|Meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish|
Here are my choices in order from least surprising to (I believe) most surprising:
10. Katniss Everdeen (The Hunger Games series). I have no doubt that Katniss will grace 99.99% of the lists this week. She's what most people think of when they think of a girl who kicks rear and takes names. The stuff Suzanne Collins put her through is horrific, yet she always manages to come out on top, if somewhat damaged. And there's just something intrinsically awesome about a girl with a crossbow.
9. Katsa (Graceling Realm series). While Katniss no doubt reigns supreme, I'll bet Katsa makes her fair share of appearances as well. Graced with the ability to survive, Katsa can climb a snow-covered mountain in bare feet, kill a man with her hands alone, and start a fire in a rainstorm. She is the girl you want by your side on a desert island or in case of a zombie apocalypse.
8. Celaena Sardothien (Throne of Glass). As a professional assassin, Celaena gets automatic entry onto this list. She can scale walls, shoot a bow with deadly aim, ferret out fellow assassins, and so forth, but unlike the previous two entries, Celaena is proud of the fact that she's female and uses ALL of her assets. I love a girl who can be feminine and tough simultaneously.
7. Ismae (Grave Mercy). Another professional assassin, Ismae is no one to trifle with. Not only does she sport fierce weapons such as a portable crossbow and the wicked misericorde, she's also adept with (and immune to) poisons of various sorts. Chica is fierce!
6. Beka Cooper (The Provost's Dog series). Beka is a Dog, a sort of police enforcer but with fewer honor codes and more bare-knuckle brawls. She has friends on both sides of the law, has a magical talking cat, can gather snippets of gossip from roving dust clouds, and can talk to the dead through pigeons. Best of all, she's quick on her feet. Few people can say they've ever gotten the best of Beka Cooper.
5. Cammie Morgan (The Gallagher Girls series). Cammie shouldn't be a surprising choice (hello, spy!), but I think people often forget about the lighter Gallagher Girls series when composing such lists. Still, the books have gotten progressively darker, and after the last book, I certainly wouldn't want to be on any other team but Cammie's.
4. Irene, Queen of Attolia (The Queen's Thief series). Irene is one stone-cold lady. Raised as a forgotten shadow princess, she poisoned her first husband and took control of her father's country. To keep her opportunistic barons in place, she ruled with an iron fist, invoking fear at the mere mention of her name. Draconian punishments are not beneath her if they serve her purpose, and she is ruthlessly cunning. She changes over the course of the series, but I wouldn't want to get on the wrong side of even the softer Irene.
3. Princess Elisa (Fire and Thorns series). With too many pounds and too little self-esteem, the bookish Princess Elisa doesn't start out as a very worthy opponent. But as the stories progress, she transforms from a mousish princess to the devilish Maleficio, to the whip-smart and daring queen of a nation at war.
2. "Verity" (Code Name Verity). As a prisoner of the Gestapo during WWII, Verity doesn't get to do a whole lot of fighting. Mostly, she simply tells her story. It's only once we reach the climax that we learn what a scary opponent - and an excellent spy - she is.
1. Seraphina (Seraphina). Seraphina isn't one for weapons. She isn't a warrior or a ruler. She's a musician. We don't see her dueling with swords or shooting crossbows or busting someone's jaw with a right hook. Nevertheless, Seraphina is one of the most impressive characters I've read because she's clever. That's what she has in common with every other entry on this list. The merely brutish need not apply here. Only those with brains can be considered truly kick-butt, as Seraphina demonstrates.
So that's my list. Agree? Disagree? Who would YOU add?