Shield Maiden

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Pub Date 02 Feb 2023 | Archive Date 04 Feb 2023
Head of Zeus, Head of Zeus -- an AdAstra Book

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'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 fight 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

'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...

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ISBN 9781804545539
PRICE £7.99 (GBP)

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Average rating from 52 members

Featured Reviews

If like me you enjoy a good dose of mythology, and/or a good historical fiction, then I think this book will be right up your raiding party.

Fryda is the daughter of the chief, and twin sister to his heir: an enviable position to many. The only issue is all she wants to be is a Shield Maiden. But due to an accident when she was in her early teens, Fryda doesn't have the use of her left hand. Not that she let's that stop her, as she trains in secret and poses as the perfect lady of the house by night for her aging Father. Oh, and let's not forget that her Uncle is none other than legendary hero, king Beowolf.

This rite of passage book is masterfully told, mixing the legend of Beowolf with some new elements that fit together to make a wonderful story of love, betrayal, bloodshed and dragons. I hope you enjoyed this as much as I did.

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Inspired by the epic poem of Beowulf, Shield Maiden tells the tale of Fryda, niece of the mighty King Beowulf as she aspires to become a Shield Maiden: a fearsome warrior and earn respect from her father for her ambitions. A tragic accident that leaves Fryda with a lifelong disability challenges her goals but with dragons, war and treachery surrounding her, will Fryda overcome her troubles?

Action-packed with myth, legend and lore, Emmerichs weaves the ancient tales of heroism adored from the Beowulf poem with that of a contemporary feminine retelling where his niece takes centre stage.

Rich with symbolism, the author explores various themes such as love, loss, betrayal and war in a dynamic and multilayered style that is engaging and fun to read.

While I did enjoy this novel, I do recommend this more for the young-adult audience as I found the prose a little light for my own tastes, but I would happily read this novel again!

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An interesting spin-off on Beowulf franchise, focusing on the shield-maiden that takes down the dragon that gets the aging hero.

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Although not familiar with the original story I really enjoyed this book especially Frydas POV.
Thankyou for the opportunity to read and review netgalley.

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Beowulf has always been an iconic story but this beats it without a doubt, the fierce female lead makes Beowulf seem like an almost hero in comparison. I completely adored this book, the perfect feminist fantasy version for young woman everywhere!

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Thank you Head of Zeus and Netgalley for the arc of Shield Maiden by Sharon Emmerichs in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.

Shield Maiden is a story inspired by the epic poem Beowulf, a poem that tells of his epic victories, including the defeat of the monster Grendel. Whilst it has been a very long time that I read Beowulf, I was drawn to this book and was delighted to find his Emmerichs has transitioned it to encompass a girl disabled in a childhood accident and to challenge misogyny and slavery.

Fryda, is the daughter of Weohstan, widowed clan chief who cannot show love to the daughter who so closely resembles his late wife; twin sister to Wiglaf, who expects to inherit his father’s position despite his tendency for drinking and lewdness; and niece to the mighty King Beowulf who requires no explanation. All Fryda wants is to as become a Shield Maiden, a recognised and strong warrior who protects her family and community but, her dreams are crushed following her accident.

This book starts strongly, toning the inequality and struggles of slaves to a YA audience and us packed like a dragon’s treasure hoard full of myth, legend and lore. The author weaves the ancient stories into text, putting Fryda at the heart of the story.

Plus, there’s a dragon…did I mention the dragon??? If you are looking for a YA read that delivers historically accurate world building, myth, legend, love, plots, betrayal and more, you need to pick up this book!

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A fast-paced and addictive interpretation of one of the stories in the Beowulf saga. I did not want to put this book down. The storytelling is beautiful, and I loved the tender love story woven into the adventure plot. It's made me want to read more about Beowulf too; I hope the author will dip back into the world in another book.

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I've had a soft spot for the Beowulf poem ever since I first encountered it when I was 9, and so naturally I was very excited to read Shield Maiden, which is inspired by said poem. This was an excellent novel, which deftly explored multiple deep themes whilst adding a new perspective to lesser known parts of the poem. I might class it more as YA than adult, as I felt the characters and prose read a little younger, but I still devoured it and thoroughly enjoyed it!

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Based on the poem Beowulf (which I haven’t read although a brief description is included in the prologue.) This is the story of the slave, in the last part of the poem.
I did feel it’s probably leaning more towards YA although the main characters are 20 (they read as a couple of years younger) - not that this detracted from the story at all.
Loved the glossary of how to pronounce the Olde English names & words but I do wish that this had been at the front of the book (only because I was reading an e-book version)! Made me smile that the author’s forward did point to this index but said she didn’t care if you ‘make up your own pronunciation’ or just ‘blip over the words you don’t know‘!
My heart broke for the lonely Fýrdraca, though & I loved her chapters.

