avashida: (books - I'd rather be reading)
[personal profile] avashida
I've read a million and one posts all over the net about how there is no to little lgbt fantasy out there. Even if you include the badly written, gratuitous vampire/werewolf urban fantasy porn things-which-can-barely-be-called-novels (which, surprise, I don't), there's almost nothing. I've known this consciously for a while now, but today I got a sudden desire to read some really big, epic story with fleshed-out queer characters, and pretty much everything I looked at was either terrible or out of print.

(I guess this is also partly inspired by the fact that the hubby and I watched FAQs last night. It is not shiny and sparkly like a Hollywood film, but it is powerful and beautiful anyway - maybe more so than it would have been with a bigger budget. I recommend it highly).

Anyway, I am compiling a list of all the good lgbt-centric fantasy books I can find. I'm happy to take suggestions, but two things: one, Lackey's The Last Herald-Mage trilogy is not going up here, and neither is Flewelling's Nightrunner series. I have read both, and I disliked both, for a variety of reasons I won't go into here. So they are not making the cut.

Also, most of these books have gay male characters. If anyone could recc some really good lesbian/bi/trans-featuring stories, I'd love to hear about them!

And so...


This is my one of my favourite books of all time, never mind my favourite lgbt fantasies, and I've mentioned it here a couple of times. This edition - available from smashwords in ebook format - is all three of the books currently published in this series. (The author Diane Duane says there should be a fourth book, but honestly, the third one wraps everything up so well it won't be too much of a blow if she never manages to get it published/finished).

The trilogy/series is a typical high fantasy-ish quest of good vs evil, except not: bisexuality seems to be the norm (all the main characters are bisexual, and Duane has solved the Where Babies Come From issue that a lot of sci/fi & fantasy seems to forget about), sex is something beautiful to be shared and celebrated, gender stereotypes go out the window, dragons lecture on morality, transgendered/intersex fire elementals make wonderful companions and lovers, polyamorous relationships exist and those involved frequently marry each other, and the goddess-based religion practised in this world is fantastic. I was going to love it anyway because it's very reminiscent of the pagan/Wiccan beliefs about the Goddess, but so much thought and care and worldbuilding has gone into this series. It's gorgeous, and exciting, and there are quests and true loves and other worlds and dragons. IT IS WONDERFUL. Go read it!

Tags: bisexual, lesbian, gay, transgender


Jesse Hajicek has not been commercially published, which means that yes, God Eaters is self-published. It's available on amazon and is a little more expensive than your usual paperback; on the other hand, it is also available online for free. Be aware that the paperback version is up to commercially-published editing standards, while the online one has a couple of typos.

Either way, God Eaters is stunning, and was my very favourite until Tale of the Five came along. It's set in a world very like ours somewhere in the 1880s, roughly, in what would be our North America, but some people are born or develop Talents - everything from empathy (like Ashleigh) and wishing people dead (Kieran). Oh, and being gay is illegal. Doesn't stop our boys, though.

Hajicek has other books available online - two others which are complete, Forge of Dawn and Road Home, both of which are hilarious and fantastic - but even though God Eaters has less humour than Forge, GE is my favourite. It's beautiful. Hajicek's descriptions/similes/metaphors are unique and his writing is raw and real, mixing grit with beauty. There's plenty of magic, with a wonderfully huge plot you won't see coming, but for me it's Ash and Kieran who make the novel. Unlike most books, in GE the characters grow and develop, to the point where the two men standing at the end are almost completely different to the ones at the start, and not once does anything feel contrived. It's real. Go read it.

Tags: gay


Jacqueline Carey...Her writing will blow you away. It is lush and evocative and beautiful enough to make you weep; her books are deliciously huge and impossible to put down. I can't imagine anyone hasn't heard of her at this point, but just in case, here's a quick summary.

The protagonist Phedre is bisexual, and she lives in a land where love - in all its forms - is the highest art. In fact, it's holy. The only commandment these people have is 'love as thou wilt', which, as the course of the book and trilogy shows, is not as easy as it sounds. Phedre forms strong, earth-shaking relationships with both a man and a woman, and both relationships play a huge part in this book and its sequels. Raised and trained as a courtesan (and, secretly, a spy), Phedre is dealt a crushing betrayal and has to save her kingdom - and, if she can, herself.

Dart is the first book of the first Kushiel trilogy; the second trilogy, beginning Kushiel's Scion, features other characters, although Phedre is there in the background.

Tags: bisexual, lesbian, gay


Set some centuries after the last of the Kushiel books, but set in the same world, the Naamah trilogy features Moirin, another bisexual woman who is sent away from her homeland on some unnamed destiny by her people's goddess. Where the Kushiel's Dart trilogy dealt with a fantasy version of medieval France, more or less, Kiss travels from Ireland/Britain to France, and then to China. It's another huge book, but doesn't drag at all; the pace is perfect, and all of the relationships develop at a realistic pace (as opposed to the let's-skip-to-the-sex thing so many books try to pull).

Also, Chinese Dragons. Read it just for that!

Tags: bisexual, lesbian


The first YA-ish book on this list, Dark Wife is a lesbian retelling of the Hades/Persephone myth. It's soft and gentle with an emphasis on the slow, tender magic of a childhood fairytale, and frankly it's a lot more true to the myths re depictions of the gods than most Greek-myth-retellings are. (Zeus = evil douche vs Hades about whom there are NO evil rampaging/rape/plague/let's-start-a-war stories at all). It's gorgeous. The writing is just - fairytale-like, I have no other way of describing it. I'm lucky enough to have a signed copy, and it has a cherished place on my bookshelf.

