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I'm trying to remember the title of a fantasy novel I read years ago. I remember reading it in paperback format in the early to mid 90's, so I'm guessing it was written in the 80's or 90's. The protagonist was a female. I believe she had red hair and lived in a castle. I know the climactic scene involved her climbing a tower and facing various magical obstacles before facing off with some kind of wizard type character. I also want to say that fire played some integral part, but I can't remember for sure. Anyone know this book?

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    Uhm...I was about to suggest that the description is applicable to too many possible books, but a thought occurs: did the magic system revolve around knot-work? – dmckee Feb 19 '12 at 18:31
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    - 1, this is far to general to be anything but a guessing game – Lyndon White Sep 1 '13 at 10:23
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Did she kill dragons before facing off with the wizard? If so, could it be The Hero and the Crown, by Robin McKinley? It was published in 1984 and features a red-haired heroine who develops a protection against fire that allows her to kill dragons. Near the end of the book she climbs a magical tower to fight a wizard. There's a summary of the story here.

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This makes me think of the Darkover series by Marion Zimmer Bradley. I just Googled it and one of the novels in the series is called 'Stormqueen!: A Darkover Novel'. The cover has a redhead atop a tower with lightning all around. There was lots of magic in that series, strong female characters, issues about using magical powers, hiding magical powers, escaping from towers, etc. I read the series in the 80's.
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  • Darkover has psi powers, but not magic. No wizards. And Dorilys, pictured on the cover you included, did not climb the tower; she lived in that castle. – Basya Sep 6 '17 at 7:24
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Could it be "Bronwyn’s Bane" by Elizabeth Ann Scarborough? It was published in 1984. The cover shows a red-headed female warrior fighting some kind of serpent with a castle in the background. I did read it, but it was many years ago and I don't remember all the details.

  • A notable thing about "Bronwyn's Bane" was that she was cursed at a young age and unable to tell the truth. – EdwardS Dec 15 '12 at 3:25
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I know this is late, but was it a series? A quartet perhaps? Possibly The Song of the Lioness Quartet by Tamora Pierce? I'm not sure when it was written, but the first book in the quartet (Alanna - the First Adventure) definitely

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