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Old 01-26-2022, 11:20 AM   #1
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Characters Like Red Sonja

Can anyone recommend sword & sorcery characters like Red Sonja (or Robert E. Howard's Red Sonya or Dark Agnes de Chastillon)?

Some of the characters I thought of included C. L. Moore's Jirel of Joiry; REH's Bêlit and Valeria; and ERB's Dejah Thoris. Plus Fisher from the Simon R. Green "Hawk and Fisher" stories; and Silverglass by J.F. Rivkin. (There was another series similar to Silverglass that I can't remember.)

OMG, I just found out that the Silverglass books are finally out on Kindle.

But I'd also like to find newer sword & sorcery heroines along these lines. (Also, when I Google "characters like Red Sonja," many sites bring up just comic book characters.) And these lists are often by people who have never read 1980s sword & sorcery paperbacks, so they haven't even heard of Silverglass!

If you're a Medium member (or if you have free articles left), I found this from another member of Medium:
Red Sonja and Other Fiery Women Warriors

He mentions the character Alias from Azure Bonds by Kate Novak and Jeff Grubb. He also digs into the history of Red Sonya/Red Sonja -- both in print and in comics.
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Old 01-27-2022, 01:17 AM   #2
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Can you say a bit more about what "like Red Sonja" means? I haven't read any of the books you mention, but I read quite a lot of fantasy, so I might have suggestions.

I don't even know if "like Red Sonja" means that what you are looking for is restricted to fantasy -- if science fiction is also interesting, I might have even more suggestions.

(I think I've read one comic with her, but mostly remember the chainmail (or was it fur?) bikini, and I assume that's not an important part of what you're looking for )
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Old 01-27-2022, 08:55 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hildea View Post
Can you say a bit more about what "like Red Sonja" means? I haven't read any of the books you mention, but I read quite a lot of fantasy, so I might have suggestions.
I don't even know if "like Red Sonja" means that what you are looking for is restricted to fantasy -- if science fiction is also interesting, I might have even more suggestions.[/QUOTE]

What makes Red Sonja interesting to me as a character is that she is often traveling on her own -- sort of like Conan. Sometimes, she'll have sidekicks, and sometimes, she'll get involved in a war. (She might pick up a crown along the way in some storylines.) But she's just as likely to be a thief, adventurer, etc. And those stories are often more interesting to me. Because I want to read an adventure, not get dragged into a war that takes three volumes to complete.

That could work in science fiction, as well -- particularly in space opera and in "sword and planet" stories.

The stories I'm looking for don't have to follow the traditional Red Sonja backstory of "rape and revenge." (See spoiler text below.) Some authors can make it work, but other authors just make it trite or worse. The newer comic book series revamped that part of her backstory and gave Red Sonja a healthy sex life. And I'd rather read stories that follow that vein.

Spoiler for Big Chunk of Background
Spoiler:
In the original comic book stories, her family was attacked and killed by marauders, and she was raped, so she prayed to her goddess and was given her incredible fighting abilities -- with the catch that she can't sleep with a man unless he defeats in her battle. That worked in the 1970s, but now, eww. (Also, although she lived in a humble hut on the steppes, and no doubt had to be physically active in order to survive, she couldn't pick up her brother's sword. Considering that the heaviest swords are about 10 pounds, uhm...) In the reboot, IIRC she already had tracking skills, combat skills, etc. She came upon her family after they were killed, so she tracked down the bandits and killed them one by one.



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(I think I've read one comic with her, but mostly remember the chainmail (or was it fur?) bikini, and I assume that's not an important part of what you're looking for )
Brrrr. The chainmail bikinis look fun on the covers and are great marketing. But they are not very realistic armor.
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Old 01-27-2022, 09:50 AM   #4
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You've done your research. Jirel of Joiry immediately popped into my head when I saw the thread title.

I wish there were digital editions of the old Red Sonja novels by David Smith and Richard Tierney.

Something in the same vein (though it is tongue in check and is a pastiche of Barsoom/Princess of Mars) is Jane Carver of Waar and the sequel, Swords of Waar.

Quote:
Jane Carver is nobody's idea of a space princess.

A hard-ridin', hard-lovin' biker chick and ex-Airborne Ranger, Jane is as surprised as anyone else when, on the run from the law, she ducks into the wrong cave at the wrong time-and wakes up butt-naked on an exotic alien planet light-years away from everything she's ever known.

Waar is a savage world of four-armed tiger-men, sky-pirates, slaves, gladiators, and purple-skinned warriors in thrall to a bloodthirsty code of honor and chivalry. Caught up in a disgraced nobleman's quest to win back the hand of a sexy alien princess, Jane encounters bizarre wonders and dangers unlike anything she ever ran into back home.

Then again, Waar has never seen anyone like Jane before…

Both a loving tribute and scathing parody of the swashbuckling space fantasies of yore, Jane Carver of Waar introduces an unforgettable new science fiction heroine.
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Old 01-27-2022, 10:11 AM   #5
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You've done your research. Jirel of Joiry immediately popped into my head when I saw the thread title.

