If you need a little extra motivation to be your best, fiercest, most kick ass self this year, look no further than these young adult fantasy heroines. We all have our current favorites: Hermione Granger, Celaena Sardothien, Kestrel Trajan... the list could go on and on. We love these characters because they're not only smart, strong, and brave, but they are women warriors, taking often horrible and terrifying circumstances and changing their worlds. And while we're lucky enough to have several sequels coming this year from fantasy authors with incredibly kick ass heroines, we're possibly even more excited by the prospect of all the new releases that are slated for 2017.
We've scoured our TBR piles for the fantasy books of the year with the most awesome female main characters and chosen 11 of the most-anticipated releases. We've got everything from matchmakers to pirates, princesses to queens, soldiers to explorers. All of these women come from totally different worlds and their stories start in totally different places, but there is one crucial thing they all have in common: They fight for what they want and they don't let anything stand in their way — not war, not magic, not curses, not kidnapping, nor anything else that's thrown at them. If you could use a little shot of femme ferocity in your life, you're definitely going to want to add these books to your list.
1Sage From 'The Traitor's Kiss' by Erin Beaty (May 9)
With a sharp tongue and an unruly temper, Sage Fowler is not what they’d call a lady ― which is perfectly fine with her. Deemed unfit for marriage, Sage is apprenticed to a matchmaker and tasked with wrangling other young ladies to be married off for political alliances. She spies on the girls ― and on the soldiers escorting them. As the girls' military escort senses a political uprising, Sage is recruited by a handsome soldier to infiltrate the enemy ranks. The more she discovers as a spy, the less certain she becomes about whom to trust... and Sage soon becomes caught in a dangerous balancing act that will determine the fate of her kingdom.
2Alosa From 'Daughter Of The Pirate King' by Tricia Levenseller
Sent on a mission to retrieve an ancient hidden map — the key to a legendary treasure trove — 17-year-old pirate captain Alosa deliberately allows herself to be captured by her enemies, giving her the perfect opportunity to search their ship. More than a match for the ruthless pirate crew, Alosa has only one thing standing between her and the map: her captor, the unexpectedly clever and unfairly attractive first mate, Riden. But Alosa isn't worried. She has a few tricks up her sleeve, and no lone pirate can stop the Daughter of the Pirate King.
3Amrita From 'The Library Of Fates' by Aditi Khorana (July 18)
To appease the violent Emperor Sikander, Princess Amrita offers herself as his bride, sacrificing everything to save her people. But her offer isn't enough. The unthinkable happens, and Amrita finds herself a fugitive, utterly alone but for an oracle named Thala, a slave who managed to escape amid the chaos. With nothing and no one else to turn to, Amrita and Thala are forced to rely on each other. But while Amrita feels responsible for her kingdom and sets out to warn her people, the newly free Thala has no such ties. She encourages Amrita to find the fabled Library of All Things, where it is possible for them to reverse their fates. To go back to before Sikander took everything from them. Stripped of all that she loves, caught between her rosy past and an unknown future, will Amrita be able to restore what was lost, or does another life await?
4Freya From 'Long May She Reign' by Rhiannon Thomas
At twenty-third in line for the throne, Freya was never meant be queen. But when a banquet turns deadly and the king and those closest to him are poisoned, Freya suddenly finds herself on the throne... and while she escaped the massacre, she is far from safe. The nobles don’t respect her, her councilors want to control her, and with the mystery of who killed the king still unsolved, Freya knows that a single mistake could cost her the kingdom — and her life. Freya is determined to survive, and that means uncovering the murderers herself. Until then, she can’t trust anyone. Not her advisers. Not the king’s dashing and enigmatic illegitimate son. Not even her own father. As Freya’s enemies close in and her loyalties are tested, she must decide if she is ready to rule and, if so, how far she is willing to go to keep the crown.
5Mira From 'Before She Ignites' by Jodi Meadows (Sept. 26)
Mira Minkoba is the Hopebearer. Since the day she was born, she’s been told she’s special. Important. Perfect. She’s known across the Fallen Isles for the Mira Treaty named after her, a peace agreement that united the seven islands against their enemies on the mainland. But Mira has never felt as perfect as everyone says. She counts compulsively. She struggles with crippling anxiety. And she’s far too interested in dragons for a girl of her station. Then Mira discovers an explosive secret that challenges everything. Betrayed by the very people she spent her life serving, Mira is sentenced to the Pit — the deadliest prison in the Fallen Isles. There, a cruel guard would do anything to discover the secret she would die to protect. Mira must learn to survive on her own and unearth the dark truths about the Fallen Isles — and herself — before her very world begins to collapse.