Tags: lesbian


The second YA book. Witch Eyes has earned a place on this list by being a YA book in which the story is not driven by the main character's queerness. Yes, Braden's gay. No, the plot doesn't care, and really the reader doesn't care either: we're much more concerned with the two witch families fueding with each other in a middle-of-nowhere town, and the manipulative, possibly-evil witch father, and the secrets, and the demons, yada yada yada. Yes, there are some hot guys who catch Braden's eye, but there is no Epic Gay Romance here (although the book seems to be leading up to that in the sequel). Oh, he gets a boyfriend, but it's not the driving force of the story, so don't expect it be.

And that's great. It's a fantasy - the story isn't MEANT to focus on the sexuality of its characters! Witches! Secrets! Demons! *Flails!* Chop chop!

Tags: gay


This is a pretty old book, and I had to buy my copy second-hand. It was worth it. Set around the Napoleonic wars (I think?) in France, the story is concerned with the relationship between a French vine-grower (as in, for wine) and a (male) angel who visits him on one night a year. On this list because that relationship eventually becomes sexual, the book is much shorter than most on this list, but that doesn't make it any less special. I'm not sure I'm up to describing this book. On the one hand, it's about a man's life as he grows vines, and eventually makes wine, marries, has children, forms a partnership/relationship with a rich female patron/business partner...But it's also about his relationship with an angel, and how what they discuss leads him to reflect on his life and the world. It's spiritual, but also earthy and raw; lush but at times painful, and I still don't know what to think about the ending. There is a sequel, which is not out of print, but I haven't managed to read it yet.

Tags: bisexual, gay


This is almost more historical fiction than fantasy, but seeing as how it's a retelling of a Greek myth with gods, centaurs, and spirits playing major roles, I think it scrapes through.

You can read - and love - this book without knowing anything about Greek mythology (although the background info helps with the odd 'inside' joke and reference). It. Is. Stunning. Like Dark Wife it focusses on the relationship between the two (Achilles and Patroclus, the latter being the main character and narrator) rather than sex. But don't misunderstand: it is a sexual, romantic relationship, one that, at the end, breaks through all barriers to keep them together.

If you know the myth, you know the outline of the story, and if you don't, I won't spoil it for you. It's the writing that makes this novel, and the writing is just...Apparently it took the author 10 years to write Song, and I could believe that she spent every moment of that decade polishing her book. It is that sweetly beautiful, emotional and descriptive, lyrical and joyful and painful, stunning and powerful. I know I keep using this term, but the characters are real; Achilles is flawed, Patroclus is flawed, and they both know it, but that doesn't detract from their love for each other. More, from the first time you meet you can read/see/feel their relationship developing, first into friendship and then into love - and then into romantic love. It's that development, as well, that makes the book really special.

Absolutely not to be missed.

Tags: gay


This is the second book in Sylvan's Shadow series, and the first book, Queen of Shadows, is one of the best books I have ever read. However, it has no queer main characters.

Or rather, it does, but it's not until this book that we find that out. It's a bit of a spoiler, but really it doesn't spoil plot, so I'll tell you that David is revealed as bisexual. More than that I can't say, so go read the first book and then pick this one up.

Tags: bisexual, gay


Originally I wasn't going to include this book but its sequel, Council of Shadows, since in Council it is revealed that one of the main characters (who features in both books) is bisexual. However, there are two bisexual characters in this book as well (three if we include the one whose sexuality we are told about in book 2). But it's complicated and messy, and also there's some gender-switching at one point in the book.

It's a good book, slightly cliche, very fast-paced. Supernatural creatures called Shadowspawn - the basis of all the demons in human mythology - exist, and sort-of run the world. They have several powers, the main one of which is to manipulate luck (which gets put to lots of interesting uses in both books), and most of them are completely psychopathic/evil.

Adrian is Shadowspawn (and not evil). His ex-girlfriend is kidnapped by his sister, who is also Shadowspawn and evil. Lots of guns, magic, fine wine-and-dining, and bloodshed ensues. (Sigh. That makes it sound a lot worse than it is).

But also lots of not-fun. Shadowspawn view humans as toys and food, and that means that the f/f relationship in the book (the ex girlfriend and the evil sister) is not consensual. (Both women are bisexual, but still). It doesn't get very explicit, and the handling of it is well-done, I think (especially considering the ending), but...Well, obvious problems are obvious problems.

Tags: bisexual, lesbian, BDSM, non-consensual, dub-consensual


I love this book. As well as time-travel and really gorgeous, clever writing, it features a race of hermaphrodite aliens, and a threesome relationship involving one alien and two humans. Do I really need to say more? Really? Well, all right then.

The book is divided into three parts. The first is the time-travel bit, when two of the main characters end up in the past to prevent an assassination (of themselves). It's fantastically done, told from the POV of the mother of one of the time-travellers. She gets to meet the grown-up version of the baby girl she has in her arms! And be very confused by all the cultural references (Dr Who fans will be happy). In this part, we learn of how aliens will come to Earth in the future.

The middle part is told from the POV of one of the aliens, and details the reactions to and from humans and Earth, and the relationship it/he develops with the man and woman we met in the past (and their future). It's a beautiful, beautiful bit of writing, with lots of laugh-out-loud moments and plenty of things to make you think: most of all, it's about love and home, and what those things mean. The author has put a lot of thought into her aliens, and it shows wonderfully. Seeing Earth through Kalp's eyes is just...I don't have the words. He's such a kind, good person, and it's painfully touching.

The last part is concerned with solving the murders that began in the middle part, and I'll say no more on that.

