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“A vital, evocative novel with a female protagonist who not only forges swords but also our vision of the middle ages.” – Javier Sierra, author of The Secret Supper and The Lost Angel England 1161: Ellen, a blacksmith’s daughter, wants to become a swordsmith, but for a girl this profession is unimaginable. Forced to run away from home, she disguises herself as a boy and win “A vital, evocative novel with a female protagonist who not only forges swords but also our vision of the middle ages.” – Javier Sierra, author of The Secret Supper and The Lost Angel England 1161: Ellen, a blacksmith’s daughter, wants to become a swordsmith, but for a girl this profession is unimaginable. Forced to run away from home, she disguises herself as a boy and wins the opportunity to travel with a famous swordsmith to Normandy, where the sons of the greatest barons are trained to be knights. Under the assumed identity of Alan, Ellen is able to learn the trade and become familiar with court life. But when she falls in love with Guillaume, a brilliant knight, her secret is threatened and Ellen must run for her life. Across countries and time, Ellen struggles to achieve her dream of working as a swordsmith and eventually forging a sword for the king. It is a quest rich in intrigue, betrayal, and treachery. As epic as it is intimate, The Copper Sign is a passionate tour de force that will leave you breathlessly awaiting book two, The Silver Falcon.


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“A vital, evocative novel with a female protagonist who not only forges swords but also our vision of the middle ages.” – Javier Sierra, author of The Secret Supper and The Lost Angel England 1161: Ellen, a blacksmith’s daughter, wants to become a swordsmith, but for a girl this profession is unimaginable. Forced to run away from home, she disguises herself as a boy and win “A vital, evocative novel with a female protagonist who not only forges swords but also our vision of the middle ages.” – Javier Sierra, author of The Secret Supper and The Lost Angel England 1161: Ellen, a blacksmith’s daughter, wants to become a swordsmith, but for a girl this profession is unimaginable. Forced to run away from home, she disguises herself as a boy and wins the opportunity to travel with a famous swordsmith to Normandy, where the sons of the greatest barons are trained to be knights. Under the assumed identity of Alan, Ellen is able to learn the trade and become familiar with court life. But when she falls in love with Guillaume, a brilliant knight, her secret is threatened and Ellen must run for her life. Across countries and time, Ellen struggles to achieve her dream of working as a swordsmith and eventually forging a sword for the king. It is a quest rich in intrigue, betrayal, and treachery. As epic as it is intimate, The Copper Sign is a passionate tour de force that will leave you breathlessly awaiting book two, The Silver Falcon.

