Review: The Warrior Maiden by Melanie Dickerson

The Warrior Maiden by Melanie Dickerson Book Cover.jpg

Book Summary

When Mulan takes her father’s place in battle against the besieging Teutonic Knights, she realizes she has been preparing for this journey her whole life—and that her life, and her mother’s, depends on her success. As the adopted daughter of poor parents, Mulan 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.

Disguised as a young man, Mulan meets the German duke’s son, Wolfgang, who is determined to save his people even if it means fighting against his own brother. Wolfgang is exasperated by the new soldier who seems to be one step away from disaster at all times—or showing him up in embarrassing ways.

From rivals to reluctant friends, Mulan and Wolfgang begin to share secrets. But war is an uncertain time and dreams can die as quickly as they are born. When Mulan receives word of danger back home, she must make the ultimate choice. Can she be the son her bitter father never had? Or will she become the strong young woman she was created to be?

Book Details

The Warrior Maiden by Melanie Dickerson
Published February 5th 2019 by Thomas Nelson
Young Adult Fiction / Historical / Retelling / Christian
Hardcover, 320 pages
Reading Source: ARC from NetGalley / Publisher
My Rating: 4 of 5 Stars

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Book Review

THE WARRIOR MAIDEN by Melanie Dickerson is an inspired young adult retelling of the classic Mulan tale but with a historical twist—the story is set in fifteenth-century Lithuania, its pages are filled with castles, Teutonic Knights, and sieges. Danger, warring knights, battles and secret identities make for a fast read.

This was my first experience with Dickerson and I was looking forward to reading a fresh take on Mulan, and I was curious to see the story taking place in a whole new realm. Would Mulan still be the spirited, warrior-girl trying to save her family we all have come to love once hearing her story?

Melanie Dickerson is a well known and established writer. Her fairy tale retellings are fan favorites. They are written for readers who enjoy sweet and clean romance stories filled with adventure, authentic historical settings and beautiful descriptions. I have to say THE WARRIOR MAIDEN was a perfect example of this.

She knows women are 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?

The story opens with Mulan needing to choose between accepting an unwanted marriage proposal or taking up her father’s mantle and joining other warriors in a battle against the besieging Teutonic Knights.

All her life Mulan has tried to fit in, as an adopted daughter to a warrior father who treats her like a burden, but a mother whose precious love makes up for it, Mulan wants more than anything to prove herself, her adventurous spirit calls on her for something more. At the last minute, she disguises herself as the young 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.

This story has some really great battle scenes featuring Mulan using the bow and arrow, riding a warhorse and fighting alongside her fellow warriors.

It also touches on an interesting prophecy about her given by a friar to her mother. The idea that Mulan may be destined for greater things, a spiritual calling by her Christian beliefs, added another interesting layer to Mulan.

Throughout the story, Mulan encounters hardships and adversity, but she remains strong in her faith.

The change in her fellow warriors, and their eventual acceptance of her when she is revealed to be the daughter rather than the son of their fellow warrior, is well-written and believable. There is, of course, one particular villain who does not accept her as a woman-warrior that drives the plot, and readers are definitely not going to like him.

My one wish was for Dickerson to have included in the book some of Mulan’s rich heritage.

In the story, she is adopted at a rather young age and taken back to Lithuania. It would have enriched the story even more if she had included some details of her ancestry and culture which I felt were lacking.

The building relationship between Mulan and Wolfgang is really one of rival warriors and eventual friendship.

These two characters end up learning to trust one another on the field of battle and off, where acceptance plays a crucial part in their feelings for each other. Wolfgang is a fierce warrior with a heart of gold, his loyalty and devotion to Mulan make him a worthy and perfect counterpart to her.

In the End

THE WARRIOR MAIDEN by Melanie Dickerson is a wonderful example of clean YA reading while maintaining plenty of thrilling action, historical details, and sweet romance. This is a great choice if you are looking for an inspired Mulan retelling that features a spirited heroine with a unique setting and positive Christian themes.