Nero Syrinx

Looking For Good Books

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Looking for good books with a female protagonist that is either a villain or anti hero. Preferably Middle Ages-esque.

The Young Elites series is a good example.

Edited by Nero Syrinx
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The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani (I think) sort of has that, though they aren't great. Can't think of anything else that fits your specifications right now.

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The Poppy War by Kuang (although it takes a little while for her to become a anti-hero). Its set in a Chinese like atmosphere though and not the Middle ages. Also Best Served Cold and Red Country (both by Joe Abercrombie). The Darkwar trilogy by Glen Cook is great. The Daughter of the Empire trilogy by Feist and Wurts. None of the recommendations has your preference for a Middle Age like atmosphere, but meet your other requests.

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I recently finished Trudi Canavan's The Black Magician trilogy which has a female protagonist. Though there was really nothing special or original about these books, I still enjoyed them a lot.

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5 hours ago, Trizee said:

I recently finished Trudi Canavan's The Black Magician trilogy which has a female protagonist. Though there was really nothing special or original about these books, I still enjoyed them a lot.

I second that proposition.

If you've enjoyed "The young elites" you could also try out

- The truth series by Dawn Cook (High fantasy, "brighter" than the young elites, but I liked it, YA)

- The fifth season by N.K. Jemisin. (High Fantasy, also a very dark setting and a really strong female protagonist, and it was one the series that touched me deeply. There's also a lot of character development involved and a interesting magical system. You should definitly try it.)

- Lightbringer Series by Brent Weeks (a part of the protagonists are woman, and I think it's brilliant, the plot, the characters, everything)

-Cold Magic by Kate Elliot (classical high fantasy with solid world building and a good set of interesting characters, I liked that the main protagonist (a woman) is strong willed and chooses her own path to follow)

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Thank you everyone for your recommendations. I'm going to try them out very soon. To specify another point: I really like the darker books, where there is no happy end for the good guys. That's probably the biggest thing that drew me into the Young Elites. I also enjoyed The Count of Monte Cristo because of the darker undertones of it.

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If you are looking for darker books, I could recommend reading 'Shatter Me' by Tahereh Mafi.

I don't know if there is a happy ending, because i haven't read the last book, but it is a darker setting (dystopian) with a kind of dark female protagonist. But it's YA and romance is involved.

It doesn't fit your request perfectly, but I do know what you are looking for because I loved The Young Elites myself and it was the best I could think of right now.

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Another option that isn't a perfect match but might be worth considering is Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor.  I own it but haven't yet read it, so there's not too much I can say other than that the things I heard about it interested me.  I'm told it's quite dark, though I don't have the impression the (female) protagonist is a villain or anti-hero.  The setting is a post-apocalyptic Africa, apparently with some technology lingering but not understood, so not exactly 'Middle Ages-esque'.

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16 hours ago, Nero Syrinx said:

Thank you everyone for your recommendations. I'm going to try them out very soon. To specify another point: I really like the darker books, where there is no happy end for the good guys. That's probably the biggest thing that drew me into the Young Elites. I also enjoyed The Count of Monte Cristo because of the darker undertones of it.

Then you definitly need to read N.K. Jemisin's fifth season. It's dark and has a great plot. It really touched me. The characters were realistic and the world fascinating.

It's partially written in second person, so don't be surprised. Took me one chapter to get used to it, but afterwards it was fantastic.

Edited by Sorana
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I just finished the Magicians Guild series, I enjoyed it, but it's not what I'm looking for. The main character is not a villain or antihero and overall it was too light, I did like it but it's not what I'm looking for.

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Read The Fifth Season. You will not be disappointed. 

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A lot of the books I'm being recommended are not what I'm looking for, they are interesting, but not what I want. I want the main character to be a female villain and for her to win; the only thing I have been getting are heroes and/or sunshine. I don't want to sound rude but I probably am, anyways, I Hate heroes, always have, always will. I like stories like The Young Elites and The Count Of Monty Christo because the main characters were in no way heroes, they were selfish and in it for power and revenge. The Magician's Guild was about a hero(oine) who saves everyone in the end, which, while the book was okay, is something I hate. I like dark stuff but I'm not looking for grim dark books, which I don't think anyone has recommended yet.

EDIT: Please no romance, though. Everything is romance based these days. It's fine if it end in travesty and triggers the turn to evil or if it has no large influence on the story. I've lost count of how many books I have read where the protagonist is bent on revenge but then they meet someone from the people that they have sworn to destroy, fall in love, and are then convinced not to get revenge because: "Killing is bad", "You are better then they are", or " If you do this, than you will be no better than them" blah blah blah; I don't want redeeming characters, I want hate filled, angry characters hell bent on making whoever wronged them suffer. 

Sorry for the rant.

Edited by Nero Syrinx
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2 hours ago, Nero Syrinx said:

...I'm not looking for grim dark books...

...I don't want redeeming characters, I want hate filled, angry characters hell bent on making whoever wronged them suffer...

