Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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Five books with kickass moms

By a complete coincidence, this post by Aidan Moher at tor.com happens to be a great companion to the previous Book Riot post about dads in Romance.

Five books with kickass moms

Several years ago, I became a parent. The birth of my child was a transformative experience, and, since then, I’ve been drawn to stories about parents — their relationships with their children, the way parenthood affects their decisions, the endless possibilities for familial relationships.

Speaking as a non-parent, while I’m sure the birth of your child does re-orient everything in your life, but lots of us non-parents also are drawn to stories featuring parents, in the same way that those of us not involved in a romantic relationship may enjoy reading romances. Just thought I’d mention that.

Anyway:

Today, I’m going to look at four fantasy novels and one series that feature kickass/brilliant/funny/interesting moms. They all have different roles—live in societies with varying expectations—but one thing is consistent: they’re brave, impressive, and they have huge impacts on the world around them. They send ripples through the lives of those they touch — they’re powerful, and it’s difficult not to feel inspired by their actions, or awed by their courage. Some hit like a boulder, others as delicately as the breath of a butterfly’s passing, but the world in their wake is always changed.

Cool topic! Whom does Moher pick out for his list?

1. Jenny Waynest from Dragonsbane by Barbara Hambly. Great choice! Wonderful choice! I love this book and I love Jenny, and also this novel could be used for a list of great fathers because John Aversin is also very cool.

2. Ezarit in Updraft by Fran Wilde. I must confess I could not get into this book. I had no problem with the mother, but the daughter — the protagonist — is suuuuuch a twit. I couldn’t stand her. No doubt she improves over the course of the book, but I fear I will never know.

3. Jendara in Skinwalkers by Wendy N. Wagner. I haven’t read this one.

4. Lovyan in Daggerspell by Katherine Kerr. Nor this one.

5. Clara Kalliam in The Dagger and the Coin series by Daniel Abraham. Now there’s an interesting choice!

She is not a viewpoint character, and, aside from her husband’s impressions, readers do not get a glimpse at her true wile and courage until the rug is pulled out from under her.

Her fall from grace as a result is swift, but there’s a terrific resilience in Clara as she discovers that though her traditional place of authority has been stripped from her, a truer power has replaced it: freedom. Where some of the other women on this list often match their male counterparts blow-for-blow in physical prowess and martial proficiency, Clara is untrained as a fighter, and possess no aptitude for weapons or fighting. Instead, she manipulates the flow of power around her through social machinations, keen spywork, and bold political alliances.

Gosh. Maybe I’ll pick up the second book of this series after all.

Who’s your favorite mother in SFF?

For my pick … I think it’s hard to beat Cordelia in the Vorkosigan series. Plus she definitely fits the kickass category. especially given that shopping trip she made to the capital that time.

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5 Comments Five books with kickass moms

  1. Elaine T

    I have read some of the choices, not all. When I think of ‘kickass moms’ in fantasy I am looking for ones where the motherhood and children are a big part of the story. So I wouldn’t have picked Jenny. I like her, but as far as the story is concerned, her motherhood isn’t an impact. (She thinks it is because it distracts, but she’s wrong.) Lovyan in Daggerspell .. eh, she’s the dowager duchess equivalent, plays politics, keeps her son’s place warm. I guess she’ll do as a minor character.

    Off the top of my head –
    I would suggest Eveshka (yes, Eveshka, of CJC’s Rusalka, and the top of the Irrationality Scale). Because she’s got more power than is safe, and is an overprotective Mom (with reason). And she’s a major force in the books.

    Seraph from Patricia Briggs Raven duology, who goes adventuring with the kids to save her husband.

    Not mothers by blood, but be love, Fae and Lydea from Ombria in Shadow.. Each drives the story and climax by what they do to take care of their chosen children.

    The mother in GGK’s Ysabel who listens to her teenager.

    I have the impression Elizabeth Moon has some, but haven’t read anything beyond Paks.

  2. Mary

    Having perpetrated a mother main character in Madeleine and the Mists — I pass no judgment on her kickass status but I’m still very fond of her. 0:)

  3. Hanneke

    I too thought of Cordelia and Ekaterin, and the Raven duology.
    And one more: Caught in Crystal, by Patricia C. Wrede. Kayl is an innkeeper, a widow with two MG kids, when trouble arrives in her inn, and they have to run away. She too takes the kids with her on the adventure, as happens in the Raven duology.

  4. Maria

    She is only a minor character but I really liked the Lady Grunito in Lord of the White Hell by Ginn Hale. She has 11(!) sons, a brain damaged husband, a huge household and all the husband’s lands to run and still has the energy to mother the sons’ friends as well. Plus she has lots of dogs:)

    And in the sequel Skellan will have a less than conventional mother.

  5. Rachel

    Grunito sounds fabulous.

    Yes, there’s no doubt that in Dragonsbane, John is far more involved father than Jenny is an involved mother.

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