Title: The Warrior Maiden
Series: Hagenheim #9
Author: Melanie Dickerson
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Publication Date: February 5, 2019
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ARC provided by the publisher through Edelweiss in exchange for an honest opinion.
Romantic and peppered with meticulous historical period details, Melanie Dickerson re-creates Mulan’s story and gives it her own personal touch in her newest addition to her Hagenheim series The Warrior Maiden.
Mulan is trying to resign herself to marrying the village butcher for the good of her family, but her adventurous spirit just can’t stand the thought. At the last minute, she pretends to be the son her father never had, assumes his duties as a soldier, and rides off to join the fight to protect the castle of her liege lord’s ally from the besieging Teutonic Knights.
Wolfgang and his brother Steffan leave Hagenheim with several other soldiers to help their father’s ally in Poland. When they arrive, Wolfgang is exasperated by the young soldier Mikolai who seems to either always be one step away from disaster . . . or showing Wolfgang up in embarrassing ways.
When Wolfgang discovers his former rival and reluctant friend Mikolai is actually a girl, he is determined to protect her. But battle is a dangerous place where anything can happen—and usually does.
When Mulan receives word that her mother has been accused of practicing witchcraft through her healing herbs and skills, Mulan’s only thought is of defending her. Will she be able to trust Wolfgang to help? Or will sacrificing her own life be the only way to save her mother?
As a kid, I grew up on Disney. I’ve seen them all – Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, The Lion King – you name it, I probably have watched it (even the older ones like Sleeping Beauty, and Snow White and The Seven Dwarves because my parents were desperate to keep me and my younger sister occupied while they work.)
For some reason though, Mulan have always stood out for me.
Maybe it’s because of the song Reflection, which was sung by Lea Salonga in the movie. Or maybe it was how much Mulan values her family. Or that, among all the Disney movies, it was the only one about an Asian girl, something that even as a 10-year old I was able to identify. So when I saw The Warrior Maiden I happily requested for a review copy, excited for this new Mulan re-telling and how the author will spin it.
And an interesting re-telling it was.
The Warrior Maiden was a intriguing re-creation of Mulan’s story. With Melanie Dickerson’s attention to detail and unique personal touch, it was joy to read this book. I particular loved how the author was able to line this book’s story for it to be included in her long-running Hagenheim series. It was definitely creative, certainly a surprise for me.
At first, it was hard to get to know both of the main characters. The third person perspective sort of acted like a wall separating me, the reader from the characters. I felt like an outsider looking in and watching these two characters move about in this world the author created. It was like reading with a veil wherein everything was a little gauzy and hazy, and I had to work a bit more to understand the intricacies of the characters, their time and their world.
They eventually grew on me, though.
Both Mulan and Wolfgang were both determined characters with a clear goal in their heads. I didn’t identify with them much, but I understood where they were coming from. Mulan wants to keep her mother safe, wants to ensure that she keeps her home. She disguises herself as a man and takes her dead father’s place as a soldier of his liege lord to do this. Wolfgang, meanwhile, feels guilty for the death of a young shepherd – a death that occurred when he was a boy himself. All his life he has done everything in his power to atone for this mistake doing his best to be a good son, brother and soldier.
I enjoyed the romance between Mulan and Wolfgang – how it started with begrudging respect and transformed into a sincere one, eventually becoming more until it turned into love. It beautiful watching their relationship change bit by bit.
While I enjoyed most of The Warrior Maiden, there were still some parts of it that I thought could have been improved. I found Mulan’s placement – that is, with her being in Lithuania – a bit awkward, though it was explained midway through the story how that came about. Something just felt off for me and I couldn’t shake the feeling even after finishing the story. I also found this story’s version of Mulan to be a bit watered down. One moment she would all be independent-like, the next moment she’s again helpless and letting Wolfgang do the rescuing. I don’t think she really grew into her own power in the end, not fully at least.
That said, The Warrior Maiden was a satisfying read. I actually picked this story not knowing that it’s already the 9th book of its series. It stood out well for me, and while I will be now be seeking out the rest of Dickerson’s Hagenheim series after having my interest piqued by this book, The Warrior Maiden could be read on its own. Readers who love re-tellings and fairytales will surely love this one.
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About the Author:
MELANIE DICKERSON is a New York Times bestselling author, a two-time Christy Award finalist, two-time Maggie Award winner, Carol Award winner, two-time winner of the Christian Retailing’s Best award, and her book, The Healer’s Apprentice, won the National Readers Choice Award for Best First Book. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and Romance Writers of America (RWA). Melanie earned a bachelors degree in special education of the hearing impaired from the University of Alabama and has worked as a teacher in Georgia, Tennessee, and Ukraine. She lives with her husband and two children in Huntsville, Alabama.
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