The whole point of fantasy is to break barriers, and one of the most enduring archetypes that does just that is the barbarian princess, who can swing a sword and cleave a skull just like her male counterparts. Come with us as we measure the top lady berserker in history, using a complex set of rating mechanisms that no ordinary broadsword could handle.
Let’s start off with the beautiful Axa. The 1970s were undoubtedly the prime time for barbarian action, and over in 1978, the England Daily Sun readers were introduced to Axa’s adventures, written by Donne Avenell and drawn by the singular-named Romero. One of many futuristic barbarians, the titular Axa got bored with barren life inside a domed city and made her way into the desert beyond where she put on a fur bikini and got into scrapes of all sorts. Axa’s pretty low on the list because she’s been focused more on sex appeal than combat skills, though she’s had a relatively long run, even starring in a 2011 mobile phone game.
Up next is Jirel. One of the first woman guerrillas to entered the pulp pages, C.L. Moore, described Jirel of Joiry as “as fine as most men and as wild as the wildest of them.” Ancient France’s warrior queen stared in a pile of stories in the 1930s, penned by Moore (one of the first female science-fantasy writers to work under a gender-neutral pen name for that very reason). The protagonist on mystical journeys was taken into dark magical worlds where love and empathy claimed victory just as often as bloodlust and sword earned. Jirel laid the foundation for the arrival of barbarian queens and deserves her place. Also, read about barbarian names: https://twiftnews.com/lifestyle/top-11-barbarian-names/
Of course, this list wouldn’t be full without Xena. A story as old as time is the debate about whether Xena, Warrior Princess, counts as a true Barbarian. Now let’s settle for it: she is. Okay? Now on to why she deserves the second to the top spot on the list. Xena represents so much of the inhuman values. She’s nomadic, with sword or chakram relentless, and lives by a moral code forged in the fires of a sadistic past. Her exploits made her one of the most recognizable barbarians in the history of pop culture and she influenced a whole generation of ass-kicking women across all genres.
And last but not least, Red Sonja. She is hardly a footnote in Conan history as created by Robert E. Howard, but thanks to Roy Thomas at Marvel’s efforts she has become arguably the greatest female barbarian of all time. The crimson-haired swordswoman was lovingly brought to life by Frank Thorne’s pen and has since enjoyed a storied career in writing, most recently in a successful series written by Gail Simone. Sonja also laid the groundwork for so much of what we claim to be a female barbarian, and we don’t see her falling off the top of this list anytime soon.
We hope you liked the list. If you want to read more interesting things about barbarians stay tuned.