If you have been following me for a while, either through my blog or my Twitter, you may have an inkling as to my overwhelming and whole-hearted love for the author Nalini Singh. One of the most impactful characters she’s ever written would have, in my own opinion, to be Elena Deveraux of the Guildhunter series.
Considering the fact that Fierce Female February was created to emphasise strong women in both literature and film/television, I knew that I wanted to (briefly) explore one of my favourite characters of all time. I know I quoted it in my first post for Fierce Female February, but I just want to reiterate my personal understanding concerning what is a ‘Fierce Female’.
“A fierce female is a multifaceted woman who works to empower herself and empower others. She isn’t afraid to acknowledge her fear, her doubts and her insecurities; but she tries so hard to be brave and courageous. She works hard and is unflinching in the belief of her personal values. Although she may tremble in the face of her fear, she will do so with her head held high, ready to tackle the situation. The Fierce Female is within all of us. She basically slays everyday and takes names” – My definition of a fierce female
Why I wanted to reiterate my understanding of a fierce female, is because I did in fact, think of the character Elena when I wrote this. Though Elena was by one of many strong women in literature I considered when writing my definition, Elena is by far a woman who encapsulates what it means to be a warrior whilst also maintaining her emotionality and personality.
Who Is Elena Deveraux?
Let’s start with some context, shall we? Elena Deveraux is the original central female character in the Guildhunter series by Nalini Singh. We were introduced to her in Angel’s Blood, the first in the series and the one which built the foundation for what is now a thirteen book series, still continued. Elena is a Guildhunter (surprise!) and Guidlhunters are a ‘class’ of society who are still Human, but have a slight enhancement in smell and strength. This is because Guildhunters hunt rogue vampires (and sometimes the random Angel) who try to run away from their Masters before their contract is completed.
Now, this may not make the most sense, but hold on.
In this world, Vampires are made and Angels are birthed. Vampires are created by Angels, and if they’re super special, Archangels. The reason for this is that Angels and Archangels have a toxin within their bodies which accumulate and can consequently cause insanity, or a ‘bloodlust’. Hence, disposing it on Humans who wish to become Vampires. It’s quite a complex system of society – one that is very ruthless, violent, manipulative and downright bloodthirsty.
That’s a very basic and simplistic outline of the Guildhunter world. But I hope you can kind of understand the position that Elena holds. She is a Guildhunter, literally defined by her strength and intelligence in tracking rogue Vampires. But her character is not confined by her strength, and no and behold, she actually has a personality and layers.
Elena as the Warrior Woman
I am constantly annoyed, constantly annoyed when a female character advertised as being ‘strong’ is literally the definition of lame. Physical strength is cool, but being ‘strong’ is so much more than that.
I consider Elena a ‘Warrior Woman’ because that’s what she is.
Elena is not perfect. Actually, Nalini makes sure that the readers are aware of her flaws – she doesn’t like asking for help, she has severe trust issues, she can be arrogant, keep things to herself when something is obviously wrong and she thinks everyone is out to do her wrong. But she is incredibly sweet, loyal, protective, intelligent and just a kick-ass woman who takes no shit. What I loved about Elena, and still do, is that her personality is not abrasive in a bid to emphasise how ‘strong’ she is. The problem with YA, for instance, is that most ‘strong’ female leads have a personality as interesting as a rotten egg or they just constantly complain about having to be strong. Even though I thoroughly enjoy the series, Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas can sometimes have this effect. Caelena is a strong female character, but for someone who is the ‘best’ assassin, she sure is annoyingly lacking in the ability to win fights and/or the intelligence to beat her foes. Again, it was when Rowan came into the picture, where she ‘flourished’.
Elena is already fucking amazing on her own and the fact that she eventually falls in love with an Archangel, who in the beginning was an absolute wanker and Elena handed his ass to him, doesn’t change her.
She’s wholly herself.
What I also adore about Nalini’s representation of strong women is that she does not shy away from exploring the debilitating effects of trauma and most importantly, she doesn’t romanticise it. The fact that Elena falls in love doesn’t magically heal her from her trauma. Raphael, the archangel, is there to support and love her – and that’s it. Elena takes pride in her ability to get up every morning and do the best she can at something she loves doing. If she realises that mayhaps shit is about to get real, she just collects herself, breathes in and jumps the hurdle. She doesn’t aimlessly go running headlong into trouble, because I hate when female protagonists make ridiculous decisions and then get saved by their man, but carefully considers the risks and is extremely deliberate with her actions.
I love the Guildhunter series and throughout the series, Nalini Singh writes other amazing Warrior women who are so wonderfully characterised that they feel so real. I hope you enjoyed this post, I definitely had fun writing it! Make sure to check out the rest of the end-of-month blog posts that will bring Fierce Female Reads February to a close!
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Until next time, happy reading!
All the love,