8 Queer High Fantasy Books For Your Epic Sword-Wielding Needs

This month’s installment of Ask Your Friendly Neighbourhood Lesbrarian tracks down some books for a reader of the first column, which was about books with lesbian May-December romances. Autostraddler Allison commented on that post and said that she was looking for

“QUEER. HIGH. FANTASY. Like, Guy Gavriel Kay, but queer. Tolkien, but queer. Melanie Rawn, but queer. That is all I want in life.”

I am so excited to give some suggestions for queer Lord of the Rings readalikes. For those of you not steeped in fantasy nerdom: when people talk about high or epic fantasy, we mean fantasy set in a lush, very detailed, imaginary world intricately created by the author, often with its own comprehensive history, mythology, species, languages, landscapes, and all sorts of stuff. Typically these worlds are pseudo-medieval Europe, although I think the best authors switch that up. Think of those fat books with glossaries and maps in the back, often with sword-wielding maidens on the cover. Another key feature is that usually the main character(s) are going on some kind of epic quest. Guy Gavirel Kay in particular also focuses a lot on characterization; you get to know the characters really well over the course of these lengthy novels. High/epic fantasy can usually be found in trilogy form.

I had no idea when I took on this question just how epic — ha ha — the search for queer high/epic fantasy would be. I put out a simple call on Twitter, and boy did queer book nerds respond with gusto. I got so many suggestions, in addition to the few I already had in mind, that I didn’t know what to do with them all. So this list that I’ve come up with is by no means complete, especially if you’re interested in high fantasy with queer male characters as well (I’ve focused on women).

The Way of Thorn and Thunder, by Daniel Heath Justice


I am so pumped to suggest Cherokee author Daniel Heath Justice’s The Way of Thorn and Thunder trilogy, which I think is criminally underrated. People, this is the queer, feminist, Indigenous high fantasy you never knew you needed so bad. The whole story is an allegory to colonization in the Americas, but it’s also an action-packed story that totally works on its own. It features, among others, Tarsa, a bisexual former warrior whose destiny to be a Wielder—a kind of healer/priestess/witch — and Denarra, a feisty trans woman traveller full of hilarious tall tales, getting shit done “by any means necessary.” If you’ve wondered what LOTR would be like if it were queer, trans, feminist, poly, and decolonizing, look no further.

Kushiel’s Dart, by Jacqueline Carey


Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey is well-loved among queer and feminist fantasy readers, so I hope you haven’t already read it! There are actually nine books (three trilogies) set in Carey’s vast universe. The first trilogy, of which Kushiel’s Dart is the first novel, centres on Phèdre, who is “trained equally in the courtly arts and the talents of the bedchamber,” aka a sex worker. This massive tale is set in a noble world of political intrigue, ripe with a scheming villainess, courtly poets, traitors, you name it. There’s also lots of sex, of the lesbian and S&M variety, in as much detail as the world-building. Kushiel’s Dart comes in at about 900-1000 pages depending on the edition, meaning it’s for the seriously committed high fantasy fan.

Huntress and Ash, by Malinda Lo


Two much more commitment-phobic friendly options are two YA books Ash and Huntress by Malinda Lo. Ash and Huntress are set in the same lush fairy tale world steeped in Chinese mythology, although hundreds of years apart, so they can be enjoyed together or on their own. Huntress definitely fits the epic genre more tightly, following two 17-year-old human girls Kaede and Taisin as they go on an grand quest to the city of the Fairy Queen in an effort to save humankind, whose world is dying. As you can probably guess, they also fall in love along the way. I loved the balance of the girls’ strengths — one thrumming with magic, the other proficient in earthly skills — as they grow and learn on their journey.

