I just finished reading Doris Egan's Gates of Ivory trilogy. It was very very good with a couple of laugh out loud bits. The heroine is Theodora and she's written as a real three dimensional person. From a gender perspective, I can't really explain what's right about this book, only explain what isn't wrong - there's no stereotypes, there's no lazy cliches, there's no rape threats, there's no traditional gender plotlines or scenarios, it's just real.
From a non gender perspective it's just a rollicking good story. Her (very bad) website is here, where I also found out she wrote 2 Smallville episodes - Hourglass and Hug, from season 1. No wonder I liked the book!