Shieldmaiden by Marianne Whiting
This was an enjoyable novel. It has similarities to other Viking novels I’ve read (very reasonable due to the scant historical detail available) but there is freshness to ‘Shieldmaiden’ that keeps the interest high.
It was a little bit confusing though, to find things about Cumbria that made me think twice about what I was reading, though I would have to do a lot of Viking Britain research to know what are the best know facts about Viking invasion of northern Britain, and when.
Vikings are so well known for their pillaging and plundering strategies but the fact that they left their own lands to find foreign land to farm was an essential part of their domination of parts of the
Heroine, Sigrid, has interesting links to Norwegian nobility that elevates her status but in essence the tribulations of surviving a harsh winter at a more, or less, subsistence level means she comes across as a very practical and hard working individual- if a little bit arrogant and naive at the beginning of the story. Ragnar, the love of her life, plays a less strong role in the novel but that emphasises Sigrid’s many strengths. She wields a mean sword but the tale is not overly gory!
The duality of Viking pagan worship and new found Christianity comes across in the book as very realistic- I'm sure it was expedient to profess to of one faith or another depending on the life and death situation a person found themselves in at this time many hundreds of years ago. A wavering faith also seems realistic when one faith is almost forcibly supplanted with another.
I found the ending a bit abrupt but I’m thinking a read of Book 2 will no doubt solve that problem.