30 review for The Copper Sign

  1. 4 out of 5

    Lolly's Library

    Research - 5 stars (at least as far as blacksmithing goes) Execution - 1 star Writing ability - 2 stars Originally published in Germany in 2006, The Copper Sign was picked up and translated by Amazon.com's AmazonCrossing publishing imprint. Now, I don't know if it's the fault of the translator or if it's the fault of the original prose, but despite the book's history, it still reads as a self-published work. There's a good book in here and a competent editor would've brought it out. As it stands, t Research - 5 stars (at least as far as blacksmithing goes) Execution - 1 star Writing ability - 2 stars Originally published in Germany in 2006, The Copper Sign was picked up and translated by Amazon.com's AmazonCrossing publishing imprint. Now, I don't know if it's the fault of the translator or if it's the fault of the original prose, but despite the book's history, it still reads as a self-published work. There's a good book in here and a competent editor would've brought it out. As it stands, though, one has to wade through a lot of chaff to get to the few kernels of a good story. First off, there's the length: over 600 pages. And this is just the first novel of a trilogy. This book could've been cut down into a trilogy all by itself. That said, most of those 600 pages are devoted to a whole lotta nothing. I give credit to the author: It's obvious she loves the art of blacksmithing and it's just as obvious she's studied it in a great deal of depth. However, like many authors, it's just as obvious she had a hard time deciding what research to cut from her story and so decided just to put all of it in. As a result, we get many passages detailing (and I do mean detailing) the work put into creating a medieval sword and other ironworking skills. After a while, the book begins to read as a treatise on medieval metallurgy, which, in context, would be fascinating, I'm sure. But not in the middle of a fiction novel. A few brief passages here and there, highlighting specific points of the process would've given the reader plenty of insight into how medieval craftspeople worked without bogging the narrative down. Speaking of the narrative, to be honest, there really wasn't one. There was no over-arching plot, just a series of vignettes in which the main character, Ellen, moves from one location to another. Ellen would change location, there would be a small conflict, she'd move and the cycle would begin again. There was no great growth of character and no building of the story towards a great conflict to be resolved in the final act. Speaking of those multiple small conflicts, after a while they became tiresome and quite ridiculous. Though news didn't travel as far or as quickly in that time period, stories of criminals and people wanted for crimes would've been grist for the gossip mill and would've nearly flown through the network of merchants, tinkers/peddlers, jongleurs/minstrels and others who traveled between towns and villages. Ellen, who during the tale is accused of murder and a few other crimes, simply moves to the next town when, pardon my language, the shit hit the fan, and manages to set up shop as a blacksmith, a female blacksmith, mind you, which was no ordinary thing. Every time she moves, she manages to avoid ever being recognized or charged for the crimes--for which she's innocent, but that's beside the point--with nary a bailiff or magistrate sniffing around her shop to harass or arrest her. I'm sorry, but that stretches the limits of reality. No one is that lucky, especially when Ellen is equally unlucky in having all these tragedies occur in her life, tragedies which spur her nomadic movements and fuel each vignette. The whole novel just didn't flow properly, never mind the fact that it was just so one-dimensional. However, what really struck me about the plot was just how little the characters interacted with the times in which they lived. As the reader, you never got a sense of the history, of what was going on with the politics of the time. Sure, kings were mentioned and war campaigns were talked about, but it was in a secondary, off-hand way. Even though Ellen met with Henry, the Young King (son and crowned heir of Henry II), the whole scene felt as though she was simply meeting with another character and not an actual historical personage. There was no sense of place to the entire novel. It could've been set in any time, in any country. About the only details of life in that particular time period which permeated the story were details concerning the middle/lower classes and even those details were limited to narrow section of the population, that of the craftspeople which populated the towns and countryside. Then we come to the characters, none of which I ever identified with or sympathized with or even particularly liked. Ellen herself was bipolar: One moment she would be stubborn and proud and so very, very prickly; the next she would be meek and pious. Most of the time, though, she's either mean or disparaging to those around her, which means she spends the rest of the time wondering why they're angry with her or sad because of something she said. And, of course, every man who met her fell in love with her in some way, even when she was disguised as a boy. Puh-lease! That particular angle drove one of the characters, Thibault, the villain of the piece. Thibault first meets Ellen when she's disguised as Alan and apprenticed to the local blacksmith. Thibault finds himself attracted to this "boy" and flagellates himself for his dirty desires. When he eventually finds out Alan is Ellen, he loathes her with a dark rage even as he still desires her, which drives his actions throughout the book. His rage/passion drives him to perpetrate dark deeds, including murder, all to clear the way for him to make Ellen his woman. (view spoiler)[And this, despite the fact that Ellen is his half-sister, which she tells him a couple of times and which he refuses to believe. (hide spoiler)] Basically, Thibault is a one-dimensional pig; a cad, a rapist, a bully, a loathsome man. He's a standard, black hat wearing villain with no depth. You hate him because he's hate-able and that's it. The remaining characters were either your standard archetypes or ciphers, placed in the story for Ellen to find or interact with, but that's about it. About the only one with potential was Isaac, another blacksmith we meet towards the end of the novel and, naturally, another love interest for Ellen. His personality actually progresses and develops some depth, making him quite unique. Fox's writing is passable, though obviously in need of editing, as with the rest of the book. There was a sense of awkwardness to the whole thing, especially as concerns the dialogue, and this occasional inelegance would be enough to jar me out of a scene and make me wish the passage had been written in a more pleasing fashion. To be honest, until I read the author bio at the back of the book, I would've sworn Katia Fox was a young adult. Her use, or should I say, over-use of exclamation points reminded me of a teenager's journal. Characters, in their speech, would enthuse! About the smallest things! Things which weren't exciting at all! After a while, 'Find the Exclamation Point' became a game, though not a drinking one; I would've been hammered after a page or two. I doubt I will read the other two books in the series. Firstly, because I didn't find The Copper Sign all that enthralling or leaving me breathless for book two, as the back of book claims one will be upon finishing the novel. And secondly, I honestly can't see any of the characters having much left to say or do; they didn't do that much in this book. The concept behind this novel is intriguing and with a competent editor, The Copper Sign (and subsequent novels) could've probably been something spectacular. As it stands now, though, I would be hard pressed to recommend it to anyone. Sorry.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Katy

    3.5 STARS - This is a really good story for someone who has the patience to read a long book and take in a lot of information. But the book dragged, and the writing was dull - though I'm not sure much of that is due to the language lost in translation. I have mixed feelings about this book because I was really intrigued by the storyline from Ellen's ambition to the hardships she has suffered to the romances she had experienced to the outcome at the end. But I also felt like I was reading a whole 3.5 STARS - This is a really good story for someone who has the patience to read a long book and take in a lot of information. But the book dragged, and the writing was dull - though I'm not sure much of that is due to the language lost in translation. I have mixed feelings about this book because I was really intrigued by the storyline from Ellen's ambition to the hardships she has suffered to the romances she had experienced to the outcome at the end. But I also felt like I was reading a whole saga and not just one book. SO much happened, and it was a lot to take in - with some parts that I really liked and some parts that I didn't like and even some parts that disgusted me. Overall, it wasn't a bad read - and one I actually liked. It was just a bit of a beating to get through the whole book.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

    I was really interested in this book and wanted to finish, but the content of the book is not what I would read.I skipped around a lot especially when the book focused on the "Bad guy" who was sexually obsessed with our main character. I felt so bad for this girl her life was just one tragedy after another. There was a point in the book she was living in a safe place with people who loved her but her need to be a blacksmith drove her into more bad situations. I just couldn't read about anything I was really interested in this book and wanted to finish, but the content of the book is not what I would read.I skipped around a lot especially when the book focused on the "Bad guy" who was sexually obsessed with our main character. I felt so bad for this girl her life was just one tragedy after another. There was a point in the book she was living in a safe place with people who loved her but her need to be a blacksmith drove her into more bad situations. I just couldn't read about anything else happening to the girl and put it down. This was a long book with descriptions about forging and goldsmiths that lasted for pages and I ended up skimming over a lot of the detail of her making her swords. The writing was well done and it did take you back in time, I'm just thankful I didn't have to live in.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Sara Diane

