I recently got an email from a reader, asking for sci-fi/fantasy recommendations for books with main characters like Arya Stark. Prominent female characters who aren't just badass swordswomen or magicians, but complex characters with limitations, a darkish personality, and a thirst for revenge, without being inherently evil. I wish I could help. I've been wracking my brain for days, trying to think of books that fit the bill, and I haven't been able to come up with anything. I have a few suggestions, but nothing that really fits. And this makes me sad, because a badass, damaged female protagonist on a vengeance kick sounds great.
My best suggestion is Graceling by Kristin Cashore, as a novel about a girl who believes she's pre-destined to be a detestable killing machine, and struggles against this identity, and against the people who have used her for her whole life.
Another idea is The Magician's Guild by Trudi Canavan, which tells the story of a slum-dweller who despises the magicians and everything they stand for, and then finds out that she should be one of them. Gregory Maguire's retellings from the villain's point of view, particularly Wicked, might also be worth checking out.
Does anyone else have any recs? Any books with characters like this that they've enjoyed? Please comment and share!