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?

snowflake

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.

snowflake