Peaceweaver by Rebecca Barnhouse is the story of a sixteen-year-old who carries the great burden of creating peace between two enemy kingdoms. Hild has the special gift of receiving messages from the gods about the future, but when she kills a traitor who hasn’t yet been proven guilty, she becomes treated by the people around her as if she were possessed. Her uncle, the king, sends her on a treacherous journey to marry the heir of the enemy king, telling her that this will help to create an alliance between the nations.
This book is an intense adventure that young adult readers will find engaging but also, perhaps, challenging. There are numerous references to the epic poem Beowulf, which might make Peaceweaver a great introductory tool for teachers planning on teaching the poem. Like Beowulf, this book has a collection of Middle English names such as Arinbjörn and Thialfi, which may turn some readers away, but those who stick with it will find interesting facts about medieval life thanks to the research of Barnhouse, who has a background in studying Anglo-Saxon manuscripts and various languages. The only downfall to this is that most readers will be unfamiliar with the terminology used in the book, which may make the plot confusing at times.
The story itself is adventurous. Hild is an admirable heroine who has a strong sense of honor due to her comfortable upbringing. At a young age she takes on a huge responsibility, determined to make a change in a world where men are in charge and seem to be interested only in fighting. Although readers do not get the chance to see her character develop much until the very end of the book, Peaceweaver seems like a good lead into a sequel. I would give this book 4 out of 5 stars.