1. So, first step would be to read a lot of book consciously written in the mold of Sword & Sorcery with female protagonists. The most famous would be C. J. Cherryh’s Morgain books starting with “Gate of Ivrel”. These stories are how she gained admission to Lin Carter’s old Swordsmen and Sorcerers’ Guild of America (SAGA). Tanith Lee’s early novels in the Birthgrave series also qualify as a female protagonist variant on major S&S tropes.

    However, the best examples to answer this question in my mind are Jennifer Roberson’s Sword Dancer books. The POV character is a “sexist” S&S type lead paired with a female sword dancer through a variety of adventures over six novels.

    Another pairing, although of a male swordsman and female priestess, are the “Redgar and Natali” stories by Willard Black in Savage Realms Monthly. While the first concerns Redgar’s rescue of Natali, they remain companions once he learns he was hired to rescue her from sacrifice so she could enslaved for her knowledge.

    In fact, all the issues of Savage Realms have modern S&S tales where women are more than sex objects or evil sorceress, although both tropes appear. Unlike the books mentioned above, Savage Realms Month features short S&S stories in keeping with the roots of the genre.

    Another good source is nearly all of David Gemmell’s novels. Druss, his first major S&S, appears in “Legend” (originally “Against the Horde” in the US) and covers a S&S axe legend who comes out for one last fight. It is similar to Clint Eastwood’s “Unforgiven”, although more heroic. Druss’s stories are part of his Dreani series although some are more S&S oriented than others. His Ringate novels, especially “Sword in the Storm” are strong S&S.

    Moving beyond S&S, I’d recommend classic Sword & Planet such as Burrough’s Mars and Venus (Barsoom and Amptor respectively) books, The Dray Prescott books (all 52) by Akers, and the Green Star and Calisto series by Lin Carter. While rescuing princesses is stock trade of these books, those princesses are rarely helpless and are usually heroes in their own right, especially in the Dray Prescott books.

    However, if looking to Sword & Planet avoid John Norman at all costs if non-sexist variations on these tropes is your goal.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *