Thursday, 20 February 2014

Waterstones fail to recognise female fantasy authors

Fantasy author Foz Meadows recently published this article, in which she challenged the failure of Waterstones (the UK's only remaining nationwide chain of bookstores) to recognise female fantasy authors - or SF authors for that matter - in their 2012 literature on the SFF genre. No less than 113 authors are listed in the booklet but only nine of them are female, which is rather an eyebrow-raising imbalance.

Could do better.

Juliet E. McKenna expands on this by claiming to have seen lots of "If you like George R.R. Martin, why not try..."-style lists in bookshops, almost invariably consisting solely of male authors. Apparently, when she challenged one bookshop on why this was so, she was told "Women don't write epic fantasy." This is blatantly untrue, and it was rather idiotic of them to say so to an author with no less than fifteen epic fantasy novels under her belt. Indeed, when people have asked me what authors they should be reading after getting hooked on the likes of Martin or Abercrombie or Lynch, I often surprise myself with how many of the recommendations that come to mind are women.

So, without further ado, here is a brief list of female epic fantasy authors you should check out if you've gotten hooked on the genre via Martin or Game of Thrones:

Robin Hobb

Robin Hobb, aka Megan Lindholm (both pen-names of Margaret Astrid Lindholm Ogden), writes trilogies featuring epic battles and magical creatures (including dragons), but is resolutely focused on her characters. She enjoys writing characters who have their own motivations which make sense to them, no matter how they are painted as heroes or villains by others. Martin is a huge fan, as is Steven Erikson, and she has enjoyed a lengthy and prolific career. In fact, Martin has cited Hobb's use of animal magic as one of several influences on the warging in A Song of Ice and Fire.

Her best-known works are the five sub-series set in the Realm of the Elderlings, comprising the Farseer, Liveship Traders and Tawny Man trilogies and the Rain Wild Chronicles quartet, plus a forthcoming series currently planned to be a trilogy, The Fitz and the Fool. Hobb broke away from this series to write an unrelated work, The Soldier Son Trilogy, which was not as well-received. Writing under the pen name Megan Lindholm, she also wrote ten earlier books, mostly aimed at younger readers.

Key works
The Farseer Trilogy: Assassin's Apprentice (1995), Royal Assassin (1996), Assassin's Quest (1997)
The Liveship Traders Trilogy: Ship of Magic (1998), The Mad Ship (1999), Ship of Destiny (2000)
The Tawny Man Trilogy: Fool's Errand (2001), The Golden Fool (2002), Fool's Fate (2003)
The Soldier Son Trilogy: Shaman's Crossing (2005), Forest Mage (2006), Renegade's Magic (2008)
The Rain Wild Chronicles: Dragon Keeper (2009), Dragon Haven (2010), City of Dragons (2011), Blood of Dragons (2011)
The Fitz and the Fool: The Fool's Assassin (2014)

Kate Elliott

Kate Elliott is the pen-name of Alis A. Ramussen, under which name she published a fantasy, The Labyrinth Gate and an SF series, The Highroad Trilogy. After apparently disappointing early sales, she changed her writing name and returned with the SF Jaran series in the early 1990s. This was more successful and she has followed it up with a series of epic fantasies, including her more recent work, the Crossroads and Spiritwalker series.

However, Elliott's largest and best-known series is Crown of Stars, a seven-volume epic published between 1997 and 2006. If Martin's Song of Ice and Fire depicts a world set at the tail end of the medieval period, with armies in the tens of thousands, shining knights and full plate armour, Crown of Stars is set at the opposite end, when any army larger than a thousand is huge and kings tour their countries on endless processions rather than being tied to single capitals. Heavily influenced by real medieval European history (to the point where Crown of Stars can also be called an alternate history based on 9th and 10th Century Germany and Eastern Europe), Elliott weaves a large number of storylines focusing on themes such as war, chivalry religion and gender issues without dialling back (though also not over-emphasising) on the brutality of the period. Perhaps slightly overlong, but also genuinely thought-provoking.

