The Bookseller – Rights – Del Rey lands ‘groundbreaking’ Willow and Hendel historical epic

Del Rey landed Maiden with Black Shieldthe first book in a medieval fantasy series by Willow Smith and Jess Hendel.

Del Rey US editor Tricia Narwani acquired North American publishing rights from CAA’s Cait Hoyt. UK publishing rights were acquired by editorial director Sam Bradbury from CAA’s Emily Westcott. Maiden with Black Shield will be released in print and digital format on October 4, 2022. The audio edition will be released simultaneously by Penguin Random House Audio.

Willow is a musician, record producer, activist and actress who went platinum and is now making her foray into writing with a novel intended to make visible the “erased” mythologies of medieval African peoples and women of the viking era. Maiden with Black Shield champions intersectional feminism, freedom of gender expression and dialogue between cultures.

Del Rey wrote: “Maiden with Black Shield is the story of Yafeu, a defiant but fiercely compassionate young warrior who is stolen from her home in the burgeoning Ghanaian empire and thrown into the world of the Vikings. There, she discovers a strange new world of savage shield maidens, tyrannical rulers and mysterious gods, but also a kindred spirit in Freydis, a Viking princess, who also wants the same thing: to forge her own destiny. With Freydis at her side, Yafeu will change the course of history and become the revolutionary heroine of her own myths.

Willow commented, “I’m so grateful to tell the story of Maiden with Black Shield in the world. Fundamentally, the problems we face today are the same ones we have encountered time and time again throughout our history. That’s why we create new stories, from different perspectives and even look to history for deep wisdom that can inspire us and help us grow. I hope this story will do that for readers.

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