Because our first edition was so successful, and because you can never do enough to cheer for these women.
Also, as we said in the first post--any ladies you think should be on our ever-growing list? Which other women are too awesome for words? Share with us!
4. Eowyn of Rohan
The original shieldmaiden, Eowyn was one of the first women in fantasy to openly complain about being constrained by gender roles. In the dark hopeless world of an approaching end to Middle Earth, hardly anyone wants to wait at home, tending their elderly and sick bewitched relatives, or worse, watch as those relatives recover and then sentence them to stay home again. Not to mention sticking around all those years while being sexually harassed by her uncle's advisor. And so she takes things into her own hands, disguises herself in the time-honored manner, and rides to war. Oh, and she strikes down the King of the Nazgul. No big deal. Some people see it as a betrayl, when she falls in love with Faramir, and then decides to hang up her sword. But I see it simply as a change in personality. She was born into and lived through a world of conflict and war, and fighting was the work that needed to be done. Now that Sauron is defeated, the world needs to be healed. And she recognizes that she is right for the work that needs to be done. There are other fish in the sea besides Aragorn, and a man who is king perhaps is not really right for her. She realizes glory is not what lasts. But her work does.
3. Hermione Granger
There are so many things I could say about my favorite member of the Potter trio. I could talk about how much she changed and matured from the know-it-all of Sorcerer's Stone to the talented, capable friend of Deathly Hallows. I could talk about her development as a witch, about her relationship with Ron, about her gradual rebellion. But what I think makes her so awesome, and such a valuable friend to Harry and Ron is her insistent love for both of them. If these seven books have taught us one thing, it is that Harry and Ron are both idiot teenage boys. They both have the capability of being incredibly callous and cruel, and are to Hermione on multiple occasions--the entire second half of Prisoner of Azkaban being the most prominent example. And yet, her love for them never fades or diminishes. No matter how irritated or angry she might get at either of them, no matter how awful their fights are, she never stops loving. She never stops caring. She is the one who remains behind with Harry in Deathly Hallows, who stays with him--saves his life on multiple occassions--when things reach their lowest, awful point. That kind of friendship and love is something to be valued, cherished, held on to tight. And Harry and Ron are so incredibly lucky to have her in their lives.
2. Keladry of Mindelan
If you'd think that the second lady knight of the realm would have an easier time of it, you'd be wrong. Alanna faces immense challenges, to be sure. But though the law might be on Kel's side, tradition is not. She faces down daily pranks, attacks, and incredible sexist hatred thrown at her by everyone from the servants to her peers to her training master. I could not have borne all of this, much less starting at the age of ten. But she perseveres through all of it, finding friends in the oddest places, from animals to outcasts to the powerful. She becomes one of the realm's best tilters, and in the process, encourages dozens of other women to enter the ranks of Tortall's fighting forces, no matter the obstacles. It's no accident that she's put in command of a fort at the age of eighteen, as a newly made knight, and defends its people with everything she's got. She more than rises to every challenge she's given. Keep being awesome, Kel.
1. Martha Jones
Martha has the unfortunate happenstance to run into the Doctor at a really rough time in his life. There's little he can focus on besides the gaping loss of Rose, and much the same can be said for the viewers. And ultimately, this accounts for the general dislike or indifference towards her as a character. And people often forget just how fantastic and talented this woman is -- and simply put, how capable. She is by far the most accomplished of all the new companions -- well on her way towards becoming a doctor. She's not only older and independent, but is close to her family, and is the mediator that all of them turn to. She falls in love with a gorgeous, fantastic guy who is blind to it all -- but aren't all of us in love with the Doctor? She knows how amazing this guy is, and wants to stay friends with him, even if it means being brushed aside for Rose, because she knows just how much he has changed her life, and how much she loves the life she lives now. She supports him through all the emotional turmoil he goes through, she takes care of him as a human, and during that long year, it's her that walks the ravaged Earth, telling people about him -- about how amazing this man is, this man that they must believe in, this man that will never love her. The Doctor might channel the psychic energy, but ultimately she saves the world. And that year teaches her that it is time to get out. And she does get out. And learns that she can be amazing and brilliant on her own.