    I got this one because it sounded remotely interesting and it was on a great deal for the Kindle. I ended up returning it because the content was so slimy that I didn't want to touch it. There is nothing elegant or even pretty about Fox's writing skill, and her storytelling leaves much to be desired. It's hard to pin down the main character's age, yet we have sex scenes right and left, including an incest-rape. Fox has no sense of pacing, skipping whole years and then rushing through the interest I got this one because it sounded remotely interesting and it was on a great deal for the Kindle. I ended up returning it because the content was so slimy that I didn't want to touch it. There is nothing elegant or even pretty about Fox's writing skill, and her storytelling leaves much to be desired. It's hard to pin down the main character's age, yet we have sex scenes right and left, including an incest-rape. Fox has no sense of pacing, skipping whole years and then rushing through the interesting parts where her character might actually develop. With so much better writing available out there, there's no need to waste time on this on.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    Didn't finish, so I won't officially rate it, but based on what I did read, it's a 2 out of 5. Some good descriptions of the setting and of sword-crafting, but the writing reads like a rough first draft. Alas. Didn't finish, so I won't officially rate it, but based on what I did read, it's a 2 out of 5. Some good descriptions of the setting and of sword-crafting, but the writing reads like a rough first draft. Alas.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Charlotte

    There was something about Fox's writing that I just didn't like, a certain lack of emotional depth and an overuse of exclamation points in the dialogue. When I read the author bio at the end, I realized that it had been translated from German, which made the strangeness of the text make a little more sense. But despite the writing style, this was a book that I had trouble putting down. The Copper Sign tells the story of Eleanweore, the daughter of a common blacksmith, who is drawn to the art fro There was something about Fox's writing that I just didn't like, a certain lack of emotional depth and an overuse of exclamation points in the dialogue. When I read the author bio at the end, I realized that it had been translated from German, which made the strangeness of the text make a little more sense. But despite the writing style, this was a book that I had trouble putting down. The Copper Sign tells the story of Eleanweore, the daughter of a common blacksmith, who is drawn to the art from a young age. Being a girl, there is little hope that she'll be able to follow her dream until she discovers the local lord having a liaison with her mother. With little explanation as to why this is such a tremendous problem, Ellen is forced to flee for her life. She is disguised as a boy for her safety and then takes to the road, where she quickly finds work as a blacksmith's apprentice. It becomes quickly evident that she's a natural, with the potential to become a swordsmith, the highest art of smithing. Being uniquely gifted, she quickly masters what he can teach her and moves on to a bigger town and a her master's master, a legendary swordsmith. When her new master is forced by the king to move to Normandy, she goes with him and quickly becomes involved with the life of the squires who are training to be knights in Toqueville. Among the squires in Toqueville she meets William Marshall, the real life Mohammed Ali of the Norman England jousting circuit. (For a great read about William Marshall, read The Greatest Knight, by Elizabeth Chadwick). From the beginning, William is making enemies with his success and as he befriends the little blacksmith and teaches her how to fight, his enemies become hers. The plot is often driven by a rather shallow enemy who is obsessed with Ellen and driven by jealousy of William to be a bad guy. He is, of course, her secret half-brother, but she cannot prove it. He has no qualities other than being the weak-willed menace to Ellen and nearly destroys the novel. His characterization is the weakest part of the novel, but it's a very weak part. The Copper Sign is a typical journey novel, with one adventure following another with somewhat loose couplings, but atypically has a female lead. While she is, of course, beautiful and her sexual appeal is the primary source of her problems, but she also struggles with being taken seriously as a swordsmith. This struggle with balancing her work with her family and dealing with the responsibility of being the primary breadwinner in a man's world is a modern problem, which is a big strength of the novel. And for all of the flaws of the shallow plot line and lack of any deep introspection from any of the characters, the characters are unusual and you do want to know where Ellen is going to go next. One of the big strengths of the novel is that the secondary characters are really interesting; the world is deep and detailed and in her travels, the reader experiences peasant life, an apprenticeship, the noble tournament circuit and a brief brush with the rising middle class. You walk into their homes and experience the problems of a whole cast of characters that would make for a great movie, but are somewhat disappointing in a book, because you want to know them better than you get to. All the same, this is the first book of a trilogy that I suspect I will have to finish reading. The history may be better than the characters or the plot, but the history is very good.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Charlotte