Tryptich makes a good argument for polyamorous relationships, and sends home the message growing more and more popular in fantasy and sci-fi: if you can love someone so different as an alien, you really have no excuse for not loving the people of your own species.

Tags: bisexual, polyamory


Oh gods, how do I describe this book? So many people hate it, but I think it's impossible to hate. Possible to not get, definitely: I had to read it three or four times before I thought I had a handle on everything going on. But you can't hate it.

Vellum (and its sequel Ink) is...sort of about a war between angels and demons, but the angels aren't angels and the demons aren't demons. Or not really. It's about a handful of people replaying the same story over and over in a dozen different realities, all of which are real, all of which are powerful. There's magic powerful enough to destroy worlds, and technology to do the same. There's love - straight and gay - and passion, and a wild fierceness that blows you away. There's Babalonyian myth, and urban legends from Victorian London, and nanocomputers that are also, somehow, the blood of angels; true names and magic names and symbols that are the writing of reality. There is a map of worlds.

It sounds complicated already, doesn't it? But it's crazy because Hal Duncan jumps between the realities and alternate versions of the characters (there's a Phree in every world, but they're all different Phrees - until they're not) at will and often without warning. It's difficult to hold it all in your head, especially because the 'main' story, if there is one, follows these characters trying to break out of the pattern they keep playing over and over. Mad, but gorgeous and fiery and I loved how the relationships between the characters changed in different realities; sometimes these two were brother and sister, sometimes she was his mother, etc.

It's amazing. So is the sequel. And I promise it's worth the mind-meltingness, if you just stick with it.

Tags: gay


First off, this is horror. It slips onto this list because there are vampires and spirits and magic, but primarily it's horror. The main characters (the vampires ones, that is) kill people, and they enjoy it. And Brite has no compunctions about gore and violence, so be warned for that.

That said, I have yet to read a Brite novel that is not painfully beautiful. Painfully because they are, as a whole, vicious and brutal and terrifying, and because Brite uses that beautiful writing to make you sympathise and even love people who are unrepentantly evil. But...well, stunning. Brite's stories are lush and descriptive, emotional and magical, seductive in every sense of the word. And original - the only thing these vampires share with Rice's or Meyer's is that they drink blood. They don't sparkle, they don't flit, and although there are some signs that they might be stronger than normal humans, it's not by Emmett standards.

There are several gay relationships between the main characters; the vampires bring 'decadent to a whole new level, and although the other main one is never actualised beyond a little making out, it's there and powerful.

It's a short-ish, dark, gorgeous little book that, with hesitation, I recommend.

Tags: gay


This is another Brite novel, and only scrapes by the fantasy requirement. I also found it more horrifying than Lost Souls, but the gay relationship that develops is given more of a focus than are the ones in LS, so I wanted to include it here.

No vampires, but one of the main characters goes back as an adult to the house where his father killed his mother and younger brother. The house is haunted, and seriously horrible things ensue, but there are some pretty funny moments as well, and there's a happy ending. It's equally as beautiful as LS; just...don't eat while you're reading the haunting scenes.

Tags: gay


The first in a trilogy (the third book should be published sometime this year, I think), Steel Remains features a gay and lesbian protagonist in a typical medieval-fantasy setting - except that I got the sense it was more of a Middle East setting than the usual quasi-Europe. Anyway: their respective sexualities do not drive the plot, and there is no big romance for either of them. But this isn't a swords-and-sorcery fantasy either. There's no big quest. It's just life - until it isn't, and Ringil especially is caught up in a plot by otherworldly creatures to take over the human world.

How do I express how epic this book is? It is violent and brutal and does not flinch away from pain, gore, and sex. It features queer characters in a violently homophobic society (and I do mean violently homophobic), so already these characters have a certain kind of hard strength - else how would they have survived? The dwenda, the aforementioned otherworldy creatures, are not human, and that is emphasised by some of the horrific things they do. The world Ringil's in is full of backstabbers, thieves, casual murderers, and corrupt men in power; the question of morals isn't something anyone has room to think about.

It...it packs a punch. And then hits you repeatedly. It's not pretty and airy-fairy, it's not beautiful; it's grim and vicious and do-anything-to-survive. Everyone is flawed, everyone is real, and there's no room for love or happy endings.

Woven in the background are the hints of a plot that grows quietly throughout the first two books and will probably culminate in the third...There are the obvious, in-your-face plots that drive each book, but there is something bigger building.

It's real. I really have used that word far too much, but Steel is painfully real. Do not approach with any kind of idealism.

Tags: gay, lesbian


Where Steel Remains destroys your idealism, Sacred Thing tests it to the breaking point. Set in the future, the world as the main characters know it has been split: into the totalitarian, fundamentalist society of the south, which is a near dystopia-type society, and the north, where people of every race, religion and colour have formed a working Utopian society based on magic - real magic - and work. Starhawk is a famous Wiccan writer, and that has obviously influenced the book, but it's not a Wiccan vs Christian story or anything like that.

The story is pretty much that the South has had enough of these demon witches running around up North and plan, and then come, to take over. But it's much more complicated than that. Starhawk has clearly thought a lot about what it would take to create a functioning all-inclusive society. And it does function - she makes sure to show you, to the point where you wonder if maybe we could do that for real. Through the characters, most of whom call themselves witches if not exactly typical Wiccans, have to look at what they and their ancestors have created in this beautiful society and think hard about how to defend themselves - and even if they should. It's the question of whether, in perpetrating violence in defending yourself, are you become what you were defending against - whether idealism can exist in a world where there is violence and hate.

