Shielded by KayLynn Flanders
The kingdom of Hálendi is in trouble. It’s losing the war at its borders, and rumors of a new, deadlier threat on the horizon have surfaced. Princess Jennesara knows her skills on the battlefield would make her an asset and wants to help, but her father has other plans.
As the second-born heir to the throne, Jenna lacks the firstborn’s–her brother’s–magical abilities, so the king promises her hand in marriage to the prince of neighboring Turia in exchange for resources Hálendi needs. Jenna must leave behind everything she has ever known if she is to give her people a chance at peace.
Only, on the journey to reach her betrothed and new home, the royal caravan is ambushed, and Jenna realizes the rumors were wrong–the new threat is worse than anyone imagined. Now Jenna must decide if revealing a dangerous secret is worth the cost before it’s too late–for her and for her entire kingdom.
DISCLAIMER: I received an eARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Shielded is a testament to everything familiar we love in fantasy stories.
When Jennesara finds herself betrothed by surprise while her kingdom is at war, it’s not the story she envisioned for herself. She always imagined fighting on the front lines, not navigating her way through political alliances. But when it’s the only way to ensure Hálendi’s survival against an unnerving new threat, she accepts her new path. It will protect her kingdom, and more importantly, it will protect her family.
Except everything goes wrong while en route to meet her fiancé, and Jenna finds herself dodging the physical embodiment of evil in order to save not only her kingdom, but all the kingdoms on the Plateau from a miserable fate. Carrying a sword from her father and a ring from her mother, she has to rely on her own instincts.
Jenna is about to get her wish to fight for Hálendi’s survival, and while we might see a decent portion of her journey coming, it’s worth the ride nonetheless.
“It is our legacy to survive and protect.”
I’ll be the first to admit that Shielded does follow a fair few familiar tropes. Disguised royals? Resistance to betrothals that turns into a classic YA romance? Dead parents? Ancient evils? Forgotten but powerful magic? Yeah, we’ve seen it all before.
But it’s so comfortably, cozily familiar that I loved it all the same. I didn’t have to stretch my brain to accommodate a deluge of new world-building, since the new material was relatively straightforward. And I wasn’t racing to figure out how the characters could possibly survive, since I’d had a good idea long before reaching the solution proper.
For a book with major peril, it was pretty relaxing for my brain, even when it was tense, and I have to say I appreciate that.
More importantly, though, this is a book about a princess who feels the need to protect others deep, deep in her bones. And I, predictable sucker that I am, love her.
I’ve always had a soft spot for characters who defend others, especially when they’re looking out for those who can’t defend themselves, and Jenna fits that so well. Even when she’s suspicious of other people, especially in her early days in Turia, she’s immediately inclined to see the best in people. More than that, she wants to keep them safe, sometimes without consciously thinking about it. She simply acts in the face of danger, the whirlwind force standing in the way of certain death.
I am a simple blogger with simple needs, and this alone contributed SO HEAVILY to that four star rating. Can I get a hell yeah for Princess Jennesara?
I do have to ask, though: where are the shields?
Okay, so this is admittedly my one gripe (and to be fair, it’s not the worst gripe so much as it’s a picky one). There’s a sort of shield that factors into the story relatively late, but I was lead to believe there would be a great deal more shield-related content in this book, especially with a title like Shielded. And while I wouldn’t normally factor a misconception like this into my rating, I have to say, it really does feel incongruous with the title, even after reaching the end of the book.
If you’re going to pitch me a story about a shieldmaiden protecting her kingdom and more, then I want to see some more shield action. You can have characters be proactive and protective with a shield. You can even have them fight with a sword and a shield.
I suppose I just really like my protector characters to have shields or shield-adjacent equipment. Really sells it for me. Hits all the sweet spots.
Cute family dynamics? A quest for powerful magic? The comforts of YA fantasy? Sign me up!
Really, Shielded‘s familiar concepts are a rare case of familiarity working in a book’s favor. While I don’t think it’s a breakout, astoundingly unique tale, I do think it’s familiar in a cozy way. The romance follows common tropes, the relationships are sweet enough to make you want the best for the characters, and a race against the forces of evil to protect the world forms the core of the story.
Basically, it’s shaping up to be a fun comfort read, and since it’s already on shelves, you can get it now! I definitely advise picking it up if you’re in the mood for something that’s not too heavy or overwhelming.
And if you’re like me: a sucker for characters whose first instinct is to protect everyone else. 😍
CW: loss of a loved one, violence, animal death