    There was something about Fox's writing that I just didn't like, a certain lack of emotional depth and an overuse of exclamation points in the dialogue. When I read the author bio at the end, I realized that it had been translated from German, which made the strangeness of the text make a little more sense. But despite the writing style, this was a book that I had trouble putting down. The Copper Sign tells the story of Eleanweore, the daughter of a common blacksmith, who is drawn to the art fro There was something about Fox's writing that I just didn't like, a certain lack of emotional depth and an overuse of exclamation points in the dialogue. When I read the author bio at the end, I realized that it had been translated from German, which made the strangeness of the text make a little more sense. But despite the writing style, this was a book that I had trouble putting down. The Copper Sign tells the story of Eleanweore, the daughter of a common blacksmith, who is drawn to the art from a young age. Being a girl, there is little hope that she'll be able to follow her dream until she discovers the local lord having a liaison with her mother. With little explanation as to why this is such a tremendous problem, Ellen is forced to flee for her life. She is disguised as a boy for her safety and then takes to the road, where she quickly finds work as a blacksmith's apprentice. It becomes quickly evident that she's a natural, with the potential to become a swordsmith, the highest art of smithing. Being uniquely gifted, she quickly masters what he can teach her and moves on to a bigger town and a her master's master, a legendary swordsmith. When her new master is forced by the king to move to Normandy, she goes with him and quickly becomes involved with the life of the squires who are training to be knights in Toqueville. Among the squires in Toqueville she meets William Marshall, the real life Mohammed Ali of the Norman England jousting circuit. (For a great read about William Marshall, read The Greatest Knight, by Elizabeth Chadwick). From the beginning, William is making enemies with his success and as he befriends the little blacksmith and teaches her how to fight, his enemies become hers. The plot is often driven by a rather shallow enemy who is obsessed with Ellen and driven by jealousy of William to be a bad guy. He is, of course, her secret half-brother, but she cannot prove it. He has no qualities other than being the weak-willed menace to Ellen and nearly destroys the novel. His characterization is the weakest part of the novel, but it's a very weak part. The Copper Sign is a typical journey novel, with one adventure following another with somewhat loose couplings, but atypically has a female lead. While she is, of course, beautiful and her sexual appeal is the primary source of her problems, but she also struggles with being taken seriously as a swordsmith. This struggle with balancing her work with her family and dealing with the responsibility of being the primary breadwinner in a man's world is a modern problem, which is a big strength of the novel. And for all of the flaws of the shallow plot line and lack of any deep introspection from any of the characters, the characters are unusual and you do want to know where Ellen is going to go next. One of the big strengths of the novel is that the secondary characters are really interesting; the world is deep and detailed and in her travels, the reader experiences peasant life, an apprenticeship, the noble tournament circuit and a brief brush with the rising middle class. You walk into their homes and experience the problems of a whole cast of characters that would make for a great movie, but are somewhat disappointing in a book, because you want to know them better than you get to. All the same, this is the first book of a trilogy that I suspect I will have to finish reading. The history may be better than the characters or the plot, but the history is very good.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Scott

    Katie Fox's "The Copper Sign" reads like a graduate thesis in medieval blacksmithing - well-researched, extremely detailed, and undeniably boring. A friend had recommended this book as a good companion to Ken Follett's "The Pillars of the Earth." I agree that it's a companion book in that both novels focus on craftsmen in the Middle Ages. I also agree that both books are door-stop heavy. But the parallels end there. "The Copper Sign" tells the lengthy tale of Ellen, a young English girl who wants Katie Fox's "The Copper Sign" reads like a graduate thesis in medieval blacksmithing - well-researched, extremely detailed, and undeniably boring. A friend had recommended this book as a good companion to Ken Follett's "The Pillars of the Earth." I agree that it's a companion book in that both novels focus on craftsmen in the Middle Ages. I also agree that both books are door-stop heavy. But the parallels end there. "The Copper Sign" tells the lengthy tale of Ellen, a young English girl who wants to be a blacksmith with every fiber in her being. Due to the period's institutional sexism, Ellen faces what can charitably be described as an uphill battle. Things take an even more ominous turn when Ellen accidentally witnesses her mother's infidelity and Ellen must flee for her life. At a time when many people never wandered more than a few miles from the village where they were born, the prospects of a young girl leaving her home were bleak. Through a series of contrived plot twists and too-convenient deaths and changes of heart, Ellen's life becomes a series of incidents as she wanders from place to place, gradually building the skills needed to become a leading sword-smith. Indeed, her goal is to be so famous at her craft that she will make a sword for the King of England. The best scenes in "The Copper Sign" (the title refers to the copper "E" Ellen uses to adorn her first, greatest sword) focus on the craft of blacksmithing and swordmaking. Unfortunately, the book is over 600 pages and there's a lot going on besides swordmaking. While I respect anyone who takes the time to write a book, Fox quite simply cannot write dialogue. Her characters speak in simple declarative sentences! And she uses too many adverbs - 'crossly,' 'gruffly,' 'eagerly' - to describe how somebody is talking! And her characters end almost all their sentences in exclamation points! There are a lot of exclamation points in this book! If you like exclamation points, you will love "The Copper Sign"! Action scenes fall depressingly flat. Without giving too much away, a climactic scene sees a villain holding a dagger to Ellen's throat, daring another character to save her. In the very next paragraph, the good guy draws his sword, walks over, and stabs the villain in the chest - villain falls dead, scene over. What the heck??? Granted, Ms. Fox did not write "The Copper Sign" in English (her book was translated into English by Lee Chadeayne, who also translated the recent hit, "The Hangman's Daughter"), so something may have been lost in translation. But the book's threadbare characters, tedious dialogue, and wandering narrative cannot be blamed on the translation. There's a good 300-page book in these 600-plus pages, but it would have required a strong editor to find it.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Justin

