"A fascinating historical fantasy novel inspired by Beowulf, linking in and feeling very relevant when compared to issues faced in society today."
This historical fantasy novel focuses on an alternative ending to Beowulf’s mighty achievements. A sleeping dragon sits below a fortress, as it begins to wake, Beowulf’s niece Fryda finds her own powers grow and they will be needed as her clan is threatened. Author Sharon Emmerichs is an English professor of medieval British literature, she really does make the point that history and stories of old: “exaggerate, they distort, and sometimes they outright lie. We need to question the stories we are told”. She has also deliberately set issues we still face in the 21st century within the 10th century. She highlights marginalised people, and themes include bigotry, greed and corruption as well as friendship, bravery, and honour. The main characters may be 20, however within Fryda, there is an innocence, trust, and even naivety about the world she lives in. The location is focused within the fortress, creating an intense almost claustrophobic feel. I loved the sections featuring dragon thoughts, it encourages a connection, and questions began to form. As a celebration nears and more join the party, Fryda’s horizons expand and I welcomed the growth of her character. Beowulf’s arrival certainly livens things up, and adds a necessary light bright touch to proceedings. I would describe both the the romance within the story, and warrior elements as a slow burn. The later chapters leap into vivid battle action and sing an epic tale. Ultimately, while focused on Fryda’s fight for the survival of her clan, Shield Maiden is a thoughtful novel, encouraging you to look behind and beyond the obvious.