Basically, Tamora Pierce is a badass lady who writes books about other badass ladies (with dudes around, yes, but she understands that most books don't show the girl grabbing a sword and slaying the monsters and being ready to give up her life because it's her DUTY, not out of some selfless magic courage or whatever, but because she's sworn an oath to protect her country and intends to fulfill it...and by the way, if it's not obvious already, Pottermore told me I'm a Gryffindor, so go ahead and ignore any rambling about how badass all these characters are...)
Pierce has three quartets, one duet, and one trilogy out for her Tortall series. The Song of the Lioness quartet is first, about Alanna of Trebond, a girl whose goal is to be the first knight in a century. The second quartet, The Immortals, is a while after that, and features Veralidaine Sarrasri, from the country of Galla, one of Tortall's neighbors, whose mother and grandfather just died, who is hiding some pretty amazing magic. And then we get to my favorite quartet, which I'm re-reading right now, actually: Protector of the Small. This is something like maybe elevenish years after the first quartet? It's the first girl in a few centuries to OPENLY go for her knighthood. IE no disguises like Alanna, she's a girl and she wears dresses to dinner, because the boys surly about a girl fighting alongside them just have to deal with it. Keladry of Mindelan is absolutely spectacular, and I also really love that while the books build towards the final book, the real thread of the plot (and you know, that whole "main villain" stuff) isn't introduced until the very end of the third book. It's such wonderful reading, and I'd love to be Kel, bratty griffin and angry men with their panties in a bunch because omg girls with weapons regardless. The one after that is the duet, alternately called Trickster's Duet or The Daughter of the Lioness (considering it's about Aly stepping out from her mom's shadow...I prefer the former). Her mom is Alanna, yes, and well, she kind of winds up in slavery and befriending a god and things only get more interesting from there. She's very different from the other women Pierce has written, being much more behind-the-scenes of things, and it's a very interesting read. The final set, thus far, the trilogy called Provost's Dog, takes place a cool three-hundred years pre-Alanna, when women were still normally fighting and stuff. It's about a policewoman (a Dog, as they're called at the time) and her adventures in service to the Crown. It's a change - first-person journal writing, the books are separate plots from one another, and well, there's also an old friend or three from Alanna's series that are there (you'll see, should you read them).
And now I will shut up, but if you're looking for some fantasy to read...I totally suggest these. Because I'm 100% biased to love them, yes, shut up, but also because they're fantastically written with wonderfully human heroines and amazingly interesting characters, who are fully human no matter how small they are. Seriously.
(Also if people are interested I might just do some rambling over the next few weeks showcasing all my favorite authors...spoil myself as I'm going nuts over being free to read again, yanno!)