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*Ursula's Maiden Army* by Philip Griffin- young readers book review


Ursula's Maiden Army
by Philip Griffin
Ages 9-12 298 pages Beagle Bay Books April 2006 Paperback    

Ursula’s Maiden Army, a creative historical fantasy, was first published in 2004 in Germany and released in 2006 in the U.S. The first edition has reportedly had excellent reception.

The fifth century is a time when Rome is about to collapse and the beginning of the Dark Ages looms. Invaders from every corner of the Roman world are breaching borders in an effort to strike Rome while she is weak. Threats from individual groups of marauders to entire armies stress the Roman army to a dangerous level.

Most of the men are away defending the dying Roman Empire, forcing Princess Ursula and four of her most loyal friends - Pinnosa, Brittola, Cordula, Martha and Saula - to become leaders and eventually, heroines. Courageous women join the efforts in defending the Britannic realm from invasion by Picts, Hibernians and Saxons without hesitation. This unique army of women becomes renowned for their successes and is named the First Athena.

Soon, the First Athena is sent on a quest to find the armies of countrymen and persuade them to return home. Along the way, they are met with foes greater than they could ever have imagined.

Reading the Historical Note section at the back of the book first is recommended, even though it will likely reveal some of the storyline. Descriptions of legendary historical people and interesting facts about the remains held within the Golden Chamber under the Church of Saint Ursula can be found in this section. St. Ursula, it turns out, was a real pagan hero who was canonized by the Catholic Church several hundred years after her time. During this era, many cultures passed history down through oral lessons; because ancient peoples of bear worship existed for some time during the Dark Ages, it is suspected that the heroine was renamed as Ursula, which means “little bear.” Why the women went to war remains unknown. Their bravery and unselfish sacrifice, however, are well-known and highly respected.

Author Philip Griffin, a world-traveled ESL (English as a Second Language) educator, was turned on to the legend of Saint Ursula, a leader of the remarkable army of 20,000 female warriors that lived in the fifth century. After six years of researching the fragments of information available through facts and folklore, Griffin began working on the manuscript of this 288-page book. The author currently resides in Kent, UK with his wife and dog. Ursula’s Maiden Army is his first novel.

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  Lillian Brummet/2006 for curled up with a good kid's book  

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