    This review was first published in the Historical Novel Review. When Ellen is forced to flee home, she must pretend to be a boy to pursue her life’s passion: to become a sword-smith. Her natural daring and tenacity bring her through innumerable obstacles and betrayal, and into the shop of a renowned blacksmith. Through her travels, both in England and on the Continent, she masters her trade and becomes acquainted with court life, complete with its high-living, politics, and intrigue. It is in cou This review was first published in the Historical Novel Review. When Ellen is forced to flee home, she must pretend to be a boy to pursue her life’s passion: to become a sword-smith. Her natural daring and tenacity bring her through innumerable obstacles and betrayal, and into the shop of a renowned blacksmith. Through her travels, both in England and on the Continent, she masters her trade and becomes acquainted with court life, complete with its high-living, politics, and intrigue. It is in court that she meets her love—and her mortal enemy. The Copper Sign, set in the twelfth century, has all the makings of an epic novel (including its length). It is rich in detail. The marketplaces, castles, and countryside are fleshed out and feel real. Fox has certainly done her research. Nowhere is this better shown than in her detailed description of sword-smithing, gold-smithing, and scabbard-making. By the end you’ll feel as though you might be able to make a sword yourself. I struggled with some aspects of this book, including the stilted dialogue. It is a debut novel, and it shows in its earnestness and lack of subtlety. Fox leaves nothing to the reader’s imagination, including graphic sex and rape scenes, one only ten pages in. She explains every twist and turn and development, which left me frustrated and often rolling my eyes. Anachronistic phrases such as ‘heartthrob’ and ‘turned him on’ threatened to kick me out of the novel. The antagonist keeps reappearing in chances of fate that defy credulity, and the supposed love interest, William, is deplorable. Nevertheless, I’ll peek at the sequel, The Silver Falcon, in the hopes that Fox will have come to trust the reader and availed herself of a strict editor.

  10. 5 out of 5

    John

    I'm not sure how to place this book. Though the storyline of a young girl going against society and becoming a master swordsmith sounds like young-adult, the intrigues along the way are downright adult romance-novel material. Storyline moves along nicely throughout, dates and place-names given on the chapter help the reader along. Dialogs are natural and unforced, with emotional color. Societal and culinary history add the flavors required to give the reader a feeling for the period. Descriptions I'm not sure how to place this book. Though the storyline of a young girl going against society and becoming a master swordsmith sounds like young-adult, the intrigues along the way are downright adult romance-novel material. Storyline moves along nicely throughout, dates and place-names given on the chapter help the reader along. Dialogs are natural and unforced, with emotional color. Societal and culinary history add the flavors required to give the reader a feeling for the period. Descriptions of clothing and daily life are light, just enough to get by but may leave the reader wishing for more detail. The blacksmithing details are quite interesting and don't bog-down the pace or become a how-to guide for a medieval smithy. Enjoyable on the whole, if you're not looking for a wholehearted history-novel. The storyline did drive me nuts at times, the fact Thibault kept popping up and ruining Ellen's life no matter where she happens to be with his single-minded obsession over her. As with the only romance-novel I've ever intentionally read, I kept yelling at the characters "just tell him/her and everything will be fine!", but that would have shortened the story dramatically. The translation too seemed off, using more modern phrases and not drawing from any historical study of the language. All in all an enjoyable book, not too deep but a fine first-step for a historical-fiction reader. I look forward to reading the rest of the series (once translated).

  11. 4 out of 5

    Amanda Kimball

    I'd give this between2 1/2 and 3 stars. I started this back in March when i didn't have anything else to read on a plane, and just picked it back up a few days ago. This novel is so richly filled with history and knowledge of the art of blacksmithing! Kati's Fox truly did her research and it truly paid off in her writing. As others have said, this book gets 5 stars for its research. From there, it loses a few stars. I felt as though it was a little long-winded and at times felt as though we ski I'd give this between2 1/2 and 3 stars. I started this back in March when i didn't have anything else to read on a plane, and just picked it back up a few days ago. This novel is so richly filled with history and knowledge of the art of blacksmithing! Kati's Fox truly did her research and it truly paid off in her writing. As others have said, this book gets 5 stars for its research. From there, it loses a few stars. I felt as though it was a little long-winded and at times felt as though we skipped years only to pick up at the same place again with Ellen. Her story didn't progress as quickly as I would've liked and it was soo peppered with hardship that it was hard to rejoice when Ellen finally had something to be happy about, because I was always waiting for it to be tragically torn from her. I felt as though her story didn't end where I would've liked it to, but it was satisfying none-the-less. I truly loved Jean. He was one of my favorite characters almost over Ellen herself. The story was a little choppy with language, but I feel as though that is because of the translation and it was easy to overlook after you got going. If this book was a little shorter, and followed a better time period trajectory, I feel as though it could've been fantastic. I would not characterize this novel as young adult literature due to the graphic nature of the novel, and I think kids can handle many things, but this just didn't feel appropriate for many young readers. I did enjoy completing this novel but will not go on the the sequels seeing as though Ellen's story has been brought to a close.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Paul Burnette