6Aurora From 'Roar' by Cora Carmack (June 13)
As the sole heir of Pavan, Aurora has been groomed to be the perfect queen. She’s intelligent and brave and honorable. But she’s yet to show any trace of the magic she’ll need to protect her people. To keep her secret and save her crown, Aurora’s mother arranges for her to marry a dark and brooding prince from another kingdom. At first, he seems like the perfect solution to all her problems, but the more Aurora uncovers about him, the more a future with him frightens her. When she sneaks out of the palace one night to spy on him, she stumbles upon a black market dealing in storm magic. And the people selling it? They’re storm hunters. Legend says that her ancestors first gained their magic by facing a storm and stealing part of its essence. And when a handsome young storm hunter reveals he was born without magic, but possesses it now, Aurora realizes there’s a third option for her future besides ruin or marriage. She might not have magic now, but she can steal it... if she’s brave enough.
7Faris From 'Shimmer and Burn' by Amy Taranta (Aug. 8)
Faris grew up fighting to survive in the slums while caring for her sister, Cadence. But when Cadence is caught trying to flee the kingdom and is sold into slavery, Faris reluctantly agrees to a lucrative scheme to buy her back, inadvertently binding herself to the power-hungry Princess Bryn, who wants to steal her father’s throne. Now Faris must smuggle stolen magic into neighboring Avinea to incite its prince to alliance — magic that addicts in the war-torn country can sense in her blood and can steal with a touch. She and Bryn turn to a handsome traveling magician, North, who offers protection from Avinea’s many dangers... but he cannot save Faris from Bryn’s cruelty. Yet Faris is as fierce as Bryn, and even as she finds herself falling for North, she develops schemes of her own. With the fate of kingdoms at stake, Faris, Bryn, and North maneuver through a dangerous game of magical and political machinations, where lives can be destroyed —or saved — with only a touch.
8Xifeng From 'Forest Of A Thousand Lanterns' by Julie C. Dao (Oct. 10)
The stars say Xifeng is destined to be Empress of Feng Lu. But only if she embraces the darkness within her. Growing up as a peasant in a forgotten village on the edge of the map, Xifeng longs to fulfill the destiny promised to her by her cruel aunt, the witch Guma, who has read the cards and seen glimmers of Xifeng's majestic future. But is the price of the throne too high? Because in order to achieve greatness, she must spurn the young man who loves her and exploit the callous magic that runs through her veins — sorcery fueled by eating the hearts of the recently killed. For the god who has sent her on this journey will not be satisfied until his power is absolute.
9Noemi From 'Defy The Stars' by Claudia Gray (April 4)
Noemi Vidal is a teen soldier from the planet Genesis, once a colony of Earth that's now at war for its independence. The humans of Genesis have fought Earth's robotic "mech" armies for decades with no end in sight. After a surprise attack, Noemi finds herself stranded in space on an abandoned ship where she meets Abel, the most sophisticated "mech" prototype ever made, one who should be her enemy. But Abel's programming forces him to obey Noemi as his commander, which means he has to help her save Genesis — even though her plan to win the war will kill him. Together they embark on a daring voyage through the galaxy. Before long, Noemi begins to realize Abel may be more than a machine, and, for his part, Abel's devotion to Noemi is definitely more than just a matter of programming.
10Rhiannon From 'Empress Of A Thousand Skies' by Rhoda Belleza
The only surviving heir to an ancient Kalusian dynasty, Crown Princess Rhiannon Ta'an has spent her life training to destroy the people who killed her family. Now, on the eve of her coronation, the time has finally come for Rhee to claim her throne and get her revenge. Alyosha is a Wraetan who has risen above his war refugee origins to find fame as the dashing star of a DroneVision show. Despite his popularity, Aly struggles with anti-Wraetan prejudices and the pressure of being perfect in the public eye. Their paths collide when Rhee is attacked, barely escaping with her life. Aly is blamed for her presumed murder, and Rhee and Aly are forced to go into hiding - even as a war between planets is waged in Rhee's name. But soon, they discover that the assassination attempt is just one part of a sinister plot. Bound together by an evil that only they can stop, the two fugitives must join forces to save the galaxy.
11Kamzin From 'Even The Darkest Stars' by Heather Fawcett (Sept. 5)
Kamzin has always dreamed of becoming one of the emperor’s royal explorers, the elite climbers tasked with mapping the wintry, mountainous Empire and spying on its enemies. She knows she could be the best in the world, if only someone would give her a chance. But everything changes when the mysterious and eccentric River Shara, the greatest explorer ever known, arrives in her village and demands to hire Kamzin — not her older sister, Lusha, as everyone had expected — for his next expedition. This is Kamzin’s chance to prove herself — even though River’s mission to retrieve a rare talisman for the emperor means climbing Raksha, the tallest and deadliest mountain. Then, Lusha sets off on her own mission to Raksha with a rival explorer, and Kamzin must decide what’s most important: protecting her sister from the countless perils of the climb or beating her to the summit.