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genre: historical fantasy
minority representation: Disability, POC
trigger warnings: use of the C-slur (cr*pple), slavery, war, death, mentions of blood, sex.

shield maiden is the story of Fryda, daughter of the lord who wishes to become one of the fierce warriors called 'shield maidens'. Her father forbids her as he wants her to be a lady as expected of the lord’s daughter. Fryda, however, can only dream of battle and triumph. What will be her faith?
Fryda, our protagonist has had a big injury in her childhood which resulted in the bones of her hand being completely shattered and deformed. This disability makes her believe she’s worthless. Emmerich’s describes Fryda’s shame very well as she’s surrounded by people who believe disabilities devalue someone, as was the case with her betrothed.
In extension of this the C-slur is used in this book. However, I think this is one of the rare cases in which it is justified that the word is used by people who aren’t disabled. Fryda herself never refers to herself as a cr*pple and only describes her hand as disabled, but not useless. The villains in this story are the only ones ever to use the derogatory term and only to make it even clearer to the reader that these people are the worst. These villains for example also are openly racist (without using slurs) and talk down to slaves. The ableism really feels like an extension of bigotry where there’s no ambiguity that it’s not okay to talk to and about disabled people in that manner. Because of this, I truly believe that people who aren’t yet aware of ableism to pick up on this and learn from it. That’s exactly why I think it justifies using the term!
On to the plot. Even if you don’t know Beowulf or haven’t read his story you will enjoy this book. I will say it is still a niche subject as I think a lot of history nerds like myself will be drawn to the story of Fryda. However, this story is also about finding your place in the world, growing into yourself as a person, fighting back and celebrating all you are. Emmerich has changed this time of history to be a bit more inclusive and minority friendly, without erasing or denying the bad things. I think that is beautiful and it makes the story so much more fun to read.
However, it took a long time for the plot to really interest me, I had fun reading the first half of the book, but it was a bit too slow for my taste, which is absolutely subjective to me. This isn’t to say that nothing happens in the first half, but I like my action to come fast instead of creeping up to me.
The only other thing I didn’t really agree with was the timing of Fryda’s sex scene. I felt like it wasn’t the right time of place for it as I was anticipating the big climax of the plot instead of Fryda’s love life. Other than that, I really enjoyed the book!
To conclude this review, I would recommend this book to everyone who’s interested in history with a twist (even if you only like history just a little bit). I promise you dragons, fighting, strong female characters, a black side character with a great personality, disability representation and epic battles.

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𝐹𝑦𝑟𝑑𝑟𝑎𝑐𝑎 𝑔𝑙𝑜𝑟𝑖𝑒𝑑 𝑖𝑛 𝑡𝘩𝑒 𝑠𝑐𝑟𝑒𝑎𝑚𝑠 𝑜𝑓 𝑓𝑒𝑎𝑟 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑎𝑛𝑔𝑢𝑖𝑠𝘩, 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑎𝑓𝑡𝑒𝑟𝑤𝑎𝑟𝑑𝑠 𝑖𝑛 𝑡𝘩𝑒 𝑠𝑖𝑙𝑒𝑛𝑐𝑒 𝑜𝑓 𝑑𝑒𝑎𝑡𝘩.



| WARNING: This digital A.R.C was kindly sent to me by the publisher via NetGalley after I requested it in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. |


I basically asked the publisher to allow me to read this book before its release. So yes.

Shield Maiden is Beowulf's retelling with a young, fierce but crippled woman who only dreams of glory and being a shield maiden. The second POV is a dragon's one which, if you're anything like me, you know It's really cool.

I found it to be an easy read with maybe too light writing for the story but overall It's a good debut (I think It's a debut, correct me if I'm wrong).
I also think It's the fantasy YA north mythology inspired everyone has been waiting for but It's also the reason why I did not enjoyed this book on a five out of five level.
Lord knows how much I frown when I read an epic story this much infused with teenage romance and the chosen one trope. But this aspect is entirely personal preference and has nothing to do with the book.

I highly recommend Shield Maiden if you're into YA fantasy and you feel like you've read it all. You've not.

------ 𝐹𝑅 ——

| WARNING : Cet A.R.C digital m’a été envoyé par l'éditeur via NetGalley suite à ma demande en échange d’une honnête revue. Toutes les opinions exprimées sont miennes. |


J’ai demandé à l’éditeur de me permettre de lire ce livre avant sa sortie. Donc oui.

Shield Maiden est un retelling de Beowulf, avec une jeune femme féroce mais infirme qui ne rêve que de gloire et d’être une shield maiden. Le deuxième POV est un dragon qui, si vous êtes comme moi, vous le savez, c’est vraiment cool.

J’ai trouvé que c’était une lecture facile avec peut-être une plume trop légère pour l’histoire mais globalement c’est un bon premier livre (je pense que c’est son premier livre, corrigez-moi si je me trompe).

Je pense aussi que c’est le YA fantasy inspiré de la mythologie nordique que tout le monde attendait mais c’est aussi la raison pour laquelle je n’ai pas apprécié ce livre à un niveau 5 sur 5.
Dieu sait à quel point je fronce les sourcils quand je lis une histoire épique autant imprégnée de romance adolescente et le trope de l'élu.
Mais cet aspect-ci dépend entièrement de mes préférencespersonnelles et n’a rien à voir avec le livre.

Je recommande fortement Shield Maiden si vous êtes dans le fantasy YA et que vous sentez que vous avez tout lu. Ce n'est pas le cas.

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