    Ellenweore, Allan, Ellen, an iron maiden, is a young girl who grows into a great swordsmith despite all the taboos regarding roles that were not available to women in the years between 1161 and 1183, in England, Normandy, and France. Risking discovery and possible execution as a witch, Ellenweore must disguise herself as a man in order to learn smithing, like Anne Swinfen’s Christoval Alvarez must do to practice medicine. Readers may look forward to learning all about iron working, smithies, and Ellenweore, Allan, Ellen, an iron maiden, is a young girl who grows into a great swordsmith despite all the taboos regarding roles that were not available to women in the years between 1161 and 1183, in England, Normandy, and France. Risking discovery and possible execution as a witch, Ellenweore must disguise herself as a man in order to learn smithing, like Anne Swinfen’s Christoval Alvarez must do to practice medicine. Readers may look forward to learning all about iron working, smithies, and even about how one moved from apprentice to journeyman to master during those days. Readers also learn at the feet of a masterful storyteller who has created wonderful characters, none purely good or purely evil, but all a varying mixture of realistic motivations and action. The plot is picaresque, episodic, as each time Ellenweore’s fortune rises, that is followed by a sudden fall and then another rise in quick succession. The translation by Lee Chadeayne also alternates between exhilarating prose and the flavors of the Brothers Grimm and their storybook style. There are some pretty cheesy scenes tucked between the more powerful portions of the story, but this reader thought the flaws in language stemmed more from the translator’s work than the author’s.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Anne

    Complete disappointment by the end. Started out well, Ellen wants nothing more than to work in the smith wither her father and become a swordmaker in her own right. But she's a girl, and this is 1161, so that's not possible. At first, the story was interesting, with wanting to know if and how Ellen would achieve her dream but by the third time something bad happened and Ellen had to flee with nothing and start all over again - but always with some convenient miracle so it's not too hard - I was Complete disappointment by the end. Started out well, Ellen wants nothing more than to work in the smith wither her father and become a swordmaker in her own right. But she's a girl, and this is 1161, so that's not possible. At first, the story was interesting, with wanting to know if and how Ellen would achieve her dream but by the third time something bad happened and Ellen had to flee with nothing and start all over again - but always with some convenient miracle so it's not too hard - I was beyond caring. In the grueling 400 pages too many this book contains, her character becomes so unpleasant, when she isn't gasping in indignation or getting offended at the drop of a hat, she's sniping at people and basically treating everyone (view spoiler)[including her own son (hide spoiler)] like crap. Also, the writing is very awkward - perhaps because it is a translation, but there are many phrasing that are just strange - like characters talking about "getting in on" with one another. In the 12th century, really?? Read other reviews that this is actually part of a series - ugh I can even imagine how much more this could be dragged out.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Michael Jones

    3.5 stars. I'm glad I stuck with it. Our heroine goes through many great struggles and some of them really are accurate portrayals of some of the things in the 11th century life. But I learned a lot about the making of swords, scabbard's, hilts, etc. and this book certainly brings you in touch with struggles that a woman would go through if she had wanted to be a swordsmith in those days. The plot contains many interesting shifts and tight spots. Lots of diabolical intrigue. It was refreshing, t 3.5 stars. I'm glad I stuck with it. Our heroine goes through many great struggles and some of them really are accurate portrayals of some of the things in the 11th century life. But I learned a lot about the making of swords, scabbard's, hilts, etc. and this book certainly brings you in touch with struggles that a woman would go through if she had wanted to be a swordsmith in those days. The plot contains many interesting shifts and tight spots. Lots of diabolical intrigue. It was refreshing, though, that the book was not overly dark but had places of good friendship and contentment. Our heroine is not an island unto herself but is someone who draws people of integrity together. and I really like the way she learns what kind of man she wants to be with. There is forgiveness and redemption for many characters. There are also some fairly good action sequences. The book contains adult sexual scenes and situations. I listened to the book with someone that could do a fairly good Norman accent which helped.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Sandy Conley

    This was a very good read set. In the 1100's I recommend it. The story grabbed me by the second page. I read the kindle edition on an iPad and added the audio file as I knew I would not have enough free time to read it. The main comment people make about this format is the editing but neither the audio or the printed text caused me to complain. It start with the main character a young girl and ends when she is in her thirties. Her success and defeats of her life time all have the feeling of possi This was a very good read set. In the 1100's I recommend it. The story grabbed me by the second page. I read the kindle edition on an iPad and added the audio file as I knew I would not have enough free time to read it. The main comment people make about this format is the editing but neither the audio or the printed text caused me to complain. It start with the main character a young girl and ends when she is in her thirties. Her success and defeats of her life time all have the feeling of possibility not fantasy. The manny characters are well developed and fit well in the environment portrayed in each part of the story. I enjoyed the book, the vivid description of time that was the books setting. The transcription of course I can't vet its accuracy but it enabled me to accept it as if it was written in English.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Sue