Crossroads, which will eventually encompass at least seven novels set across three generations, is also interesting. Set in a world not based explicitly on any period of real history, it features a number of carefully-created original cultures clashing for control of a land called the Hundred. The original Crossroads trilogy will be followed by a new book later this year, The Black Wolves, set some years later.

Key works
The Golden Key (1996, with Melanie Rawn and Jennifer Roberson)
The Jaran Series: Jaran (1992), An Earthly Crown (1993), His Conquering Sword (1993), The Law of Becoming (1994)
Crown of Stars: King's Dragon (1997), Prince of Dogs (1998), The Burning Stone (1999), Child of Flame (2000), The Gathering Storm (2003), In the Ruins (2005), Crown of Stars (2006)
Crossroads: Spirit Gate (2007), Shadow Gate (2008), Traitors' Gate (2009), The Black Wolves (2014)
Spiritwalker: Cold Magic (2010), Cold Fire (2011), Cold Steel (2013)

Elizabeth Bear

Elizabeth Bear is an author I'm only recently acquainted with, thanks to her superb Eternal Sky Trilogy. However, she has published many novels in several different subgenres (including SF and urban fantasy), including her acclaimed Iskryne series, co-written with Sarah Monette.

The Eternal Sky trilogy is an epic fantasy set on an alternate version of the central Asian steppes, with a race of nomadic tribesmen who recall George R.R. Martin's Dothraki. However, whilst the Dothraki are (partly) based on the Asian nomads at the very start of their expansion and rise to power, Bear's series deals with a far more sophisticated and subtle people, depicted as intelligent warriors and capable engineers rather than just hordes of plunderers and rapists. It also features some intriguingly weird magic (the skies over each nation and culture are somehow different) and deliciously rich characterisation.

Key works
The Eternal Sky Trilogy: Range of Ghosts (2012), Shattered Pillars (2013), Steles of the Sky (2014)

J.V. Jones

Julie Victoria Jones hit the ground running with The Baker's Boy in 1995. Boosted by a Robert Jordan cover quote, it rapidly became one of the biggest-selling fantasy novels of the year and propelled her onto the bestseller lists. It was a rough novel, not unexpectedly for a debut, and she improved in leaps and bounds over the remainder of the Book of Words trilogy and a further stand-alone novel, The Barbed Coil. However, Jones found a different and far more sophisticated level of writing ability with her Sword of Shadows series, a decade and a half in the making and still incomplete.

Sword of Shadows is a (very loose) sequel to The Book of Words and picks up the story of the daughter of the previous trilogy's hero, as well as a whole host of new characters. It is set beyond the northern mountains in a bleak subarctic wilderness, heavily influenced by Scandinavia and the Inuit tribes. If you enjoyed those parts of A Song of Ice and Fire set beyond the Wall, this series is for you, with descriptions of snow and ice so vivid you may want to wrap up warm before reading. Unfortunately, Jones also seems to be emulating Martin's five-year gaps between volumes, but this is one of those series where the books are worth the long waits.

Key works
The Barbed Coil (1998)
The Book of Words: The Baker's Boy (1995), A Man Betrayed (1996), Master and Fool (1997)
The Sword of Shadows: A Cavern of Black Ice (1999), A Fortress of Grey Ice (2002), A Sword from Red Ice (2007), Watcher of the Dead (2010), Endlords (forthcoming)

Kameron Hurley

A relative newcomer, Hurley's works are challenging, direct and different. Her first trilogy is apparently SF, but magic (based around the manipulation of different kings of bugs) is liberally used. Her current series is an epic fantasy with a difference, set in a world which is being invaded by forces from its own parallel dimension, with the twist that only people whose doppelgangers are dead in the other universe can pass through. Hurley's books are complex, thought-provoking and vitally infused with life and action.

