The Broke and the Bookish‘s Top Ten Tuesday for today. I’m going to stick with my tendency to do choose 8 literary examples and a few from other media. So, in no particular order:
1. Loup Garron (Santa Olivia, post-apocalyptic dystopia) – Not your average heroine, Loup was born incapable of feeling fear. She is a very calm character, even when that calmness is irrational. Her lack of fear bleeds into her other emotions–for example, she isn’t afraid of losing face by having someone do better than her, so she won’t feel jealousy in a situation where someone else might. But it also endangers her, as she won’t realize how risky some of her actions are because she can’t be afraid of the consequences. So she has to learn how to be cautious of things other people would be instinctively afraid of. It’s an interesting look at fear and how it shapes our reactions to the world and other people. Also, she’s a superhero.
2. Mercy Thompson (Moon Called, urban fantasy) – Mercy is a walker, capable of shapeshifting into a coyote. She was raised by werewolves, and often ends up getting mixed up with the local werewolf pack. That said, she’s very independent, very fluid, and very willing to help her friends out. Which usually drags her into trouble, but she finds a way to make it through her problems, even though they aren’t always small.
3. Dali Harimau (Kate Daniels series, Magic Dreams novella, urban fantasy) – Okay, so the main protagonists of the novels (Kate and Andrea) are probably more kick-ass in the traditional sense and have more word counts behind their stories. Dali was a secondary character in the main series if that, and was featured only in one novella. But I had to pick her because she wasn’t the usual type of kick-ass. She defeated her enemy mainly through trickery, knowledge, and intelligence. I personally love it when my heroes use intelligence and prefer seeing varied examples of a strong hero. So Dali wins this one.
4. Katsa (Graceling, YA fantasy) – A principled if headstrong fighter, Katsa’s story is about breaking away and changing for the better. She’s by far the most traditionally kick-ass character on this list. Fighting is her power, and she’s unmatched in that category by anyone else in her story. Of course, it’s just her luck that the enemy she’s up against has a completely different kind of skill set that she’s vulnerable to. Can’t have things be easy, after all.
5. Cassandra Palmer (Touch the Dark, urban fantasy) – Compared to her enemies, she’s got no physical fighting skills, but that doesn’t matter. She’s got a versatile set of powers, some street smarts, and a healthy survival instinct. Cassie at her most confused and floundering manages to accomplish more than the heavy hitters around her at their most assured. That’s because she knows what she’s up against, and is used to getting creative in order to solve her problems. In one of her earliest scenes, she complains about how the security used to confine her is overkill for someone of her low power set–right before calmly breaking out.
6. Georgina Mason (Feed, zombie political thriller) – A blogger in a post-zombie apocalypse world, danger is part of George’s job. Danger is part of her life, considering how she was raised. She’s cleared to go into zones that are forbidden to civilians. And of course, when she gets involved in following the presidential campaign, she doesn’t stop going until she finds the truth. Considering the kind of people she’s up against, that takes something special.
7. Seeker (Blood and Iron, urban fantasy/folkloric fantasy?) – Seeker is part fae and bound to the queen. She’s lost a lot to the faerie court, including her identity. But it’s never quite that simple, and when a merlin appears, she needs all kind of strength to get herself and the world through what’s to come. Physical strength, intellectual strength, and emotional strength. Most of all, emotional strength, to realize where the people around her stand despite what they’ve done and to understand who she should be protecting.
8. Taylor (Worm, superhero web serial) – I have no idea if adding a web serial is cheating or not. But I’ve been keeping up with Worm for a little while now, and Taylor deserves a spot here. She’d probably disagree with me on the kick-ass part, but that’s because Taylor’s better at seeing her failures than her successes. She’s stronger than she thinks she is, but her confidence issues keep her from seeing it. She’s smart, creative, and has the ability to get vicious in a fight if it’s necessary. And the uncertainty, the sense of being the odd one out, the confidence issues–they just serve to make her a more interesting character than the usual.
And the non-literary examples:
The Bride (Kill Bill, movie) – A revenge-driven heroine goes after her former assassin group, who turned on her and put her into a coma. It’s hard to deny that the protagonist is strong-willed and kick-ass. I wonder if it had any part in influencing the TV show, Revenge, which should probably also be on this list. In fact:
Emily Thorne (Revenge, TV) – Another revenge driven heroine, this one is fascinating because she thinks she’s in such a dark place, and in some ways, she is. But she’s also resisting crossing certain lines. There’s this thread of conflict between how far she’s willing to go to get revenge, and how much of herself she’s willing to give up. She starts out thinking that there’s nothing left to give up, that what happened to her had taken away everything but her need to avenge her family. But as things get complicated, she learns that there are still parts of her worthwhile enough that she might want to hold on to them. Still, she can’t let go of her anger and she doesn’t want to.
Kino (Kino’s Journey, parable/fantasy/sci-fi anime) – Very capable traveler, traipsing through fantasy-esque towns and societies, exploring the world. She tries to stay impartial and uninvolved, and mostly succeeds. She’s very stoic, often keeping a blank look on her face. Very little fazes her. Of course, “very little” isn’t the same as nothing. She does manage to hint, every now and again, at her opinions and attachments. And she’s the perfect lens to see the story through, as hard as she strives for objectivity.
Chell (Portal, scifi/mad science/puzzle solving video game) – I have to love her. She just refuses to be goaded. She refuses to rise to any bait or to be discouraged by any taunt. I realize that this decision could have been made to make things easier in the creation of the game, but it makes for an awesome character anyway. As a player, I can think whatever I want about GLADoS and Weasley. But they never get the satisfaction of a response because they can’t get to Chell.