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  1. #1
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    Best female Fantasy Authors?

    Hi everyone,

    After looking at my bookshelves, i noticed that most of my books were written by male authors (well, at least the names on the book are male names...i guess there might be some female authors who write under male pseudonyms). Now i did the "recommend me the best fantasy series" threads etc etc ... but now i am wondering, how would the list look like, if i explicitely ask for books written by women?

    My favourite series at the moment are : Malazan Book of the Fallen, Prince of Nothing & Aspect Emperor, Sun Sword .

    As you can see, of my top 3, one is from a woman, Michelle West. If i'd write down other series/stand alone books i rate very highly, i'm sure the ratio would get more and more skewed towards male authors.

    Other female authors i liked are:

    Anne Bishop - Black Jewels
    Carolyn Kephard - The Ryel Saga
    Elizabeth Bear - started Range of Ghosts and like it so far
    C.S. Friedmann - Feast of Souls was a good read

    Now, with all that in mind, i want to know what other female fantasy authors you would recommend.

    Thanks in advance.

  2. #2
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    I think J V Jones is top notch. Certainly one of those writers where every three or four months I do a quick check whether another book is out. And... if it is... I get it and read it double pronto.

  3. #3
    It never entered my mind algernoninc's Avatar
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    I'm not very good at hunting through the back pages of topics, but there was a lengthy discussion on the subject a couple of years back. The list of very good lady authors is very long, as is the quality of the novels they wrote:
    Robin Hobb
    Ursula K le Guin
    Patricia McKillip
    Elizabeth Moon
    Lois McMaster Bujold
    Jacqueline Carey
    Mary Gentle
    Kate Elliott
    Jo Walton
    Catherynne M Valente
    Susannah Clarke
    Jennifer Fallon
    Lian Hearn
    Carol Berg
    Lynn Flewelling
    Ekaterina Sedia
    Jennifer Roberson
    Juliet Marillier
    and so on ...

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by algernoninc View Post
    I'm not very good at hunting through the back pages of topics, but there was a lengthy discussion on the subject a couple of years back. The list of very good lady authors is very long, as is the quality of the novels they wrote:
    Robin Hobb
    Ursula K le Guin
    Patricia McKillip
    Elizabeth Moon
    Lois McMaster Bujold
    Jacqueline Carey
    Mary Gentle
    Kate Elliott
    Jo Walton
    Catherynne M Valente
    Susannah Clarke
    Jennifer Fallon
    Lian Hearn
    Carol Berg
    Lynn Flewelling
    Ekaterina Sedia
    Jennifer Roberson
    Juliet Marillier
    and so on ...
    That's an impressive list. I've read books from about two thirds of them, and thoroughly enjoyed them all. That encourages me to try books from the "missing third".... will make a pleasant mini project for next couple of months.

  5. #5
    Registered User Loerwyn's Avatar
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    Elizabeth Moon is pretty good as a sci-fi author, I've got less love for her fantasy. I'd also say Trudi Canavan is a good fantasy author, even if she completely ruined one of her books with some bad plot twists.

    I'd have to give endorsements to three authors who are really good. Elspeth Cooper, Anne Lyle and Alison Croggon. They write some good stuff!

  6. #6
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    Robin Hobb's Farseer, Tawny Man, and Liveship series are all good. The original Farseer trilogy is what got me back into reading fantasy.

    Although it's been a very long time since I read it, I loved Marion Zimmer Bradley's Mists of Avalon. Don't know how well it stands up to the test of time, but if it's half as good as I remember then it's well worth checking out.

    I agree with you about the Sun Sword series, I think it deserves far more recognition and attention than it gets. Have you checked out Wests newer novels set in that world? I read the first House book that was released, it was enjoyable but not nearly as good as the Sun Sword ones. Wondering if it gets better as the series progresses?

    Lois McMaster Bujold's Chalion series is pretty good. It's first book, the Curse of Chalion is one of the better fantasy novels I've read in the past 10 years. The sequels aren't as good but are still worth reading.

    Margaret Atwood writes some awesome dystopian post apocalyptic scifi. Check out Oryx and Crake if you're into that type of stuff.

    If you like historical fiction that contains a lot of the same elements as huge, epic fantasy series, with a large scope, a huge cast of characters, lots of backstabbing, political intrigue and military planning, then Collen McCullough's Masters of Rome series should be up your alley. It covers Rome's most interesting periods and follows it's most interesting characters, and I loved it for a lot of the same reasons that I love a series like a Song of Ice and Fire.

  7. #7
    Erotic SFF Author Anjasa's Avatar
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    I enjoy Elaine Cunningham, Lisa Smedman, Barb Hendee for Fantasy. Margaret Atwood is my favourite author, though, and I like her speculative fiction.

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    I agree that Michelle West is one of the greatest Fantasy authors. Period.

    I also very much enjoy The Chronicles of Elantra series that she writes under the Michelle Sagara name. They're shorter books with almost always only one pov, but I've found them to be quite entertaining. Imho the first book has some noticeable flaws, but the series quickly gets better and is now running along very smoothly, with the ninth book due this month.

    There's quite a lot I like about Robin Hobb, but at the same time I, personally, really dislike some of her plot decisions.

    I've only read one series by Jennifer Fallon, but the same impression (as Hobb) holds with my experience with her writing.

    I've read very little of Jacqueline Carey, but quite liked what I did read.

    I found the Empire trilogy that Janny Wurts co-wrote with Raymond E. Feist to be very entertaining, with an Asian influence and an emphasis on politics, as West does.

    I've liked, though not loved, what I've read of Carol Berg's work. Same with Glenda Larke & Teresa Frohock.

    I wasn't too impressed by Anne Lyle and was very unimpressed by Jennifer Roberson, but of course everyone can have different reactions.