Fire Logic, Water Logic, and Earth Logic, by Laurie J. Mark


Laurie J. Mark’s Elemental Logic trilogy is more classic, European-influenced high fantasy, but with a matriarchal and working-class twist. It stars Zanja, a lesbian warrior of colour, but the spotlight is perhaps equally shared by a female half-giant “smoke” addict blacksmith named Karis, and Emil, a middle-aged soldier with a disability, plus others. The action, simply put, is a guerilla war against evil oppressors in a war-torn country using elemental magic. Sounds awesome, right? All of this comes about when their country’s leader dies, there’s no successor named, and everything goes to shit. This is a novel about wounded, complex characters navigating war, political chaos, and emotionally complex (lesbian) relationships.

Labyrinth Lost, by Zoraida Córdova


Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova just came out this fall and it’s the first in a YA trilogy called Brooklyn Brujas. We meet the main character, bisexual teenage bruja Alex, on the eve of her 16th birthday and her Deathday, a bruja’s coming-of-age ceremony. Unfortunately for Alex, who doesn’t actually want to be a witch anyway, her spell to try to rid herself of her powers goes horribly wrong and she ends up sending her entire family to Los Lagos, an alternate realm full of vicious creatures and danger at every turn. Of course, she has to go save them. Although not typical high fantasy in some ways, I think what makes Labyrinth Lost fit here is the detailed, inventive, Latin American-inflected alternate world Córdova has built.

From Under the Mountain, by Cait Spivey


Like Labyrinth Lost, From Under the Mountain by Cait Spivey is another 2016 first book in a series full of people of colour with meticulous world-building. It also features queer and asexual characters! Nineteen-year-old Guerline is the protagonist, a member of the royal house who has fallen in (forbidden) love with her lower class companion, Eva. This indiscretion is soon dwarfed, though, by Guerline unexpectedly becoming empress. She finds herself in the middle of a centuries-old conflict between the clans of witches charged with protecting her family and a council who believes these witches are actually waging a secret war against humans. Who can Guerline trust as her political control begins to slip from her grasp?

The Winged Histories, by Sofia Samatar


Sofia Samatar released the second book in The Olondria series earlier this year and it sounds just as amazing as the first one, but with queer characters! It’s not essential to have read A Stranger in Olondria to pick up the latest book, The Winged Histories, but it will help you get a feel for the elaborate, diverse, beautiful, dark world Samatar has created. Olondria is a distant, book-loving land where war has broken out, and four women — a soldier, a scholar, a poet, and a socialite — are caught up in a violent rebellion. Each section explores the war from a different woman’s point of view, their haunting voices filling your mind. Samatar is fast becoming known for her exquisite writing as well as her sophisticated world-building.

The Quarter Series, by Tanya Huff


Tanya Huff’s Quarter series is a classic now, having been first published in the 90s. You can either read it as four separate novels, as they originally came out, or in two omnibus editions, which contain two novels each. Either way, there’s lots to be enjoyed in this Canadian author’s elemental magic fantasy series where every character seems to be bisexual and polyamorous. There are both unforgettable characters and thrilling adventures to be had. This series was really revolutionary when it came out, with its non-tragic queer characters and matter-of-fact gender equality world and I think it still stands up today. If princesses becoming magical bards and assassin twins trying to track down lost bodies in a queer feminist world is up your alley, give it a try!

Okay, I know how hardcore fantasy fans (myself included) can be: tell me, what wonderful books did I dare leave off this list?

Before you go! Autostraddle runs on the reader support of our AF+ Members. If this article meant something to you today — if it informed you or made you smile or feel seen, will you consider joining AF and supporting the people who make this queer media site possible?

Join AF+!


Known in some internet circles as Casey the Canadian Lesbrarian, Casey Stepaniuk is a writer, librarian, and new parent. She writes for Book Riot and Autostraddle about queer and/or bookish stuff. Ask her about cats, bisexuality, libraries, queer books, drinking tea, and her baby. Her website is Casey the Canadian Lesbrarian. Find her on Twitter, Litsy, Storygraph Goodreads and Instagram.

Casey has written 125 articles for us.


  1. CASEY, HOW DID YOU KNOW I WAS LOOKING FOR THIS? ARE YOU PSYCHIC? That would confirm my suspicion that all lesbian (future) librarians are also witches.

    In any case, THANK YOU!

