Hoohoo, friends of the blade!
Three years ago, I made the first post about literary women with swords. Since then, I read a couple more books that feature sword wielding women. And since I have a (small) obsession with (women with) swords, I though I should make a part 2 and show you more women who know how to use a blade. So, let’s go let’s go!
Vespertine by Margaret Rogerson
The dead of Loraille do not rest.
Artemisia is training to be a Gray Sister, a nun who cleanses the bodies of the deceased so that their souls can pass on; otherwise, they will rise as spirits with a ravenous hunger for the living. She would rather deal with the dead than the living, who trade whispers about her scarred hands and troubled past.
When her convent is attacked by possessed soldiers, Artemisia defends it by awakening an ancient spirit bound to a saint’s relic. It is a revenant, a malevolent being that threatens to possess her the moment she drops her guard. Wielding its extraordinary power almost consumes her—but death has come to Loraille, and only a vespertine, a priestess trained to wield a high relic, has any chance of stopping it. With all knowledge of vespertines lost to time, Artemisia turns to the last remaining expert for help: the revenant itself.
As she unravels a sinister mystery of saints, secrets, and dark magic, her bond with the revenant grows. And when a hidden evil begins to surface, she discovers that facing this enemy might require her to betray everything she has been taught to believe—if the revenant doesn’t betray her first.
Margaret Rogerson can’t be missed on a list of women with swords! Part 1 had Sorcery of Thorns (and I could include Mysteries of Thorn Manor in this as well). I simply love her characters. A lot. In Vespertine, Artemisia wields different blades and spirits. She’s a loner but also has some people (and beings) sticking with her and I just enjoyed her journey so much. Margaret Rogerson writes vividly and beautifully, creating such magical, in this case somewhat frightening worlds that always leave me craving more.
The Final Strife by Saara el-Arifi
The Empire rules by blood.
Red is the blood of the elite, of magic, of control.
Blue is the blood of the poor, of workers, of the resistance.
Clear is the blood of the servants, of the crushed, of the invisible.
The Aktibar – a set of trials held every ten years to find the next Ember rulers of the Empire – is about to begin.
All can join but not just anyone can win; it requires great skill and ingenuity to become the future wardens of Strength, Knowledge, Truth and Duty.
Sylah was destined to win the trials and be crowned Warden of Strength. Stolen by blue-blooded rebels she was raised with a Duster’s heart; forged as a weapon to bring down from within the red-blooded Embers’ regime of cruelty. But when her adopted family were brutally murdered those dreams of a better future turned to dust.
However, the flame of hope may yet be rekindled because Sylah wasn’t made to sparkle, she was born to burn.
And it’s up to her whether she rules the empire or destroys it.
While this had a pretty slow beginning, the story really grew on me. I liked the world building and how the two MCs were written and how much they grow. I liked their journeys individually but I also enjoyed how their relationship develops. The two are wildly different in character and make for a very unlikely pair but they help each other out – both out of necessity and later because they like each other and both have their hearts at the right spot.
⇒ Read my review of The Final Strife here.
The City of Dusk by Tara Sim
The Four Realms – Life, Death, Light, and Darkness – all converge on the city of dusk. For each realm there is a god, and for each god there is an heir.
But the gods have withdrawn their favour from the once vibrant and thriving city. And without it, all the realms are dying.
Unwilling to stand by and watch the destruction, the four heirs-Risha, a necromancer struggling to keep the peace; Angelica, an elementalist with her eyes set on the throne; Taesia, a shadow-wielding rogue with rebellion in her heart; and Nik, a soldier who struggles to see the light- will sacrifice everything to save the city.
But their defiance will cost them dearly.
At first, I wasn’t sure if I liked this book or not, but the more time passes and the more I think about it, the more I love it. The characters are imperfect and flawed, some of them morally gray. They all want to do what’s right but they have very different ways to achieve their goals. My favourite character by far was Taesia. She’s reckless and brave and doesn’t hold back her powers even if she’s hurting people. She is so well written and I just loved that she’s a force of nature and magic and knows her way around a blade.
⇒ Read my review for The City of Dusk here.
Scorpica by G.R. Macallister
Five hundred years of peace between queendoms shatters when girls inexplicably stop being born. As the Drought of Girls stretches across a generation, it sets off a cascade of political and personal consequences across all five queendoms of the known world, throwing long-standing alliances into disarray as each queendom begins to turn on each other—and new threats to each nation rise from within.
