Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: My Favourite Queer Characters

Another Tuesday, another top ten list. (Thanks, The Broke & The Bookish!) This week’s topic is the top ten characters who are insert adjective here. My list? My top ten queers from speculative fiction. Only I've just got 7, because there’s not a lot to choose from. 

I should note that these aren’t the only LGBTI characters in fantasy. There are books I haven’t read that I know have queer content. (Ash by Melinda Lo, I’m looking at you. You’re on my TBR.) There are books I have read that – apparently – have queer characters that I simply don’t recall. (For example, GLBT Fantasy Fiction Resources tells me that The Lions of Al-Rassan by Guy Gavriel Kay has a bisexual male protagonist, and that China Mieville wrote a lesbian into Perdido Street Station. I think I read some books by Mercedes Lackey that had queer characters too, but it was long ago I honestly don’t remember). There are also books that have queer characters deliberately left off this list, because I think they were misrepresented or badly-written. 

Also? The one upside to making this list was discovering that Nicola Griffith (who wrote Hild) is a lesbian. I’ve been planning to get around to Affiny by Sarah Waters for a while now, but I think I might try Griffith’s Slow Rivers instead. It’s got some very nice reviews over on Goodreads. 

1. Phedre No Delauney from the Kushiel’s Legacy novels by Jacqueline Carey.
Love as thou wilt. God, I adore these books. Not only are they absolutely perfect epic fantasy novels, they are full of queer characters doing their thing. I’ve decided to highlight Phedre here because of her enduring connection to Melisande & her overall awesomeness (because who doesn’t love brave, thoughtful, and incredibly sexy linguists?) but honestly, I could have chosen about half the characters from this series to gush over. 

2. Micah Grey from Pantomine by Laura Lam
Micah’s an intersex, bisexual teenager who runs away & joins the circus. He spends a lot of the book being duplicitous and afraid, which makes sense given his circumstances. Still, he seems like a nice guy underneath all the fear. The first book of this trilogy really reads like your standard coming-out-story, just one set in a fantasy world. However, there is a sequel; I can’t wait to read it and watch Micah grow into his own skin (and hopefully start causing some magical chaos!). 

3. Loup & Pilar from the Santa Olivia & Saints Astray books by Jacqueline Carey
I loved these books. From the way Santa Olivia was marketed, you expect to read some dystopian werewolf novel. Instead you get a beautiful coming-of-age tale with a surprise lesbian romance. And these characters! Loup is brilliant, but Pilar… Pilar is amazing. It’s so refreshing to see a flirty, femme heroine doing her thing and still managing to be a badass without being scorned by the text. 

4. Lillia from the Traitor Spy Trilogy by Trudi Canavan
I really like Trudi Canvan’s work: partly because her novels are fun, and partly because she regularly puts queer characters in them. (Yes, I’m shallow. What can I say? I like reading about people who occasionally function like myself!) I liked Dannyl as a character, but Lillia has to be my favourite. She’s one of the main characters in Canavan’s Traitor Spy trilogy, a na├»ve and earnest girl who gets to fall in love multiple times and will undoubtedly be a force to be reckoned with in the future. 

5. Professor Albus Dumbledore from the Harry Potter books by J. K. Rowling
Yes, I know this was only made canon after the series ended & there’s absolutely no hint of this in the books. (Such a missed opportunity, JK!)  But I spent my teenage years reading far too much Harry Potter fanfic – so as far as I’m concerned, everyone at Hogwarts was gay. The school was basically the magical academy version of Lip Service. Or maybe The L Word. One or the other. 

6. Daisy from the Agent of Hel trilogy by Jacqueline Carey

These books aren’t my favourite because I’m not a huge fan of paranormal romance. However, I really like Daisy. She’s a strong character. She also happens to be bisexual. I don’t care that she swings closer to the het side of the spectrum – there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s just so nice reading stories that feature people with a range of sexualities, especially when queer folk get to be protagonists rather than just the best friend.

7. Daja from the Circle of Magic & Circle Opens Quartets by Tamora Pierce
I was obsessed with Tamora Pierce books as a teenager. Especially her Tortall ones – I read them repeatedly, probably over 50 times. There are quite a few side characters who are queer in her books (Thom, Lalasa, Nestor & Okha, Lark & Rosethorn) but it meant so much me when Daja came out. I think I was so happy I cried! And it certainly cemented The Will of The Empress as one of my favourite YA novels. 

So, who have I missed? Let me know in the comments!


  1. I just read Perdido Street Station recently for the second time. If there is a lesbian character it is such a minor mention that it didn't even cross my register.

    Good list though. Off the top of my head I can only come up with one more from works I have read, the main character of The Steel Remains by Richard Morgan.

    1. Huh. Will look up The Steel Remains - thanks for mentioning it.

      You know I mostly read epic fantasy... writing this list, I kept thinking all the queers must be hanging out on the sci-fi or paranormal romance shelves instead. Because not even hitting 10 characters is pretty terrible. They gotta be in the genre somewhere!

  2. Wow, I've added practically all of these to my TBR list. This is really such a great list. I've only read two books of the Circle of Magic quartet, so that is something interesting to look forward to. :)

    Shelly @ Books and Writing

    1. Oh I'm sorry for spoiling! But at least you don't know any of the details :-)

  3. Great list, I so pleased to see Jacqueline Carey on it so many times. She's amazing, and agreed, she writes such amazingly strong characters and relationships. Kushiel's Dart is one of favorite books of all time!


    1. Mine too. Yay for the JC love! We can fangirl together :D

      (Although it makes me somewhat sad that the only queer characters I could think of were basically written by her, Trudi Canavan, or a host of other YA authors whose books I'm not really that keen on anymore...)

  4. "But I spent my teenage years reading far too much Harry Potter fanfic – so as far as I’m concerned, everyone at Hogwarts was gay." LOL...

    Nice choice of topic. I can't say that I'm familiar with any of these characters (besides Dumbledore), but then, I haven't read a lot of LGBT fiction.

    1. Yeah, it can be hard to find if you don't look for it. And sometimes even if you do look for it, lol.

  5. Great topic! The only one I'm familiar with is Dumbledore, but I really haven't read many LBGT fiction.