SHIELDMAIDEN SQUADRON is a series that’s been a long time coming. But it’s almost here – finally! And I cannot wait to share it with you.
When Viking Academy came out, I got a lot of questions about Ingrid and Axel. What were they up to? Were they ever getting together? And the number one question: would they be getting their own series? I’m happy to tell you that after two years – and a lot of words – Ingrid’s trilogy is finally complete. And all three books will be released this year!
SILENT SHIELD – December 14, 2021
SHIELDMAIDEN SQUADRON follows Ingrid and Axel a thousand years into the future + five thousand miles west, to the not-so-quaint coastal town of Los Angeles. They’re tasked with hunting down the dark mage who’s threatened to destroy their home. But their mission takes a turn when they’re forced to take cover at a local university . . . where they find themselves balancing shieldmaiden/assassin duties with sorority/fraternity responsibilities. If you’ve ever wondered what would happen if Legally Blonde and Vikings did a crossover, have I got the series for you . . .
SHIELDMAIDEN SQUADRON: BOOK 1 releases on August 24th. You can pre-order it at:
Eighteen-year-old Ingrid Tirsdatter is a shieldmaiden—a Viking warrior tasked with protecting her clan while upholding their virtues of honor, valor, and total domination. She’s one-hundred-percent focused on climbing the shieldmaiden ranks, and not at all focused on Axel Andersson—the overly confident and unnaturally good-looking warrior who saved her life exactly one time . . . and hasn’t let her forget it.
When an unparalleled enemy threatens Ingrid’s clan, she vows to do everything in her power to protect her home. But saving Valkyris will require her to travel one thousand years into the future, join an elite Southern California sorority, capture a magic-wielding psychopath . . . and not fall for the one warrior in all the realms who could be her undoing. Ingrid’s new assignment is a nightmare in the making, but she’s determined to do her clan proud. After all, she’s a shieldmaiden.
And shieldmaidens never back down.
And now, a SNEAK PEEK at the first chapter of SHIELDMAIDEN SQUADRON!
DON’T MOVE, INGRID. DO. Not. Move.
I winced as the business end of a freshly sharpened sword pressed into my neck. The muted, silver blade was cold. And impassive. And unnervingly sharp.
Do. Not. Move.
“Good setup. Now, hold that position.” Janna, the captain of the Shieldmaiden Squadron and the fiercest woman I’d ever met, strode across the training room. Her eyes narrowed as she studied my partner. “Eydis, adjust your angle. The tip of your sword should strike Ingrid’s neck at forty-five degrees. If you drive in from where you are, you’ll hit resistance from her collarbone, and she’ll be both upright and angry. Not a good combination.”
“Understood.” My fellow first-year nodded.
“Watch me.” Janna stepped back, then raised her sword to our practice dummy. She kept her blade parallel to the ground as she jammed the tip into the target’s neck. Her sword wobbled, but failed to pierce.
Eydis nodded at our leader while I held myself perfectly still so as to avoid potential death-by-impaling. Only my eyes shifted, following Janna’s movements and cataloguing each angle for future implementation. Janna had the most battle kills in the history of the Valkyris shieldmaidens. I so wanted to be her someday.
“Now, if you adjust that angle away from the clavicle, you not only hit an artery and severely debilitate your attacker, but you find minimal muscular resistance if decapitation is your end goal.” Janna pulled her arm back and struck the dummy again—this time, at the correct angle. Her sword sliced easily through its neck, and when Janna flicked her wrist to the side, the dummy’s straw-stuffed head toppled to the ground. “Everyone follow?”
“Yes, Captain,” we chanted in unison.
My arm trembled as I struggled to maintain my position. We’d been running combat sequences for three hours, and while I was usually the last one to tire, my muscles were doubly exhausted from my early morning climbing session. Janna had set up an optional course along the Cliffs of Conquest—the near vertical barrier at the northwest edge of the shieldmaiden compound—and the two of us had scaled it twice before breakfast.
Only the strongest will thrive.
“Is this better?” Eydis raised her elbow so her sword angled toward the hollow of my throat. The tip chilled my skin.
“Much,” Janna confirmed. “Ingrid, at ease. You were an excellent target.”
“Thanks.” I exhaled heavily as I took a step back and lowered my arms. They only trembled a little as the tension ebbed from my triceps.
“That’s it for today’s practical component. But we will be going over this sequence again, so I want you take your journals home and illustrate the three most optimal kill points, along with the ideal angles of incision. You’ll discuss them during practicum tomorrow.” Janna holstered her sword, and clapped her hands together. “Squad dismissed. Ingrid, may I have a private word?”