    It was okay. It had a lot of potential but it just didn't quite make it. It could be several things. This was probably the author's first book. It definitely sounded like it while I was reading it. But it could also be the not so great translation? Reading the pages before the story, it looked like it was originally written in German. If that's the case, the way some of the book was translated seemed very elementary style but other times, it seemed fine and more grown up. If that makes any sense It was okay. It had a lot of potential but it just didn't quite make it. It could be several things. This was probably the author's first book. It definitely sounded like it while I was reading it. But it could also be the not so great translation? Reading the pages before the story, it looked like it was originally written in German. If that's the case, the way some of the book was translated seemed very elementary style but other times, it seemed fine and more grown up. If that makes any sense. The story itself was really good. I liked Ellen okay but she was a bit too strong of a female character. And the way the story flowed was a little disjointed so it was hard to really get immersed. Like I said, it had potential. Which is a shame because the story was really interesting.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    So excited, thanks Good Reads Giveaways! Made my day, winning a book is the best! Received my copy today, thanks for the giveaway! Can't wait to start into this book. I read this book and really enjoyed it. The story starts off with Ellen helping her father in the forge and he was saying how it was a shame she wasn't a boy who could work there for a living. The book follows Ellen through her life into her later years as an adult with a new life ahead of her. There are twists and turns in every cha So excited, thanks Good Reads Giveaways! Made my day, winning a book is the best! Received my copy today, thanks for the giveaway! Can't wait to start into this book. I read this book and really enjoyed it. The story starts off with Ellen helping her father in the forge and he was saying how it was a shame she wasn't a boy who could work there for a living. The book follows Ellen through her life into her later years as an adult with a new life ahead of her. There are twists and turns in every chapter that keep the reader wanting more. Truly hard to set this one down. The Copper Sign has the token bad guys and some characters that keep you guessing. Thank you First Reads Giveaways for the great book. I look forward to book two, The Silver Falcon.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Cassidy Washburn

    I will never find enough time in my day to descibe this book.... So much happened in it but it was definitely a good read. I do have to say that some parts were confusing like as to how old the characters were because many years passed throughout the entire book. Another thing that got confusing was who was who.... Many names were repeated throughout the book and I can understand why, but I only thought it was a bit confusing. Over all it was a good book. Lots of adventure, but I have to warn yo I will never find enough time in my day to descibe this book.... So much happened in it but it was definitely a good read. I do have to say that some parts were confusing like as to how old the characters were because many years passed throughout the entire book. Another thing that got confusing was who was who.... Many names were repeated throughout the book and I can understand why, but I only thought it was a bit confusing. Over all it was a good book. Lots of adventure, but I have to warn you though, there is a lot of sexual content in this book and is meant for more mature readers. Thank you goodreads for holding the giveaway in which I won this book and thank you for reading my review. Happy Reading Everyone! I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Before I begin, let me be clear that I read the English translation in the Advance Reader's Format, before the final publishing date. Though I enjoyed the story and could barely put the book down for want of finding out what would happen next, the writing and character development often irked me. For a woman as stubborn and arrogant as Ellen, her romance with Isaac comes a bit too easily. The writing also hovers at a young adult level, and does not rise to that of an adult novel. Granted, this c Before I begin, let me be clear that I read the English translation in the Advance Reader's Format, before the final publishing date. Though I enjoyed the story and could barely put the book down for want of finding out what would happen next, the writing and character development often irked me. For a woman as stubborn and arrogant as Ellen, her romance with Isaac comes a bit too easily. The writing also hovers at a young adult level, and does not rise to that of an adult novel. Granted, this could come from the rough translation, as my version had not been polished. I did thoroughly enjoy the book, reading all 600+ pages in three days, and will pick up the Silver Fox when it becomes available in English.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Batsheva

    The writing style was a little odd, but I put that down to the translation from the original German. On the plus side, the story held my interest strongly enough that I read it in one sitting. I enjoyed the author's detailed descriptions of middle ages era blacksmithing, which were fascinating. It was also interesting to see a woman's perspective on 12th c. European life and society. The characters were less than lovable, everyone kept dying (which is at least historically appropriate, although The writing style was a little odd, but I put that down to the translation from the original German. On the plus side, the story held my interest strongly enough that I read it in one sitting. I enjoyed the author's detailed descriptions of middle ages era blacksmithing, which were fascinating. It was also interesting to see a woman's perspective on 12th c. European life and society. The characters were less than lovable, everyone kept dying (which is at least historically appropriate, although kind of demoralizing), but it sort of had a happy ending. I guess it is an appropriate antidote to the over-romanticized knights in shining armor trope (Doesn't everyone go through an "Ivanhoe" phase?) Knights were kind of entitled jerks, people.

  21. 4 out of 5

    elsie

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I was a little bored early on in this book, but thought that perhaps the story would improve and/or some of the good stuff had been lost in translation as the original was written in German. When the main character flees for her life after spotting her mother having sex with a knight that is not her father, she ends up in Normandy. She also found out her 'father' was actually some Norman Knight her mother slept with. She then meets this man who instantly knows she is his offspring (although she i I was a little bored early on in this book, but thought that perhaps the story would improve and/or some of the good stuff had been lost in translation as the original was written in German. When the main character flees for her life after spotting her mother having sex with a knight that is not her father, she ends up in Normandy. She also found out her 'father' was actually some Norman Knight her mother slept with. She then meets this man who instantly knows she is his offspring (although she is disguised as a boy)...which put me off a bit. The bit that made me get angry and put it down was when her half-brother finds out she is a girl and viciously beats and rapes her. Book down, no more interest at all.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Syd Dickson