Hurley is also a prolific and essayist. She won a Hugo Award for "We Have Always Fought", an essay challenging the lazy gender assumptions prevalent in epic fantasy and science fiction based on erroneous understandings of history.

Key works
The Stars Are Legion (2016)
The Geek Feminist Revolution (2016)

The Bel Dame Apocrypha: God's War (2010), Rapture (2011), Infidel (2012)
The Mirror Empire: The Mirror Empire (2014), Empire Ascendant (2015), Broken Heavens (2017)

N.K. Jemisin

N.K. Jemisin is a relative newcomer, but made her mark on the genre with The Inheritance Trilogy (no, not that one) and the Dreamblood duology. The latter - which regrettably is so far all I've read - is set in a fantasised take on Egypt that completely avoids cliche: no cat-headed people fighting sphinxes, thankfully. Instead, it's a well-thought-out, intelligent take on the fantasy genre and its conventions about religion, power and gender roles, whilst also being a kick-arse adventure story set in a fantasy world refreshingly not based on Medieval Europe. Her next book, The Fifth Season, is out later this year.

Key works
The Fifth Season (2014)
The Inheritance Trilogy: The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms (2010), The Broken Kingdoms (2010), The Kingdom of Gods (2011)
The Dreamblood: The Killing Moon (2012), The Shadowed Sun (2012)

Juliet E. McKenna

Juliet E. McKenna is a prominent member of the UK SFF community, noted for her role in the writing collective The Write Fantastic. She has penned (as mentioned above) fifteen fantasy novels in four series, though all set on the same world.

I read her debut novel, The Thief's Gamble (featuring a female thief and rogue), when it was first released and found it highly enjoyable. Unfortunately, I haven't read the rest of her books but look forward to doing so.

Key works
The Tales of Einarinn: The Thief's Gamble (1999), The Swordsman's Oath (1999), The Gambler's Fortune (2000), The Warrior's Bond (2001), The Assassin's Edge (2002)

The Aldabreshin Compass: Southern Fire (2003), Northern Storm (2004), Western Shore (2005), Eastern Tide (2006)
The Chronicles of the Lescari Revolution: Irons in the Fire (2009), Blood in the Water (2010), Banners in the Wind (2010)
The Hadrumal Crisis: Dangerous Waters (2011), Darkening Skies (2012), Defiant Peaks (2012)

J.K. Rowling

You may have heard of her. And yes, I count her books as epic fantasy.

This is only scratching the surface here, so hit me with some more epic fantasies (or, sod it, fantasy in general) written by women in the comments.

ETA: When this article was originally published, it included K.J. Parker, at the time widely reported by the publishers to be female. It was later revealed that K.J. Parker is in fact comic fantasy author Tom Holt. As a result, the entry has been removed from the list and replaced by the more than deserving Kameron Hurley.


Paul Weimer said...

I think you're making a pretty safe assumption with K.J. Parker.

That said, plenty of other authors writing epic fantasy out there.

K.V. Johansen's THE BLACKDOG (and forthcoming novels set in that world).

Laura Anne Gilman has a fine epic fantasy trilogy where magic is based on wine, started with FLESH AND FIRE.

RobB said...

A glaring omission from my standpoint (mainly because I'm in the midst of going through some of her work) is Elizabeth Moon. Her DEED OF PAKSENARRION trilogy is a modern classic of Military Fantasy and the sequel series has been hitting bestseller lists.

She is equally prolific in the Science Fiction realm. I've only read the first installment of VATTA'S WAR, Trading in Danger but I loved it.

Rachel Aaron's ELI MONPRESS five book series is an extremely fun novel that I think would appeal to fans of Lynch.

Holly Lisle was quite prolific in the late 80s through the 90s, but I haven't seen much from her lately.

A longtime favorite of mine is C.S. Friedman. Her Coldfire Trilogy is also a classic and like Hobb, a proto-Grimdark / precursor to Grimdark.