Skit. I thought I’d done well enough. Janna must have noticed my fatigue. If she canceled our early morning workouts, I’d lose my edge on the rest of the girls. Falling behind could cost me my spot in Norway’s elite female fighting team.
And it was the only place I wanted to be.
“Good luck.” Eydis patted my shoulder as she holstered her weapon. “I’ll save you a seat at lunch.”
“Thanks.” I hurriedly wiped down my blade, and did my best to ignore the pitying looks from the other girls as I marched determinedly to the edge of the training ring. Janna was busy reattaching the training dummy’s head, so I sheathed my sword and stood at attention with my hands folded at the small of my back.
When the last of the girls had left the room, Janna set the newly re-capitated dummy against the wall and turned to me. “At ease, Ingrid. It’s not that kind of talk.”
The tension drained from my shoulders. “I know protocol dictates that when in the presence of a superior officer, a—”
“Stop right there.” Janna tilted her head so her charcoal braids fell over one shoulder. Her russet-brown skin was pinked from exertion, and drops of sweat trickled down her muscular arms. With her high tolerance for pain and her low tolerance for drama, Janna was an ideal leader. But it was her compassion that made her unique among the high-ranking shieldmaidens. She’d taken me under her wing from the first day of my tryouts, and she’d been my champion ever since.
I honestly didn’t know where I’d be without her.
Now she tilted her head and lowered her voice. “I need you to forget protocol for a minute.”
“I thought we were never supposed to forget protocol. ‘Squad above self,’ right?”
“Always.” Janna nodded. “But in this case, the squad needs you to deviate from routine. I want you to help me with an assignment. And I’m going to need you to lose the whole ‘superior officer’ mindset to do it.”
“Now I’m really confused.”
Janna’s eyes twinkled. “Let’s take a walk.”
“Won’t you be late for your lunch meeting with the senior—”
“Ingrid Tirsdatter. Are you questioning my orders?”
“You just told me to forget protocol.”
Janna jutted her chin toward the door. “Outside. Now.”
I snapped my heels together, grabbed my cloak from the hook, and followed my captain into the brisk, autumn air. Octobers in southern Norway were usually mild, but today the wind that whipped across the bluffs carried a chill. I hurriedly threw the thick, wool fabric around my shoulders and fastened the cloak’s iron clasp at my chest. Janna seemed as unaffected by the weather as she was everything else. Very little rattled her. Whereas me, on the other hand . . .
Well, it had been a rough year.
We walked in silence until we reached the cliffs. Janna paused at the edge, crossing her arms and staring straight ahead. The sea churned below us, its violent grey waves frothing into white-tipped peaks. Above, heavy clouds crowded the sky. We’d need to get inside soon or we’d incur the wrath of Thor. He wasn’t hugely forgiving of those who remained outside when he’d given clear indicators of a downpour.
“Ingrid.” Janna’s voice pulled me back.
“You trust me. Don’t you?”
“I’d follow you into any battle any day,” I vowed.
Janna turned her head to study me. “But do you trust me?”
“I wouldn’t follow you into battle if I didn’t.”
Janna returned her attention to the sea. “What I’m about to tell you is fairly . . . unbelievable.”
“Please.” I pulled my cloak tighter around me as a fresh gust blew from below. “We live on a magical island in a compound powered by älva dust. We have flameless candles, and bucketless baths, and women in governing roles, and, well . . . countless other things I’d never dreamed possible when I moved here last year. Oh, and we have dragons—actual, honest-to-gods dragons who work with our airborne assassins to protect our lands. It’s safe to say that we’re well past believability.”
“We’ll see about that,” Janna said drily. She pivoted slowly, squaring her shoulders to mine. “We have a lead on the dark mage who threatened Valkyris a few months’ back.”
“The same one that brought a dragon back to life?” And nearly killed us all . . .
“Ja,” Janna said. “We’ve finally confirmed his location.”
My spine straightened. “What are we waiting for? It’s our duty to stop him before he hurts anyone else.”
And it was. The Shieldmaiden Squadron defended Valkyris’ virtues of honor, kindness, and equality, and we ensured no harm came to our island, our chieftains, or our people. Though our colony was protected by magic, we still relied on our warriors to uphold its values and protect the lands beyond our borders from threats.
Even unimaginable ones.
“We are going after the dark mage.” Janna spoke slowly. “But . . .”
Why is she being so careful?
“Who’s on our hunt team? Eydis is young, but she’s one of the strongest fighters we’ve got. Her parents were killed in the northern incineration, and I know she’d gladly give her life if it meant bringing in the mage who destroyed her clan.”
