Fantasy Warriors Based on Books
As authors the first place we often draw inspiration from is other writers. After all if you don't have time to read then you shouldn't be writing. I believe Stephen King said something to that effect. The point is, characters developed in novels are often more layered than those that reach film or TV.
That's because authors have a unique opportunity to be internal with the character. We can let you know what your hero (or villain) is thinking through internal dialogue. On the screen, the actor has to be pretty damn good at their craft to showcase an internal struggle without dialogue. Fortunately, the actresses who were cast to represent their novel counterparts on screen were incredibly talented. Let's take a look at these ladies starting with the first female fantasy hero who ever inspired me...
As far as I know, the Valeria character only appears in the Conan novels by Robert E. Howard once. She is introduced in Red Nails, the last story Howard ever wrote. He describes her as a superior swordswoman who has unusual strength. In my all time favorite film Conan the Barbarian, actress and dancer Sandhal Bergman captured that description and the essence of Valeria perfectly. Director John Milius even went so far as to call her a Valkyrie. I used to watch the film with my brothers constantly It was the only one the three of us could agree on. Having Valeria there holding her own with Arnold really began my interest in badass female fantasy warrior characters. My latest novel series A Time of Dragons specifically pays homage to Valeria not only in my lead character Rayna but you'll also note I name an entire town Sandhal after the actress who played her. Another easter egg in that regard is a side character I named Valerios. All of those little nuances came from Valeria. To me, she is still the best female fantasy warrior ever created.
I know everyone has their own favorites from Game of Thrones. I really enjoyed quite a few of the characters which is why the series (both books and TV show) were so successful. But one of my personal favorites is Arya. While Daenerys has cool dragons, Arya reminds me so much of myself. She's not a girly-girl, she'd rather get dirty and use swords like a warrior. Then she develops into a warrior that comes off as a bit of a ninja in some way too. Arya also has a bit of a "IDGAF" type attitude which lets her hold her own in arguments with The Hound and others. Once she become "No One" she is on a different level of bad assery! I know viewers of the series were upset that Arya killed The Night King but I thought it was great that the young woman warrior is the one who finally ended that threat. Arya is tough, smart, and skilled in a unique way that makes her character so interesting that they really should've done a spin-off following her across the sea!
Brienne of Tarth
I can't talk about women warriors from Game of Thrones and not mention Brienne of Tarth. What I like about Brienne is that she is not your typical female character. She's big, and brawny, and skilled with a sword to the degree that she wants to fight in the king's guard. It's always cool to have different types of characters otherwise things are just stale. If everyone is Star Belly Sneech then where is the originality? When they made Gwendoline Christie they broke the mold! She has an ability to be equally badass Brienne but also have a sensitivity and warmth to her. I think that is what endeared her to most audiences. What won me over is when she battled The Hound on top of the hill and started punching him in the face while giving off a feral scream! Now that's a badass female fantasy warrior!!
Honorable Mentions: Lagertha
We've come to the end of my female fantasy warriors deep dive. But I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Lagertha from Vikings.
To be perfectly honest, I didn't know where to fit her in on this journey. Is she TV fantasy, book fantasy, historical? In a way she is all of those things.
For me, she is another big inspiration behind the character of Rayna in my Time of Dragons series.
The blonde braids, the dark warpaint, skilled with a sword and a bit of a hardass. I'm going to be honest now and tell you that Lagertha was the only thing I enjoyed in the Vikings series. As we've come to learn over these past few blog posts, I really love watching women warriors kick some ass! Plus, Kathyrn Winnick is a bonafide black belt in real life so she deserves props just for that. In fact, you'll find a bit of an homage to Kathryn in my Time of Dragons series as well. I intentionally named Rayna's mother in honor of Kathryn Winnick because of her portrayal of Lagertha.
So, now that we're at the end tell me who is your favorite female fantasy warrior?
"Original Cyn" Cynthia Vespia writes fantasy novels with edge. This blog is dedicated to all things fantasy, writer wellness, and my author journey.