gold rush and her quest to find him turns into an enthralling journey of self-discovery.

4. Esther from “Little Century by Anna Keesey.  When 18-year-old Esther is left orphaned in turn-of-the-20th-century Chicago, she decides to take the reins of her life and goes west to claim a homestead in Oregon.  She gets caught up in the range wars between cattlemen and sheep-herders, makes friends, works for the local newspaper, and gets embroiled in the most gracefully-written and least-obnoxious love triangle I’ve ever read.

5. Tarma and Kethry from “The Oathbound” by Mercedes Lackey.  Tarma is an asexual warrior; Kethry is a far-from-asexual sorceress.  Together they fight bad guys!

6. Elizabeth Bennett from “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen.  I’m guessing Miss Bennett will be on a lot of lists.  Her clever wit, devotion to family, and grace after making a mistake are admirable and darn fun to read about.  I’m going to tag Jane Eyre here as well because she and Lizzie come from similar eras of literature, have similarly high standards for their mates, and have a special way with words.

7. Lyra from “His Dark Materials” by Philip Pullman.  The word “feisty” gets thrown around a lot when discussing strong heroines, but I’m pretty sure the word was invented for Lyra.  She’s a little hellion with no real parental figure, and when her best friend goes missing, she goes after him and befriends an armored polar bear king, some witches, and a cowboy with a dirigible in the process, just because she can.

8. Sabriel from the Abhorsen trilogy by Garth Nix. As fun as YA adventures can be, there’s a certain threshold of believability that’s hard to cross when you’re reading about a 14-year-old heroine who’s learning magic and martial arts and is off to save the world with maybe a sidekick or two.  That threshold is especially hard to cross when you were an extremely upstanding teenager who didn’t even need a curfew because there was no chance of her being out late.  Sabriel is an  18-year-old who deals with death and the undead on a regular basis, which has made her a very self-reliant and level-headed young lady.  She’s here to get the job done, thank you, and if she happens to develop a crush on a boy she rescues along the way, well, the romance will just have to wait until the next book, because there’s work to do.  (Actually it really irritated me that the books jumped straight from Sabriel and Touchstone beginning to have a thing, to them being parents. Borrrrring.)

9. Minnie from “The Help” by Kathryn Stockett.  Minnie was my favorite part of this book.  She can basically be summed up as “oh no you didn’t,” and she’s a blast to root for because of her sass.  However, like so many real people, she’s way better about confronting other people’s problems than her own – namely, her abusive alcoholic husband.

10. Mary from “My Name Is Mary Sutter” by Robin Oliveira.  Mary is an ugly duckling compared to her flawless sister, and when her sister scores the boy Mary has a crush on, Mary calls it quits, rolls up her sleeves, and begins pursuing her dream of being a surgeon.  This path would be difficult even without the outbreak of the Civil War, but the things Mary has to deal with during the war are truly heartbreaking, and the hurt just keeps coming.  Still, she handles everything with grace and courage.

Honorable mentions:

Katniss from “The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins – and JUST from “The Hunger Games.”  I don’t even want to talk to the whiny pawn Katniss from the other two books.

Lisbeth Salander from the Millenium trilogy by Stieg Larsson.  All social issues and abuse aside, Lisbeth’s willingness to cross that line and bring the pain to those who deserve it is enjoyable to read, if ethically debatable.

Karou from “Daughter of Smoke and Bone” by Laini Taylor.  Okay: I loved Karou for her courage, her talents in drawing and fighting, and the fact that she had a bit of a temper.  I did not love her for (SPOILER ALERT) secretly being a reincarnation of her angel OTP’s dead girlfriend.  That kind of ruined her character a little for me. (END SPOILER)

Who are your favorite literary heroines?

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9 thoughts on “Top Ten Tuesday Rewind: Favorite Heroines

  1. Heck yeah, the word “feisty” is definitely meant for Lyra. She is totally kick-butt. And she is 12 years old (or around there).

    Lizzie Bennet would definitely have made my list as well. P&P is such a great book.

    Here’s my TTT

    • Yep, only 12, although I think she’s 13 by the end of the trilogy. I like that she still kicks butt without having to be a magical Mary Sue-ish supergirl (same with Sabriel).

  2. Wow–we obviously have similar tastes! Though I chose to do a Top Ten Tuesday about literary relationships that could survive in the real world, I had four of the same female characters on my list that you have! I love strong, believable heroines, and so I definitely intend to check out the books on here that I’m not familiar with.

    Thanks for sharing such a great list! 🙂

    • “Believable” may be a stretch for a couple of these – particulary Tarma/Kethry and Karou – but that doesn’t make them any less fun. 😉

  3. Ooh, let’s see here. DEF agree on Sabriel, she’s basically mandatory. Other notables from recent reads include Flora from Flora Segunda, Mendoza from the Company books (by Kage Baker), Sophie from Howl’s Moving Castle, and Wilma from The Wish (by Gail Carson Levine). Not necessarily ass-kickers, but great and complicated girls and women that I really love.

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