Margaret Weis co-creator of DragonLance and DeathGate among many, many other epic works.

Anonymous said...

I'll second Robin Hobb. The characters in the Farseer trilogy are great, and she does a fantastic job of getting across just the raw emotion involved in the books' events. I can think of very few other works in which I really felt for the characters as much as in these.

Joe said...

Not all epic fantasy, but not on your list:

Melanie Rawn
Katherine Kerr
Katherine Kurtz
Jennifer Roberson (especially her Cheysuli novels)
Jo Walton
Catherynne Valente
Liz Williams

There are a bunch of writers who do more line blurring stuff, like where do you put Cherie Priest and some of what Justina Robson has done?

Anonymous said...

This is a great list! I saw that article on Waterstones yesterday and was really struck by the Urban Fantasy genre. Of the subgenres within fantasy, UF is usually the one pointed out (or derided) as being female heavy (both in authorship and protagonists) and yet they only call out one female author in the UF subgenre? Shame. I can think of at least two big name women that should have been on here (Harris and Briggs) and several smaller names that I like better than some of these other authors listed here.

Charlotte said...

Nice list there Wert. I have to admit though that out of those authors' works the only ones that I've enjoyed are from KJ Parker, Hobb's Liveship traders and Jemisin's latest series. Are there any female authors that are writing something equivalent to what Guy Gavriel Kay writes?

Hmm, would Earthsea qualify as epic fantasy of a sort?

I'm really puzzled why there aren't more female authors in SFF that are big hits like Martin/Brooks/Sanderson by now. There certainly seems to be a lot in urban fantasy and YA...I guess maybe the politics of SFF awards and traditional marketing is a big turnoff? I dunno. :S

Olaf said...

Marion Zimmer Bradley, most famous for THE MISTS OF AVALON, but she has written many other notable fantasy novels: THE FIREBRAND, NIGHT´S DAUGHTER, THE FOREST HOUSE, THE HOUSE BETWEEN THE WORLDS etc.

Lois McMaster Bujold, the CHALION and SHARING KNIFE series.

Lynn Flewelling, the NIGHTRUNNER books.

Trudi Canavan, a real global bestseller

Barbara Hambly, Meredes Lackey, Lynn Abbey, Diana L. Paxson, Jennifer Roberson, Kristen Britain,
Ursula K. LeGuin, and many, many more.

Jack Tripper said...

Great write-up. I'm always happy to see J.V. Jones' sorely underrated 'Sword of Shadows' series get some love. It deserves to be mentioned among the likes of ASoIaF and Malazan, imo. (Just be sure to bundle up before dipping in!)

Jens said...

I'm well aware that I may incur the wrath of some folks here but I am always a little surprised but this argument of "imbalance".

Honestly, my primary concern when reading books is not the gender or nationality or color of skin of an author. What I care for is whether I like the book.
I wouldn't want to have a list of recommendations that has a certain percentage of female, black, Asian or gay writers. I want to read books that I like.
If they were all written by black lesbians, so what?

So, I reject the notion to condemn the Waterstone list solely because it "fail to recognise female fantasy authors".
Which isn't true, btw; it does recognize female fantasy authors, but not in the proportion that Foz Meadows is okay with.

However, what I will condemn is a list that excludes great authors simply because they are female, black, Pakistani, or [insert minority of your choice]. That would be scandalous.


That said here are some notable female fantasy authors:
- Louise Cooper: I adore her Time Master trilogy; the late Cooper is a lamentably far too obscure author who deserves a much wider readership, IMO
- Susan Cooper: 'The Dark is Rising'; had to think of that Cooper when talking about Louise
- Katharine Kerr: Deverry
- Katherine Kurtz: Deryni
- Ursula K. Le Guin: Earthsea; does this count as epic fantasy?
- Lois McMaster Bujold: Chalion books
- Janny Wurts: probably best known for her co-operations with Ray Feist on the Kelewan books; author of various stand-alones, one triloy, as wall as truly epic series 'The Wars of Light and Shadow'

Unknown said...

