I must admit that when I received this lengthy tome -630 pages, translated from German- I was wondering why, exactly I had chosen this book to review. It must have been the book's description: "England 1161: Ellen, a blacksmith's daughter desires to become a swordsmith, but for a girl this male profession is unimaginable...." You had me at England 1161. I love all things Middle Ages, historical and fantasy. I was an avid attender at Renaissance Fairs until my children were old enough that I would have to pay the exorbitant rates. I have a hardback, collector's edition of King Arthur tales. I was drawn to The Copper Sign. But, it's size and those fateful words, "translated from German", made me put it to the back of my to be read pile. So, I finally pulled it out a few days ago and was very pleasantly surprised.
Ellen is a wonderful heroine. She's brave and bold and a woman living in a man's world. Her plight captures the reader immediately. Her misfortune at times seems a bit overdone. But, this is the Middle Ages. Life was quite dangerous and death a close companion. Her adventures certainly keep the reader hanging on to know what will happen. There are some great historical tidbits about the time period and some wonderful glimpses of daily life during the Middle Ages. And at the end of the story, Ellen has completed not only a physical journey but an emotional one of sorts. Without giving anything away, I can say she grows as a character,
There were a few things that detracted from the story. The wording was occasionally very stilted, sounding more like a report than a novel. I'm pretty sure this was because of the translation. The author's original work in German may have "felt" very different. There is quite a bit of graphic violence. This is typical of the time period. So, while I would have rather not read it, I can understand why it was there. There are also a few sexual encounters. For the most part, these are also related in a dry manner, almost like reporting, and are not very graphic.
I would give this one a 4 star rating and an R for content.
I received a free copy of this book from Amazon for review purposes. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.