Kara, Shieldmaiden of Eire

Forerunner Series Book 4

Fiction - Fantasy - Epic
400 Pages
Reviewed on 08/18/2022
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Jay Veloso Batista, author of the Viking Age Fantasy Forerunner Series, RGP games and non-fiction books, lives in coastal Delaware where he can enjoy the seafood and brew pubs of the Eastern Shore. Steeped in history, myths, legends, and medieval scholarship, the Forerunner Series weaves real historical figures into an adventure tale that spans the Ninth Century Viking Age world and beyond. The author puts special effort into making the setting realistic and including the often forgotten hidden folk of Scandinavian lore. The books feature multiple Points of View, an increasing pace and level of fantasy. If you like history and legends, or enjoy the gritty realism of TV's Vikings or the multi-character fantasy of The Song of Ice and Fire, or if you want Viking Age drama and adventures like The Last Kingdom, then this is a series you’ll love!

    Book Review

Reviewed by Jamie Michele for Readers' Favorite

Kara, Shieldmaiden of Eire by Jay Veloso Batista is a Viking Age saga and the fourth installment to The Forerunner Series. The first three novels progress in a linear timeline and include Thorfinn and the Witch's Curse, The Vardoger Boy, and On Viking Seas. Kara is in Eire, post-migration medieval Ireland, having fled her family and home after a disastrous attempt to see her married off. The winds of power change as often as the tide in Dublinn and Kara's place as a shield maiden in the King's guard is dangerous for a young woman, let alone a young teenager. The continual threat of the newest King getting their throat slit never ends. Cub has been saved from bondage and as he fights and strengthens a natural ability for politicking, his desire remains to claim his rightful place. Thorfinn is left to his own devices in the same way Sorven and Dunn are, but Sorven and Finn are both attacked by malevolent forces in different ways and with different outcomes. Everyone experiences the anguish of loss, but in battles against man and myth, there is rarely a clear winner.

Kara, Shieldmaiden of Eire by Jay Veloso Batista does not relent in the tension and shocking twists found in the previous three Forerunner books, which I have had the pleasure of reading as well. The books circle in, out, and around characters, and readers who are married to the series in the same way as I am will not be surprised that Kara's name being on the cover only gives her a slight advantage as the star character over the others. Kara's character arc is first-rate and she goes from strong to stronger, until a stunning and completely unexpected plot maneuver sends her into full berserker mode. In a terrifying instant, she is a warrior grown and a young woman broken. The irony is crushing and having grown to love the granddaughter of Ironfist, my heart crumbled. Finn also experiences unexpected growth to a lesser degree, which doesn't mean much since the temperature was molten, to begin with. I died a little inside when casualties ran rampant for him too. You would think by being four books into the series that not much can elevate a reader to shock and awe yet Batista keeps the clanking swords and witchy sorcery coming. I cannot wait for Marauders in Jotunheim. Very highly recommended.

Stephanie Chapman

Kara and Kaelen have finally arrived in Dublin, where Kara intends to follow her father’s legacy. Jay Veloso Batista continues The Forerunner Series with the fourth book, Kara, Shieldmaiden of Eire. It presents multiple storylines in this fantasy story featuring Kara, Cub, Sorven, Thorfinn, and Karl engaging in individual trials. Kara serves in the army for King Ausle. However, she feels drawn to Kaelen and wants to return home. Thorfinn is the vardoger capable of traveling between realms. He falls captive to the witch Knetti when she steals his lich. Cub has earned his freedom and is part of an elite army. Sorven has been swept into the Welsh countryside, working with his womanizing friend Dundle. Karl has joined his forces with Tanglehair to unite the northern lands.

Jay Veloso Batista created every page full of suspense, action, and engaging characters. There isn’t a moment that I couldn’t envision with the vivid imagery he includes in each scene. I felt the same disgust that Kara did with King Ausle’s sexual innuendos despite being engaged. Thorfinn’s personality fits perfectly with his lack of parental guidance. The distinct character personalities bring the story alive, with humorous events mixed into the serious battle scenes. I was on the edge of my seat because of the unpredictable nature of the story. The conclusion of this story floored me, as I never would have thought the story would turn again. I am eager to read the sequel. I recommend Kara, Shieldmaiden of Eire, to readers who like fantasy stories with a colorful array of characters.

Asher Syed

The Forerunner Series by Jay Veloso Batista runs full speed ahead with book four, Kara, Shieldmaiden of Eire, which follows the same Viking-era historical fiction path of its predecessors: book one, Thorfinn and the Witch's Curse, book two, The Vardoger Boy, and book three, On Viking Seas. Kara is, of course, the titular character and we are able to see her dream of a warrior shield-maiden life come to fruition in Dublinn, and in the service of the new Irish king. Just not the type of service he'd like for her. She's accustomed to men and women in arms fighting side by side, not lewdness and crass behavior and worse between comrades. This falls short of her true interest, the soldier Kaelan, and the blossoming of young love and all the angst that comes along with it. Kara is one of many characters and point-of-view narratives that weave together in an ensemble series of plots and subplots. The most consequential follow the divergent paths of Sorven and Dun, and a witch who has exactly zero qualms about launching a full-scale attack against Thorfinn when Uncle Karl sets off to fight for unification under King Harald.

