Fantasy and science fiction, the latest generation:
Women authors who give us strong female lead characters as healers, warriors, shamans, priestesses, queens, dragonriders, explorers, bards, sorceresses and shapechangers; who focus on the powers of magic and of the mind rather than on technology and force; and who give us a depth of character development, personal growth, and thoughtfulness new to the genre.
One of the leaders of this group is of course Marion Zimmer Bradley, who wrote The Mists of Avalon. I would like to recommend other books by her, and by other authors as well. This is an exciting adventure of other worlds and alternate realities, where women are recognized as powerful and gifted, strong and compassionate, magical and sacred. I hope you enjoy the journey!
Marion Zimmer Bradley
As The Mists of Avalon was the story of Camelot focusing on the women of the legend, The Firebrand is the story of the Trojan War told through the eyes of Helen, Penthesilea queen of the Amazons, and especially Kassandra, a priestess of the goddess.
a priestess grandmother, a reigning queen mother, and a warrior princess daughter who must protect their city from invaders.
There is a whole series of books that take place on a planet called Darkover, and I am giving this one its own page here.
Marion Zimmer Bradley has also edited a series of books called Sword and Sorceress that contain short stories by various writers, with women as the lead characters.
Many of her books take place in a world called Valdemar, where the Heralds have various powers of the mind and are telepathically bonded with "Companions", who look like horses but are actually much more. I would recommend starting out with Arrows of the Queen, and if you enjoy her world here is a list of the books by series.
Princess Annice has the Bard's Gift, and can call the elemental spirits -- earth, water, fire and air -- from the four quarters. Her story is told in four volumes:
This series is co-written with Raymond Feist, taking place in his Riftwar world. But you do not need to have read his books to appreciate this story of Mara, a Ruling Lady of Acoma, who takes over when her family is murdered, and must win at both war and political intrigue through her wits and strength of will.