But it's also a story about faith, and hope, and magic, about what it means to be human and what it means to love and trust yourself. It's a story about what we could be. It's on this list because in their Utopia, anyone can and does love and sleep with anyone they like - often several someones at the same time. And I love it because, like the Kushiel series, it is nothing in this setting, it's completely normal. In most books, set in our world, there's a sense of difference, that this is not the norm. Fifth Sacred Thing presents all forms of love as completely normal.

It's just a gorgeous, magical book, m'kay?

Tags: bisexual, gay, polyamory


Tanya Huff's Enchantment Emporium concerns the Gales, a matriarchal family of powerful witches (rules by the formidable Aunties), who live in our world but are aware of at least one other dimension. Our main character is a bisexual woman, although she does end the book in a heterosexual relationship. There is at least one other lesbian character, Charlie, who is the main character of the sequel.

Tags: bisexual, lesbian


If you're a fantasy fan and you haven't heard of Valente yet, you're doing it wrong. Her writing is breathtakingly gorgeous and I have yet to read a book of hers that doesn't include, if not feature, non-hetero characters. Palimpsest is particularly concerned with sex - the story revolves around a fantasy city, which requires an STD of sorts to enter, and no, it won't make sense until you read it - and virtually all of the characters are bisexual, or at least have bisexual encounters.

Tags: bisexual, lesbian, gay, polyamory

The Sappho Fables series is a collection of fairytales retold with a lesbian slant. Does that sound off-putting? I hope not, because Elora Bishop is the penname of Sarah Diemer - the same author that wrote Dark Wife, and if anything, she's become an even better writer since then. Not only are all three of the stories (in this first collection: more will come!) wonderful, inspirational tales for girls who love other girls, but they are genuine retellings. So often fairytales are retold in such a way that there's only the barest hint of anything original: medieval settings, the iconic themes and objects exactly as they were, etc. But these three are gorgeous and unique, with clear ancestry to the stories we all know while managing to be something new, fresh and wonderful. Absaloutely not to be missed!

Tags: lesbian

Another YA book, Eon (and its sequel Eona) made my best-read of 2012 list, and when you read it you'll quickly see why. Eona is a girl who has been living as a boy in a China-inspired world of dragons, politics and magic. Both through Eona herself and the fantastic cast - including a castrated bodyguard and a transgender noblewoman - Goodman manages a wonderful examination of gender and sexuality while spinning a detailed, unputdownable story.

Tags: transgender

Swordspoint (and its two sequels) is a 'fantasy of manners' - meaning that it is set in a world not our own, but does not have outright magic. For that reason I nearly didn't pick this book up, but thankfully I saw sense, because it breaks my heart to think I almost missed this one! The writing is lush and beautiful, the characters wonderfully fleshed out and real, the politics intriguing, and the story itself addictive. Magic makes more of an appearance in Fall of Kings, one of the later books, and the series can technically be read in any order, but I would recommend starting here. The two main characters are men in a sexual relationship, and the world itself has no prejudice against non-hetero relationships.

Tags: gay, bisexual

Featuring a lesbian assassin, Green is a good but very heavy book - there's a great deal of (beautifully detailed) worldbuilding and the 'story' doesn't get started for a good while, although a lot of necessary things happen. If you're the kind of person, like me, who loves a lot of detail this is the perfect book for you! Set in a medieval-esque world where magic and gods are real and present, Green's story traverses from an India-inspired country to...well, I'm not sure quite which country Copper Downs corresponds to in our world, but there's a good bit of travelling and all lands involved are well fleshed-out. Not one of my favourite books but undeniably well-written.

Tags: lesbian, bisexual

The only book on this list to feature (or even include) an asexual character, in a land where gay, lesbian, bisexual and asexual people are all welcomed and respected. This was my first Sherwood Smith book, and I'll definitely be looking for more, because this was fantastic. Like Green, there's a good bit of worldbuilding, but less heavy and more integrated into the narrative; more, I loved the characters and the 'fantasy of manners' feel that reminded me of Swordspoint. A great deal happens, but there's nothing that can be categorised as 'action' until the latter half of the book; just a warning for those who don't feel like slogging through a book whose focus is on people rather than plot.

Tags: asexual

Like Triptych this is probably more sci-fi than fantasy, but it's so good it's making the list anyway. Static is set in our world, if our world had 'shifters' - people who can switch between either gender at will - as well as gays, lesbians, and transgender people. Shifters are pretty clearly a metaphor for everyone that doesn't fit in the cis-hetero box, but the book works without getting preachy: instead it's just a constant tugging at heartstrings and all-too-powerful emotion as the main characters - one a shifter who has just lost his/her ability to shift as a result of shifter-hatred, and the other his/her long-term boyfriend who has just discovered that his girlfriend is sometimes a man - deal with prejudice and their own changing relationship.

Honestly, the thing I loved most about this novel was the central idea that I've had for a long time: gender doesn't really matter, what matters is the person. As a pansexual I really clicked with how the boyfriend came to terms with his lover's shifter-ism and realised that it didn't matter. In fact, I pretty much loved everything about this, even if the frustration I felt towards the hateful, prejudiced 'villains' made me want to scream. But hey, only good books get you that emotional, right?

Tags: transgender, gay, bisexual, pansexual

Elizabeth Bear is like Catheryne Valente: if you don't know who she is, you're doing it wrong as a fantasy fan. The Promethean Age series are my favourite of her books, and feature faeries and wizards at war with each other (a kind of war, anyway). The first duet, beginning in Blood and Iron, are set in the present day; the second two are set in Elizabethean England. I cannot possibly put into words how much I love these books; Bear is joint-queen of the written word and her magic takes the breath away. READ THESE!