In the interests of full disclosure, I have not read any other book in the series and took a leap of faith with Kara, Shieldmaiden of Eire, diving head first and without water wings into book four because my wife said I could and would be fine. I hate when she is right but in this case, I'm glad. Yes, it reads as a standalone because, one, author Jay Veloso Batista gives us such fine bone structure within the storyline itself that playing catch-up feels effortless; and two, there are Cliff's Notes-style “this is what has happened so far” provided at the front. Combined, they're marvelous. I'm a father who has a particular interest in female protagonists who are fierce, and Kara is about as fierce as they come. There's also naivete, but that's more down to culture shock as she transitions from being a Nordic runaway to a fighter of Eire. Viking-age Ireland wasn't exactly the warm-gooey-center of feminism. She's authentic and feels like a flesh and blood young woman, and I think many who read this book will, hopefully, see strength in young women they know that reflects what Batista builds in Kara. My apologies to Kara, though, because the true star of this book is Sorven and his often hilarious take on the Welsh village he did not choose to be in. If you happen to sleep next to someone who cannot tolerate snort-laughing, it's best to save this novel for the daytime. This is a wonderfully well-written, engaging, and wholly engrossing novel, and I've no doubt others with the wisdom to pick it up will feel the same way.

Steven Robson

Kara, Shieldmaiden Of Eire, Book 4 in the Forerunner Series by Jay Veloso Batista, continues the incredible adventures of four teenage descendants within the Agneson Lineage: Agne Agneson (Cub), Kara Agnesdatter, Thorfinn Agneson (Finn), and Sorven Agneson. Each of these fascinating personalities has embarked on voyages of discovery in a past world steeped in Viking culture and mythology; a world fraught with dangers of conquest and shifting alliances, bent by dark and mysterious forces pulled directly from the realms of nightmares. Kara is seeking recognition as a shieldmaiden of note and is followed on her quest by Kaelan, her young love, when they join the forces of a king little known to them and less respected by those that did know him. There she will achieve her goal, but at what cost? Whilst the title indicates this is Kara’s story, the reality is there are four equally compelling subplots within this amazing tale, and you will not be able to put the book down until you know the outcome of each of these teenagers’ quests.

Jay Veloso Batista’s Kara, Shieldmaiden Of Eire may appear a little daunting at first in its richness and complexity, particularly if read outside of the entire series, but it quickly develops into a fully engrossing tale deftly woven on multiple paths in parallel. The characters are all crafted superbly, with much attention to detail being applied consistent with the period and societal behaviors of Viking society. This is equally true for the relationships that are developed, and there is a wonderful variety of these, all unique and substantial in depth and quality. The bond between Kara and Kaelan which develops over time is very real, and greatly enhances the impact of one of the shock elements within the overall plot. Kara, Shieldmaiden Of Eire is definitely a book I would recommend to all those who love quality writing, amazing adventures, intense action, camaraderie, mythology, and the spirit of times past when legends were born.

Grant Leishman

Kara, Shieldmaiden of Eire (Forerunner Series Book 4) by Jay Veloso Batista is a monumental tale of Viking battle prowess and Norse family life, threaded with Viking lore, magic, and the gods. The 10th-century story chronicles the adventures of the Agneson Clan whose members are spread far and wide across the vast Viking Empire throughout Europe but especially in the lands that would one day make up Great Britain. Kara, just a newly minted teenager, has been promised an arranged marriage that she wants no part of. With her friend Kaelan, she escapes across the narrow seas to Eire, where she is determined to prove herself as a shieldmaiden in the employ of the King of Dublinn. Quickly disillusioned with the life of a warrior, Kara is also deeply conflicted by the feelings she has developed for her sixteen-year-old companion, Kaelan. Agne Agneson, known as Cub, the eldest sibling, escaped slavery and joined in the Viking conquest of Brittany. Thirteen-year-old Sorven Agneson is fighting to survive in the wilds of Wales, surrounded by a cut-throat group of villains. Uncle Karl Alfenson, son of the famous Alf (Ironfist) Alfenson has pledged his boat, The Verdandi Smiles, along with his warriors to Tanglehair who has sworn to unite the many Viking kingdoms of Northern Way. Linking all of these adventurers is young Thorfinn, left behind for his safety in a quiet fishing village. In his sleep, Thorfinn can travel the “realm between” and visit the various members of his family; however, Thorfinn’s safety is threatened by a vengeful witch and a mythical eight-armed giant.

Kara, Shieldmaiden of Eire is a masterpiece mixture of Viking history, lore, and magic. Author Jay Veloso Batista continues to develop and surprise with the characters that paradoxically seem both invincible and yet incredibly vulnerable. Having already read one of the earlier books in this series, I can confirm that it is not a necessity, as this book stands perfectly on its own and the author does a tremendous job of outlaying the scenarios that brought the characters to their present situations. Coupled with detailed character descriptions, a reader will understand and enjoy the narrative from the very first lines. I particularly appreciated that the author was authentic in the language of the day and although this can mean readers need to concentrate a little harder, it makes the story believable and real. Although this book does focus on Kara’s adventures more than the other siblings, the multiple story arcs do give the tale a broad scope and focus, which I enjoyed immensely.

The battle scenes are realistic, graphic, and carefully choreographed by the author, although one is sometimes left wondering how these mighty warriors can survive such horrific injuries that are inflicted on them. For me, the highlight of the story is the seamless manner in which the supernatural and magic are woven into the fabric of the narrative. Ghosts, fairies, elves, Viking gods, nine realms, witches, dragon worms, and even an eight-armed giant do not seem out of place in this Norse world and for me, this lifts the book above others in the Viking genre. This is a fantastic read in a wonderful series and I look forward to the next iteration.