Give me your lady knights saving princess magi from dragons!
January 26, 2017 7:55 AM   Subscribe

Looking for books in the fantasy genre with queer characters!

I would prefer lesbians and bisexual women but happy to read it with gay and bi men too.

I also mostly enjoy fantasy, but if you know of some kickass books in other genres that have queer main characters feel free to suggest them!

Not looking for fanfiction.
posted by INFJ to Media & Arts (27 answers total) 50 users marked this as a favorite
Almost anything by Elizabeth A Lynn, but especially The Northern Girl.

It's men, but I love The Fire's Stone by Tanya Huff.
posted by kelper at 8:10 AM on January 26, 2017 [2 favorites]

The Nightrunner series by Lynn Flewelling is compelling fantasy and has gay men as the main protagonists.

I feel like I should know more of these, but my brain isn't giving me any. I'll think on it.
posted by hought20 at 8:14 AM on January 26, 2017 [1 favorite]

Oh gosh, Ash by Malinda Lo. I really liked that one (though it's YA) and in searching for books I've read with the gay, I discovered that there's a prequel, which yay!

Well, and I assume you know that many of the Valdemar books by Mercedes Lackey have gay characters.
posted by hought20 at 8:22 AM on January 26, 2017 [1 favorite]

The Wheel of Time series has this, although the individual relationships really aren't that fleshed out, so it may not be what you're after.
posted by backwards guitar at 8:39 AM on January 26, 2017

I don't think Richard K. Morgan's series A Land Fit for Heroes is great, but the main character, Ringil, is not at all straight, and his identity is essential to the story. It's been a while since I read it, but I think there is a lesbian (or bi?) secondary character, too.

It's a trilogy - the first book is The Steel Remains.
posted by minsies at 8:45 AM on January 26, 2017 [1 favorite]

If you'd enjoy a (very beautifully illustrated) picture book: maybe The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman?
posted by rd45 at 8:47 AM on January 26, 2017 [1 favorite]

The Rogues of the Republic series by Dragon Age writer Patrick Weekes is more of an ensemble cast, but it is a pretty inclusive ensemble.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 8:58 AM on January 26, 2017

I haven't read An Accident of Stars by Foz Meadows but it sounds promising.
posted by xenization at 9:19 AM on January 26, 2017

The Elemental Logic books by Laurie J. Marks--book 4 still isn't out, but it's so good.

The Summon the Keeper urban fantasy novels by Tanya Huff--focus shifts to a queer female character over the series. Bonus floofy cats. I believe her high fantasy Quarters series also features queer female characters, but it's been longer since I've read those.

I'm going to squeeze in a sf book I often recommend, Ascension, by Jacqueline Koyanagi. Awesome queer WOC? People with disabilities? Yes please. I was going to say "I have no idea why this book didn't get much traction," but I think I just answered my own question.
posted by wintersweet at 9:24 AM on January 26, 2017 [2 favorites]

The Raven and the Reindeer by T. Kingfisher/Ursula Vernon is a pretty delightful fairy tale retelling with a lesbian romance that ends happily.

To nth Tanya Huff, Swan's Braid is a collection of fun linked stories about a lady thief who has a mercenary girlfriend.

Jacqueline Carey's Santa Olivia (although that's more superhero fantasy than medieval fantasy), and also there's her Kushiel series.
posted by therewithal at 9:31 AM on January 26, 2017 [3 favorites]

Ava Lee series by Ian Hamilton. Not fantasy at all... She's a forensic accountant, set in Toronto and China. She recovers money that disappears in odd situations.