Are you sure about that first part?  ;)

The second part sounds very much in line with the cover blurb for Best Served Cold by Joe Abercrombie (@LordGrimdark), which Ammanas mentioned.  It's another one that I own but haven't yet read, unfortunately.  I'll put that cover blurb a spoiler block just so it doesn't dominate the post:

Spoiler

Springtime in Styria. And that means war.

There have been nineteen years of blood. The ruthless Grand Duke Orso is locked in a vicious struggle with the squabbling League of Eight, and between them they have bled the land white. While armies march, heads roll and cities burn, and behind the scenes bankers, priests and older, darker powers play a deadly game to choose who will be king.

War may be hell but for Monza Murcatto, the Snake of Talins, the most feared and famous mercenary in Duke Orso's employ, it's a damnation good way of making money too. Her victories have made her popular - a shade too popular for her employer's taste. Betrayed, thrown down a mountain and left for dead, Murcatto's reward is a broken body and a burning hunger for vengeance. Whatever the cost, seven men must die.

Her allies include Styria's least reliable drunkard, Styria's most treacherous poisoner, a mass-murderer obsessed with numbers and a Northman who just wants to do the right thing. Her enemies number the better half of the nation. And that's all before the most dangerous man in the world is dispatched to hunt her down and finish the job Duke Orso started...

Springtime in Styria. And that means revenge.

I wish I could tell you more about Who Fears Death.  I am fully confident that its (metaphorical) sunshine is in very short supply.  I did a quick Google search for Onyesonwu villain to see if I could glean any not-too-spoilery information... and ended up spoiling myself.  La vie.  But it looks like the main character (Onyesonwu) most definitely ends up an anti-hero at the very least (so the impression I shared earlier seems to be wrong).  The less-spoilery stuff in the block below may interest you:

Spoiler

From The Other Side of the Rain:

There’s something unusual, rare-seeming about Onyesonwu’s character.  I think it’s this: In fantasy books, female warriors fall into two broad categories.  There are the tough but beautiful women with unlikely armor who fall in love with the main hero because he’s even tougher than they are and they really just want to be protected; or the tough but beautiful women who overcome patriarchy with only a few minor road bumps and then get some kind of official or public recognition of their skill.  The second version is satisfying, but it’s not really how patriarchy works (Joan of Arc was made into a folk hero and martyr after she was burned alive, let’s recall).  There’s something about Onyesonwu that makes those characters feel like paper cut-outs of real women.

I think it’s her bottomless pit of vengeful rage.  Onyesonwu’s entire world is physically bounded and shaped by gender violence and oppression.  Her mother was raped, her friends are stoned to death as witches and prostitutes, her right to study sorcery is denied her.  Her character is formed and twisted by patriarchy, and it’s not pretty.  She’s angry.  She’s sickly hateful, bitter, and fearful.  She doesn’t want to bring about some great sense of gender enlightenment—she wants revenge for its crimes.

PS.  It might be worth mentioning that Best Served Cold is set in the same world as Abercrombie's earlier First Law trilogy.  Although it seems to be accessible on its own, some reviews I checked suggest that this might make it harder to get a handle on the worldbuilding.

Edited by daschaich
Add a PS, fix formatting
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Did you take a look at The Fifth season? The main character is a lot, but not a typical hero. Personally I think her way more a villain than the main character of "The young elites".

But the fifth season is about humans and their different sides, it's a bit deeper in that regard than "the young elites".

Edited by Sorana
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@Nero Syrinx Seriously, check out The Fifth Season. I think it will satisfy a lot of your criteria.

Spoiler
  • Female protagonist
  • medieval-ish world
  • Very, very dark. But not grimdark.  
  • not a romance (there is some love, but it is realistically confusing, unsatisfying, and unromantic)
  • I don’t know if I’d call her a villain, but this protagonist is not a nice, happy “sunshine” hero. She has selfish motives, and she doesn’t flinch from killing. (Although she does understand the gravity of it, and the narrative doesn’t treat it lightly.) If you want hate-filled angry characters, here they are. This book will make you feel the rage. 

It also happens to be one of the best fantasy books ever written. Even if it wasn’t exactly what you’re looking for (which, amazingly, it is), you would not be disappointed. Angry and heartbroken, yes, but not disappointed.

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1 minute ago, Belzedar said:

@Nero Syrinx Seriously, check out The Fifth Season. I think it will satisfy a lot of your criteria.

  Reveal hidden contents
  • Female protagonist
  • medieval-ish world
  • Very, very dark. But not grimdark.  
  • not a romance (there is some love, but it is realistically confusing, unsatisfying, and unromantic)
  • I don’t know if I’d call her a villain, but this protagonist is not a nice, happy “sunshine” hero. She has selfish motives, and she doesn’t flinch from killing. (Although she does understand the gravity of it, and the narrative doesn’t treat it lightly.) If you want hate-filled angry characters, here they are. This book will make you feel the rage. 

It also happens to be one of the best fantasy books ever written. Even if it wasn’t exactly what you’re looking for (which, amazingly, it is), you would not be disappointed. Angry and heartbroken, yes, but not disappointed.

This description just made me really happy. I loved this series and the characters and everything!

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