Book Review: “Shield-Maiden: Under the Blood Moon” by Melanie Karsak

Hello again!

It’s crazy to think I am almost finished with this series. It has been a great sequel to “The Raven and The Dove” book I read earlier this year, but now my mind is like, what are we going to do after this one ends? The plan is to start on the other Viking series by Melanie Karsak but I am also thinking about focusing on other genres, so we’ll have to see what happens after July, because when I finished this book, I turned my attention to the newest book in Melanie’s “Celtic Rebels” series about Queen Boudica.


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As the blood moon rises, the shadow of Ragnarök falls on Uppsala.

With the dark days in Dalr behind them, Hervor and Hofund journey to Grund. Hervor’s focus turns to tracking down the sea kings and taking vengeance, but she soon finds that life in Grund is convoluted. Family grudges, secret alliances, and shady friendships abound in the capital. Everyone has their own agenda, and for some, Hervor is in the way. Hervor will find that surviving Grund is far more complicated than the bloody fields. But a blood moon is rising. Soon, Odin’s shield-maiden must clear the path to her promised future…no matter who must meet Tyrfing to ensure that fate.

taken from Goodreads.

I had mentioned that once everything ended in “Under the Thunder Moon” you couldn’t see what was going to unfold for our beloved characters. It was going to be interesting as far as how Melanie was going to do about Hervor now being a jarl on Bolmsö and princess of Grund after marrying Prince Hofund. She was becoming her own person, especially now that Eydis was to be with Leif in Dalr. You didn’t exactly how everything would turn out, but I was definitely intrigued about it.

There is a lot of traveling involved as we start from Bolmsö to Dalr, Silfreheim to finally Prince Hofund’s home Grund. As most people would feel in this situation, Hervor and her gang of warriors are uneasy, especially after she was crowned Jarl Hervor of Bolmsö. This world is completely opposite to life on both Dalr and Bolmsö, as Grund is much larger and has a court full of cunning and resentful people close to the royal family. We also have the issue of the sea kings creating havoc everywhere they go, and it was exciting to see all of these various Jarls, Kings, Princes, and several shield-maidens of Scandinavia come together to kick some serious ass towards the end but beware when you arrive to this scene because a beloved character dies, and it hurt me pretty bad–so much that it took me five days to finish this post!

“No one backs a wolf into a corner and remains unscathed.”

While I was reading, I tried to highlight as much as possible, and I do this for two reasons: I get my quotes of this review, but I also enjoy researching various things and then sharing the results with you guys. I did this with the second book of the series, as it mentioned the Trojan horse scheme. For this book though, there was a section where Prince Hofund is showing Hervor, Yrsa and Blomma the marketplace and while Hofund is pulled away, Hervor buys material to make into suitable dresses for court life, and she or Yrsa asks how the seamstress made such a vibrant colors and she explains there is a shell by the sea that helps color the fabric naturally, and what was weird about this, was I remembered hearing something about that exact shell a week or so beforehand!

I enjoy watching History Tea Time with Lindsay Holiday on YouTube and I was listening to her video about FAQs and Odd Facts and there is a part in the video where she is explaining how the darker purple became “Royal” purple and I just thought this was so interesting and incredibly weird that both of things would happen at the same time! Anyways, click here if you’d like to learn more about the process into making a richer color of purple.

Have you read the fourth book in “The Road to Valhalla” by Melanie Karsak yet? For those who have, what were some of your thoughts?

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Book Review: “Shield-Maiden: Under the Hunter’s Moon” by Melanie Karsak

Hello!

It is time to discuss my thoughts on the second book of “The Road to Valhalla” series by Melanie Karsak. If you have yet to check out how this whole journey started, click here, and you might want to skip this post, so you don’t see any spoilers.


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When the gods play in mortals’ lives, the only certain outcome is uncertainty. Especially when that god is Loki.

In the course of a night, I found out my entire life was a lie. Now, Yrsa, Eydis, and I will set off to recover Tyrfing. I must leave Dalr—and the dream I’d shared with Hofund—behind. Eydis is sure the gods have plans for me. I hope she’s right. For on the distant island of Bolmsö, the last of my father’s line is besieged by enemies, and only the blood of a berserker can make things right again.

taken from Goodreads.

Once I finished the first book, it didn’t necessarily take me long to get into the sequel. The one thing I was a bit worried about was the sheer number of pages it had compared to the other but then I got over it and was able to enjoy the continuation of Hervor’s story.

Some people have never experienced feeling unconditional love from their families, even in the same case as Hervor, as her mother does in fact adore her truly, but she has never been of sense and mind up until the end of the ‘Howling Moon’ and so she has relied on other people for care and protection but now she knows the truth of her parenteral side and she intends to make it known within herself but to others as well. You could look at this in the same way of Jon Snow finding out about his heritage on season six and seven of “Game of Thrones”.

Although the plot is based around Hervor proving herself worthy of others around her, you still have the comical side with characters like Eydis and newcomer Utr. They were a nice separation of the serious events happening all over.

“The gods have surely brought you here, Hervor.”