They are light, but enjoyable.
posted by Ftsqg at 9:56 AM on January 26, 2017

Dragonoak by Sam Farren has two books out and the third due for release next month and oh god i love it so much. It literally has a lady knight, a princess mage, and dragons, although not in the traditional configuration.
posted by specialagentwebb at 11:23 AM on January 26, 2017 [1 favorite]

Its old, but The Cage by S.M. Stirling and Shirley Meier is one I keep coming back to. The main protagonist is in a long term relationship with another woman who is very comfortably bi, there is barbarian swordswomanship and subtle magic, and in the end a poly marriage is formed.
It is, however, a novel about revenge and talks rape, child abduction, PTSD (if not in those exact terms), humiliation and other nasty things. There are a couple of other books in the series, too, which go into things like war, child slavery, slavery in general, refugees, etc. I've only read two of them, Saber & Shadow and Shadow's Son.
They're grim in parts, but I liked them. They were also written in the late 80s and early 90s, so they're not up on all the latest ideas about LGTBQAetc but as an outsider I still think they hold up pretty well.
posted by sandraregina at 12:04 PM on January 26, 2017

Not quite fantasy, but another S.M. Stirling's Nantucket series is set in ~1250 BCE and features a PoC lesbian woman main protagonist with a Gaelic (?) partner.
posted by porpoise at 12:16 PM on January 26, 2017

Not a book, and you're very likely already familiar with it, but I'll pop a link to the online comic Princess Princess here anyhow!
posted by Morfil Ffyrnig at 12:44 PM on January 26, 2017 [1 favorite]

Tamora Pierce's "The Will of the Empress" has a main character who's a lesbian; in the course of yhe book she falls in love for the first time. The book ispart of a series which features young mages being cared for by foster mothers who are lesbian and bisexual and in an open relationship, but their relationship is more background in the series than foreground.
posted by epj at 1:01 PM on January 26, 2017

Not fantasy, but lots of fun and well-written is the Lesbian Assassins series by Audrey Faye.
posted by agatha_magatha at 1:13 PM on January 26, 2017

A number of the characters in the October Daye books by Seanan Mcguire are gay, genderfluid or have transitioned. These include several of the recurring characters throughout the series. The tenor of the series, and in other books by the same author that I have read, seems to be inclusive and accepting.
posted by Martha My Dear Prudence at 4:58 PM on January 26, 2017 [1 favorite]

I just finished Wake of Vultures, and its sequel, Horde of Crows, by Lila Bowen!

Super fantasy western with a great protagonist. The only problem is that now I have to wait for her to finish the third book.

Vampires and monsters and shapeshifters, oh my! The two books detail the sexual evolution and growth of the main character. Does not end the way you might think it ends.
posted by BlueHorse at 5:06 PM on January 26, 2017

Have you read The Traitor Baru Cormorant? There are things I want to say about this book but I can't figure out how to say them without spoiling things, so I'll just leave it at "you should read The Traitor Baru Cormorant."
posted by DingoMutt at 5:28 PM on January 26, 2017

Melanie Rawn's "Exiles" series is gender bendy (females have the power) and there are at least a few LGBT characters.

In trying to remember which Melanie Rawn book it was, I came across this list -
posted by kellygrape at 5:29 PM on January 26, 2017

The Mirror Empire series has a whole array of genders and sexualities, from matriarchal warriors to an assassin with a variable gender to plural marriage. All the things. Mind, the plot is sort of feminist grim-dark.
posted by fiercekitten at 5:42 PM on January 26, 2017

Anything Seanan McGuire/Mira Grant writes.
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:25 PM on January 26, 2017 [1 favorite]

Check out N.K. Jemisin's Inheritance trilogy. The queer-as-in-gay doesn't come into full force until book 3, but the whole thing is full of genderfluid poly gods who are queer in many ways. Also the books are fantastic.
posted by snorkmaiden at 9:00 PM on January 26, 2017

Can't believe no one has mentioned Ellen Kushner yet. Swordspoint is the first book in the eponymous (loosely connected) series/world, and features gay male main characters. Another book in the series, The Privilege of the Sword, has a queer woman protagonist (I don't remember if she's lesbian or bisexual). Then there's The Fall of the Kings, also a central gay male relationship, which Kushner co-wrote with her wife Delia Sherman.
posted by serelliya at 11:21 PM on January 26, 2017

Lesbian fantasy novels? That's where I'm a viking!

