Damsels in Distress--Not!

Trickster's Choice by Tamora Pierce

Her father was the King of Thieves in the capital city of Tortall, now "retired" to lead the Crown's secret service. Her mother is Alanna, the best fighter in the kingdom and the first woman to ever be a knight.

But who is Aly? At sixteen, an age where most girls have chosen their futures, she's not what either of her parents expected. Returning home to Pirates' Swoop after a year at university, her hair has changed from a ruddy blonde to a fetching blue, and she seems to have nary a serious thought in her head. "My work," she swears, "is to have fun."

She certainly led the boys at school a merry chase. Furthermore, the only work she can envision herself doing is spying, like her dear Da. But the new Baron of Pirates' Swoop isn't having any of that nonsense. Though Aly is extremely gifted with all the intelligence skills any spy or thief could want, she is his Aly, and he won't send her into fieldwork to face danger. Someone else can do it but not his darling daughter.

Her mother has come home from the war determined to take her daughter in hand. Lady Alanna does every task with a mighty and dreary thoroughness, so Aly naturally dreads becoming her next project. But, as her father's away on government work, there's no one to stop her from taking a little escape trip to Port Legann, if she's quiet about it.

Of course, her mother will curse the air blue that Aly had dodged out of her plans, but in a few days her father would return. They could bill and coo like turtledoves for a few weeks. Soon enough she'd return. They'd all be in a better mood then. Surely this was a good plan.

For two days she enjoyed her sail and the solitude. Shortly after dawn on her third day out, she rounded Griffin Point and found she had miscalculated. A clutch of pirate ships, their captain not aware that the raiding season had yet to begin, had destroyed the town that lined Griffin Cove. Aly tried to turn her small boat, but the wind was against her. They surrounded her before she could get her ship out of the cove.

By midmorning a mage was stitching a leather slave collar around her neck. It would tighten mercilessly if she tried to escape beyond the range of the person who held its magical key. The captain of the ship that had sunk her beloved Cub watched as the mage finished the collar. "I want her head shaved," he snapped. "Nobody's going to buy a blue-haired slave."

Naturally, she had left a note for her parents, but by the time they became worried, the pirate ship had carried her far over the sea to the tumultuous Copper Isles. Aly will need all of her wits about her for the months ahead as she discovers her capture was not an accident. It was all part of a clever plan by the Trickster God who is determined that Aly will act out the dangerous and astonishing role he has laid out for her.

Daughter of the Wind by Michael Cadmum

Seventeen-year-old Hallgerd is first and foremost the Jarl’s daughter. That doesn’t mean she’s above tending the sheep, weaving, cooking, and doing whatever chores are necessary to help support her village. It’s beautiful where the Norse live, but harshly cold as well. For their luxuries, the men travel by longboat to the southern lands, taking what they want and bringing it back for trade. That’s where they were the night the Danes came for Hallgerd.

Cover to Daughter of the WindHer mother had told her it might happen. Any female might be taken in a raid by men who were hungry for wives, but not just anyone would abduct a highborn girl. Such rapacity had a price, for surely the entire village would come to avenge her.

She had heard the fighting as the village blazed with set fires in the night, and she, too, had taken the sword her mother had handed her.

Sword in hand, ran the Saga of the Warrior Virgins, no man can take me.

The fighting appeared to be dying down, and the villagers worked to put out the flames. In her own bedding place, far from the hearth, and with her family and servants nearby, she seemed safe. Perhaps she had imagined the whispers from the rushes of the roof. She left the sword in the corner of the room as she pulled on clothing, getting ready to help the villagers settle the ashes of the old ale hall and raise the green poles of the new one as the dawn came.

As she folded her blanket of lamb’s wool, she felt the presence before she saw it, the scent of goat leather and the creak of belt and buckle. A strong arm seized her, a hand clapped over her mouth.

She struggled and tried to call out, but she could make no sound.
A man’s voice breathed in her ear, a hoarse whisper with a Danish accent, “Be silent, Hallgerd, or I’ll cut off your nose.”
The point of a blade pressed against her cheek.