  2. What a wonderful list! Thank you, Casey. This is the first I’ve heard of “The Way Of Thorn And Thunder” and it’s the book I didn’t know I was looking for right now. My library doesn’t have it, but I’m going to suggest they buy it – I’ve done that before and the collection development librarians are pretty open to input!

    I also enthusiastically second your recommendations of Malinda Lo’s books (“Huntress” and “Ash”). She excels at world building and rich characterization alike; her books are always moving and beautiful.


  4. Yes!! Casey, thank you so much!! I have looked on and off for suggestions of queer fantasy novels for a couple of years and struggled to find a starting point. These are definitely things I can add to my Christmas list!

    • Yes, I was just coming here to suggest that one! I loved the romance, equal parts sweet and hot.

      May I also recommend A DARKLY BEATING HEART by Lindsay Smith. Not high fantasy, but it does involve time travel between the present day and feudal Japan and features a bi girl as the protagonist.

  5. I love Kushiel’s Dart! Phedra and Melisande are so hot together, even though Melisande is basically evil. But i loved that practically everyone is queer. I bought the Tanya Huff books, but found it hard to get into them. But they are still sitting on my shelf for another day.

    • Try some of her more recent stuff. If you are willing to read modern fantasy, that is really the genre where she excels most. Check out her Enchantment Emporium books (about a modern coven of witches who do magic by baking and having orgies, I mean come on!), or if you are willing to read sci-fi, the Valor series is perhaps my favorite sci-fi series ever created. It’s not super queer, but there is a hardcore female lead (like in ALL of Huff’s books) and an alien race who’s culture is “the most indiscriminately inthusiastic in the galaxy. Also they look like rainbow elves. Tanya Huff is one of my favorite authors, so I would highly reccomend checking out some of her less dated work.

      • Also, I always imagine Melisande to look like Bridget Regan, and she and Phedra are… well if you’ve read the books you know ;)

      • I love the Valor series! I read the twin assassins series growing up as well, and loved it enough that I remember that all these years later.

        • Other than my dad I don’t think I have ever chatted with another person who has read it. Glad there are other fanpersons out there. Torin is the badass female character standard bearer in my mind. Also I totally ship her and femShep from Mass Effect. Is that weird?

  6. Thank you so much! I was trying to find more interesting books to train my English, and now I’ve found a bunch of them!
    Thanks a lot, Casey!

  7. If you really want a series that will blow you away, you should check out Nightshade & Blackstone by Shea Godfrey. *SWOON*

    • I just looked these up and a few reviews mention racist tropes and stereotypes. Can you speak to that?

      • I’ve read both books, the reviews that say that are definitely reaching pretty hard to find something to be offended by. It’s a fantasy world and as far as I can tell no real world races or cultures appear.

  8. I have seriously considered getting a tattoo for the first Kushiel trilogy. And not just a copy of Phedre’s… like an actual new tattoo designed in accordance with the book’s lore to be personal to me because that’s just how much those books meant to me for a billion different reasons but mostly because of how powerful, intelligent, capable, and confident they make a very feminine, self-identified as submissive, kinky bisexual woman who chooses to be a sex worker. Not the kind of person who is usually allowed to exist in stories, let alone be the hero.

    “That which yields is not always weak.”

      • Thanks :) It’s a rare and wonderful book when you see something important about yourself in a character you relate to.

        There were other good books on your list, too! Thank you for writing it!

    • I am currently talking down a friend from that very thing right now. She gets impulse tattoos and this is a big commitment. That and I already have a crush on her and it would totally put me over the top.

      • I don’t think I’d commit to a full back, but maybe the nape of the neck? Maybe that would be a good option for her and you just hang out with her when her hair covers her nape? Lol!

        Another option for me was doing a line of symbols from books that mean something to me down my inner arm, but that one would have to be Phedre’s marque.

