Blog Tour Book Review: SHIELD MAIDEN by Sharon Emmerichs

I received an ARC from the publishers in exchange for an honest review. It has not affected my opinions.

Title in grey-blue on biege next to a sword hilt wrapped in a ribbon
Genre: Historical Fantasy
Age Range: Adult
Star Rating: 5 stars
Series: standalone


Book cover for SHEILD MAIDEN: title in black on white arounf embroidered bands wrapped around a sword

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…

Blurb taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.


I have no idea how much it comes across on here, but I’m pretty into Old English and its poems, so a book based on the most famous poem from that body? I immediately knew I had to read this one. And it absolutely lived up to my expectations.

This book is primarily a retelling of the final part of Beowulf – the dragon – but there are references to other stories from the Old English body (like the Battle of Maldon and Weyland the smith.) I loved these inclusions so much. I’ve studied a fair amount of the poetry body so seeing the various references made me squeal a little. For me, it helped tie it altogether and flesh out the world by referencing the other stories and events of the time.

There are even passages from poems (in translation) included, which was so exciting. I particularly enjoyed that the standard formatting for such poems was included, which is where lines are broken up with a space in the middle to reflect the way they are formed in Old English (two parts with specific emphasis and sound rules.) Obviously, in Modern English, that doesn’t come across, but it’s such a nice nod to the original forms.

Beowulf is a poem set in Geatland (part of Sweden) but it is written in English. Therefore this book uses Old English terms throughout the book as a homage to the poem (even though that would not have been the language the characters would have spoken.) I’m nerdy for Old English, so I really enjoyed that.

I loved Fryda, her tenacity and compassion and determination to love as many people as she could. She has a big heart and a lot of courage, pushing through doubts and everyone telling her she can’t do something. You root for her, want her to succeed because of this, to be rewarded for being nice (vs some of the other characters who are very much not nice.)

The book has many narrators (I think I counted seven.) Fryda is the main one, but we see some of the action from Theow (who she is in love with), Hild (best friend), Bryce (the mysterious but kind smith), Beowulf himself, Wiglaf (the slimy, despicable brother), and the dragon. You get a real tapestry of events and who these people are by seeing different parts of the story and getting inside their heads.

As well as action and dragons, there is also a mystery plot woven in, small discrepancies that don’t add up and shady characters who Fryda (et al) need to figure out what they’re up to and stop before it’s too late. I really liked the balance.

This is such a strong debut and I look forward to more books by Sharon Emmerichs.

Blog tour graphic with list of bloggers taking part in black on white next to image of the book on green

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