The books that inspired me as a teenager and still do to this day are the Chronicles of Morgaine by CJ Cherryh.
Morgaine is a strong female character, that is incredibly forceful and determined. She felt more like Wuthering Heights Heathcliff—which was very unique to me since she is female. Her bondsman is Nhi Vanye who travels with her, even though he is sometimes shocked and horrified by her methods. It was the first time I had ever seen this role reversal in the fantasy genre in such an extreme way. Morgaine is powerful, but really tormented. It was also the most wonderfully written book; full of amazingly deep characterizations. This was no black and white fantasy, but a panorama of grays and shadows. The constant dance between Morgaine and Nhi Vanye kept me captivated and I remember staying up way past my bedtime to finish the series.
Cherryh's writing is spare, yet compelling and beautiful. It's been many years since I read this book, but it is a tale that I have never forgotten.
Philippa Ballantine is the author of the Books of the Order series with Ace (the third book Wrayth is coming out in September), the Shifted World Series with Pyr (first in the series Hunter and Fox coming in June) and co-author of the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences novels with Harper Voyager (second book in the series coming in late May). More information can be found at http://www.pjballantine.com/ and http://www.ministryofpeculiaroccurrences.com/