Today it’s my stop on the blog tour for Shield Maiden an amazing historical fantasy book and one I’ve really enjoyed reading! 🙂 You can see more about my thoughts on this briliant book below, as well as some more about the author and some buy links, but first I’d just like to say a big thank you to Cassie from Head of Zeus for the chance to be a part of this tour and for a copy of the book.  Now, let’s see what I thought of this…

Title: Shield Maiden
Author: Sharon Emmerichs
Cover design: Andrew Davis
Map illustrator: Jamie Whyte
Publisher: AdAstra (Head of Zeus)
Genre: Fantasy, Historical
Book format: Pre-publication proof of hardback
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Description:  Having grown up hearing tales of her uncle, the great King Beowulf Fryda’s one desire is to become shield maiden in her own right.  Yet a terrible childhood accident has left Fryda disabled – thus, she believes, thwarting her dream of becoming a worrior-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 chieftans.  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 fight for her people, no matter the cost…and all the while, her powers seem only to grow stronger.
But she’s 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 sowly awakening from a long, cursed sleep…

*Free copy provided by publisher for review…

Review:  This is such a brilliant and exciting fantasy story. Fryda has always wanted to be a shield maiden but after a terrible accident at the age of thirteen, her chances of ever becoming one seem to be over. But when King Beowulf comes to Eċeweall to celebrate fifty years of his reign, and faces an attack, Fryda might get the chance to prove what she’s worth afterall.

Shield Maiden family tree image
©The Strawberry Post

This is an interesting story from the start. The book begins by following thirteen year old Fryda as she tries to track down a wolf that’s been troubling her clan and hopefully prove to her father, the lord of Eċeweall, that she can become a shield maiden. But something terrible soon happens leaving Fryda forever disabled in one of her arms. The book then moves on to events which are happening seven years later when Fryda and her brother are now both twenty and soon awaiting the arrival of the king, their uncle, Beowulf.

I have to admit that I have never read Beowulf before diving into this book, and only read a brief summary of it once I’d finished this book,but it’s this story such a great read with some really great characters that you don’t need to have any prior knowledge of Beowulf before reading and enjoying this book. The book does begin with a brief explanation that the events in this story take place during the last battle Beowulf faces against a dragon before the story begins.

As the story unfolds we’re introduced to several characters I like including Fryda, Theow, Hild and Bryce. Chapters or parts of chapters alternate between the different characters, with a few earlier chapters and some later ones also alternating between what’s happening in the bruh (the stronghold) and chapters telling of what happened to a dragon from its own point of view.

A lot happens in the story and I like how strong a character Fryda is throughout despite the many challenges she faces with her father and her disability. As the story moves on we find out more about some dark things that are happening and there are some interesting twists to certain events that I wasn’t expecting. Having read nothing of Beowulf before this, the story was so exciting for me as it unfolded to show first the events when Beowulf arrives at the bruh and later what happens when there is an attack. I love how interesting this story gets when Fryda later realises something about herself and what happens later still when she faces a different decision to get herself out of a tough situation.

The story does have some violence in it with some deaths and it also features a bit of sex and infrequent use of the c swear word too. The book contains a sort of family tree of Beowulf and his connection to some of the others, showing the Geats, Swedes and Danes, and there’s also a map at the start of the book which looks good but I wish it had more of an image of where the bruh was exactly as I found it hard to imagine what I read in the book onto the image of the map. The book also has a glossary of some terms used as well as a pronounciation guide of the Old English words and names used which I like as I’ve seen a lot of similar names in books set in early medieval times before but never known how to pronounce them.

Shield Maiden map image
©The Strawberry Post

Overall this is such a brilliant fantasy story. It’s interesting to read about a character from long ago with a disability like Fryda’s which affects her hand and the ending builds up to something so exciting and so dramatic that I didn’t know what would happen especially to certain characters at the end. The story has a very good and satisfying final ending scene, although if I’m honest I wish it could have been a bit longer as I just didn’t want the book to end and wanted to see more of what happened to those characters afterwards! However, it’s just a brilliant read, such a good story and whether you’ve read and enjoyed Beowulf before or are reading this book with no prior knowledge (like I did) it’s a really good historical fantasy and one I know I’ll look forward to reading again!

Buy the Book

Shield Maiden book cover

Buy from Amazon UK

About the Author

Sharon Emmerichs author pic

Sharon Emmerichs was born in Sweden to American parents and grew up in Wisconsin near Lake Michigan. She has been a writer all her life, from the time she scribbled ‘words’ and pictures on pieces of paper, stapled them together, and called it a book. Her love of stories later translated into an English degree, and then she went on to get her MA and PhD in medieval and early modern literature… and because she collects degrees the way some people collect stamps or baseball cards, she graduated her creative writing MFA in fiction in 2021. She is an Associate Professor of Shakespeare and medieval literature in beautiful Alaska, where she lives with Juneau, the derpiest Siberian husky ever.

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I hope you’ve enjoyed my stop on the blog tour today for this brilliant book! 🙂  Please do check out the other stops on the tour by seeing them on the banner below  or searching for #ShieldMaiden on twitter, tiktok and instagram.

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What do you think of this book?  Have you ever read Beowulf?  Let me know what you think in the comments below 🙂