Title: The Warrior Maiden (Hagenheim #9)
Author: Melanie Dickerson
Genre: Historical Fiction, Young Adult, Romance, Retellings, Christian
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
No. of pages: Hardcover, 322 pgs.
Publication Date: February 5, 2019
Date Read: January 13, 2019
She knew a woman was expected to marry, cook, and have children, not go to war. Can she manage to stay alive, save her mother, and keep the handsome son of a duke from discovering her secret?
When Mulan decides to take her father’s place in battle against the besieging Teutonic Knights, she realizes she has been preparing for this moment her whole life–and that her life, and her mother’s, depends on her success. As the adopted daughter of poor parents, she has little power in the world. If she can’t prove herself on the battlefield, she could face death–or perhaps worse, marriage to the village butcher.
In her disguise as a young man, Mulan meets Wolfgang, the German duke’s son who is determined to save his people even if it means fighting against his own brother. Wolfgang is exasperated by the young soldier who seems to be one step away from disaster at all times–or showing Wolfgang up in embarrassing ways. From rivals to reluctant friends, Mulan and Wolfgang begin to share secrets with one another. But war is an uncertain time and dreams can die quickly as they are born. When Mulan receives word of danger back home, she must make the ultimate choice. Could she be the son her bitter father never had? Or would she become the strong young woman she has been created to be?
This fresh reimagining of the classic tale takes us to fifteenth-century Lithuania where bother love and war challenge the strongest of hearts.
First, thanks to Thomas Nelson for sending me a review copy of this book!
Late last year, I read a Kingdom of Ash and Briars by Hannah West that included a take on the story of Mulan. It was pretty good. The Warrior Maiden is another reimagined take on the story of Mulan, and I absolutely loved it! This truly is one adaptation that I think truly keeps to the heart of the story while keeping the author’s series in tact.
The Warrior Maiden follows the story of Mulan, a girl who was raised in Lithuania by her biological father and his wife who took her in after her mother died in Eastern Asia (we’re never really given a specific region or country). When a guardsman comes from the man her father has sworn fealty to for war, Mulan in fear for her mother’s safety and housing, goes in his place as her father has just died days earlier. Along with her father’s assistant, Andrei, Mulan enters the camp of warriors disguised as a man. After an untimely archery contest, she’s made quite a bad impression on, and fool out of, the Duke of Haigenheim’s son Wolfgang. As the warrior’s head into their first battle to stop the Teutonic Knights of Germany from entering the castle grounds of the Duke of Poland, Mulan (known as Mikolai to her fellow soldiers) earns the respect of the soldiers due to her archery skills and quick thinking. From then on, her and Wolfgang become quick allies and friends. As their friendship grows, Mulan begins to have feelings for Wolfgang. Wolfgang begins to suspect something is amiss with his friend and after a run with his brother fighting on opposite sides, Mulan’s secret is revealed. Once it is revealed to the camp, Mulan continues to gain the trust and respect of her fellow soldiers and reveals that she was prophesied over as a child by both a friar and a priest that she would be the one to bring a nation to freedom. As you can expect what follows is one of action, heroism, twists, turns, and romance that is what you can come to find from a Mulan retelling, but one that infuses Christianity in the best and worst lights.
What I really liked about this book was the infusion of the Christian belief, both “good” and “bad”. Both sides of this war believe that they’re fighting for the will of God. The people that Mulan and Wolfgang fight with, hold that God will protect them and that he has put them there for a purpose. They restrain themselves from killing when able and tend to take prisoners rather than take their lives. The Teutonic Knighthood believe that they are doing God’s work by riding the world of paganism. They destroy and take lives under the name of doing God’s will. They hold that are God’s judges on earth. Even today, people fight and argue under the guise that their faith is what is leading them. But the problem is when they stop looking at the Bible and Jesus as their accountability. If they’re not in communication with God or spending time with him, how can they truly know that what they’re doing is God-ordained.
I also really liked this book because it wasn’t a typical Christian Fiction book. Many of the books advertised for Christian fiction are set in an Amish setting or seem really cheesy. For those reasons, I typically don’t pick up Christian Fiction. This book was different. It had Christian elements and virtues. It included Scripture. But it had action and everything that I normally read in books outside this genre.
Also! The relationship between Mulan and Wolfgang didn’t feel forced and I loved that! A lot of times, I find that this kind of relationship where the girl is disguised and then is revealed as a girl and the dude she friended is automatically in love with her feels super forced. But this didn’t feel like that at all. Even when Mulan was disguised, Wolfgang knew that there was something off and wanted to protect his friend. When her secret was revealed, he didn’t change his stance to protect her, but also saw that she was a soldier, had earned his respect, and she continued to go above and beyond for her fellow soldiers. Once the fighting died down, they spent time together and began to develop an actual basis of friendship that led to them liking each other, that then led to feelings on both ends for each other. That is the kind of relationship that can be really hard to establish within 300-some-odd pages in a book but worked out really well for this book. And honestly, it’s not really a surprise because I’m pretty sure by now everyone has seen Disney’s version of Mulan. We know she gets the guy. One other thing that I really liked about it was that it was a stand-alone book. In the series, this is book nine, but it wasn’t necessary for me to have to read the other to know what was happening. It started with Mulan’s story and didn’t stray. Will I be picking up the other books in the series? Who knows. But I know that I ’ll be more likely to pick them up if the chance arises. The Warrior Maiden releases on February 5th, and I can’t wait for y’all to read this gorgeous reimagining!
Melanie Dickerson is a New York Times bestselling author, a two-time Christy Award finalist, two-time Maggie Award, 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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