There was one part of the story, and everyone was getting ready for an upcoming battle, and there was a tiny scene that puzzled me because I wondered if it was plausible for this character–who is fictional I know–to actually know and understand the measures it took on the battle itself. Eydis had explained that she had received a vision of a certain Trojan horse that was moved into the other side’s camp, however it was not hollow on the inside, and everyone was massacred once the ruse broke.

The story of the horse was featured in Homer’s Odyssey and although it is still unclear whether or not the horse even existed, they time the war between Greeks and Troy to be around 1194 to 1184 BC. If you are even more curious to learn about the myth, you can click here. After finishing my research, I went to look into the sagas of Hervor and I found that her story is placed sometime in the 13th Century BC, which is fairly close to the story of the horse, so with that, it seemed like a clever way to connect both sides of history into this series.

Despite all of this, I realized as I was searching for everything that I was just like Hervor in this book. It can be difficult to decipher between myth and truth. There were a lot of speculations who Hervor’s father was in the beginning and it has been interesting for me to wonder about the these two settlements; the Vikings were brutal warriors and ruled the waters with axes, shields, and sheer strength in their bodies plus knowing they will be drinking in the halls with Odin in Valhalla as they dead on the battlefield wasn’t a bad passing, whereas the Greeks lived in massive cities of concrete buildings and sophisticated armor with swords and horse drawn chariots. I mean, certain parts of history do have a way of repeating itself.

I never meant to doubt Melanie’s information or overall work, but from the moment I read that paragraph, I found it odd but then of course I let it fester in my head as I continued reading and knew I would eventually look everything up to my curious heart’s content and that’s what happened. I feel better and pleased to learn more about how our ancient selves lived, and thought you, if you are like me and love history, would appreciate the insight too!

Have you read ‘Under the Hunter’s Moon’ by Melanie Karsak yet? If you have, what were your favorite parts of it?

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Book Review: “Shield-Maiden: Under The Howling Moon” by Melanie Karsak

Hello!

I want to say, I can’t believe I am talking about another series by Melanie Karsak, but it’s happening! Although, if we’re being technical, it was actually my mom’s fault we are here in the first place as she told me shortly after I finished The Raven and The Dove by K.M. Butler last month.

Back in December, while I was reading my way through Christmas inspired stories, I attempted to read Melanie’s prequel novella called, “Shield-Maiden: Winternight Gambit” but I just couldn’t get into it as much as I thought I would. I’ve never been able to enjoy Viking fiction and trust me when I say there are TONS out there, which is both a blessing and a curse because it is super difficult to find anything outside of the Norse mythology. The fact I found Melanie’s “Celtic Blood” series first was interesting, but honestly both mythologies are somewhat similar, and I think that’s why I’m able to mesh with it now, because I have grown to learn more about “earth based” and/or pagan lifestyle, even if the story itself is fictionized.


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Chosen by Odin. Destined for Valhalla.

In my dreams, Odin whispers to me. 
He tells me I’m destined to wield a legendary sword.
He tells me my road will bring me to Valhalla.

But when I wake, I’m only Hervor. Fatherless. Unloved. Unwanted. Jarl Bjartmar, my grandfather, calls me cursed. My mother, her memories stolen by the gods, has forgotten me. Everyone tells me I should have been left to the wolves, but no one will tell me why.

None but Eydis, a thrall with völva magic, believes I’m meant for a greater destiny. Yet who can believe a devotee of Loki?

When the king and his son arrive for the holy blót, the runes begin to fall in my favor. A way forward may lie in the handsome Viking set on winning my heart, but only if I unravel the mystery hanging over me first.

Fans of Vikings, The Last Kingdom, and The Mists of Avalon will relish Shield Maiden: Under the Howling Moon. This sweeping Viking Historical Fantasy retells the Norse Hervarar Saga, depicting the life of the shieldmaiden Hervor, the inspiration for J. R. R. Tolkien’s Éowyn.

taken from Gooreads.


I didn’t know what to expect from this story, but once I started, I felt comfortable with my surroundings. Anytime I jump into Melanie’s work, I instantly felt happy on the inside. Everything came together and I fully allowed myself to dive deep and embrace all of these characters and the events mentioned throughout the story.

I truly love having to focus on one character’s point of view and I think this is what I drive for in all of my books honestly. It was a freak accident that I was able to enjoy K.M. Butler’s book so much, because it had two views, but in order to understand the lives of those characters, you needed separate views as a reader. However, with this story, we follow only Hervor, and to me, she was just as powerful as Halla and Taurien. If you haven’t checked out my review of that book, the link is located in the first paragraph.

“Of all the places to live. Like a dwarf in a cave. Not in a glen. Not in a tree. Oh no, up the side of the steepest mountain,”

The entire book was exciting, but there were some interesting twists throughout the pages. Despite being the granddaughter of a jarl, she wasn’t very respected among her family. This is one of the biggest wonders of the story, because her mother somehow lost part of her memories, and even though Svafa is the beloved daughter of the jarl, Hervor is not.

