Today I’m sharing my review for Shield Maiden by Sharon Emmerichs, and I’d like to thank the publisher for the advanced copy gifted as part of the book tour!
Shield Maiden was packed with action from the very beginning, featuring a main female character with an incredibly strong will.
Read on for my full review!
About the Book
Title: Shield Maiden
Author: Sharon Emmerichs
Publisher: Head of Zeus
Release Date: February 2nd 2023
Source: ARC provided by the publisher (this in no way affects my review which is honest and unbiased) Finished copy special edition purchased by myself!
‘A heroine with a generous spirit, an unshakable will and a dragon’s fury.’ H. M. Long
Having grown up hearing tales of her uncle, the great King Beowulf, Fryda’s one desire is to become a shield maiden in her own right. Yet a terrible childhood accident has left Fryda disabled – thus, she believes, thwarting her dream of becoming a warrior-woman for good. But still, somehow, she feels an uncontrollable power begin to rise within herself.
Meanwhile, a great celebration of Beowulf’s reign is underway, and Fryda’s house is soon overrun with foreign kings and chieftains. Amidst the drunken revelry, a discovery is made that threatens the safety of Fryda’s entire clan – and her own life. Enraged, Fryda resolves to ght for her people, no matter the cost… and all the while, her powers seem only to grow stronger.
But she is not the only one to feel its effects. For, buried deep in her gilded lair, a dragon is drawn to Fryda’s untamed power, and is slowly awakening from a long, cursed sleep…
‘Casts a superb spell… Shimmering with detail, with a propulsive plot to match.’ D.K. Fields
‘Fantastic fun… An entrancing story of power and peril, presenting a side to the sagas we have never seen before.’ Ian Green
Shield Maiden tells the story of Fryda, a Lord’s daughter and the niece of King Beowulf. I’ll begin with saying that I had no prior knowledge of Beowulf, though his tales are told throughout the story and (having had a quick little Google after reading Shield Maiden) I think that the author has incorporated these very well.
So, Shield Maiden has a dramatic start, where we see Fryda trying to go out to hunt to prove to her father that she become a shield maiden. However, she ends up in danger and disfigures her hand in the process. Throughout the story, there are mentions of her hand and how it didn’t heal right after the accident, though this is overshadowed by Fryda’s never-ending will to prove herself as a warrior even with her hand being as it is.
The setting of Geatland is interesting, I haven’t read any stories set there before but Emmerichs’ world-building is brilliant and it really helps to imagine the story as you read along.
And, of course, we have a dragon. The dragon is written in a very interesting way as we have the occasional chapter that is purely from her point of view, as she thinks about how she’s trapped. Her loneliness is extremely apparent and you can’t help but feel sorry for her, even as she thinks about how she destroyed entire homelands.
In terms of character building, Fryda grows into a brave woman who knows what and who she loves, and she wants nothing more than to prove herself and attain those things in life. Although, at first she is incredibly naive, about absolutely everything. Her father has built his estate with slaves and servants, and Fryda is happy to befriend them without considering the consequences that they would face from this.
Her friends, however, were shining stars all the way through. She has Theow, Hild and Bryce within her land and the only one of these who is free is Bryce, a blacksmith who cares for her as he would a daughter. Although she does have her twin brother too, he’s the absolute opposite in almost all ways. Beowulf is a second fatherly figure to Fryda, and it’s a good thing really because her actual father is present but wildly distant towards her. I loved Beowulf’s character, he’s sweet and funny and his care for Fryda is very obvious.
Shield Maiden is packed with action from start to finish, with betrayal being a key element. I wish we’d had more of the dragon, because I was kind of expecting more in that respect, but the clan’s drama kept my interest without this.
Have you read this yet?
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