Shield Maiden

Redhook: Orbit. Oct. 2023. 452p. ISBN 9780316566919. pap. $18.99. FANTASY
DEBUT Fryda has grown up hearing the tales of her uncle, the legendary King Beowulf, and aspires to become a shield maiden—a warrior in her own right. But a frightful, strange accident in her childhood damages Fryda’s hand, seemingly dashing her chances to fight. When her father hosts a grand celebration for Beowulf, Fryda must navigate dealing with foreign rulers and outside clans; a growing love for Theow, an enslaved young man in her home; and a twin brother, Wigalf, who cares more about drinking than his duties. When a shocking plan is revealed that threatens her home, her people, and her life, Fryda must find a way to battle through the treachery—and understand the growing power within her, one that links her to a dragon awakened from a long, cursed sleep. This Beowulf retelling is freshly inspired by its focus on a less-repeated part of the poem but can feel a bit light on character development.
VERDICT Beowulf and mythology fans, especially young adults, will find this debut novel a fun read.
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