If Arya Stark Is Your Favorite 'Game Of Thrones' Character, You Need To Read These 15 Fantasy Novels
If there's one thing that never surprises me, it's that women can get things done. This goes double for Arya Stark from Game of Thrones. Audiences everywhere watched the Battle of Winterfell on Sunday night with bated breath, waiting to see which beloved characters would be sacrificed and just who would be revealed as the show's ultimate hero. (Spoilers ahead!) And after one hour and 15 minutes of fight scenes, deaths, and lots of zombies, Arya killed the Night King.
On the one hand, Arya has never been a damsel in distress: The third Stark child has always been headstrong, and she wields her smallsword named Needle with a particular brand of ruthlessness. On the other hand, many fans predicted that her elder sister Sansa Stark, or Jon Snow, or Daenerys Targaryen would ultimately defeat the Night King. (Apparently even Maisie Williams' boyfriend thought it should have been Jon Snow who killed the villain.)
But if you're an Arya fan who always knew she had it in her, you might be pleased to know that there are plenty of other fantasy stories where women also rise up and defeat their enemies. Below are 15 novels that feature a heroine who never backs down — "Not Today," not ever — and does so not despite her age, her size, or her expectations, but because of them:
'The Priory of the Orange Tree' by Samantha Shannon
'The Afterward' by E.K. Johnston
It's been a year since Apprentice Knight Kalanthe Ironheart and beggar Olsa Rhetsdaughter used the mysterious godsgem to save their king, but they quickly learn that the golden age they ushered into existence isn't a sure thing.
'The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms' by N.K Jemisin
When Yeine Darr's mother dies under mysterious circumstances, she is summoned to the majestic city of Sky, where she is named an heiress to the king. But the throne is not easily won, and Yeine is thrust into a vicious power struggle.
'Descendant of the Crane' by Joan He
When Princess Hesina of Yan's beloved father is murdered, she suddenly becomes the queen of an unstable kingdom. Determined to find her father’s killer, Hesina turns to Akira — a brilliant investigator who is also a convicted criminal with secrets of his own.
'The Queens of Innis Lear' by Tessa Gratton
The erratic decisions of a prophecy-obsessed king have drained Innis Lear of its wild magic, and enemy nations circle and wait to attack. Refusing to leave their future in the hands of blind faith, the three daughters of Innis Lear prepare for war.
'Sky in the Deep' by Adrienne Young
Seventeen-year-old Eelyn's life is brutal but simple: fight and survive. That is, until she sees her brother, fighting with the enemy — the brother she watched die five years ago.
'The Cruel Prince' by Holly Black
Jude has lived in the treacherous High Court of Faerie for 10 years — as a mortal. When she becomes embroiled in palace intrigues, Jude uncovers secrets that threaten to upend the mortal world and the world of faerie.
'Children of Blood and Bone' by Tomi Adeyemi
With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie Adebola is on a mission to bring back the magic that was taken from her people by a ruthless king.
'The Hero and the Crown' by Robin McKinley
Aerin — the outcast daughter of the king — is constantly shadowed by the rumors that her birth mother is a witch. But when a dragon attacks a nearby village, Aerin sees her opportunity to be a hero.
'We Hunt the Flame' by Hafsah Faizal (May 14)
Zafira embarks on a quest to uncover a lost artifact that can restore magic to her world, not knowing that Nasir has also been sent by the king to retrieve the artifact — and kill Zafira. But an ancient evil may pose a threat to them both.
'The Candle and the Flame' by Nafiza Azad (May 14)
Fatima lives in the city of Noor, where she is protected from the Shayateen by the Ifrit, djinn of order and reason, and by their commander, Zulfikar. But when one of the most potent of the Ifrit dies, Fatima is drawn into danger.
'Ash Princess' by Laura Sebastian
Author Laura Sebastian describes the heroine of her Ash Princess series as a "Slytherin Sansa Stark," but the books will appeal to Arya fans, too. Theodosia was six when her country was invaded and her mother, the Fire Queen, was murdered before her eyes. For 10 years, Theo has been a captive in her own palace — but she's finally ready to reclaim her throne.
'An Illusion of Thieves' by Cate Glass (May 21)
When a plot to overthrow the Shadow Lord and incite civil war is uncovered, only Romy and her newfound allies can stop it. In order to do so, they'll need to use the very thing that could condemn them all: magic.
'Sorcery of Thorns' by Margaret Rogerson (June 4)
When an act of sabotage releases a dangerous grimoire, Elisabeth is wrongly implicated for the crime. With no one to turn to but her sworn enemy, the sorcerer Nathaniel Thorn, she finds herself entangled in a centuries-old conspiracy.
'Gods of Jade and Shadow' by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (Aug. 6)
When Casiopea Tun finds a curious wooden box in her grandfather’s room, she opens it, accidentally freeing the spirit of the Mayan god of death, who requests her help in recovering his throne.