Tags: lesbian, gay, bisexual

Roz Kaveney is a trans woman who is also a poet, a political activist, a writer for the Guardian, and has worked with Neil Gaiman, among numerous other amazing feats (seriously, I hope this woman someday writes an autobiography - just the little 'about the author' page in this book made my jaw drop). The book is everything you'd expect and more from such an incredible woman: in fact, I've just finished reading it as I write this, and it's gone straight to the top of my favourites pile. Rituals is the first book in a planed four-book series. I can't speak for the as-yet-unpublished books, but this one concerns, primarily, two women: Mara, an Immortal (DON'T call her a goddess!) who hunts and kills those who use the Rituals of Blood (horrifically evil ceremonies involving the death of thousands) to become gods; and Emma, a young woman in 1980s England. Their stories happen alongside each other, but only touch twice; once, when Mara saves Emma's life, a brief interaction of about five minutes, and the second time...Well, for that you'll have to read it.

But that doesn't tell you anything. Here's this instead: this is a book about queer women kicking ass and taking names. It's about feminism. It's about the reality of heroes. There are chaos magicians in drag. And dragons. There is bitch-slapping of vampires (and elves). There is opera. And polyamory. And Amazons. And myth-retellings that are so perfect and unique and AWESOME it makes me weep. There is Jehovah/Lucifer shenanigans. There is Talking Reasonably as a superpower. And the writing itself! I weep. I weep, it's so perfect.


Tags: lesbian, bisexual, gay, polyamory


This is another of my favourites (and in fact, its two sequels are just as perfect and heart-stopping) simply for its unbelievable originality. This is secondary world fantasy in which the Creature Court - a group of sensual, vicious, magical people who can turn into animals battle the sky every night in order to keep the world from being swallowed up and destroyed. Everything - from the romance(s) to the animals people turn into - defy the expected. Not one single thing in this trilogy goes the way popular culture has programmed us to expect it will - which makes every page utterly delicious. Almost everyone is bisexual, gloriously, unrepentantly so, and the writing is lush and gorgeous. I can't wait for Roberts to write more books; I devoured this trilogy of hers in a week and wish there was more.

Tags: bisexual, lesbian, gay, polyamory


This is not a book I particularly enjoyed. However, that's personal taste, and not any reflection on the book itself. It deserves a spot on this list because it's the only fantasy books I'm aware of that features an intersexed main character. Secondary world fantasy and magical circuses.

Tags: hermaphrodite/intersex, gender themes


Project Unicorn is the combined efforts of Sarah and Jennifer Diemer to write a collection of YA lesbian short stories every month for a year. These stories are in all the 'genre' genres - fantasy, sci-fi, horror, etc - and most of them are available for free on the Muse Rising website. However, in each collection (one published per month) are two extra stories only available when you buy a copy.

Dark Woods is the first of the Project Unicorn collections, and still one of my favourites. Diemer and Diemer have shown up numerous times on this list and I really can't recommend them enough: their writing is beautiful, and I for one support their ideals in flooding the world with more YA lesbian fiction. Plus, each of their stories is a joy to read, so there's definitely that too!

Tags: lesbian


The first in the Astreiant series, Point of Hopes does not actually feature any LGBT action on the behalf of the main characters. That is because they don't actually get together until the novella which is part 2 of the series. However, the Astreiant world is a gorgeously intricate one, quasi-Elizabethan, matriarchal with constant bisexuality, lesbianism, and male-gayness all over the place, beautifully woven into the world and goings on in a way that makes it perfectly natural, without any need to call attention to itself. I envy it simply for the ease of that world-building. Also, the magical system - one heavily reliant on this world's stars and the hour of a person's birth - is wonderfully intristing and unique, which gets it points from me!

Tags: bisexual, lesbian, gay


Like some of the other books on this list, Bone Palace is not the first in its series. I definitely recommend the rest of the series, but this installment in particular introduces a male-to-female transgender character in prominent pride of place, and also, in a lesser capacity, a hermaphrodite who identifies as female. There's lots of ghouls and demons and murders, and a fantasy world I'm particularly fond of.

Tags: transgender, hermaphrodite/intersex


Blink and you'll miss it, because Wells doesn't make a big deal of it at all, but the main character in her Raksura series is bisexual. Since it's also an incredibly well-written secondary world fantasy, I figured that qualifies it for this list. Moon, the main character in question, doesn't know what he is: orphaned away from anyone like him, he's spent his life trying desperately to fit in with the various peoples and creatures he's found on his travels. When someone like him - someone who can shapeshift into a winged creature just like his other-form - shows up, Moon is about to find his life becoming infinitely more complicated.

There's also a lot of heavily matriarchal stuff going on in this series, which makes for interesting power play between Moon and the various female characters.

Tags: bisexual, gender themes

That's all for now. Feel free to suggest books!

Also, the size of the book covers means nothing, I was just too lazy to make them all the same size.
(deleted comment)

Date: 2013-08-01 06:42 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] avashida.livejournal.com
This is a list for published books, not fanfiction, so I am deleting your comment.

Date: 2013-08-01 10:05 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jacecruz.livejournal.com
Then im sorry...

Date: 2013-08-31 03:56 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] winged-kame.livejournal.com
I would like to recommend the 'Nightrunner' series by Lynn Flewelling. The main character is bi, and a romance develops between himself and the other main male character (not explicitly until the 2nd or 3rd book, I believe). It's medieval style fantasy epic type story. Very fun characters.

