As is undoubtedly no surprise to anyone who’s heard of me, I really really love giving recommendations for books featuring asexual characters. As a reader and writer on the asexual spectrum, this is a topic near and dear to my heart. I’ve seen plenty of recommendations lists that are about asexual characters or that include asexual characters that repeat the same books over and over. Indeed, I’ve seen recommendations lists that explicitly stated that the handful of books the writer managed to find was all the asexual fiction out there. Considering it was missing several easy-to-find well-known and traditionally published books by respected authors… I’ll let you draw your own conclusions.
But it is true that, for many readers, books with asexual characters in them are difficult to find. Many aren’t readily available in bookstores even when they’re pretty popular and well-respected. When I was in Cambridge, I saw displays of several books nominated for the Hugo Awards because they were nominated for the Hugo Awards, but Every Heart a Doorway? Couldn’t find a single copy anywhere. Not on display and not on the shelves. They didn’t stock it. And I wish I could say it was just one bookstore, but it was every major chain I visited. Likewise, in libraries you’ll have more luck finding books featuring asexual characters if you already know the titles before you enter. In both cases, you’ll probably have to ask the staff to order a copy specifically, so venturing into bookshops or libraries and hoping to find books featuring asexual characters just isn’t likely to happen.
Especially in combination with the way recommendation lists for books with asexual representation are usually styled, this difficulty to find books if you don’t already know they exist feeds into a negative spiral where recommendations lists repeat the same books over and over with the same note that this is all there is or this is all the writer could find. Yet there is so much more available to readers…
This is a series that aims to present small lists of books featuring asexual characters with some brief personal commentary on the books. Each list consists of 3 books centred around a single, relatively broad theme. While, sadly, I have had to restrict my recommendations lists to 3 books instead of the more usual 5 found in recommendations lists, each list does consist of 3 unique books. There are no repeats of titles in this series of recommendation posts. This series consists of 10 posts for a total of 30 books featuring asexual characters in various roles.
Unless otherwise noted, assume that books mentioned either seem to assume all asexuals are aromantic or that they’ll erase aromanticism altogether.
I hope you’ll find something terrific to read in these lists! Most all categories have more than three books I could put there, but as I mentioned I only had space for a handful of books or stories. If you’d like to see even more of then, check out Claudie Arseneault’s database of aromantic and asexual (speculative) fiction, which features many more books starring asexual characters!
This week’s theme is…
3 Fantasy Books with Asexual Characters
This week, we’re focusing on fantasy books. There are a ton of fantasy books. Okay, no, there aren’t a ton of them, but compared to science fiction… There’s just a bunch of books out there and it was incredibly hard to narrow it down to just three.
But enough waffling. You’re here for the books, so let’s get to it!
Sometimes failure is just the beginning
All Lai has ever wanted is to become a priestess, like her mother and grandmother before her, in service to their beloved goddess. That’s before the unthinkable happens, and Lai fails the trials she has trained for her entire life. She makes the only choice she believes she can: she runs away.
From her isolated desert homeland, Lai rides north to the colder, stranger kingdom of Alanum—a land where magic, and female warriors, are not commonplace. Here, she hears tales about a mountain city of women guardians and steel forgers, worshiping goddesses who sound very similar to Lai’s own. Determined to learn more about these women, these Keepers of the Dawn, Lai travels onward to find their temple. She is determined to make up for her past failure, and will do whatever it takes to join their sacred order.
Falling in love with another initiate was not part of the plan.
Keeper of the Dawn is a tale of new beginnings, second chances, and the endurance of hope.
Keeper of the Dawn is a sweet novella, though it comes with content warnings for sexual pressure on the asexual protagonist, Lai. I really enjoyed reading this, though I desperately wish that the book had been longer and we’d seen far more of Lai’s religious beliefs and religion, her settling into her new home and falling in love as well as of her return to her family and people.
It’s a rainy day when four-year-old Eiryn has to say goodbye to her mother. Scared, confused and unwilling to do so, Eiryn tries to summon water to stop the funeral from happening and her life falls apart. Her uncle is always sad and busy; she keeps hearing her mother’s voice asking her to follow; her best friend keeps getting into fights; and some of her classmates hate her for existing.
Arèn never wanted children, but he’s desperate to protect his niece from his people’s extreme caution regarding magic and other races. Kerisaoina children aren’t capable of using it and his niece is no exception. Despite being only half-kerisaoina, Eiryn is already starting to show that she’ll be one of her generation’s most talented magic-singers and those who don’t approve of her existence are trying to take advantage of a young girl’s grief.
Eiryn is determined to make her uncle happy, but it’s hard to make other people happy when you have to struggle through the day yourself. She’ll find a way, though. She’s promised. And even if her mother won’t keep her word Eiryn will keep hers.
She’ll make everything right again.
This is mine, so I’ll keep this brief: Arèn is aromantic asexual and bless him but he tries so hard to be a good parent. Thankfully, he has a lot of friends who are more adept at raising children than he is and who are more than happy to help. I am thoroughly and utterly biased. It comes with trigger warnings for suicide ideation, depression, racism and bullying.
Queen Shulamit never expected to inherit the throne of the tropical land of Perach so young. At twenty, grief-stricken and fatherless, she’s also coping with being the only lesbian she knows after her sweetheart ran off for an unknown reason. Not to mention, she’s the victim of severe digestive problems that everybody think she’s faking.
When she meets Rivka, an athletic and assertive warrior from the north who wears a mask and pretends to be a man, she finds the source of strength she needs so desperately. Unfortunately for her, Rivka is straight, but that’s okay — Shulamit needs a surrogate big sister just as much as she needs a girlfriend. Especially if the warrior’s willing to take her around the kingdom on the back of her dragon in search of other women who might be open to same-sex romance.
The real world outside the palace is full of adventure, however, and the search for a royal girlfriend quickly turns into a rescue mission when they discover a temple full of women turned to stone by an evil sorcerer.
I adore Rivka. Rivka is one of the first characters I saw myself in and I couldn’t be more happy that Glassman decided to keep writing Rivka as demisexual after readers told her they identified with Rivka over this. 😀 Shulamit is a love too, but she’s definitely allosexual. The Second Mango includes some discussions of demisexuality, though it’s not necessarily very explicitly so. Also this book is just plain fun and comforting.
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