Cumbria, 934, and the English fight Vikings for political supremacy in the North, whilst the traditional Viking way of life is threatened as Christianity advances against the worship of Norse gods. Against this background, Sigrid embarks on a quest for justice and security for herself and her children. Her only option is to appeal to the King of Norway to reverse his judgement on her father and allow her to inherit the family farm, but Norway is far away and Sigrid is a daughter of an outlaw, with only her wits and her sword skills to help her cause. Recruiting a small but gallant force of allies, she sets out to regain her birthright. During her quest, she encounters kings, warriors and villains. While her fighting skills earn her admiration and rewards, she also begins to understand about duty, honour and loyalty, changing from a headstrong teenager into a respected warrior woman.
Sigrid wasn’t initially a character I sympathised with, but her stubborn youthful nature made way for a strong woman that I could accept and see throughout the rest of the story. When life threw terrible obstacles in her path, Sigrid did not stop fighting for what she believed was her right. Sheildmaiden is a lively story, bursting with adventure and plenty of detail on aspects of Viking life that I’d never considered before; gory battle scenes that helped me imagine what an axe can really do to flesh, and much less stomach churning, how women dressed their hair. Apart from the underuse of commas, I got a lot of enjoyment out of this story, and hope that the author is considering a follow up.
An honest page turner.