Oh, also wanted to thank you for this list! There are some I have not heard of and will definitely check out when I get a chance!
Edited Date: 2013-08-31 03:59 pm (UTC)

Date: 2013-09-01 11:10 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] avashida.livejournal.com
You're very welcome for the list! 8D I made it after I spent days searching for a good one, and decided somebody needed to make a good one :P

But - as I said in the notes at the top! - I'm not going to put the Nightrunner series on this list. It's well-written and I love the matriarchal society Flewelling has going, but there's a lot of uncomfortable themes going on in the books - especially white Imperialism - so it's been excluded, along with Lackey's Herald-Mage trilogy.

But if you have any other reccs, feel free to let me know! :D More is always good ^^

Date: 2013-09-01 03:27 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] winged-kame.livejournal.com
Ah, my fault for just skimming the list and not reading the top ^^;;

Nothing else comes to mind atm. But if I think of or encounter anything, I'll be back!

Date: 2015-04-22 12:43 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tilitran.livejournal.com
I'm not sure if I would also consider it to have white supremacy themes but Lynn Flewelling's other series- not sure exactly what the trilogy is called but the first one is The Bone Doll's Twin- is, in my opinion, far superior to Nightrunner. It's a beautifully complex story with our protagonist being a girl, raised as a boy in a boy's body, until the time comes for her to ascend to the throne as queen.

It captures the same matriarchy as Nightrunner but this series is a prequel to Nightrunner, much earlier in the world.

I'd give it a try because I think it captures a lot of important emotions when it comes to sexual orientation and growing up with feelings and whatnot.

Another good one is Trudi Canavan's Black Magician trilogy. Homosexuality isn't a major theme in it but one of the main characters is gay, in a homophobic society and has to hide it. The second trilogy, the name of which also escapes me, focuses more on him and this issue.

That being said, love your list and definitely gonna have to check some of these out!

Date: 2013-10-28 04:14 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] samy3dogs.livejournal.com
Andrew Ashling writes really good epic fantasy with gay main characters. The Invisible Chains is the first trilogy. I stayed up nights reading these three books.

Date: 2013-11-08 07:31 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] avashida.livejournal.com
I have not heard of Invisible Chains, I will check it out! Thanks for the suggestion! :)

Date: 2013-11-07 02:22 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] moshe feder (from livejournal.com)
Wow, what a great list!

I've heard of only a few of these and read even less. It will be hard to catch up given my existing professional readings obligations but I'm grateful to have this and I've shared it on Facebook.

Thanks to Roz Kaveny for bringing thus to my attention via Twitter.

Date: 2013-11-08 07:35 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] avashida.livejournal.com
Thank you very much! ^^

I have to admit, when you said Kaveney had seen this I MAY HAVE KIND OF FREAKED OUT. IN A GOOD WAY. Oh dear GODS. But, um, thank you for sharing! I'm very happy you liked it!

Date: 2013-11-07 06:15 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] apipiyalotl.livejournal.com
Thanks for this list. While I found it interesting that you included Shadowspawn from SM Stirling, I would mention to you that his wonderful black, dyke, coast guard captain, Marion Alston, and her lover "Deer Dancer" Swindapa Kurlelo from the Island in the Sea of Time trilogy are better examples of his ability to tell stories of people who have a sexuality. And people are what they are. He doesn't try to make a balance... his characters just are what they are, very unapologetically.
In the "Emberverse" series, (first book "Dies the Fire,") he develops the character Colleen Rutherford; (she starts in the second book, "The Protector's War"), renamed to Tiphaine d'Ath as one of his gay characters. She is a very long running character along with her longtime lover Delia. Other minor characters here and there are gay and eventually we learn that Delia is married and she and her husband call each other, "My Beard." SM Stirling developed the husband, Rigobert de Stafford, Lord Forest Grove much later, since he simply wasn't around the action in earlier books... but once he did, what a character!
And the other characters vary widely in their acceptance and understanding of homosexuality, adding in the believable reality of being part of the "2 in 20."
Not all of SM Stirling's books have gay characters, but those that do are characters, not caricatures shoved in to make a point.
Edited Date: 2013-11-07 06:18 pm (UTC)

Date: 2013-11-08 07:30 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] avashida.livejournal.com
Thank you for pointing these out! I haven't read any other Stirling books, actually, so I had no idea about any of these. I'll have to look them up!

Date: 2013-11-07 11:50 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] catherine m. wilson (from livejournal.com)
I'd like to suggest my trilogy, When Women Were Warriors, as an addition to your list. It isn't strictly fantasy--no trolls or elves, no magic spells other than what the people of the time would have believed in--but it contains many of the elements that fantasy readers enjoy. It's a hero's journey with a female protagonist, set in the British Isles during the Bronze Age. The Historical Novel Society gave it a good review:

Book I (the whole book) is permanently free on Amazon, B&N, Smashwords, and from the author's website:

Date: 2013-11-08 07:40 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] avashida.livejournal.com
That sounds like a fantastic book, I will check it out at once! Thank you!

Date: 2013-11-08 03:02 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sandial.livejournal.com
Following up my my earlier comment under my actual name (Moshe Feder), I have a question for you.

When I linked to your list on Facebook, Elizabeth Lynn wondered why you hadn't included her Watchtower, The Dancers of Arun, and The Northern Girl.

I'll be happy to pass on your answer or, if you're on FB, you can visit my page at www.facebook.com/feder and tell her yourself. I suspect you'll also find the comments there of interest.

Thanks again for doing the work and building this list.