“This isn’t that kind of mission,” Janna said. “You and I are going after the dark mage alone. Well, not exactly alone. We’ll have backup. But not from within the squadron.”
My eyes narrowed. “But a full unit always goes on kill missions. Squad protocol dictates that no fewer than ten shieldmaidens—”
“I told you we were going to deviate from protocol on this one.” Janna met my curious stare. “The mage has been located, but we need to move swiftly before he changes location again.”
“Where was he last spotted?”
“After the battle with Clan Bjorn, and the more recent reindeer massacre and incineration of their herders’ village, he shifted his focus west,” Janna said. “My sources tell me that he crossed the ocean and set up a new camp on the western edge of the landmass beyond Greenland.”
I mentally ran through what little I knew about the lands west of ours. My friend Saga and our chieftains’ son, Erik, had recently left on a western-heading voyage. “Did Saga and Erik spot him?”
“Highly unlikely,” Janna said, “seeing as the dark mage has traveled not only in distance, but also in time.”
“Breathe.” Janna’s hand on my shoulder reined in my panic.
“He can travel through time? How the Helheim are we supposed to find him if he’s not even where—or when—we are?”
“That’s the mission,” Janna said calmly. “I need you to be my second as I narrow his location and bring him home. You’re the best tracker on the squad—my most dedicated new recruit. And because you’ve demonstrated an unparalleled level of composure, I know you’ll handle this assignment with dignity and decorum.”
“Uh, thanks.” My fingertips played with the insides of my cloak. “But you didn’t answer my question. We can’t find someone who’s jumped through time. Not unless we . . . I mean, we’d have to . . .”
Janna didn’t blink.
Oh. My. Gods.
“No.” I shook my head. “No. I cannot believe that.”
“You just said we were past believability.” Janna’s eyes twinkled.
“It is simply not possible for you and I to travel to the past. Or the future. Or . . . whenever. It is just. Not. Possible.”
“It is,” Janna said simply. “And I’m doing it. Today. Hopefully with you as my second.”
“I meant what I said—I’d follow you into any battle any day. But this . . . this is crazy. How is this even . . . how can you . . . can we . . .”
“Chieftess Freia will explain. But I need to know if you’re in or out. The transport leaves in one hour. We can’t afford to lose the target.”
“I’m in,” I declared. “You’ve had my back from my first day here, and I’ll always have yours. What do you need me to pack?”
“I’ve already had weapons and supplies sent to the castle. We’re meeting the rest of our team in the chieftains’ quarters, and I believe we’re porting out from there. This is a top-clearance assignment, which means only Chieftess Freia, Chief Halvar, and the members of our immediate team can know where—and when—we’re going.”
“Of course.” I had one thousand questions, but Janna was already on the move. She marched determinedly along the edge of the cliff, quickly crossing the heather-dusted landscape at the edge of the shieldmaiden compound. I hurried to catch up to her, pulling my cloak tighter around my shoulders as we neared the edge of the forest. “We’re the only shieldmaidens going?”
“Correct,” Janna confirmed.
“Who else is joining us? Warriors? Seers? Do we have access to our own mage?” Please, let us have our own mage . . .
“Freia wants a disseminator to document the cultural findings of our new location—and time.” Janna looked up as fat droplets descended from the clouds. We quickly broke into a jog.
“That’s smart. Maybe we can incorporate new customs on our return. Who else is coming?”
“The disseminator has a protector, apparently—he won’t let her go unless he accompanies her. Which may not be a bad thing. My understanding is that he is an extremely competent warrior.”
Recognition prickled at the back of my skull. I was aware of only one disseminator with an overprotective warrior companion. My old nemesis, Brigga, had tortured me and my friends during our time at Valkyris Academy. I was none too eager to take a trip with her . . . or with Raynor. The chieftains’ younger son hadn’t always had our tribe’s interests at heart. Raynor had come around in recent months, but I still didn’t trust him. Was including him on this mission really the best idea?
“Who else is joining us?” I asked cautiously.
“An assassin,” Janna said as she jogged through the forest. “I requested the one with the highest kill rate. As I understand it, he’s a favorite of the chieftains. Freia said he’ll be a strong asset.”
My breath stilled as I ran through Valkyris’ catalogue of killers. We didn’t have many, and there were even fewer who’d garnered favor from the chieftains. Which meant there was a high likelihood the assassin going on this mission would be . . .
Oh, gods. Please not him.
“Which assassin is coming?” My voice wavered over the words.
“Axel Andersson.” Janna didn’t break her stride.
Blood drained from my face as I charged after my captain and glared up at the sky.