I participated in the book tour for Shelley Wilson’s The Last Princess, and I thought I’d follow up with a review.
If there could be any such thing as a swashbuckling novel with a young woman as the heroine, then this is it. It is based on historical elements from the seventh century, during which the Danish Vikings began to invade what would become England and captured quite a few territories, eventually settling in the eastern half of the country.
Edith, an Anglo-Saxon Princess, the oldest daughter of King and Queen of Northumbria who rule from Bamburgh, is sent on a husband-seeking expedition around Northumbria with her two younger sisters. Her life changes suddenly as she, her sisters, and her entourage are attacked and everyone but she is killed. She survives in no small part because she had been taught to fight and use the sword by an Elderman who is a close friend of her father. She finds her way back to Bamburgh only to find her parents murdered and the town laid waste. Edith vows revenge, but her immediate problem is staying alive since clearly she was meant to be killed as well. Her father’s brother has seized the King’s crown, even though Edith was designated as the heir-apparent. He immediately marries her off to an old and ugly Elderman, but on the night of their wedding day, the Elderman’s estate is attacked by men thought to be pirates. Edith assumes the identity of a slave and is taken by the pirates, later to be sold at market to a Viking jarl or lord.
Through all of her travails, Edith is determined to survive and clings to her dream of returning home to claim her throne and kill the person or persons responsible for the death of her family. Gradually she is integrated into a new, Viking family and her independence, fierceness and bravery help her develop into a Viking shield maiden or woman warrior.
What will happen when she returns to Northumbria to take back what is hers from her uncle? Is he the one behind her family’s murder and her abduction?
This book introduces the Vikings as they really were – a cultured, family-oriented civilization of farmers, craftsmen, sailors, and warriors – and contrasts their Norse religion and gods to the Christianity of the Saxons. It also starkly contrasts Vikings and Saxons in their treatment of women. I have to give the nod to the Vikings, since the author puts the new King of Northumbria and the Saxon culture in a bad light, while portraying the Viking culture as war-like but also understandably human. This is in line with what recent research has revealed about the Vikings.
Edith is a strong female character, but one with doubts and fears despite her warrior status. The secondary characters – Baldred, a Saxon soldier; Solveig, a Viking shield maiden; Jarl Aaric, Edith’s Viking rescuer; and Leif, one of Jarl Arric’s sons – are all fleshed out realistically. There is a little romance between Edith and Leif, but the story really focuses on Edith’s growth as a princess, a warrior, and a natural leader. The reader is privy to her doubts, her fears, and her changing view of her world.
I am a huge fan of historical fiction and I love the richness of the world this book creates and its non-stop action. Highly recommended.
About the author:
Shelley Wilson is an English author of motivational self-help titles and young adult fantasy fiction. Her sensible side writes non-fiction books to inspire you to be the best you can be, and her playful side writes young adult fiction to remind you that magic exists.
Shelley is a single mum of three, has a crazy black cat called Luna, and is obsessed with vampires, Tudor and Viking history, and exploring castles.
You can find her
At her author website: https://shelleywilsonauthor.com/
At her publisher: https://www.bhcpress.com/Author_SL_Wilson.html
On Twitter: https://twitter.com/ShelleyWilson72
On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FantasyAuthorSLWilson
And on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/authorslwilson/