Book Review: “Shield” by Dawn L. Watkins (2008)

Set in a fanciful time when generals trained lizards for war, when princesses hid libraries from invaders, and when everyone from grandmothers to youth wielded swords for their very survival, Shield shares the story of a young girl named Innera who is caught in the midst of a war of nations. Innera of Dider, a fanciful nation under the oppression of attackers, must trek the mountains and valleys of her world to return a special shield to a king who may no longer be alive.

Shield is a healthy taste of fanciful fiction for youth in an age too filled with vampires and black magic, too saturated with dystopian dreams. To counteract the dark entertainments that generally attract today’s tweens, Dawn Watkins peppers her book with wholesome quips from Innera’s respected herbalist grandmother: “Good unguarded is good lost” (Kindle Loc.93) and “Evil will thrive only when the good allow it” (Kindle Loc.772) being some examples. Shield is the prequel to another Watkins novel, Medallion, which follows the story of Trave, a distant offspring of Innera’s line.

Having read several fanciful novels in my time, I must admit that this genre is not my favorite. Because history is so filled with truly captivating battles in every region and from every age, it seems unnecessary to me for authors to have to make up their own. [For this reason, by the way, I am a huge fan of Bernard Cornwell’s masterful historical, war-torn fiction.] This sentiment, however, does not necessarily detract from the pleasure I got in reading Shield. While I occasionally found myself lost in the book’s many characters and was unsure for some time who belonged to what army or which army was even the antagonists, I still enjoyed the story and would certainly recommend it to parents who care about what their kids are reading.

©2012 E.T.

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