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By Julia Bergen
In a fantasy world, generally the person with the most magic wins in a fight…but not always. The best heroines have more than just magic to defeat their enemies, and maybe don’t even need their magic at all to take you in a fight. Here are just a few of our favorite YA ladies who win any battle without a drop of magic.
Rain from Stormrise by Jillian Boehme
Rain is one of the most talented martial arts practitioners in all of Ylanda. Trained by her father, a Neshu grandmaster, Rain can knock down men twice her size using her speed and expert maneuvers. When she joins the imperial army disguised as her twin brother she’s shorter than any of the other soldiers, but quickly rises to the top with her Neshu expertise and never-give-up attitude.
Isoka from Ship of Smoke and Steel by Django Wexler
Sure, Isoka can use her Well of Magic to fight, but honestly, she doesn’t even need it. She’s from the lower ward of Kahnzoka, a crime-soaked slum where violence is sewn into the very atmosphere, so even when she’s outmatched and outgunned, she’s still the most likely to win in a fight.
Mallow from The Good Luck Girls by Charlotte Nicole Davis
Mallow is an incredible fighter and that’s partially because she has something—or rather, someone—to fight for. Throughout The Good Luck Girls, Mallow’s strength doesn’t draw just from her physical ability, but because she knows that if she loses, her best friends will either be killed, or worse, sent back to the welcome house where they’ll be forced to do horrible things. If you take her on just looking to prove you can, she’ll be the one with the final word.
Safi from Truthwitch by Susan Dennard
As a truthwitch, Safi can tell when someone is lying. This makes her great at playing cards, but not so great at stopping someone from trying to slit her throat. Fortunately, Safi’s uncle hired people to train her to fight. Now, she can use a sword as well as any trained soldier, which comes in handy when trying to avoid the masses of people who want to use her for her power.
Inej from Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
Inej doesn’t have the magic of the powerful Grisha, but she grew up as an acrobat and can jump through anything, climb up anything, stick a knife in anything, and, well, you get the idea. Her ability to sneak around unseen is how she garnered the nickname the Wraith, and her skill with a knife is what makes her The Dregs’ greatest weapon.