Another female author, Janny Wurts, is currently working on the series concluding novels of the truly epic "Wars of Light and Shadow". I strongly urge anyone seeking a great epic fantasy to give her series a read.

CJohnson said...

CS Friedman is a personal favourite for me. Her Magister Trilogy is a great series with a strong female protagonist, which is something you don't see terribly often.

Mike Bonsiero said...

Have you heard anything about what is going on with JV Jones? She went radio silent about two years ago and there hasn't been the slightest hint of an update since.

Ash said...

C.S. Friedman, Barbara Hambly, Janny Wurts and Elizabeth Moon all jump out from a quick scan of my bookshelf as also having written multiple fantasy epics. That's not even getting into the argument of whether Anne McCaffrey was fantasy or science fiction.

Anonymous said...

Have you read Parker's Engineer Trilogy? I think you would have emphasized it more if you had - probably the best fantasy books I've read in a year. The level of artistry is a step above most of the fantasy authors I've read, who rarely go beyond plot, world-building, and character-building (imo).
- I don't know if she fits the mold of the other authors you mention, but CS Friedman is also worth a try!

Anonymous said...

OH and Susanna Clarke, whose Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell is my candidate for the most underrated books in fantasy (among readers - critics loved it)

Craig said...

Melanie Rawn fits the bill quite nicely as well.

Matt said...

I'll admit that I haven't read most of these authors, but I wholeheartedly second the recommendation of Robin Hobb and N. K. Jemisin.

Katharine Kerr with her massive Deverry series also comes to mind, as do the works of Karen Miller. Her Godspeaker trilogy is flawed in execution, but the idea was very interesting.

Anonymous said...

Just wondering if you had any further info on JV Jones. She has been silent on the web for years now and was wondering if the publishers had shared anything with you???

Also the late Sara Douglass was an Australian author who wrote some great trilogies which were quite fantastical! The Axis trilogy especially.

Raquel said...

Awesome list! I'm no expert here, so I'm happy to take your recommendations. I'm also happy to see this list! You're awesome, ser!

Ella said...

Brilliant list, thanks!

Doug said...

Fantastic article, Adam, thanks. A few others as a starter for 10: Janny Wurts, Katherine Kerr, Anne Lyle, Anne Bishop, Rowena Cory Daniells, Karen Miller, Aliette de Bodard, Jen Williams, Kameron Hurley (upcoming), Jennifer Fallon, Jacqueline Carey, Stella Gemmell, C.S. Friedman, Teresa Frohock, Naomi Novik, Susanna Clarke (debatable)

Can I ask where you got news of JV Jones' next novel title? Someone out there *must* know if she is still writing.

Adam Whitehead said...

No word from JV Jones on the status of the next book. I know Pat's Fantasy Hotlist tried to contact her last year, but AFAIK Pat didn't hear back.

I haven't read Elizabeth Moon or Melanie Rawn yet. I'll probably get to Bujold's fantasies once I've wrapped up her SF series.

Jared said...

"OH and Susanna Clarke, whose Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell is my candidate for the most underrated books in fantasy (among readers - critics loved it)"

I totally agree with the suggestion, a fantastic book.

I'm not sure "most underrated" is the best description for a book that sold a zillionty copies and won both the World Fantasy and Hugo awards (amongst others). It didn't exactly slip under the radar!

Bibliotropic said...

I mentioned on Facebook that one of the first fantasy novels I read was by Mercedes Lackey, and considering the span of those books, I'd say they qualify as at least slightly epic. And so if I could prove the "women just don't write fantasy" statement wrong before the year 2000, there's really no excuse for it to still be perpetuated now.

Pretty damn sad that so many authors and novels are going underappreciated because some people won't pull their heads from their backsides...

Wilbur said...

The "women don't write epic fantasy" quote is pretty astonishing, given the large number of popular fantasy works written by women that have graced the shelves of bookstores since the 1970's, based on the publishing dates in the very good books within reach on my own shelves here.

Marion Zimmer Bradley
Elizabeth Moon
Ursula LeGuin
Janny Wurts
Lois McMaster Bujold

So the only reply to that statement is, "Nonsense".

However, Jens brings up a good point earlier. Specifically, what matters is the book itself, not who wrote it. If someone puts a list together that doesn't meet a politically correct ratio, that doesn't mean the list is inherently bad.

Likewise, the sort of "if you liked X, then you might like Y" recommendations don't necessarily have to reference a Y woman writer if X is a male writer. Few people who are in the mood for more of "A Storm of Swords" are going to be excited to read "The Tombs of Atuan" directly thereafter.

Albin L said...

Yeah, I have pretty much written off JV Jones as MIA.

Trevor said...

Janny Wurts's Wars of Light & Shadow is by some distance my favourite fantasy by a female author. Her writing style can put a lot of people off I guess but I love it myself.

Richele said...

I'm really glad you made this list! BUT...
How in the world could you have left out Tamora Pierce???!? I love her books about Tortall, and I've heard good things about Circle of Magic, too. :)

Anonymous said...

I loved Elizabeth Moon's Vatta's War trilogy. Good solid entertainment and the space battles in there are amongst the best I've read. I'm much less fond of her Heris Serrano novels with their obsessional level of detail about horses and horse riding.

Adam Whitehead said...

JV Jones did update her page last year (I believe) with a very terse statement that she was finishing Book 5 and would start blogging and updating when that was done. I would presume her continued silence means that hasn't happened yet.

Anonymous said...

I would never recommend JV to anyone since she's been mia for 2 years and the books are not good enough to stand on their own without an ending. Maybe you know something the rest of us dont?

Anonymous said...

Oh and if you do recommend JV at least do it with the finished trilogy which is a really good read.

Anonymous said...

Jones tends to go silent when she's deep into working on her writing.

Uh, I used to love Rawn, but any one picking up her Exiles "series" should know that the second book was written in 1997 and she still has not(and has no intention of) writing the third.

Anonymous said...

Also, um there are a few female authors on that list.

Weirdly, I started reading Novik because of a if you like GRRM sign, but that was Borders, alas.

Anonymous said...

You don't challenge a relative figure (the percentage of female authors, showing a significant imbalance) by giving some kind of absolute figures (giving a list of many female authors). For each author in this list, there are maybe 10 male authors who are just as good, and if that's the case, the imbalance in the original list has nothing wrong.

I understand this is more an answer to the claim that "women don't write fantasy", which is certainly rather stupid, but their list actually contained several female author, so this poor generalization was not to be taken literally.

Kajol said...

Mary Gentle is awesome, especially if you like A Song of Ice and Fire or everything my KJ Parker.
It follows the life of a female mercenary called Ash, it's historical fantasy (taking place in our world) and extremely well written concerning medieval warfare.

Anonymous said...

It troubles me that so many good lady authors have not made the list. May I ask how many of the authors are black also? Wake up fantasy world!

Adam Whitehead said...

I reviewed ASH several years ago. It is superb:

Noisyninja said...

I didn't read the Waterstones list, maybe these authors are included are Mercedes Lackey, Anne McCaffrey, and Kristine Katherine Rusch not on any of these lists??? I consider them incredibly important to SFF. Lackey's Gryphon trilogy, as well as the copious books that follow are hardcore fantasy, and definitely epic. And hello, Anne McCaffrey and the Dragon Riders of Pern? Rusch's epic fantasy series The Fey? These are all influential to modern fantasy, and I think it's almost negligent to not include them in a list of great SF/F writers.

Anonymous said...

Let's see...

Julian May's excellent science-fantasy series Saga of the Pliocene Exiles

Sharon Shinn's The Twelve Houses series

Lorna Freeman's Borderlands series (not sure when book 4 is out, but the first 3 are good)

Sim said...