  9. Although they’re not strictly high fantasy, and they’re short on lesbian characters, having more gay male characters and trans characters, Storm Constanine’s books are worth a look. Hermetech deals with a character becoming very oddly trans and having multiple sets of genitalia implanted. The Wraethu (I think that’s right, it’s years since I’ve read them) series is about gay people becoming magical and taking over the world. There’s another series whose name I’ve forgotten about a fallen angel that resounds with bisexual characters.

    Some of them are short of female characters but I remember them fondly.

  10. Although they are urban fantasy instead of high fantasy, the Sarah Beauhall books (starting with Black Blade Blues) are pretty darn good!

    Norse mythology, blacksmithing, SCA people, dragons, and lesbian angst. Sometimes a little *too* much angst, and you can tell the author is still working on writing style in the 1st book (and, erm, writing a 20’s-aged character as an older author. It takes a few books before their references are less dated), but they do pick up, and are fully worth a read!

    • Best list ever! I’m copy-pasting these titles in my to-read list on goodreads so I can read them all in 2017 :-)

  11. Awesome list. I’m so happy to learn there are books I’ve never heard in this genre. It’s my favorite mix of things!

    One book that I actually found by accident, without knowing anything about the book, is Otherbound
    by Corinne Duyvis. It is half real world/half high-fantasy YA book that deals with disability in the real world side and has a bi girl protagonist on the high-fantasy side. It also talks about consent in a very interesting way (the real world protag gets visions through the eyes of the high fantasy protag whenever he closes his eyes, and she has no say in it.)

    If you are looking for speculative (sci-fi or fantasy) stories, Heiresses of Russ is a great anthology. The one from 2013 I believe has a great high fantasy story by Malinda Lo

    • I didn’t include Corinne Duyvis on this list since I kept seeing it described as portal fantasy but her work also looks awesome. There is so much exciting queer fantasy out there!

      • I would agree that Otherbound isn’t high fantasy, because half the story is set in “our” world, but I would second the recommendation!

  12. This is maybe a weird fit for both a high fantasy list and a queer fantasy list, but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention N.K. Jemisin’s The Fifth Season (and everything else she’s written). It’s a sort of post-apocalyptic high fantasy, and prominent side characters include a gay man and a trans woman (who’s in a relationship with another woman in the sequel), and also basically none of the characters are white. It’s also super depressing, so be warned, but it’s fantastic.

  13. This is excellent! I’ve read some of these titles already but I can’t wait to check out the rest.

  14. Sooo many things I haven’t read on this list! So excited!

    They aren’t exactly queer (although there are queer auxiliary characters), but my favorite powerful girl YA high fantasy has always been the Graceling series by Kristin Cashore. I had to re-read all of them in quick succession after the election, they got me through it. The writing is so lovely and feminism, consent, the politics of physical power, main characters who know firmly and are at peace with the fact that they do not wish to become mothers, all sorts of amazing stuff is packed into those books. I just wish there were more of them!

    • I really love these books too. I recently reread Bitterblue and fell back in love.

      I also appreciate that the author engaged fans who called her out on using a trope with one of the characters (won’t post because spoilers) and straight up educated herself and apologised for it. We don’t see that often enough and if she had just ignored the criticism I wouldn’t have learnt about it and had my holy shit that happens a lot and it’s fucked up” moment.

  15. Oh my god I am so in love with all of those Jaqueline Carey books *heart eyes* Would recommend to everyone who loves world building (unless you don’t like to read about sex then these books are not for you)
    I would also like to recommend the Circle of Magic series by Tamora Pierce. Its definitely fantasy with adventures. The first 4 books are definitely more children’s books but in the next quartet and rest of the books you come to find out that some of the main characters are queer/asexual and its definitely one of my all time favorites.

  16. Thank you so much for this! My partner and I have been having so much trouble finding audiobooks to listen to together!

    If one day you could come up with a list of suggestions of Urban Fantasy novels with queer ladies, that would be amazing! We just finished the 4-book Ayala Storme series (the main character is bisexual and another Mediator is a lesbian).

    • Oh, I wonder how many of these are available in audiobook format! I’m going to be talking about all audiobooks in next month’s installment of the column, actually.

