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Shield Maiden

The Shield Maiden is a Historical Fantasy adventure story for ages 8+ set in Anglo Saxon England.

Publication date 12th June 2012. 208 Pages ISBN 978-0956810373 Author: Richard Denning

Illustrations: Gillian Pearce Cover Design: Cathy Helms



Anna is a 12 year old girl growing up in a Saxon village in 7th century Mercia. Her life changes when she finds a golden horn in the ruins of a Roman Villa. Soon an ugly dwarf, a beautiful sorceress and even her own people are after her.


What powers does the horn have and why does everyone want it?


And why is Anna the only one who can get a note out of it?



“What is it?” Anna asked, moving forward so she also could get a look. Ellette turned towards her and held up her hands. Cradled within them was an object so beautiful that Anna felt as if she would cry just looking at it. It was in the shape of an ox horn, like those the villagers used to drink mead and ale from, but made of solid gold. Its outer surface bore runes and etchings, shapes and patterns. Anna recognised a wild boar - the symbol of the Goddess Freya - the spear of Woden and the hammer of Thunor, the god of thunder.

“It is wonderful,” she said.

“Yes, and worth a pretty sum,“ Lar added, his eyes full of awe, but also tinged with a touch of greed.

“What... what does it sound like?” Hild asked.

Ellette shrugged and raising it to her lips took a deep breath and blew.

Nothing happened. Not a sound, not a single note.

Puzzled, Anna frowned, but Lar snatched the horn away from Ellette. “You are not blowing it hard enough, little elf,” he said. “Let me try.” He puffed out his cheeks and blew, but again nothing happened. Not even a peep. Lar blushed and seeing Wilburh was grinning, handed him the horn. “You think you are so smart with all your magic and tricks, you try!”
Wilburh gulped, tried and failed.  Hild gave it a go next with the same result, then passed it at last to Anna.

“Looks like it’s broken,” Anna said, holding the horn in her hand but not trying it. “I mean, it looks nice and all that, but it’s just an ornament; it’s not meant to make a sound.”

“Oh, give it a go, Anna, why don't you,” Ellette said.

Anna shrugged and taking a deep breath blew hard, expecting to prove her point. The note that sounded from the horn seemed to start deep in the earth beneath her feet. ‘No,’ thought Anna, ‘deeper even than that.’ It was as if it vibrated upwards from the very rocks and stones of Midgard. The sound grew louder and louder as it seemed to shake their bones and rise up through their bodies until it flew out into the air around them and echoed on and on through the skies, even upwards towards the heavens. As the notes died away they all heard something else - a word spoken by a voice just loud enough for them to hear, as if someone had uttered it from afar and it had been carried here on the wind.

The word was ‘Chosen’.

Anna took the horn away from her mouth and stared down at it. The other children gawped at her and the horn too.
“Merciful Woden!” Lar exclaimed. “What was that?”

Before Anna could say anything, the skies above them were shattered by a ferocious burst of light and a terrifying clap of thunder. A moment later the heavens opened and a torrential downpour started.