Hey Adam,

Any chance of using your considerable clout to get some sort of statement from JV Jones' publishers on whether or not she is still writing? I think that Blog update was long enough ago to be a concern.

Adam Whitehead said...

Pat has more clout than me and didn't get anywhere when he followed it up last year. So I think we're out of luck on this one. Jones hasn't even updated her Twitter page in three years.

Jesper Haglund said...

Excellent list, especially since it included some writers I'd not heard about before.

I'd add my voice to those clamoring for a place for Katherine Kerr and Jacqueline Carey on the list.

On Elizabeth Bear, I'd also include her New Amsterdam short stories - although I think they can be a tiny bit difficult to get ahold of. There's also a very good post-apocalyptic short story by her about a woman who owns the best bike in the west available over at Starship Sofa.

I'm currently working my way through those Juliet E McKenna novels I've been able to buy here in Sweden, and while they're not revolutionising the genre, they're very good (although her male protagonist, Ryshad, is a fairly run-of-the-mill bloke with a sword compared to Livak).

I'd also want to include Ellen Kushner and a few writers of tie-in fiction - most prominently Elaine Cunningham (Forgotten Realms, Star Wars, and Pathfinder), Rosemary Jones (Forgotten Realms - and the funniest fantasy I've read that wasn't written by Terry Pratchett), and Liane Merciel (Pathfinder, as well as two novels set in her own world).

Anonymous said...

I don't usually post, but I wanted to mention jacqueline Carey. She wrote the superb Kusiel Series. I think the first three books in particluar, are equal to anything else written by anyone. And if you think women don't write dark fantasy I would mention Tamara Siler Jones's Dubric series. unfortunately it has never been finished. I also agree with all the others listed "melanie Rawn, Robin Hobb, C. S. Friedman, Anne Bishop, trudi Cavanan and many more.

Gabriele Campbell said...

The Dubric books are self-contained, so you can enjoy the three that are out and get enough of a closure. And yeah, Tam does go down some dark roads there. She's working on some present time thriller stuff right now - with a touch of Weird - and that's very dark, too.

Another one worth checking out is Wen Spencer. Not as dark as Tam, but esp. her Tinker books are a fun read. Don't get put off by the elves: for one it's more SciFi than Fantasy, taking place in some future Pittsburgh; second, her elven MC starts out as a girl in jeans with oilstains on her hands who runs the big crane in a junk yard - not exactly a Galadriel. There are also Japanese dragons as the bad guys. :-)

colagirl said...

Wandered into this post googling a listing of female fantasy authors. The post didn't disappoint. I'd like to add another one if nobody's mentioned her yet:

Michelle West (pen name of Michelle Sagara) and her SUN SWORD sextology. Her prose style is rather ornate, and she can be a little light on the description sometimes, but her characterization is so good it feels almost *four*-dimensional and she has many different Strong Characters, Female (if you get that reference).

The books are The Broken Crown, The Uncrowned King, The Shining Court, Sea of Sorrows, The Riven Shield, and the Sun Sword. Again, strongly recommended.

Unknown said...

Er.... I despair sometimes.... First of all what about C. J Cherryh? Probably the finest writer of high fantasy, the Morgaine books? The Paladin? The Fortress series? Let alone her astonishing Faerie books, that doesn't even include her wonderful scifi sagas, what about ursula leguin? Never heard of earthsea? Er Jacqueline Carey?

Rabindranauth said...

Bit weird no one's mentioned Patricia A. McKillip as yet. Her Riddlemaster Trilogy is beloved by lots of people, a Tolkien clone with enough plotting decisions to make it her very own story. Readers looking to try her though should definitely start with The Forgotten Beasts of Eld. Marie Brennan's Memoirs of Lady Trent is also as epic as epic fantasy can get whilst remaining very much an original spin on things.