    • I mentioned an Urban Fantasy series above that my wife really loves: the Sarah Beauhall books (starting with Black Blade Blues) by J.A. Pitts. I’d also love more recs in the same vein. :)

    • If you are looking for urban fantasy and haven’t heard of her yet, Tanya Huff is the master. She essentially invented the genre back in the late 70s and continues to write prolifically. Her queerest series would be her Enchantment Emporium trilogy and it is the most lovely. Would highly reccomend.

    • My partner and I also listen to audio books together!

      Erik Schubach’s Valkyrie Chronicles (beginning with The Return of the Asgard), features strong queer female characters, and poly relationships as the series progresses.

      I would lob these solidly into the Mythic Fantasy category, with tendrils lacing into urban, space opera, and military. This is not Snorri’s Norse mythology, though, as fair warning for the purists.

      The audiobook versions are quite well done!

  17. I’d also recommend the Riverside series by Ellen Kushner and others. The books are Swordspoint and The Privilege of the Sword by EK, and The Fall of the Kings by Kushner and her wife Delia Sherman. There’s also a prequel series on Serialbox called Tremontaine, written by Kushner and a whole bunch of other people.

    Tremontaine definitely has the most queer ladies, but basically the entire cast of Swordspoint is bi. The entire world is more mannerpunk than high fantasy, but Fall of the Kings leans more in the fantasy direction. I’d describe the entire world as “Jane Austen and Oscar Wilde’s very queer baby, but with added swords”.

  18. So relevant to my interests! Although I’m technically more of a sci-fi nerd, I’ve been on a bit of a fantasy kick lately, and it’s always so nice to find books with queer characters!

    A few months ago I read “Thrall” by Barbara Ann Wright. The cover art was a little cheesy but I bought it on a lark and ended up really adoring it. It takes place in a magical Viking-esqe society, has witches and warriors, not to mention several lesbian and one trans woman character. I could wax on for a while, but spoilers! Also, I’m really hoping there’s going to be a sequel. I’ve ordered some of Wright’s other fantasy books, but haven’t gotten to them yet.

    • I have found it super difficult to find queer sci-fi, got any reccomendations? I too am a sci-fi nerd who travels into the fantasy world on occasion. The only series I actually enjoyed that would fit is Tanya Huff’s Valor series (which is one of my favorites of all time, queer or not).

      • I could do an upcoming column on queer SF (which I also love)!! Anything more specific? Is there a type of science fiction you like or authors you especially like?

        • Ooh, that sounds wonderful! Some memorable favorites are “Ammonite” by Nicola Griffith, and the “Daughters of a Coral Dawn” trilogy by Katherine V. Forrest. Both are a little older, I think, but I personally thought that they have stood out among my queer sci-fi readings. Also years ago I remember really enjoying “Stardust Bound” by Karen Cadora. It’s been a while, so I’m not sure if the book itself was really good, or if it just resonated with me because it was one of the first novels I read with a queer lady protagonist.

  19. All right, my queer fantasy recs are all a bit older, but I’ve loved many of these books (lesbian romantic fantasy). The LJ Baker ones are standalones, but the Lyremouth Chronicles was a great series of four books (I think) that built in a satisfying way with character development through the books (book one is entitled The Exile and the Sorcerer).

    Broken Wings by LJ Baker
    Lady Knight by LJ Baker
    Lyremouth Chronicles by Jane Fletcher

    There was also a book I read way back in middle school before my edge-of-rural, red state self knew was a lesbian was (seriously). I haven’t read it recently, so I can’t speak to any problematic parts of it, but I remember really loving it:
    Saber and Shadow by SM Stirling and Shirley Meier.

    I might also highly recommend the Deed of Paksenarrion trilogy by Elizabeth Moon. The main character is basically asexual. There is passing acknowledgement of queer relationships. Still, I loved this series to pieces. I love strong female protagonists!

    • P.S. My description of Paksenarrion was meant to note that there’s nothing inherently queer about the book, unlike the other books I recommended.

    • +1 on Lyremouth Chronicles and also Jane Fletcher’s other series The Celaeno Series!

