Epic Women in Fantasy

We all know women in novels can be particularly susceptible to stereotypical characteristics. Even the most willful woman can be prone to a complete change in personality once Mr Hero steps onto the scene.

In fact, there’s even a test to see if women in books and movies are fairly represented. It’s called the Bechdel Test and it assesses if two women can have a conversation with each other where the topic doesn’t revolve around a male character. Next time you read a book or watch a movie, apply the Bechdel test. You’ll be surprised by how many fail.

But today is International Women’s Day. Today we celebrate women as their own entities – we celebrate their strength, ambition and what they’ve accomplished in leaps and bounds to progress society. And I want to celebrate some of my favourite female characters in fantasy who hold their own. They are strong, empowered, but are not without their flaws:

Cersei Lannister from Game of Thrones

Every woman in Game of Thrones is a bad ass babe in her own way, but I can’t help but be drawn to Cersei. In a patriarchal world where her own family (husband, brother, father) try to quash her ambitions, she proves them wrong, time and time again and often under brutal circumstances, to rise as the victor.

George R R Martin was once asked how he writes women so well and differently. His response?

“You know, I’ve always considered women to be people.”

Boom, there it is! Women are subject to the same ambitions, strengths and pitfalls as men and CAN be written accordingly.

Hermione Granger from Harry Potter

I feel like Hermione was the character who made smart girls cool again. She proves you can enjoy books, learning and backing worthy causes while also having fun getting dressed up in pretty clothes and going to parties and then topping it all off by getting her wand dirty in epic battles. She proves that you don’t have to stick women in a single stereotype. Interests can be vast and one doesn’t have to preclude the others.

On a side note, Hermione’s actress, Emma Watson, is one of my favourite feminist activists. I love her inclusivity of all genders when calling for social change.

Surreal SaDiablo from The Black Jewels

The Black Jewels series is a feminist epic in itself, with role reversals that, at the time, tipped conventional gendered fantasy tropes on their heads. While female lead – Jaenelle – often falls prey to needing to be saved repeatedly by male characters, Surreal definitely makes my list of strong female characters in fantasy.

A prostitute and an assassin, Surreal turns the undesirability of the former occupation into a kick ass job that sees her assassinating some far-too ambitious foes. She does have weaknesses though, and she knows them which speaks to how much of a well rounded character she is.

Vin from Mistborn

Vin may start out as an underdog, but she’s a girl who knows how to work situations to her advantage. She’s the sort to have a quiet confidence, who can get the job done while others fumble through.

While I love Sanderson’s work, I do find his female characters often lack depth, but Vin holds her own and stays true to herself whilst rising through the ranks.

Cori from The Dragon’s Song

Yep, how could I go past my own creation? I wrote Cori with specific feminist goals in mind. She is empowered, but also headstrong. She doesn’t know when to back down from a fight and that’s a lesson she needs to learn.

She is surrounded by men, and as in real life, some empower her to be stronger while others try to bring her down. Her rise to power is not without its struggles, and I haven’t shied away from exploring these in my writing.

Do you have a favourite female lead? Share her in the comments!

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Emily is the author of The Dragon’s Song series – an epic fantasy in which human-born Cori finds herself thrust into a society outside her understanding and must fight to secure her place there, all while battling dragons that sabotage her dreams and rip her apart from the inside out.

You can read the first installment – The Dragon’s Throne – on Kindle and Kindle Unlimited now.

Avengers: Infinity War Review (Spoiler Free)

It’s been a while since I’ve seen a movie in the cinema, so thought I’d celebrate the occasion with a review.

Opening day of Infinity War… Heck yeah this die hard Marvel (movie) fan was gonna be there!

This is a Spoiler free review so read on without qualms.

Now, I’ll start this off by suggesting that if you haven’t seen ALL the other Marvel movies, you best do that first to save yourself more than one ‘who dis?’ moment. Every superhero and their side kick features in this movie and at the pace it moves, there’s scarcely a moment for introductions, and there’s definitely no back stories offered.

