“The Warrior Maiden” by Melanie Dickerson
Part of the Hagenheim series
Review copy through BookLookBloggers
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars
About the Book:
Mulan isn’t afraid to pretend to be a son and assume her father’s soldier duties in war. But what happens when the handsome son of a duke discovers her secret?
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?
The Disney version of “Mulan” is a favorite of mine. So I was both excited and a little hesitant to read a retelling of this fun tale. The excitement was fulfilled – it had a lot of the elements of the Disney version while still remaining unique to its own story. I admit I kind of wanted her name to be something other than Mulan, but I still can look past that fact. ;)
Right from the start we are plunged into the thick of it, and I really enjoyed that. I was apprehensive of how far the whole ‘feminist’ thread would be pushed, but it wasn’t as strong as I was expecting, at least in the first portion of the book.
One of the things that I love about the Disney version is Mulan’s desire to protect her family – yes, she is strong, but also caring. And for the most part, this story’s ‘Mulan’ character was that way too. I appreciate that she could still be gentle and strong at the same time. That was handled quite well. I didn’t care for that she did take more of the glory when it should have been equally split between her and Wolfgang. He was completely overlooked most of the time, even though he was just as much a hero as she was. And he didn’t seem to mind that. It was all boastful of what a strong woman she was, and yet he was sometimes shown to be a little weaker but that was shown as okay – their roles were swapped. Now, as I have said in reviews past, I am not against strong women, but I do struggle with the view that “women have to be better than men or else”. God created men and women for different roles, and they are both equally strong and wonderful – He will fulfill what He wills, and each person’s life is uniquely different. But the message of women constantly triumphing over men (when the men can be shown as strong too – I want more strong men in fiction) wears on me, I admit. Mulan, in this book, became pretty proud and was glad she could do what so few men could – I found that distasteful and boastful. She was also disrespectful at times. I understand that she had inner scars, and while that sometimes came into play, she also acted in ways that didn’t have reason for that.
I loved Wolfgang, and his desire to protect Mulan in all stages of knowing or not knowing her identity, but was saddened when it was often portrayed as a bad thing, or that he didn’t need to protect her because she was “stronger than most men”. Even if I was super strong, as a woman, I would want to be protected -I’d be flattered. Because Wolfgang was not doing it in a demeaning way – he was respectful and honorable. I just wish that would have been shown a bit more, and not put down as a bad thing.
Other than that, I did really enjoy this book. It was exciting, and full of adventure with good writing. There wasn’t a dull moment, and I really appreciated the fast-pace of it all! A four star read for me!
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author/publishers. I was not required to write a positive review.