      The Celaeno Series is less high fantasy and more sci-fi adjacent – it’s set on a planet of all women, the descendants of a crashed spaceship, who have reverted to a medieval tech level society. They’ve also got some magical extra-sensory abilities thrown in there, so I feel like the tone and themes are still relevant to this list! I will say too for anyone looking for a high-brow literary experience that both of these series are primarily romance novels, for better or for worse.

      Also in the “sort of sci-fi in a medieval setting with a couple super powers” genre is Nicola Griffith’s Ammonite, which is a good read! It’s very similar to the Celaeno Series actually as far as world-building is concerned.

  20. Oh man, I’ve been meaning to read Daniel Heath Justice’s stuff for ages, and have never gotten around to it. With an Autostraddle endorsement, though, I can put it off no longer…
    I had him as a prof in undergrad, when he taught a Sci-Fi and Fantasy English Lit class. I expected it to be a just for fun class, but it ended up being one of the best classes I ever took. He’s the most ridiculously interesting, thoughtful guy :D

    • Oh man, I’ve been meaning to read Daniel Heath Justice’s stuff for ages, and have never gotten around to it. With an Autostraddle endorsement, though, I can put it off no longer…
      I had him as a prof in undergrad, when he taught a Sci-Fi and Fantasy English Lit class. I expected it to be a just for fun class, but it ended up being one of the best classes I ever took. He’s the most ridiculously interesting, thoughtful guy :D

      Also, him being a prof meant we could call him either Professor Justice or Doctor Justice… pretty fabulous.

      • Haha, I never thought about his name with doctor or prof, that is hilarious.

        He’s so lovely. I interviewed him for an assignment and had to remind myself not to fan-girl too hard.

  21. The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow is an incredible YA novel- action-packed, plus with poly & queer characters! It’s a lot of fun, 10/10 would recommend.

  22. So glad to see Sofia Samatar’s The Winged Histories on this list alongside the usual suspects! I love that book, and all it does to dramatize women’s history in a fantasy world, so much.

    And now I have to track down Labyrinth Lost.

    Can anyone offer thoughts on Emmi Itaranta’s The Weaver (published outside the US as the City of Woven Streets) or her other books? I’ve been hearing fantastic things about it, but my library still has it on order!

    • I haven’t heard of Emmi Itaranta, but she looks interesting! Is there queer content in her books as far as you know?

      • That might be a bit of a spoiler!

        I happened upon The City of Woven Streets in my local library, and fell upon it because Finnish fantasy with bonus textiles is literary catnip for me. It then turned out to be even more relevant to my interests…

        • Hi! Thanks for mentioning this book! I hadn’t heard of it before, but it seems awesome and it turns out it’s actually available on the very limited audiobook website I use.

      • Like I said, I haven’t gotten my hands on the book yet, but reviews make clear that The Weaver revolves around a girl who falls in love with another girl, who is found mute and injured after an attack, and that the two of them team up to fight the powers that be in their fantasy nation.

        I also haven’t read Emmi Itaranta’s first book, The Memory of Water, but it got a lot of praise as a very feminist post-climate change dystopia. It might have queer content too for all I know.

  23. The Last Herald Mage series by Mercedes Lackey also has queer characters. It’s pretty sad though….

      • Are there any other (preferably less tragic) books by Lackey you’d recommend? Do any of the others have queer characters, as well?

        • The Mage Storms trilogy has queer male secondary characters without tragedy, as far as I remember. Vows and Honor centers the friendship of two women protagonists, one of whom is asexual. There are f/f relationships between minor side characters in some of the other Valdemar books, but not any major characters that I know of. I haven’t read all of them, though.

  24. I HAD to pop in here and mention Elizabeth Bear – she is a little light on the lesbian characters side but her books are all amazing and have queer characters of many genders and colors, just literally read them all and thank me later. Especially Karen Memory, which is actually more steampunk fantasy set in an alt-history version of the Pacific Northwest but it’s just SO. GOOD.

