Though I’ve been sampling the young adult fantasy fiction genre this past year, I had yet to read any of the work by Frewin Jones. Thus, I was quite interested when HarperCollins sent me several of his books, including a review copy of Jones’ most recent novel, Warrior Princess.
Not your average watered-down tale of sappy adolescent angst, Warrior Princess opens with a violent and heart-wrenching scene of true anguish and grief. The heroine of this historical fiction adventure is 15-year-old Branwen, a princess though certainly not spoiled. She is strong and daring, and though she yearns for courage in the face of battle, she also tries her best to respect her parents’ plans for her. Finding herself at a fork in the road that leads towards two potential futures, Branwen struggles to find her own way and make her own choices.
In the coming war between Branwen’s people and the Saxon invaders, Branwen must choose between honoring a pre-arranged marriage, thereby ensuring the safety of herself and her family’s name, or becoming a warrior and defying convention. The latter path unveils itself as one that is steeped in old magic woven by ancient gods nearly all but forgotten. Though forbidden to even speak of such ancient myths, following this mystical path may be the choice that saves Branwen, her village, and countless others.
Jones’ writing is ripe with fresh imagery that lingers and haunts, even after the book has been closed and set down. He spares no detail in his descriptions of the battle scenes, so this book may not be for the squeamish at heart, but it would certainly appeal to a teenage fan base looking for an intelligent, gutsy, and heroic female main character.
It felt as though the fog-shrouded forest was holding its breath, waiting for something to happen. Branwen shivered, wishing she had her slingshot to hand, wishing Geraint’s knife wasn’t locked away in a chest on one of the lost wagons.
And then, just as it felt as if the world were about to crack open under the strain, a dark shape came winging out of the fog, so sudden and swift that Branwen let out a startled yell.
Frewin Jones is the author of The Faerie Path series of young adult fantasy novels.