If the “Best Of” recommendations lists don’t always (or even often) offer help to readers looking for good fantasy with a female lead that isn’t YA, urban fantasy, or paranormal romance, sometimes we have to look a little harder. Goodreads can be a useful resource, since its lists are often more specifically directed than the generalized “Best Ofs.” Here are a few:
Here’s the thing about Goodreads lists, however: since anyone can cast a vote, sometimes works may make an appearance even though they don’t fit what the list is asking for. Readers will be well-advised to explore the reviews posted for the titles that intrigue them.
Here’s another interesting list, from another website:
Some of these titles I can highly recommend, but the comments are telling. Many commenters take the list-makers to task for their assumption that any fantasy novel with a female lead must be “for women,” as if 1) men would never want to read such things, and 2) works “for women” need a special list, as if they couldn’t compete on equal terms with the male-led titles.
(Note: The Death of the Necromancer and the rest of the Ile-Rien series are written by Martha Wells, not Mary Gentle. Wells has also written the Books of the Raksura, a series beginning with The Cloud Roads. I heartily recommend these books.)