    Also Indigo Springs and its sequel by AM Dellamonica have a lesbian and at least two queer main characters that I recall. Those aren’t necessarily high fantasy either but they’re still really good.

    • Oh yeah, Indigo Springs is great! It had such a cool conception of magic. The main character is a bi woman as far as I remember. That’s another Canadian author!
      Thanks for the other suggestions, I hadn’t heard of them!

  25. This post and these comments are making me feel like I just stumbled upon the world’s longest gourmet dessert buffet and now have to decide what to pick first. HELP

    • Story of my life, re: books!
      Maybe see which ones are available right now from your public library or even the closest branch to your house? Sometimes I narrow book choices down that way. ?

  26. Thank you for the list! I will buy one of these for my plane ride home, the only time i buy new books now. I was pretty bummed out reading the descriptions last time, just wanting a female protagonist. Queer would be amazing!

    Did not know Tanya Huff is Canadian!

    So is Guy Gavriel Kay. The Fionavar tapestry starts off at the u of t, after all. (I should reread that)

  27. Goodness me, this article! Top notch recs, most of these got me super intrigued and will definitely go top of my wish list!

    Thanks Casey <3

  28. Django Wexlar’s “Shadow Campaigns” series has a really fantastic lesbian main character. These books aren’t high fantasy, but they do include magic (and, unfortunately, themes of colonialism which could be treated better). But each book adds more queer characters and more women, and seriously my favaorite lesbian character in recent memory.

      • U can no tell me how to manifest mah dysgraphia!

        But yes some of my mind is indeed captured by those books because they remind me of the built worlds in my head I can’t write down save for encyclopedic entries and the stories I feared no one would want to read because they weren’t Mid-Western Eurocentric and complicated heavy stuff.
        Like genocide, the impact of colonialism, nationalism, military occupation and slave revolts.

        But sayings like “By the Divine Ones” “Oh for the love of the Divinities” and “By the Teachers” I figured all the happy and sad queers would enjoy.
        Because “By the Gods” is so androcentric and it’s the 2nd decade of the 21st why should divine beings of worship or veneration have to be binary?
        And erotic side stories that add detail to fantasy world. :P

        I understand fictional horrors help us prepare and deal the existence of real life terrible things, but I feel opening a story mid genocidal attack with genocide and colonialism as not just a theme but the story itself would widely unreadable.

        Still the presence of the above 8 books is inspiring and wonderful to me because they are diverse in a genre that can get too Eurocentric and simplistic even when attempting complexity.

  29. Thank you. Chris Anne Wolfe’s (completely underrated) Amazons of Aggar series and Roses and Thorns: Beauty and the Beast Retold book would fit this list perfectly.

    And “Of Fire and Stars” by Audrey Coulthurst. It’s a new book, I learned about it from Melinda Lo’s blog. It reminded me of her books and I liked it.

  30. YOOOOOO ya’ll need to get Diana River’s Hadra Series in your lives: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/487359.Diana_Rivers

    the Hadra, the central characters of the series, are anarchofeminist separatist brown warrior witch poly lesbian horsewomen. it’s got everything you need that is badass and fun but also healing and inspiring. elder love. privilege wrangling. world-building. soooooo much delicious outdoor sex scenes. adventure, intrigue, patriarchy smashin.’ trauma healing. horsecrazy indulgence for days. lesbian processing, scenes from every feminist org meeting you’ve ever been to, but in a fantasy world and actually always productive. Can’t recommend ’em enough.
    They’re mostly out of print unfortunately, but they’re the exact thing that I mourn not having when I was a kid. Please let’s all read them together

  31. Best list ever! I’m copy-pasting these titles in my to-read list on goodreads so I can read them all in 2017 :-)

  32. Have you read the Shadow trilogy by Lila Bowen? An amazing bisexual, biracial transman native protagonist in a reimagined Old West. It doesn’t sugarcoat but it doesn’t skimp on some beautiful romance and magic either. Truly, truly one of my faves.