    A book containing self flagellation, a girl in disguise, incestual rape, jousting, sword fighting, and more should be exciting. Somehow, this managed to include all of this and I still had to keep myself awake reading it. Also, all of the characters talked like they were doing their best robot impressions. I don't think anyone used a contraction during dialogue until the last chapter, it was very odd. "You are gorgeous and very interesting." was my favorite line, I laughed out loud. Everything w A book containing self flagellation, a girl in disguise, incestual rape, jousting, sword fighting, and more should be exciting. Somehow, this managed to include all of this and I still had to keep myself awake reading it. Also, all of the characters talked like they were doing their best robot impressions. I don't think anyone used a contraction during dialogue until the last chapter, it was very odd. "You are gorgeous and very interesting." was my favorite line, I laughed out loud. Everything was clunky and awkward. The blacksmithing portions seemed very well researched, so props for that.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Michele

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This book seemed so promising, but in the end it was a disappointment to me. I get how exciting it is when a novelist does their research and learns a ton of stuff on a historical subject, like, say, swordmaking, but that does NOT mean I want to read a 20 page treatise on swordmaking in the middle of a novel. If I WANTED to read a swordmaking treatise, I’d be reading that, not the novel. Letting your research show is the absolute worst thing a novelist can do and it slowed down the pace of this This book seemed so promising, but in the end it was a disappointment to me. I get how exciting it is when a novelist does their research and learns a ton of stuff on a historical subject, like, say, swordmaking, but that does NOT mean I want to read a 20 page treatise on swordmaking in the middle of a novel. If I WANTED to read a swordmaking treatise, I’d be reading that, not the novel. Letting your research show is the absolute worst thing a novelist can do and it slowed down the pace of this novel, which was only going as fast as a heavily-laden wagon on a bad (unpaved) mediaeval road anyway - the treatise just made it glacial!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Mary

    In this books defense - it is a translation. At first I found it really difficult to read. The author gives way to much detail in times when it's not needed and the language is a bit simple. However, after I realized this book was translated into English I began to enjoy it a bit more. The author weaves a good story and the main character is likable. If you skim over some of the long descriptions it helps to make the story more fast paced and interesting. If you want a quick historical fiction r In this books defense - it is a translation. At first I found it really difficult to read. The author gives way to much detail in times when it's not needed and the language is a bit simple. However, after I realized this book was translated into English I began to enjoy it a bit more. The author weaves a good story and the main character is likable. If you skim over some of the long descriptions it helps to make the story more fast paced and interesting. If you want a quick historical fiction read I say give this one a try :)

  25. 5 out of 5

    Rhiannon

    This book was just okay for me...i bought it b/c it was 99 cents on Amazon and I thought I would give it a try. Some of the wording seemed strange to me, once I found out it had been translated into english I was able to tolerate the writing a little better. Aside from that I felt like multiple times the author was building up to a climax and then nothing... and that was frustrating. It took me awhile to finish this book because I kept getting bored with the story...it was worth it for 99¢ but I This book was just okay for me...i bought it b/c it was 99 cents on Amazon and I thought I would give it a try. Some of the wording seemed strange to me, once I found out it had been translated into english I was able to tolerate the writing a little better. Aside from that I felt like multiple times the author was building up to a climax and then nothing... and that was frustrating. It took me awhile to finish this book because I kept getting bored with the story...it was worth it for 99¢ but I would have been upset if I had paid full price for this book.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Heather

    This book is a 3 star in the begging but goes down to a 2 star in the end. I was really interested in the idea of the book, the writting however seemed juvenile. The way the story was told seemed geared for young adults, however there were sceens I would definitely not want a teenager to read. They also might be bogged down in the history and the details of smithing. Which as an adult I enjoyed the depth of research she obviously had to do. In the end the character became so self centered and re This book is a 3 star in the begging but goes down to a 2 star in the end. I was really interested in the idea of the book, the writting however seemed juvenile. The way the story was told seemed geared for young adults, however there were sceens I would definitely not want a teenager to read. They also might be bogged down in the history and the details of smithing. Which as an adult I enjoyed the depth of research she obviously had to do. In the end the character became so self centered and really just sort of annoying. Wouldn't run out and recommend the book.

  27. 4 out of 5

    upupuns

    I read this book when I was in elementary school, and I really loved it! (If your thoughts right now equate to something like "How did a 9 year old get her hands on this and what were her parent doing"; I read my mom's copy in secret because she wouldn't let me read it. Which, in hindsight, is understandable) One thing I especially liked was how detailed the process of making a sword was written in. It was super interesting, and Ellen learning about it was my favorite part of the book. I read this book when I was in elementary school, and I really loved it! (If your thoughts right now equate to something like "How did a 9 year old get her hands on this and what were her parent doing"; I read my mom's copy in secret because she wouldn't let me read it. Which, in hindsight, is understandable) One thing I especially liked was how detailed the process of making a sword was written in. It was super interesting, and Ellen learning about it was my favorite part of the book.

  28. 4 out of 5

    ReadingLin

    2nd read: 3 stars

  29. 5 out of 5

    Shanna

    I loved this story it was love, war, failure success etc.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca H. Cooley

    READ ME READ this book, I feel like I was taught a lot of things from this book. Well worth reading for all!

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