The movie starts off flying and doesn’t slow down. Tender moments are rushed through or inturrupted and personal conflicts are resolved quickly and without a great deal of journey, thus giving the storyline a fairly superficial feel overall. Oddly enough it’s the antagonist, Thanos, who is given the greatest breathing room in terms of back story and character building and it’s he I felt drawn too rather than the superheros who, frankly, were getting around like headless chooks.

The Avengers themselves made new friends and many of them spent time running in squads that they don’t normally belong to. While it was fun to watch new interactions (Quill especially provided a bit of a laugh when meeting the Avengers, and I quite enjoyed the duo of Rocket and Thor), again, the rushed pace didn’t give the new relationships the time they deserved.

I’ll watch it again for the LOLs, but the formula did stick to the tried and tested Marvel style of witty one liners, big explosions and a male-heavy cast.

Overall though, the movie provided just enough dramatic tension and heart-string pulling to make it more than just a shoot-em-up comedy, and already I’m looking forward to what part two (yes, this movie is in parts apparently!) brings us.

Book Review: Like a Queen (Constance Hall)

I’ve never done a book review before and this one is outside my usual genre of reading, but I felt compelled to write about it.

Constance Hall has been creating quite a stir on the internet with her apologetically truthful posts about womanhood and parenting, as well as her movement towards the Queenhood of all women. And now she’s released an autobiography called LIKE A QUEEN which details her life, her family and her passions as a writer.

Constance is raw and flawed in a way that we can all relate to. She’s also incredibly funny. It’s hard not to read her stories without pissing yourself laughing (even more likely if you suffer postnatal incontinence). She talks of her children and the struggles – and triumphs – of being a mother four times over as well as the juggling (at almost a pro level) that is required to get them all through the day alive. She spills on her imperfect marriage and how she didn’t understand what love was until it was almost too late.

Her experiences are relatable, from her pretty regular (what is regular anyway?), though still fascinating upbringing, to her suffering of mummy guilt and how she discovered that this makes you a good parent (because shit and abusive parents wont suffer such things).

Did I mention that Con is fucking hilarious? She doesn’t hold back, detailing everything from the dreaded after-birth poo to the fully sexy (but not so sexy) romps that are an inevitable part of married life with kids. She explains the disappointment of husbands who are pretty fucking useless, but why we should love them anyway for giving the art of husbanding a red hot crack. She also gives zero fucks about having a clean house (a woman after my own heart) in favour of loving the fuck out of your kids.

But the best thing about this book is her mission for self empowerment and the empowerment of other women. Con has had some lows in her life, and she’s had her highs and through it all she’s discovered what it means to have self worth, to love yourself as you are and to love all other Queens as they are, despite whether their crowns are shiny or jagged, or have yet to be discovered. If you love yourself, Con says, then your children will grow to love themselves by way of your example. Others will gravitate to you because of your beautiful Queenly glow.

I’ve lately found myself following a few feminist pages on Facebook. Despite what some haters would have you believe, feminism can come in all shapes and sizes, with many missions and goals for the betterment of women all over the world. From Clementine Ford who unashamedly calls out the haters and the fucking piss weaks, who cops the blows on the chin in her quest to eradicate the ridiculous notions of the ‘not all men’ movements and to out those who partake in ‘harmless’ locker room banter to the Emma Watsons of the world who strive for equality on a global stage by raising awareness that women’s rights are not just a women’s issue. I admire them all for their bravery to cop flack to better the world and continue the fight for women everywhere.

Con is no different. She calls for her Queens to band together, to break free of the habits we’ve fallen into where we as women tear each other to shreds for the decisions we have to make. Whether we’re great at something, or struggling just to get through each day, we should offer a smile and a hand to our fellow Queens. Tell them we care and empower them to hold their heads a little bit higher.SOFT_COPY_large_78a44926-0865-4317-b4b5-1fefd452cec6_large.png

Like a Queen is a must read for all women, whether they are young Queens trying to make their way in the world, or seasoned Queens who want to reminisce on those days. It’s a book for mummies of one, mummies of five or those soon to be mumma bears. It’s a book for wives, sisters and daughters. It’s a book for anyone who wants to join the Queenhood of awesome self empowerment and the unity of women across the world.

And if you don’t want to read the book, at least follow Constance’s Facebook page. She’ll have you in fucking stitches with her antics.