Uniting the stories of women from across the queendoms, this propulsive, gripping epic fantasy follows a warrior queen who must rise from childbirth bed to fight for her life and her throne, a healer in hiding desperate to protect the secret of her daughter’s explosive power, a queen whose desperation to retain control leads her to risk using the darkest magic, a near-immortal sorcerer demigod powerful enough to remake the world for her own ends—and the generation of lastborn girls, the ones born just before the Drought, who must bear the hopes and traditions of their nations if the queendoms are to survive.
There were some things I truly liked about this book and some that just didn’t sit well with me. I loved that the countries important to the story are all queendoms. I liked how each queendom is different and has a different specialty and different (magical) powers. The different characters also had different abilities, depending on where they hail from. I did enjoy that not everyone’s views aligned and that the characters were all flawed, most of them selfish. It was quite refreshing to read, while on the other hand it made the characters unlikeable.
⇒ Read my review for Scorpica here.
Chain of Gold by Cassandra Clare
Welcome to Edwardian London, a time of electric lights and long shadows, the celebration of artistic beauty and the wild pursuit of pleasure, with demons waiting in the dark. For years there has been peace in the Shadowhunter world. James and Lucie Herondale, children of the famous Will and Tessa, have grown up in an idyll with their loving friends and family, listening to stories of good defeating evil and love conquering all. But everything changes when the Blackthorn and Carstairs families come to London…and so does a remorseless and inescapable plague.
James Herondale longs for a great love, and thinks he has found it in the beautiful, mysterious Grace Blackthorn. Cordelia Carstairs is desperate to become a hero, save her family from ruin, and keep her secret love for James hidden. When disaster strikes the Shadowhunters, James, Cordelia and their friends are plunged into a wild adventure which will reveal dark and incredible powers, and the true cruel price of being a hero…and falling in love.
This book has all the expected Shadowhunter drama and while it definitely isn’t my favourite book in this world, I definitely did enjoy it. One thing I always love about the Shadowhunter books are the fight scenes and the different weapons each character uses and how they do so. I like how it characterizes them a bit and in this series I really enjoyed the bond between Cordelia and her sword, Cortana.
Gearbreakers by Zoe Hana Mikuta
The shadow of Godolia’s tyrannical rule is spreading, aided by their giant mechanized weapons known as Windups. War and oppression are everyday constants for the people of the Badlands, who live under the thumb of their cruel Godolia overlords.
Eris Shindanai is a Gearbreaker, a brash young rebel who specializes in taking down Windups from the inside. When one of her missions goes awry and she finds herself in a Godolia prison, Eris meets Sona Steelcrest, a cybernetically enhanced Windup pilot. At first Eris sees Sona as her mortal enemy, but Sona has a secret: She has intentionally infiltrated the Windup program to destroy Godolia from within.
As the clock ticks down to their deadliest mission yet, a direct attack to end Godolia’s reign once and for all, Eris and Sona grow closer-as comrades, friends, and perhaps something more…
For most part, this book confused me but I loved all the action and the mecha aspects. Zoe Hana Mikuta tells a fast paced tale in crisp, short sentences, edgy characters and interesting character constellations. Gearbreakers is a quick read with a unique world building that combines dystopia and futuristic tech while some parts still feel archaic. It was such a weird mix but it worked very well.
A Dark and Hollow Star by Ashley Shuttleworth
Choose your player.
The “ironborn” half-fae outcast of her royal fae family.
A tempestuous Fury, exiled to earth from the Immortal Realm and hellbent on revenge.
A dutiful fae prince, determined to earn his place on the throne.
The prince’s brooding guardian, burdened with a terrible secret.
For centuries, the Eight Courts of Folk have lived among us, concealed by magic and bound by law to do no harm to humans. This arrangement has long kept peace in the Courts—until a series of gruesome and ritualistic murders rocks the city of Toronto and threatens to expose faeries to the human world.
Four queer teens, each who hold a key piece of the truth behind these murders, must form a tenuous alliance in their effort to track down the mysterious killer behind these crimes. If they fail, they risk the destruction of the faerie and human worlds alike. If that’s not bad enough, there’s a war brewing between the Mortal and Immortal Realms, and one of these teens is destined to tip the scales. The only question is: which way?
Wish them luck. They’re going to need it.
I absolutely loved how Ashley Shuttleworth mixed the real world with magical and mystical realms, how different beings come to live and work together and how unlikely alliances can save all worlds – or let them descend into chaos. I liked the different characters and how well they worked together.
That’s it for today with the women with swords! There are quite a few more books that could make it on the list and I guess at some point I’ll put together a part three because I’m always here for women with swords.
Which other literary women with swords can you think of? Do you have a favourite? Have you read any books on this list? Which ones?
Until next time,