My absolute favorites, books I rave about to anyone who will listen:
Broken Wings, by L-J Baker
The Alpennia Series, by Heather Rose Jones (Daughter of Mystery, The Mystic Marriage, Mother of Souls, more to come)
The Elemental Logic Series, by Laurie J. Marks (Fire Logic, Earth Logic, Water Logic, fourth book planned)

Other super-awesome books I also really like:
Lady Knight, by L-J Baker
Promises, Promises, by L-J Baker
Sub Rosa, by Amber Dawn
The Traitor Baru Cormorant, by Seth Dickinson
Twixt, by Sarah Diemer
Black Wine, by Candas Jane Dorsey
The Lyremouth Chronicles, by Jane Fletcher (The Exile and the Sorcerer, The Traitor and the Chalice, The Empress and the Acolyte, The High Priest and the Idol)
The City of Woven Streets, by Emmi Itäranta
The Red Tree, by Caitlin Kiernan
Salt Fish Girl, by Larissa Lai
When Fox is a Thousand, by Larissa Lai
Ash, by Malinda Lo
Huntress, by Malinda Lo
A Land Fit for Heroes Series, by Richard K. Morgan (The Steel Remains, The Cold Commands, The Dark Defiles)
Godmother Night, by Rachel Pollack
Maplecroft, by Cherie Priest
Afterworlds, by Scott Westerfeld
The Shadow Campaign Series, by Django Wexler (The Thousand Names, The Shadow Throne, The Price of Valour, The Guns of Empire, last one coming)

Books I'll admit can be of uneven quality, but I still enjoyed them quite a bit:
Adijan and her Genie, by L-J Baker
Cage the Darlings, by Elora Bishop
The Dark Wife, by Sarah Diemer
The Arravan Series, by Shea Godfrey (Nightshade, Blackstone)
Eat Your Heart Out, by Dayna Ingram
The Drowning Girl, by Caitlin Kiernan
The Northern Girl, by Elizabeth Lynn
Unquenchable Fire Duology, by Rachel Pollack (Unquenchable Fire, Temporary Agency)
Tame, by Melissa Snowdon
Roses and Thorns, by Chris Anne Wolfe

Books that are technically SF, but they "feel" like fantasy:
Santa Olivia, by Jacqueline Carey (This is one of my faves, but the sequel, Saints Astray, is not as good)
The Celaeno Series, by Jane Fletcher (This series is more uneven than her Lyremouth books; The Temple at Landfall is OK and The Walls of Westernfort is pretty good, I'd only read the rest if you love those)
The Maerlande Chronicles, by Elisabeth Vonarburg (Another one of my faves)

Fantasy series where lesbian or bi plotlines only come up after the first book:
The Seraphina Duology, by Rachel Hartman (happens in the second book, and this series is amazing)
The Skyscraper Throne Trilogy, by Tom Pollock (starts in the second book)
Fever Crumb Series, by Philip Reeve (technically SF but "feels" like fantasy, starts in the third book)

Queer but not bi or lesbian women:
Swordspoint, by Ellen Kushner (super awesome)
The Micah Gray series, by Laura Lam (Pantomime, Shadowplay, third book coming; great books)
Carry On by Rainbow Rowell (really good)

If you want a different breakdown of these based on your tastes (epic fantasy vs. urban fantasy vs. vs. horror fantasy vs. mythpunk or whatever), just let me know!
posted by kyrademon at 4:42 AM on January 27, 2017 [8 favorites]

And a few oddballs that may still more-or-less fit:

Karen Memory, by Elizabeth Bear. A steampunk western, so whether or not it's fantasy depends on how you define it. Lesbian main character, very good book.

Full Fathom Five, by Max Gladstone (third in a series in publication order, fifth chronologically). Very, very good fantasy. Important to main lesbian and … probably-best-defined-as-trans characters in this book of the series.

The Gracekeepers, by Kirsty Logan. Kind of science-fiction, but feels like fantasy. The lesbian romance aspect in this one leaves a lot of room for ambiguity, but I think it qualifies. Anyway, a well-written and interesting book.

How to be both, by Ali Smith. This isn't genre fantasy, but the literary variety, and some probably wouldn't classify it as fantasy at all, even though half the story is narrated by a ghost. But I'm pretty liberal with my definitions, and it's amazing.

Palimpsest, by Catherynne Valente. Strange, excellent book with important to main bisexual characters.
posted by kyrademon at 6:40 AM on January 27, 2017 [1 favorite]

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