What I like best about these series is the equivalence between the boy and girl heroes, Tom and Elena. They both get cool weapons, they both encourage each other and they both kick arse. Tom is defintiely the main protagonist with more to do and access to the magic talismans of the beasts, but Elena is no damsel in distress.
I watched the film the Princess Bride the other day for the first time in a long time and loved it as always, but was also struck by how the Princess does virtually NOTHING to help herself.
Am glad young girls now have more of a choice in their fictional counterparts. I would have LOVED these when I was little. I was always Ji the jungle boy, or Spiderman, or Han Solo. And although I am always going to pretend to be Han Solo a bit, I would have liked to have had the option of being Elena the master archer and rider and Beast killer.
Though I would have still probably been Tom as then I get to carry off the princess! Be a few years yet before a gay hero or heroine star in these kind of books I should think!