- STAR RATING: 3 stars
- PAGE LENGTH: 414 pages
- DATE PUBLISHED: November 21, 2019
- PUBLISHER: Self-published on Kindle Unlimited
- CONTENT WARNINGS: Death, violence
- IF YOU LIKED THIS, TRY: Kings of the Wyld by Nicolas Eames
Raise your shield. Defend your sisters. Prepare for battle.
Half-giant Lovis and her Shieldmaiden warband were once among the fiercest warriors in Midgard. But those days are long past and now Lovis just wants to provide a safe home for herself and her daughter – that is, until her former shield-sister Solveig shows up on her doorstep with shattering news.
Solveig’s warrior daughter is trapped on the Plains of Vigrid in a siege gone ugly. Desperate to rescue her, Sol is trying to get the old warband back together again. But their glory days are a distant memory. The Shieldmaidens are Shieldmothers now, entangled in domestic obligations and ancient rivalries.
But family is everything, and Lovis was never more at home than at her shield-sisters’ side. Their road won’t be easy: old debts must be paid, wrongs must be righted, and the Nornir are always pulling on loose threads, leaving the Shieldmaidens facing the end of all Nine Realms. Ragnarok is coming, and if the Shieldmaidens can’t stop it, Lovis will lose everyone she loves…
Fate is inexorable. Wyrd bith ful araed.
If the synopsis and title of this book remind you very closely of Kings of the Wyld, that is entirely on purpose. The author has noted that she wrote Queens of the Wyrd after being heavily inspired by Nicolas Eames’s book. And while she succeeded in many aspects of that, Queens of the Wyrd just doesn’t quite live up to the greatness of Eames’s original book. Queens of the Wyrd is a self published book, and while that doesn’t normally detract stars from books, it didn’t exactly help this particular novel.
Queens of the Wyrd is a heavily researched fantasy novel borrowing many aspects of the Norse mythology. You can tell the author loves these myths, and you can tell she put her all into this. She references gods, creatures, and pulls all sorts of things directly from known Norse mythology. I think, however, this book would have really shone even more if it had gotten another pass or two by an editor. Whitecastle was very clearly going for the humor of Kings of the Wyld, but many times she pulled jokes straight from modern day media. (One of the characters makes an almost word-for-word Frozen joke.) I laughed a little, but it did pull me out of the seriousness of that particular moment — they were mid-end-of-the-world-battle, here! Not really the time for a Let-it-Go joke! Many of the quips just didn’t work for me — relying too heavily on popular media just yanks you out of a Norse world. The characters also talk like people from the modern world, and most of the time it didn’t bother me, but there were more than a few instances where it just felt off.
When it comes to the characters, I did love Lovis, our main shield-maiden. I loved her absolute dedication to her daughter. I loved how unsure she was of herself, but she still soldiered onward anyway. (What else was she supposed to do? She had people depending on her!) The other shield-maidens were fantastic, too, but Lovis stole the spotlight for me. I wish we had gotten to see more of her past, and more of how she had grown up, but what we did see was good. I loved Lovis’s daughter, Birke, a little spitfire if there ever was one.
(Anyone else think her dad is Loki???) Solveig, another shield-maiden, was frequently irritating, but she was doing everything she could to rescue her daughter.
Overall, I can see very clearly what the author was trying to do, but ultimately this book fell short of that goal. The writing itself needed some serious polishing before it was published. Queens of the Wyrd feels disjointed, and unsure of what it wants to be — humorous take on a fantasy novel, or a serious look at sacrifices of motherhood. I wanted to like this one much more than I actually ended up doing. Three stars.
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