    Gotta add Lynn Flewelling’s Nightrunner series, which has a feminist world and bisexual heroes. Also Max Gladstone’s Craft sequence, especially Full Fathom Five with its trans character and lots of nuanced writing about appropriation and colonization.

  33. Some other good stories to consider!

    Ice Massacre and Ice Crypt! Lesbian pirate and mermaids plot. Very awesome, 3rd book cones out next year I think?

    The Abyss Surrounds Us! Also kind of lesbian pirates, but one is trained to fight pirates and the other is a pirate.

  34. So pretty much all of these books focus on lesbians or bisexual women? Is Fantasy still too scared of a gay male protagonist?

    • Just off the top of my head without going near my reading diaries, Sarah Monette’s Doctrine of Labyrinths series and Hal Duncan’s Book of All Hours (Vellum and Ink).

    • Autostraddle is a site made by and for queer WOMEN. I’m sure one of the hundreds of blogs and websites run by and for queer males has a list of gay male protagonists in fantasy literature.
      Despite reading being stereotyped as a feminine persuit, white makes continue to dominate the publishing industry. This list is about female representation and nonwhite representation as much as it is about queer representation.

    • Also, gay male protagonists have been there long enough to be a trope in Diana Wynne Jones’ Tough Guide to Fantasy Land (which makes an awful lot of Extruded Fantastical Product utterly unreadable. I recommend it).

        • In one of the Song of Ice and Fire books there are deep-fried fish goujons. Served on the Wall. I’ve often wondered if those are a nod to the Tough Guide, as they certainly seem an unlikely thing to emerge from a cod-medieval kitchen in a military barracks.

    • Seriously? I’m like 90% sure you’re trolling me but I can’t resist a queer fantasy challenge:

      The Herald Mage trilogy by Mercedes Lackey, the Nightrunner series by Lynn Flewelling, Kai Ashante Wilson’s FABULOUS novellas Sorcerer of the Wildeeps and A Taste of Honey, Swordspoint by Ellen Kushner, Doctrine of Labyrinths and The Bone Key by Sarah Monette, the Charm of Magpies series by KJ Charles, the Whyborne & Griffin books by Jordan L. Hawk, A Companion to Wolves by Sarah Monette & Elizabeth Bear, Death by Silver by Melissa Scott, The Cloud Roads by Martha Wells

    • There is definitely lots of fantasy with queer male characters which I haven’t focused on here because Autostraddle is a website for queer women. Goodreads should have some lists if you’re looking for bi/gay guys in fantasy.

  35. Yay!! Great list – thank you :)
    I’d like to add the Great Alta Saga starting with Sister Light Sister Dark by Jane Yolen.

  36. Am I the only one who is going to recommend When Women Were Warriors? It’s a High fantasy, lesbian and matriarchy centric setting, in an awesome trilogy by Catherine Wilson. Must recommend for pagans, WLW, and really just everybody.

    • Yes indeed I totally agree – just read WWWW- and quite amazed at how beautiful and haunting that world is.

  37. The Second Mango by Shira Glassman is a cool ya fantasy book. It’s on the short side, but it’s a very refreshing take on fantasy. Lesbian queen goes on a quest to find a girlfriend. Also, she has allllllll the food allergies. It’s cute / easy reading with a happy ending.

  38. Thanks so much for this list! I’m slowly making my way through it, and it’s helped to reignite my passion for reading.

    I started with From Under the Mountain, and checking out the author on Goodreads, I found that he no longer uses the name, Cait, and instead writes under the name, C. M. Spivey and is known now as Cal since he came out as trans. Just thought you might want to make a note.

  39. This list is amazing! Just what I need in isolation.
    I would hugely recommend Andrew Rowe’s ongoing series Arcane Ascension, with an Asexual protagonist exploring their romantic options, trans and nonbinary characters and a host of queer characters with sexuality taking a backseat to themes of religion, nationalism and a beautifully intricate videogame magic system. Audible has some brilliant versions voiced by Nick Poehdel!

  40. Did someone already chime in that Elemental Logic has a fourth book and it’s so good?

Comments are closed.