Books · Read in 2023 · Reviews

Book Thoughts: Shield Maiden (Sharon Emmerichs)

This was just fine.

★★★☆☆ 1/2 – CALSPIE 6.93

Title: Shield Maiden
Author: Sharon Emmerichs
 Fiction / YA / Fantasy
First published: 2 February 2023 by Head of Zeus
Edition: eARC, courtesy of NetGalley and the publisher

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.


The reason I wanted to read this book is because I read Seamus Heaney’s translation of Beowulf last year and this novels features Beowulf years after the event. He is a side character in this and yet it made me curious, especially with Beowulf still relatively fresh in my mind.

There were parts of this novel I really liked. I liked Fryda as a main character and the fact that she had to overcome a physical injury that left her arm barely usable seemed an interesting premise. Though a big deal was made of this at the beginning of the book, her arm suddenly did not seem much of a problem anymore. That bothered me a bit for some reason.

I quite liked the over arching plot and I did grow rather fond of Fryda and Theow as a couple, but some o the execution did not quite work for me. The relationships between the characters were a mixed bag. Some were nicely written and others just did not seem to ring true.

I wanted a bit more of the environment, their surroundings and the way these people lived. I wanted more of a sense of time and place I suppose. Much of this read as if it could have been set at any time in any place, which was a little disappointing.

I liked it, but I did not fall in love with this one.

3.5 out of 5 stars



  • Characters: 7.5
  • Ambience: 6
  • Language: 7.5
  • Story: 7
  • Pacing: 6.5
  • Interest: 7
  • Enjoyment: 7
Books · Poetry · Read in 2022 · Reviews

(audio) Book Thoughts: Beowulf (Seamus Heaney)

A surprisingly readable old hero/monster type story


Title: Beowulf
Author/Narrator: Seamus Heaney
Genre: Fiction / Poetry / Classic
First published: c900
Edition: Audio & paperback, published by Faber & Faber in 2000

Composed some time between the middle of the seventh and the end of the tenth century of the first millennium, the Anglo-Saxon poem Beowulf is one of the important Northern epics and a classic of European literature.
In his new translation, Seamus Heaney has produced a work which is both true, line by line, to the original poem, and an expression, in its language and music, of something fundamental to his own creative gift.


I was looking for a short audio book of something that was already on my shelf and this one came up. I liked that it is translated as well as read by Heaney and figured it would be a good listen.

I think it was exactly what I expected. A story about a hero in ancient times slaying monsters. I was not awfully familiar with Beowulf as a story and a character, but it was much as I had expected. I imagine it was the kind of story told by campfires over and over again, one that children asked for. It reminded me of old 90s cartoons oddly enough. He-Man came to mind for some reason!

It was an easy enough listen and the story is relatively easy to follow. At some points I read along in my paperback and that did enhance the experience.

Is it my kind of story, this heroes and monsters thing? No, not quite, but I appreciated it for what it was. Heaney did a great job making it a very readable story/poem. I would like to read it again some day.

5 out of 7 stars



  • Characters: 7
  • Ambience: 7
  • Language: 8
  • Story: 8
  • Pacing: 8
  • Interest: 7
  • Enjoyment: 7