Book Recommendations

Women with Swords in Books

There is just… something about a woman with a sword.

Her grip tight, unfaltering, on the hilt of her silvered sword, hanging from a broad and battered belt, hands quick as lightening snatching the sword from its sheath, facing her enemies, girded and braced, sword up against the coming blows, or aimed at tearing flesh, the enemy undone before her, kneeling and begging for mercy, the point of  the sword placed gently under their chin, blood drying thick on her wrist-

Alright. Okay. I got distracted there for a second. Point is: I love women with swords. So without further ado, here are 10 book recommendations with women and… swords.


The Sword of Kaigen by M.L. Wang

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This book is an adventure and a half. The story follows Misaki who had once been a warrior, walking side by side with death, but who gave it all up to seek some mute purgatory where she could live as the wife to the distant and hard-hearted Matsuda Takeru. When an attack sends her family careening alone into the fearful darkness, however, it is as if someone had removed a fuse in her mind: Misaki will protect her family and she will not count the cost. I devoured this novel, and if you’re a fantasy fan, you would not want to miss it. Trust me.

Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan

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[Sappho’s voice] Sweet mother, I cannot weave, slender Aphrodite has overcome me with longing for a secret warrior-assassin-goddess and her rebel girlfriend. The author deftly navigates her way through a thorny and twisted tale of morality, anguish, and trauma—taking elements of Asian mythology, her experience growing up in Malaysia and her own imagination and pasting them into a beautifully rendered fantastical collage that has representation in sorely needed ways. Ngan also weaves in powerful themes of self-empowerment and self-love, identity and self-discovery, while fervently denouncing classism, homophobia, and the objectifying of women. Highly recommended!

Red Sister (Book of the Ancestor, #1) by Mark Lawrence

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First line in the novel: It is important, when killing a nun, to ensure that you bring an army of sufficient size.” Darkness abounds, powerful children are traded for money, for favors, priests are drawn to the lure of power, and a convent houses deadly nuns who wield swords, scheme and skirmish, make alliances and break them, call women to battle and send them home again. Read it if you, too, are a heroine addict (you need leading ladies in order to survive.)

The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon

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After a millennium of peace, rumors of the Nameless One’s return—wheeling vulture-like in the skies—have finally descended and sunk in their claws for good, and it’s up to three women from rivaling empires (a dragon-rider in training, a queen, and her lady-in-waiting/secret mage/lover) to stop the monster. It’s [clutches fist] good.

The Green Bone Saga by Fonda Lee

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Pitched as The Godfather meets Hong Kong action movies, this Asian-inspired epic fantasy is steeped in peril: supernatural powers derived from magical jade and wielded by rival clans battling for honor, with a helping of forbidden romance and family drama. Most crucially however: I want every single woman in this novel to step on my throat. In fact, I encourage it. Kaul Shae who’d taken a risk to rise above the destiny carved out for her by the men in her life, who cast off her jade and traveled to a foreign land where she isn’t the heir to a legendary warrior, or a jade-wielding soldier who knows five dozen ways to kill with a lover’s intimacy. Ayt Madashi, the villain with vainglorious ambitions and the arrogance to rationalize them. Wen, the powerless jade-immune stone-eye who’s been told she carries a curse in her blood, but who’s fiercer and smarter than almost anyone.

Descendant of the Crane by Joan He

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The story centers around Hesina, an orphaned heir who risks treason by teaming up with a convicted criminal to investigate her father’s—the king’s—murder. Through the protagonist’s breathtaking arc, the novel mercilessly probes its characters’ underlying motivations, and explores the lines between good and evil, who monsters are, and what makes them so. By the end, the antagonists’ villainy illuminates the morality of each character, and a reader is still a long way from sundering villain from hero. Also, the plot twists in this book are… sick.

Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson

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The gist of the story concerns Elisabeth, an orphan raised in the library where she learned the delicate arts of tending to books and the blunter arts of guarding them against the world, and guarding the world against them. Because when damaged—even inadvertently—those books mutate into ravening monsters rising up in clamorous fury,  the warp spreading from the pages as sinuously as ink clouding through a glass of clean water. Elisabeth’s compelling blend of wide-eyed vulnerability and world-weary wryness anchors a deeply moving journey of self-realization that yields some of the most exhilarating action sequences.

The Library of the Unwritten (Hell’s Library #1) by A.J. Hackwith

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A novel about unfinished books that get sent to a library in Hell, and which centers around a pansexual Black head librarian who is burdened with the impossible task of tracking down those books when they manifest into restless characters who flee in search of their authors. And when stories refuse to be caught, things can get a bit… bloody.

Gideon the Ninth (The Locked Tomb, #1) by Tamsyn Muir

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What if we were goth necromancers… in space… who have to fight in a deathly war… and we’re insistent on despising each other… and we had swords… we were both girls 👉🏽👈🏽

女将军和长公主 | Female General and Eldest Princess by 请君莫笑

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My friend is obsessed with this book. It’s a Chinese novel with slow-burn lesbian romance at its heart between a cross-dressing soldier who takes her brother’s name to avenge the slaughter of her family, and a princess trying to secure her brother’s—the crown prince’s—rule. A lot of women with swords, I’ve been assured, are involved.


And voilà! This was fun! Let me know if you’ve read or plan to read any of these books!

9 thoughts on “Women with Swords in Books

  1. I’ve only read 3 of these so I’m clearly failing at life but this is such a good post and such a good……concept…………I propose every sapphic person be awarded a sword as their birth right
    (also thank you so much for shouting out to my blog ilysm)

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  2. Great post! I definitely understand the whole ‘woman with a sword’ thing – I remember being a little bit (a lot) in love with the MCU’s Valkyrie. I’m planning to read Descendant of the Crane in May or June! I recently bought The Sword of Kaigen so I’m hyped for that too. I’ll have to check out that Chinese novel!

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  3. I love stories that contain women with swords but apparently, I’m failing as a reader because I’ve read none of these 🙈 most of them are in my TBR though! Also, can I just mention that all of these have amazing covers? Fierce female warriors for the win!

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