QUEENS OF THE WYRD by Timandra Whitecastle (Book Review)
I’ve been reading fantasy for a long time and if there’s one class of people that I’ve noticed a glaring absence of, it’s mothers. I mean, I guess it kind of makes sense; mothers are often grounding, and they try to keep their children safe. Not many protagonists are going to go off on life-changing adventures and take their mother along. But then, what about mothers having adventures? There’s precious little of that going round. It often seems that as soon as you become a mother your story is over – your only relevance is as the beginning to someone else’s story.
Queens of the Wyrd does a lot to correct this. Lovis Shieldmaiden has given up the vikingr life to raise her daughter in peace. That is, until her old shield-sister Solveig the Golden turns up asking for help. Sol’s warrior daughter, Astrid, is trapped in a siege gone wrong on the Plains of Vigrid and she’s trying to get the old warband back together to go and rescue her. In doing this, Lovis and Sol discover that there’s more at stake than Astrid’s life; Ragnarok is coming and they’re the only ones who can stop it.
I loved, loved, loved reading a book that centred women so much, all kinds of women, from the strong, half-giant Lovis to the vain antagonist, to the goddess of the underworld. I loved that Lovis takes her child with her on her journey, that she balances being a mother with being a shieldmaiden rather than choosing one or the other – I am sure there a many working mothers who will see something of their own life in there.
I enjoyed the fresh take on Norse myth here and think that perhaps it more accurately reflects the pagan past than the theories held by most people viewing the myths through a patriarchal lens. The story has plenty of lighthearted moments as well as a lot to say about motherhood and heroism and how we all can embody those things. It hits plenty of traditional story beats without losing the ability to surprise and I really enjoyed the way it all came together at the end.
I hope Whitecastle chooses to write more about these characters as I’d love to go adventuring with them again.