For this year’s International Women’s Day, I wanted to celebrate a few more of my favorite literary women warriors. These ladies are tough as anything and handy with all kinds of weapons. Read on to find your next fave!

Brienne of Tarth: A Song of Ice and Fire

The women of A Song of Ice and Fire demonstrate many different ways to be strong. Brienne of Tarth, however, is the only traditional, professional soldier among them. And she’s incredible. From the moment she arrives in A Clash of Kings, Brienne is stronger, bigger and better than pretty much everyone around her, yet she’s constantly fighting forces both internal and external. Countless soldiers, monstrous men, the patriarchy, even a bear!

Brienne is everything you picture when you imagine a woman warrior. She’s the most moral, honorable character in a series where those qualities go primarily unrewarded. And yet, if the show is anything to go by, Brienne ends up doing pretty alright for herself.

RELATED: Brienne of Tarth is my Crush of the Week now and every week!

Cas Russell: Zero Sum Game

Cas Russell is the only person she knows with a superpower. Her scary-good, near-instantaneous mathematical calculations allow her to dodge every bullet in a gunfight and take down men twice her size. She equates her way out of impossible situations.

However, since her memories were wiped, Cas’s moral compass is a bit off, and she’ll take any job for the right price. With Cas and Zero Sum Game, S.L. Huang created a perfectly kick-butt anti-heroine I would never want to fight.

Keladry of Mindelan: Protector of the Small

Cover for Protector of the Small: First Test; International Women's Day

I’ve already written about Alanna of Trebond, but Tamora Pierce is one of the rare authors that lets you see what happens after the original story ends. Kel is the first girl to attempt knighthood since Alanna, and she faces every ounce of prejudice and animosity that you can imagine. She’s determined, like her hero Alanna, to prove she’s every bit as capable as the boys.

After writing Alanna, Pierce said of her inspiration for Kel: “In the mid-1990s, I realized what a hold the image of a girl in armor had on my readers and on me. It occurred to me that I hadn’t really explored the idea of female knights to the fullest when I wrote Alanna’s story and that I wanted to give it another try.”

Maya: The All-Consuming World

Maya reminds me of Cas Russell dialed up about a hundred times. She’s a chemically-altered clone, a mercenary prone to intense, almost gleeful violence. Maya is a literal fighting machine; she’s unhinged and willing to go through anyone and anything to get what she wants.

At the start of The All-Consuming World, readers jump right into Maya’s head and can immediately see what kind of warrior she is. Here’s how Cassandra Khaw first describes her: 

Maya grins like a hunting dog, all peeled-back lips and a shine of teeth. For a joke, she’d had the points of her canines filed about three years ago, when there’d been nothing to do but mug retirees.

Maya isn’t exactly what anyone would call a hero, but she’s a formidable, terrifying warrior.

RELATED: Read our full review of The All-Consuming World here!

The entire cast of Lady Hotspur

Cover for Lady Hotspur; International Women's Day

Each of the three main characters of Lady Hotspur is a warrior in her own right — perfect for celebrating International Women’s Day. First, there’s Prince Hal, formerly a carefree knight and now heir to the throne after her mother led a rebellion. Then there’s Lady Hotspur herself, the Wolf of Aremoria, the most feared warrior in the land.

Finally, Banna Mora, the ousted heir to Aremoria’s throne and former friend of both Hal and Hotspur. When Lady Hotspur begins, these three women are already powerful, decorated fighters. They achieve so much as the story goes on; Banna Mora even goes to battle after giving birth!

And when these warriors take up arms against each other?! Yes, it’s incredibly angsty and emotional, but it also allows for some genuinely great fight scenes. Tessa Gratton knows what she’s doing.

Will you be singing the praises of these amazing women warriors, or are there more that we’ve missed? Let us know, and enjoy more of our International Women’s Day coverage while you’re at it.

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