I wish there were digital editions of the old Red Sonja novels by David Smith and Richard Tierney.
Me, too. I have the complete set of paperbacks, thanks to a seller on eBay some years back. But I want the authors (and Red Sonja LLC) to get paid again.

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Something in the same vein (though it is tongue in check and is a pastiche of Barsoom/Princess of Mars) is Jane Carver of Waar and the sequel, Swords of Waar.
That sounds fun! I would love to see a revival of "sword and planet" type stories. OK, we know that Venus is not covered with jungles. (Either that, or the Venusians have really good camouflage.) So set the stories on other planets in other solar systems.
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Old 01-27-2022, 12:47 PM   #6
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Morgaine Chronicles, though she has a side-kick. Technically SF, but more like Fantasy & the Red Sonya sort of thing.

Edit:
Maybe check out the Janny Wurts "Daughter of Empire" and related sister series to Fiest's Midkemia / Riftwar.

Teresa Edgerton's "Mask and Dagger Series"
L.E. Modesitt Jr.: The Soprano Sorceress (Spellsong cycle)
J.V. Jones: The Barbed Coil
Humour alt reality Fantasy: Jennifer is "The last Dragonslayer" (series of 4) Jasper Fforde
Winterling, Summerkin & a 3rd (bit younger) Sarah Prineas.

Not really Sonya like and not much swords: Spinning Silver by Novik.
Female protagonist & Trilogy (related books after the Trilogy, IMO go off a bit) "The Magician's Guild, Trudi Canavan

My own Celtic Otherworld series has some serious Enchantment and women you'd not want to cross, though only some are human. Not at all like Red Sonya. Eilis (Alice) and Marion are particularly tricky. Eilis has no need of swords and Marion later decides automatic pistols work on magical creatures.

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Old 01-27-2022, 04:07 PM   #7
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Hm, I feel I should know of a lot of this kind of books, but I can't think of any that quite fits the lone adventurer requirement. Some suggestions which come close:

Rosemary Kirstein's Steerswoman series, where the protagonist is part of an organization which collects knowledge, but spends most of the time wandering the world on her own.

Some of Elisabeth Moon's books, though the heroines are spaceship captains or otherwise leader of, or part of, a group:
Quote:
In Trading in Danger, Ky Vatta, daughter of the wealthy and powerful trading family, chose to leave the family business and attend Spaceforce Academy...but in her final semester, she makes an error of judgment and is expelled. Her family puts her aboard an old tub of a spaceship, and tells her to take it off to the scrapyards--Ky looks for something better to do, and ends up in what seems to be a pirate attack on the planet where she's buying farm equipment.
And I don't know how important the gender of the protagonist is to you, but here's a couple where the protagonist doesn't have a gender or the gender is ambiguous:

Martha Wells' Murderbot series, where the protagonist is a security cyborg who has hacked its own control module.

Ann Leckie's series starting with "Ancillary Justice", where the protagonist is an artificial intelligence who used to control a huge spaceship and thousands of soldier units, but is now reduced to a single soldier unit (in other words: Looks like a human being to everybody else, but doesn't think of herself as one).
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Old 01-27-2022, 05:53 PM   #8
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You might try

George Phillies _The One World_


Mercedes Lackey By the Sword

Mercedes Lackey Vows and Honor

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Old 01-28-2022, 12:41 AM   #9
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I want to second the Elizabeth Moon recommendation, but specifically the "Deed of Paksenarrion," which is a fantasy tale of the making of a paladin. I also liked the "Jane Carver of Waar" books mentioned upthread.
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Old 01-28-2022, 11:19 AM   #10
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Thanks to everyone for the suggestions!

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Old 01-28-2022, 12:28 PM   #11
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Have you read any of the Sword & Sorceress paperback anthologies? They're sword and sorcery stories with female protagonists. A whopping 34 books total.

https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/..._and_Sorceress
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Old 01-28-2022, 04:44 PM   #12
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Have you read any of the Sword & Sorceress paperback anthologies? They're sword and sorcery stories with female protagonists. A whopping 34 books total.

https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/..._and_Sorceress
http://kithrup.com/~djheydt/index.html (Dorothy J. Heydt.'s authot site) has a collection of. Stories that appeared on S&S as well as a couple of similar freely downloadable novels.

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Old 01-28-2022, 05:05 PM   #13
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I want to second the Elizabeth Moon recommendation, but specifically the "Deed of Paksenarrion," which is a fantasy tale of the making of a paladin.
I heartily agree. Paksenarrion is a unique brew. On the surface, a garden-variety D&D style world, but informed by the authentic experience of a woman in military service, and steeped in an honest, non-preachy spirituality.

A regular re-read for me.
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Old 01-28-2022, 06:33 PM   #14
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Have you read any of the Sword & Sorceress paperback anthologies? They're sword and sorcery stories with female protagonists. A whopping 34 books total.

https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/..._and_Sorceress
I have some of them... Somewhere. Under something.
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Old 01-30-2022, 11:39 AM   #15
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Agree w/ the recommendation of C.J. Cherryh's Morgaine books (they were what I came here to recommend, along w/ Mercedes Lackey).

If you're willing to consider science fiction, C.J. Cherryh's _Rimrunners_ features a down-on-her-luck MSgt.
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