Date: 2013-11-08 07:37 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] avashida.livejournal.com
Very simple answer to that: I just haven't read them yet! Because of how many lgbt books handle things terribly, I don't like to put books on this list until I've read them myself. But you can tell her that I will put Watchtower at the top of my to-read list, so it will probably show up on the list soon :)

As for Facebook - I technically have an account, but I dislike using it for a few reasons. Anyone's welcome to talk to me over here, if they like, though!
Edited Date: 2013-11-08 09:12 am (UTC)

Date: 2013-11-08 03:37 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] 1000-cat-dream.livejournal.com
Karen Lord's The Best of All Possible Worlds features a range of relationship norms. One supporting character self-identifies as agender. Both the author and the female protagonist do quite well at not assigning the character a gender, while one of the other supporting characters has a hard time with this. (Edit: I guess this is more sci-fi than fantasy, though I would class it as sci-fi in the Ursula LeGuin fashion: more interested in exploring what humans might become than in the technological, scientific, hard science end of things.)

Karen Healey's Guardian of the Dead is a YA modern fantasy loosely in the vein of War for the Oaks, but set in New Zealand and using aboriginal mythology. The main character's best friend self-identifies and is openly asexual. It's sort of made into a plot point, but not terribly well executed.
Edited Date: 2013-11-08 03:48 am (UTC)

Date: 2013-11-08 07:38 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] avashida.livejournal.com
Thank you for the suggestions! I will check both of those out at once!

Date: 2013-11-08 04:58 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] debg.livejournal.com
Editor and publisher for Roz Kaveney's quartet here, and I thank you for totally getting it!

The second book of the quartet, Reflections, is hitting the street even as we speak:


Date: 2013-11-08 07:39 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] avashida.livejournal.com
AH WHAT I AM FLAILING SO HARD RIGHT NOW. I still can't believe Kaveney saw my list! Eek! Thank you so much for liking the list :D

I know! I have pre-ordered it already. WHY IS THE 15th SO FAR AWAY?

Date: 2013-11-08 09:07 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] frostfox.livejournal.com
I'll tell [livejournal.com profile] dduane she's on here too, its a good list, thank you very much, there are several there I haven't read.


Date: 2013-11-08 12:44 pm (UTC)
ext_87310: (Type)
From: [identity profile] mmerriam.livejournal.com
Catherine Lundoff's "Silver Moon" would be a fine addition to this list. http://www.amazon.com/Silver-Moon-Women-Wolfs-Point/dp/1590213793

Date: 2014-03-04 06:37 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lola in slacks (from livejournal.com)
Hi there,

I just wanted to thank you for compiling such a thorough list for such a niche genre. I am having my first book published, which is high fantasy with broad-minded sexuality, to put it in fancy terminology. It's difficult to find similar works, but this list helped greatly. Take care, and maybe you'll enjoy reading my debut novel one day :)


Date: 2015-04-20 03:08 pm (UTC)
ext_4792: (Parthenon Saraphina by tattermuffin)
From: [identity profile] saraphina-marie.livejournal.com
WONDERFUL list! Here via Jacqueline Carey.

I'd love to see Sarah Monette's Melusine and following books added to the list: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/492069.Melusine

And, although it is usually bad form to toot one's own horn, I offer my novella trilogy starring a lesbian pairing, The Blood of Angels series: https://www.goodreads.com/series/88554-the-blood-of-angels-series

Date: 2015-04-20 05:00 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] avashida.livejournal.com

Oh my gods, I can't believe I forgot Melusine! It's one of my favourite books! I will try and update this list this weekend, there's a lot of new books that have to go on it now!

I will go and check out your novellas at once! :D

Date: 2015-04-20 06:03 pm (UTC)
ext_4792: (Kaylee by wickedsybbie)
From: [identity profile] saraphina-marie.livejournal.com
Yup! :D

FYI, the first book of that trilogy is free right now as an ebook here: http://weightlessbooks.com/genre/fiction/the-convent-of-the-pure/?ap_id=apexbookcompany
and here: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/convent-of-the-pure-sara-m-harvey/1102409263?ean=2940000840627&itm=1&usri=the+convent+of+the+pure
and 99 cents here: http://www.amazon.com/Convent-Pure-Sara-M-Harvey-ebook/dp/B0024NLC0I/ref=sr_1_4?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1429552557&sr=1-4

And then there's Lightspeed Magazine's "Queers Destroy..." they have Science Fiction right now...they are currently reading submissions for horror and they will be reading submissions for fantasy in May. So coming soon! Specifically LGBTQ short fiction anthologies! Kickstarter with all the info (and external links) here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/lightspeedmagazine/queers-destroy-science-fiction

Date: 2015-04-21 05:39 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] avashida.livejournal.com
Oh my gods - can you faint a little bit? Because I think I fainted a little bit!

Thank you for all the links and reccs! I will pounce on them!

Date: 2015-04-20 06:57 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] wingbeaten.livejournal.com
Indeed, Jaqueline Carey shared this on Facebook, and I am glad she did! I now have several books on this list on my shopping list. Thanks for taking the time to write up something like this! (I too am tired of the porny fare that I usually stumble upon)

I noticed you have one Tanya Huff series up there - Have you checked out the Smoke Trilogy that she also wrote? The first book is Smoke and Shadows. It features Tony, a young street kid trying to work into his dream career in directing. And then magical stuff happens. Lots of magical stuff.

And he just happens to be gay. It's another book where the plot doesn't care what his sexuality is, and it mostly comes up in his personal relationships, friendly ribbing, and general sarcasm. Though, it does get a little romantic stuff towards the end of the trilogy, but that is just icing on the character development cake. I would recommend checking it out.

Technically Tony makes his first appearances in Tanya Huff's Blood vampire detective series, but one doesn't need to be familiar with that series to get into the Smoke trilogy.

Date: 2015-04-21 05:50 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] avashida.livejournal.com
I am still kind of speechless that Carey shared this! But you're very welcome, I'm glad so many people are enjoying it! Although I have to update it - I wrote this years ago (ignore the timestamp!) and there's a lot of books that need to go on it.

