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Kick-Ass Women of “Game of Thrones”

Brimming with sex, violence, political intrigue and shocking deaths, HBO’s Game of Thrones—based on the bestselling George R.R. Martin books—is one undeniably kickass series. And (bless his heart) it’s often the women who are the baddest of the bunch. Here are 10 of our favorite kick-ass women on television.

1. Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke)
What can one say, really, about the rightful heir to the throne who, in exile, marries a barbarian warlord, eats a bloody horse heart (while pregnant!), earns the devotion of her people, bathes in fire, frees cities of slaves while slaying their masters—and is the mother to three supposedly extinct dragons? That’s one kickass woman.

2. Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie)
Towering over many men—in skill as well as stature—Brienne is a knight in every way except the one that she just can’t change: her gender. No one in the Game of Thrones world expects a woman to be so tough, so adept, so brave, and she uses that fact to whup ‘em again and again.

3. Ygritte (Rose Leslie)
Who says a woman warrior can’t do everything a man can? Certainly not the Free Folk—especially when that woman is “kissed by fire,” as Ygritte was. Although she meets her demise at the end of Olly’s arrow, she was a fierce archer and spearwife, she did as she pleased (and whom she pleased), even seducing the supposedly celibate Jon Snow.

4. Arya Stark (Maisie Williams)

Always more like her brothers than her sister, Arya has no trouble surviving on the streets and passing herself off as a boy after her father’s execution. Her grit and scrappy toughness keep her alive, despite her insistence on challenging men three times her size, and she commands assassinations with coldhearted ease.

5. Margaery Tyrell (Natalie Dormer)
The other side of the Tyrell coin, of course, is the slinky, sexy, shrewd Margaery, who is determined to become queen. Sound familiar? Cersei, the Queen Regent, despises her precisely because she is terrified of the threat Margaery poses to her own power.

6. Olenna Tyrell (Diana Rigg)
While so many Westerosi women count sexiness among their arsenal, the widow Tyrell has one monster tool that always gets the job done: her wit. Wise and beyond caring what anyone might think of her, she uses her acid tongue and manipulation of political forces to land her family on top.

7. Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey)
Equal parts merciless and shameless, Cersei makes no apologies to anyone—not even her all-powerful father—for who or what she is. Namely an incestuous, conniving, brutal woman who is determined to be the real power behind the throne, whoever’s sitting on it.

8. Osha (Natalia Tena)
Wild as, well, a wildling, Osha is like a chameleon, adapting to changing circumstances while remaining indelibly herself. She’s not above begging for mercy, seducing her way into a lord’s good graces, scrounging for whatever scraps will keep her alive—or slitting a man’s throat. Great to have her on your side; and watch out if she’s not.

9. Catelyn Stark (Michelle Fairley)
With no regard for the consequences, Catelyn freed Jaime Lannister, the most valuable political prisoner her son Robb possessed, with hopes of having her daughters released unharmed. It was a crazy risk, one that altered countless lives and perhaps lost her son the war. Sadly, the strong, auburn-haired Stark lost her life at the Red Wedding—will we ever recover from that party?

10. Melisandre of Asshai (Carice van Houten)
Lovely and terrifying, Red Priestess Melisandre will stop at nothing to make the man she believes to be the chosen one—Stannis Baratheon—king of Westeros. She has no qualms with seduction, bloodletting, fratricide by proxy or birthing a monstrous shadow thing to get her way. Plus it’s awfully hard to kill her (multiple men have tried).

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