4. Adele DeWitt
We have yet to have a villain (or, villain-esque figure) on this list, but Adele DeWitt is a good first choice. Whatever your opinions are on Dollhouse (and oh, I have several), it's worth watching purely for Adele. The head of the L.A. Dollhouse, she makes no apologies for her line of work or what she does. She is a stone-cold businesswoman, and it doesn't matter to her if that business involves making Dolls out of people. She will run her business, and she will do whatever she deems necessary to make sure it is run efficiently. She's tough, she's ruthless, and she refuses to allow anyone to intimidate her (good lord, that episode with Dominic in season one where she got shot and just STOOD THERE...). And yet, she's lonely. She's desperately lonely, and Miss Lonelyhearts shows us a side of Adele that none of her co-workers get to see. But she'll shut that side down when she needs to, and she refuses to allow it to continue when she feels it might interfere with her life. She pushes through, but she also does have her scruples, choosing eventually to side with the Actives over Rossum. Whether or not you agree with her ethics or what she does, she will fight for her interests to the death. And she will not let anyone stand in her way.
3. Natasha Romanov
Natasha was the great pleasant surprise of the Avengers for me (well, her and Bruce Banner). I hated her character in Iron Man 2, because it was epitome of what I like to call the “vapid strong woman” stereotype. Sure, she kicked ass, but there was nothing there. And even though I knew that it was the fault of that shitty script, it still irritated the hell out of me, and I was not excited to learn she was going to be the primary lady of the Avengers. Oh, Suz of little faith. Thank god for Joss Whedon and the rest of the people in charge of that script, for the Natasha Romanov of the Avengers is one of the most complex, intelligent, badass lady spies I’ve ever had the pleasure of seeing. Even though it’s clear from her conversation with Loki that there are far too many skeletons in her closet, too much red in her ledger, she remains in control of the situation the entire time. She decides the terms and conditions under which these parts of her life are dealt with and revealed. She doesn’t allow her demons to dominate her life, or to even try and get in the way of doing her job. She’s absolutely fearless, until she is confronted with the one rage machine who she can’t out-shoot, out-smart, or out-fight. But again, even though her fear of the Hulk is evident, she works through it and past it to the point where it doesn’t even matter, in a way that is so deeply admirable. She is smart as hell—let’s never forget that she was the one who figured out how to close that portal. She is consistently in control of herself and her surroundings, whatever those surroundings may be. And of course, she fights with a grace and style that I will envy from here to eternity.
As demonstrated in the first volume of the Abhorsen trilogy, Sabriel, the primary strength of Garth Nix’s leading ladies is their ability to learn on the fly: to be thrown into a situation where they know nothing (Jon Snow), and yet the stakes are so high that the fate of the world is held in their hands. The Abhorsen sisters each rise to their respective challenges tremendously, but I want to talk about Lirael’s journey, because she came from a much, much lower place in her life to get to where she is at the conclusion of Abhorsen. She doesn’t fit. She’s grown up in an environment where she’s consistently been an outsider. She looks different; she never gains the abilities that are her supposed birthright. And Nix doesn’t shy away from showing us how much it tears her apart inside—within just a few chapters she is on a cliff, contemplating killing herself. Even when she finds a friend in the Disreputable Dog, she is not confident in herself and has a self-loathing to rival the best of us. Yet when her journey begins she rolls with it as best she knows how. She refuses to shy away from the difficulties that face her, and when she discovers that her true calling is something entirely different than what she’s been brought up and trained for, she stands up to face it. She claims her birthright as her own, and though there is nothing that is going to stand in her way. When you see her final, desperate sacrifice at the conclusion of Abhorsen, there’s little to remind you of the girl we first met. She has grown into her own skin, prepared to do anything to save the world. And that growth is beautiful to read.
1. The Badass Beifongs
[Yes I am squeezing two ladies into one number, BITE ME]
If you ever want an unstoppable force of a mother-daughter pair, look no further than Toph and Lin Beifong. Two women who are so very different, yet have the same core of loyalty and badassery that clearly runs in the family. To start with Toph...you know, it took awhile for her to grow on me. There's too much of Katara in me for it to be any other way. But part of what makes all these women so great is how flawed all of them are. Sure they're awesome, sure there is nothing you can say to prove otherwise, but they are all so deeply human. Toph's spent her entire life being treated differently and sheltered because of her blindness. She's determined not to let it define her, though, and she's determined to make her own way in the world. All of this makes her tough, so very determined to do everything for herself, and while that is so very admirable, it gives her an abrasiveness that makes it difficult for her to gel with Team Avatar at first. But I so appreciate that that's a part of who she is, that no matter what happens you just Do. Not. Mess. with this girl. She's got a sense of humor that can send me into peals of laughter, and she constantly uses her wit to call people out on their bullshit. She fights with her friends, but is so very loyal to them. She is the greatest earthbender who ever lived, who learned metalbending where no one before ever had.