I have not yet read many Tanya Huff books D: I just got through the Valour series and I'm moving back into her fantasy stuff now :)

Date: 2015-04-20 08:56 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kricket639.livejournal.com
Yes indeed the awesome Jacqueline Carey shared your article. :-) As I utilize my local library search feature to find some of these books, and while I'm able to request 5 of the books, I am bummed that several of the ones I really want to read are not there. I will need to check prices to see if I can purchase them. Oh, and may I recommend J.R. Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood series? While not all of her books feature main gay characters, there are two secondary characters whose story was built and built in each book. Thankfully she listened to those fans who BEGGED *waves hand* to give them their own book and oh did she give it to us! Its so fulfilling and beautiful, and well... vampires, yum. :-)
Edited Date: 2015-04-20 08:56 pm (UTC)

Date: 2015-04-21 05:56 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] avashida.livejournal.com
I am still in delighted shock :D

I have actually read most of the Brotherhood series, in the hopes of getting to the one featuring the two guys, but I didn't make it. I really didn't like the books, I'm afraid. Sorry :/

Date: 2015-04-20 10:18 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] arwensouth.livejournal.com
More magical realism than fantasy, but for a YA book that handles trans issues well, I'd recommend If We Shadows, by D. E. Atwood. http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=4784

Date: 2015-04-21 05:59 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] avashida.livejournal.com
I have read it! I bought it, actually, because trans* featuring books need the support... I really didn't like it, though. It would have worked better without the fantasy element, probably; that part of it was kind of under-utilized...

Another via Jacqueline Carey

Date: 2015-04-21 07:16 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sarrowynne.livejournal.com
Howdy! I came over from Jacqueline Cary's FB post too, but I got excited because I am also a huge fan of the Diane Duane series that sits at the top of your list. I have been fascinated by the lhhw'i'ae for decades. :D

Here are some suggestions for you!

Gael Baudino - a totally underrated author. Her Dragonsword Trilogy (Dragonsword, Duel of Dragons, Dragon Death) is a favorite of mine. The second book of the series delves into the "strong women" character types and deconstructs them. Then there's Gossamer Axe, where the main character devotes centuries trying to save her lesbian lover from the faery realm. Don't be fooled by the premise, it's amazing. My favorite series by her is actually Elthia's Children (Strands of Starlight, Mazes of Moonlight, Shrouds of Shadow, Strands of Sunlight, Spires of Spirit), but the LGBT characters only show up in books two and four, and their sexuality is a very small side note in the larger story.

Tanya Huff - If you like her other work, try The Fire's Stone. The prince is bisexual and it's a lovely stand alone that I reread every couple three years.

Melissa Scott - Shadow Man. This is more SciFi, but this book is a fantastic look beyond the binary.

RE: Another via Jacqueline Carey

Date: 2015-04-21 06:01 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] avashida.livejournal.com
Ah, finally someone who's read that series! I don't know anyone in real life who has read them, alas. Even though I keep pushing the books on people. Sigh.

I have actually started the Elthia's Children series! I'm working my way slowly through Strands of Starlight. Took me years to track down copies but I got them at last!

Fire's Stone and Shadow Man are both on my tbr list. It's...a very long list, I'm afraid!

RE: Another via Jacqueline Carey

Date: 2015-04-22 06:34 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sarrowynne.livejournal.com
Ahh! Another Baudino reader! She's so underrated. All of her stuff is great. Try to read the Books of Water when you can too. I've read the trilogy three times, and each time it becomes sharper and clearer and so much more amazing.

I'm interested to see what you think of Elthia. Enjoy your ride.

Date: 2015-04-21 05:10 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lothvamp.livejournal.com
Ack, I think my comment got eaten...

So, let's try this again. How about Storm Constantine's Wraeththu?

I'm not really sure if it's so much fantasy as fantastical sci-fi, or dystopian. In any case, it is sensual, spiritual... magical. Sometimes dark, but always beautiful. The idea is that the human race is evolving, or has evolved, into a hermaphroditic species. It follows the lives and relationships, the upheavals, both personal and political, of many such. Their dynamic interactions, how the some of them (the first generation) deal with having once been one gender and have to come to terms with now being two. Or perhaps something altogether different than either. They have their own brand of magic, divinity, sexuality. Really, I don't know that any way I can describe it can do the series justice. It's just phenomenal in my opinion.

I'm yet another here via Jacqueline Carey, and the Kushiel and Wraeththu series are among my favorite sets of books I've ever read. They both will always be among my to re-reads. So beautifully written. The worlds fully realised, with amazing characters and stories. Can't recommend either of them enough.

Date: 2015-04-21 06:02 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] avashida.livejournal.com
I am very sorry if the bots ate your comment - they seem to have marked several comments as spam, for some reason. I'm trying to convince them that no, these are not spam, but I may have missed a few. Sorry!

I have read the Wraeththu books, actually - at least, the main two trilogies. And while I adored the concept, they really didn't work for me. Although I will be putting them on this list when I update it this weekend, because they do deserve to be on here.

Date: 2015-04-21 10:19 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] wingbeaten.livejournal.com
Hah, well if you do update it, I can post it to Carey and she may share it again! She likes sharing user content on Facebook.

Tanya Huff

Date: 2016-05-10 01:24 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aveng (from livejournal.com)
Charlie in Enchantment Emporium is not a lesbian. She is bi, i guess, but anyways settles with a guy in the third book. So, it would be great if you could update this list, even if it is a few years late. I bought the second book because I liked the first, but also because I saw her marked as lesbian here. And didn't like it either way.


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