I’ve never considered myself a fantasy or sci-fi nerd, but I have a thing for good book series… The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, and even some dystopian YA fare like The Hunger Games and Divergent. But with the exception of the latest wave of YA trilogies featuring strong female leads, the vast majority of fantasy books seem to treat women as add-on characters not part of the main cast, or simply romantic or sexual objects. Boo. I mean, remember how they had to beef up the parts for Arwen and Eowyn in the LoTR movies just to make it not seem so obvious?
While the GoT books and HBO series are both violent and highly sexualized, there is no shortage of strong female characters. In fact, though leadership in the Seven Kingdoms remains patriarchal, the women are more than pawns. And that is something that I thoroughly enjoy about it. I’m a military woman veteran after all!
Here are my personal Top 5 Women of GoT thus far… and it actually might surprise you.
SPOILER ALERT: If you have not watched the most recent episodes of GoT on HBO, please do not read on unless you’re willing to face some spoilers!
5. Daenerys Targaryen.
What, Daenerys is #5? Yes. While I was enamored with this Mother of Dragons in the beginning along with everyone else, her rise to relative power has also brought with it an arrogance that is not productive. I love that she now wields dragons, an army of Unsullied, and even a handsome boy toy, Daario. She’s the only woman currently gunning for a rightful place on the Iron Throne, so I feel the need to cheer her on. I just hope she gets wiser as she gets older, because she’s entirely too nice on some subjects and too prideful on others. Still, she’s stunning, her wardrobe is warrior fierce, and she is slowly growing into a force to be reckoned with.
Oh, if I had a nickel for every time she says, “You know nothing, Jon Snow.” But let’s back up, because she’s kind of right. This spearwife (that’s what they call these awesome Free Folk women!) is not only a kickass survivalist and beautiful ginger, but she scales the Wall just like the men. You know that when Jon Snow betrays her, she could have put that arrow through his heart or his head. Instead, in her anguish, she aims to hurt but not to kill. I think it was that moment where I truly fell for her.
3. Lady Olenna Tyrell.
Margaery, while beautiful and played by Natalie Dormer (love!), is just a pawn. The Tyrell power comes from the sassy old dame, Lady Olenna, not her son. Her sharp wit is hilarious and bold. I love how she works behind the scenes to make things happen, because nobody suspects an old lady after all. She’s a formidable foe for even Tywin Lannister. I liken her to be the Dowager Countess (Downton Abbey reference) of the Game of Thrones. No one is bold enough to take her out of the game, but they all realize she’s not the weakling her body makes her appear to be.
2. Arya Stark.
Oh, how can I not have Arya towards the top of my list? From the start, she is a tomboy and firecracker, a girl after her father’s heart. I love how Ned secretly provides her sword lessons under the guise of a dancing class, to allow her to practice with her blade, Needle. (Also, don’t you love how Jon Snow gave her the sword as a parting gift?) Arya is angry. She has seen so much and has every right to be. I want her to seek her revenge, but also hold tight to the hope that she reunites with SOMEONE in her family. After all, won’t you just bawl your eyes out if she sees Jon or even Catelyn again? Arya has a long journey ahead of her (as does Nymeria, her badass wolf building an army of her own) but I can’t stop cheering for her above the rest.
1. Cersei Lannister.
I know, this one may surprise people, because besides her son Joffrey she is one of the most hated characters in the series. But I hold her in this high esteem because of one undeniable fact: if she were a man, she would rule the Iron Throne hands down. Think about it. She does not have the weaknesses of her brother. She is smart, cunning, and above all a survivor. Cersei’s one soft spot is her children, and we have seen the lengths she will go to protect and love them, no matter how awful Joffrey may be. She is a lioness in every regard, and while I dislike her in general, she is probably my favorite woman on the show, no matter how unpopular the opinion is!
Numerous Honorable Mentions: Yara Greyjoy (Asha in the books) for being a badass ship’s captain and more brave than her loser brother ever could be; Catelyn Stark for her dedication to family and attempt at advising her ignorant son, Robb, but minus points for her treatment of Jon Snow; Osha the wildling for her dedication to the youngest Stark boys; and Brienne of Tarth for being herself. And I can’t stand the priestess/witch Melisandre, but I guess I ought to mention her too, as she rules over Stannis like whoa.