This is another old Night Bazaar post from 2011: My Favorite Women
This week on Night Bazaar we're talking about our favorite female characters. One of my favorites is the main character of Zelde M'tana by F.M. Busby. I was 16 when the book first came out in 1980, and I still remember the impact the cover had on me. Zelde, facing the viewer, with a gun in her hand and that expression. There were a lot of books with female protagonists, and sometimes the covers didn't show them as just sexy victims, but they aren't as memorable to me as this one. The book more than fulfills the promise of the cover, as Zelde fights her way up from street kid enslaved by a dystopian government to become a space pirate captain and a rebel. It's a rough raw R-rated story, and I was probably a little young for it, but I feel like it was what I needed to read at that time.
I've had a lot of female protagonists in my books but I think my favorite is still Tremaine Valiarde, from the Fall of Ile-Rien trilogy. The daughter of Nicholas Valiarde and Madeline Denare from The Death of the Necromancer, she was a failed playwright who had been raised by a master criminal father and an adopted uncle who was the most powerful and mentally unstable sorcerer in Ile-Rien. Having learned everything she needed to know about housebreaking, paranoia, how to hide the bodies, and making sure your enemies never bother you again from Nicholas, Tremaine instigates or controls much of the action in the books. And despite the fact that Tremaine was an expert shot, I still got told by someone that Tremaine was a doormat because she couldn't fight like Xena.
Now, I like female characters who are fabulous sword fighters or martial artists or both, especially both. (Like the characters from Jessica Amanda Salmonson's Amazons anthologies, the first of which came out in 1979 and was also a big influence on me.) But there are people who judge female characters only by that standard: it doesn't matter if they're a leader, a doctor, a scientist, a high priestess, a scholar, an explorer, a survivor, a sorceress, an officer on a starship, someone who walks across continents to save the world, or whatever. Either you fight like Xena or you're a doormat, and there is nothing in between.
What that says about real-life women, I have no idea.
Tremaine has also been described as a "plucky girl." Which was funny to me, because at the end of the last book Ander still thinks of Tremaine as a plucky girl, while Tremaine thinks of herself as that woman who shot an innocent man in the head to steal a truck, because she needed one to save her friends. Because some people will always see us the way they want to see us, no matter what we've done, and what we really are.
Another Old Night Bazaar Post
January 24th, 8:04