She has constantly in the book said that she is unloved, but I don’t believe she is, she has multiple people in her village that adore her plenty like Eydis, who may be a slave to the family; she and Hervor have a beautiful friendship and I think Hervor tends to forget about that. She also has Yrsa as well, who has been teaching her all about being a shield maiden and her hopes is with her cousin Leif, who like Eydis, has been with her for the majority of her life and wants to see her flourish as well!

Besides Hervor being a big favorite for me, Eydis reminded me of someone I know. She is one of my sister’s friends from school and I basically used her face and goofy antics to picture this character a little better. She is a devotee of Loki, who is very mischievous in both the Norse mythology and the Marvel universe, so she has her weird moments too but there is a scene towards the end that really got me good. I physically laughed because not only was it perfect, but it showed you how funny she naturally is. I had saved like six quotes throughout, and I could have used any of the ones that came out of Hervor that could reflect her story, but I couldn’t see this post without sharing what Eydis has upon coming to Yrsa and Hervor.

After I had finished, I immediately went on Amazon and grabbed both the next and third book of the series. And I hate to say that it took me to four days to write this post and but they’ve currently sitting in my Kindle; I didn’t want to get any of the information confused once I began reading the second book, so I had to wait it out, which was tortuous, but I’m done here so I’m off to find out what happens to these wonderful characters! PS: I’m currently in the middle of “Under the Hunter’s Moon” so I’ll have the second review finished at the end of April.

Have you read “Shield-Maiden: Under The Howling Moon” by Melanie Karsak yet? If you have, who were your favorite characters and scenes? What other Viking books can you recommend to anyone out there?

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Book Review: “The Raven and The Dove: A Novel of Viking Normandy” by K.M. Butler

Hello!

I am here with my first book review of 2022. I really thought about making you wait until Monday, but I knew I would have to fix everything in my previous post, so I just decided to give it out anyways!

This book was a surprise, even for me, because I am not into reading Viking stories. I’m not even into all of these shows on various channels. I’ve tried reading other books in the past, but I hadn’t found one that really meshed with me, that is until I came across this book at the start of January.


890 A.D. Shieldmaiden Halla hungers for death in battle and a place in Valhalla until a Frankish sword shatters her expectations of a glorious end. In the space between life and death, she instead confronts the emptiness of a wasted life.

Hiding from the Norsemen among shattered abbeys and abandoned towns in northern Frankia, Christian landowner Taurin fears the day a dragon-headed longship rediscovers them and drags his people away as slaves.

Their worlds collide when Jarl Rollo of Rouen annexes Taurin’s town and appoints Halla as ruler. United in an uneasy political marriage, Halla and Taurin must confront their conflicted feelings and their peoples’ mutual hostility. Tensions strain their fragile marriage. Christians who refuse to obey a woman stoke rebellion. Glory-seeking Norse raiders terrorize Halla’s domain. If they can’t unite, the threats surrounding them will tear apart their new family and swallow both of their peoples in war and ruin.

taken from Goodreads.

I want to read more historical fiction books for 2022 and I am really glad that I gave this book a chance because it was well written, and it is full of humor too. They each like to make fun of the other, especially when Taurin first meets Halla and her group in the beginning. Despite their large facades they like joke with one another and it is a blast! If you think it doesn’t have any stories of their notorious violence, the author does include the battle aspect of the Norsemen. It is featured throughout the entire book, and it is one of the reasons why Halla takes the opportunity to create a place with both the people of Lilliebonne and Norse farmers together as a larger trading port.

I have always wondered how Vikings died out, what was it that drove them away from their raids, mythology, and general lifestyle, and it was so neat to get a peek into how this could have happened. However, I also thought about how the English natives thought about the Norsemen, I mean, besides grief and horror from the way they have treated them in the past, between collecting the riches and massacring the nearby villages, how willing were they to accept authority from a Norse lord?

“Perhaps we are not so different after all.”

Despite being a fictional based story, this gives you a way to see on everything. The characters were very thought out, based how they saw one another through their gods and rituals. Creatures like Father Norbert are always tricky to me, because he actually has a lot of power among the aldermen and the rest of his congregation. Priests were the only ones allowed to read the bible, so villagers believed anything they said because they didn’t have any other way to guide them through daily life. However, the Norse made their mythology available for everyone. They told celebrated their gods with poems and songs. It didn’t matter on their age or sex; everyone knew the same stories. It was also because of this openness, that they allowed women become part of their armies as shieldmaidens.

Halla and Taurin are opposites on all sides, but they were curious about the other and I found this very comforting. You wouldn’t think these characters would feel anything for each other, but it was interesting to see their perspectives change about the new neighbors. Although Taurin doesn’t fully understand Halla’s world, and he was very vocal about that in certain sections–and it got very boring as we went on, but I think the turning point for them was after the blot. Halla gave a harvest ritual and Taurin’s feelings about the whole thing pretty much ruled the last half of the book, but it was interesting to see Father Norbert’s thoughts about the Norse kind of switch in a way.

I don’t know whether the author will make this into a series, a part of me hopes for the possibility, because I would like to see how these characters move on, but I also thought the way it ended was basically perfect, so we’ll have to see what happens later on in the year.

Have you read “The Raven and The Dove” by K.M. Butler yet? If you know any other Viking books like this one, please send me some suggestions in the comments section.

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