    I'll think on my impressions of other writers, though the bottom line for me is that Michelle Sagara West, while she does have her flaws, is so far the best female fantasy writer I've yet read.
    Last edited by AmethystOrator; August 4th, 2013 at 08:02 PM.

  9. #9
    Le Guin and McKillip are my favorite female fantasy authors and among my very favorite authors. Also, CJ Cherryh - who is better known for her SF - is another of my favorites. Marion Zimmer Bradley, Tanith Lee, Martha Wells, and Kate Elliot come to mind as worth checking out.

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    Quote Originally Posted by HeclaBull View Post
    I agree with you about the Sun Sword series, I think it deserves far more recognition and attention than it gets. Have you checked out Wests newer novels set in that world? I read the first House book that was released, it was enjoyable but not nearly as good as the Sun Sword ones. Wondering if it gets better as the series progresses?
    I like House War Books 1-3, but they serve to give more backstory to Jewel and her part of the story. Some of the info is new, and can be helpful, but other parts of it do overlap with the Hunter's duology, which you may or may not have read.

    But if those don't interest you then Books 4-6 take a very different road and pick up immediately post-Sun Sword. If you'll recall,

    Spoiler:
    Jewel, Avandar, Celleriant and a couple of others disappeared in Book 6 and were only again seen very briefly, without much resolution to their story. Book 4 picks that story up and runs with it. We see what happens with the House and many of the people it affects across the City. Some important things are dealt with and set up, heading into the series that will come next, currently titled either Black Gauntlet or End of Days, when the final confrontation between everyone we've gotten to know and the Lord of Night and his demons comes.
    .

  11. #11
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    We have some incredibly talented female fantasy authors out there. Some of my favorites:
    Elizabeth Moon
    Michelle West (Sagara)
    Lynn Flewelling
    Jaida Jones & Deb Bennet
    Sherwood Smith (Inda books)
    Sharon Shinn
    Robin McKinley
    Emily Gee
    Naomi Novik
    Mary Robinnette Kowal
    Mercedes Lackey
    Anne McCaffrey
    Robin McKinley
    Kate Elliot
    Diane Pharaoh Francis
    Kate Forsyth
    Christine Pope
    Kristen Britain
    Tanya Huff
    Trudi Canavan
    Moira J. Moore
    Gail Carriger
    Patricia Briggs
    Carol Berg
    Karen Miller
    Gail Z. Martin
    Marion Zimmer Bradley
    Jennifer Fallon
    Lois McMaster Bjold
    Catherine Asaro
    Connie Willis

    And there are so many more I am sure I am forgetting.

  12. #12
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    As I have mentioned before, C J Cherryh is one of my favorite female fantasy authors along with Le Guin and McKillip but I have not seen Barbara Hambly mentioned yet. Some of her early work was OK, however, I really enjoyed the Jenny Waynest stories.

  13. #13
    From an earlier generation, C. L. Moore. She was a Weird Tales writer, one of the earliest of what became Swords & Sorcery. Her stories of Jiril of Jory might be of interest (Black God's Kiss), though there are no novels most of the stories approach or reach novella length. Her Northwest Smith stories might also appeal, though they are science fantasy (Scarlet Dream or Northwest Smith -- there are some editions that combine the Jirel and Smith stories).

    I second Ursula K. Le Guin.

    If you read outside imaginary world and epic fantasy, then I could mention other writers. For instance, I was impressed and entertained by Sarah Monette's story collection The Bone Key and Holly Phillips' story collection In the Palace of Repose.


    Randy M.

  14. #14
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    Thanks, everyone. A lot of names And after reading the lists you put up, i recognized that i know more female authors than i thought

    Let me add a more detailed question:

    Is there a female author who also writes very sweeping and epic stories? I mean something as big and complex as, say, the Malazan Book of the Fallen, or the Prince of Nothing & Aspect Emperor arc?

    The answer is definitely yes. For example, i consider Michelle West someone who writes complex and epic sagas (Sun Sword and House War). And i hear good thinks about J.V. Jones Sword of Shadows series as well.
    But most often i get the impression that women write more...how can i put it...well more down to earth stories, more concerned with the personal and emotional level. Would you gals and guys agree? I hope this is not coming off as a dig against these authors...it is by no means. I'm just the sort of reader who really enjoys complex and sweeping epics, where the setting is as much a "protagonist" as the characters in it (that's why i love Erikson's and Bakker's books so much).

    So, two questions to answer, here:

    1) Are there big epic series of women out there? (Sun Sword and Sword of Shadows are already on my radar)
    2) Would you agree with my statement about the focus of female authors? Or what is your opinion on the topic if you can not answer with a yes or no.

  15. #15
    Registered User Loerwyn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Anglachel View Post
    2) Would you agree with my statement about the focus of female authors? Or what is your opinion on the topic if you can not answer with a yes or no.
    Female authors on book shelves tend to be in narrow fields. Paranormal vomit-inducing trash, urban fantasy, YA, etc., but I don't think it's entirely true that women write differently to men. It's hard to objectively tell, however, because the balance isn't there. From major publishers, for every one female author you might have up to (or in cases like Baen and Black Library, upwards *of*) five male authors, and on top of that you have these... biases in place, too. It is improving though, on both sides. We're seeing more female authors published in the front lines of 'traditional' fantasy, so much so that I think Elspeth Cooper's Songs of the Earth was one of Gollancz's bigger hits the year it came out (and deservedly so).

    I think Mary Gentle might just about tick your box for sweeping fantasy with Ash, but having not read it I can't say for sure. There's also Rowena Cory Daniels (may have spelled that incorrectly), Juliet E. McKenna (again, perhaps misspelled) and Glenda Larke who might fill the same boxes.

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