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The Hangman's Daughter (A Hangman's Daughter Tale) Paperback – 7 Dec 2010

4.2 out of 5 stars 437 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: AmazonCrossing (7 Dec. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1935597051
  • ISBN-13: 978-1935597056
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 2.9 x 21 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (437 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,467,120 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Oliver Pötzsch, born in 1970, has worked for years as a scriptwriter for Bavarian television. He himself is a descendant of one of Bavaria's leading dynasties of executioners.

He lives in Munich with his family.

Product Description

About the Author

Oliver Pötzsch spent a number of years as a radio personality for Bavarian Radio and is himself a descendant of a well-known line of Bavarian executioners. 

Lee Chadeayne is a former classical musician, college professor, and owner of a language translation company in Massachusetts. He was one of the charter members of the American Literary Translators Association and has been an active member of the American Translators Association since 1970. His translated works to date are primarily in the areas of music, art, language, history and general literature. Most recently this includes The Settlers of Catan by Rebecca Gablé, a historical novel about the Vikings and their search for a new world (2005) and The Copper Sign by Katja Fox, a medieval adventure in 12th-century England and France (2009) as well as numerous short stories. He presently serves as an editor for the American Arthritis Association newsletter and editor-in-chief of the ALTA News of the American Literary Translators Association. As a scholar and student of both history and languages, especially Middle High German, he was especially drawn to the work of Oliver Pötzsch, author of the best-selling novel die Henkerstochter (The Hangman's Daughter) a compelling and colorful description of customs and life, including love, murder, superstitions, witchery and political intrigue during early 17th-century Germany in a small Bavarian city.


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Top Customer Reviews

By Brett H TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 14 Feb. 2011
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The Hangman's Daughter is translated from the German original as part of the Amazon Crossings programme. The background to the book is interesting, as Potzsch explains in the postscript. The executioner and torturer is Jakob Kuisl, who in real life was an ancestor of the author, although the actual events portrayed in this book are fictional. The action takes place in a small Bavarian hamlet called Schongau, and Kuisl's profession was very much a family business, being passed from father to son so that there were dynasties of executioners of which the Kuisls were one of the most famous in Bavaria. They were shunned by the other inhabitants and generally intermarried.

Briefly the plot involves the discovery of a dying and tattooed orphan, who is pulled from the river. Suspicion falls on the local midwife, who has delivered Kuisl's own children. It will be his responsibility to torture her to extract a confession. Convinced that she is not to blame Kuisl and his daughter, helped by Simon who is daughter's boyfriend, set out to find the real culprit. Meanwhile more children disappear, which casts further suspicion on the midwife. The race is therefore on to solve these crimes, before hysteria about witchcraft results in the execution at the stake, not just of the midwife, but of other innocent local women.

Jakob Kuisl is the very interesting central character rather than the hangman's daughter, Magdalena as the title would have suggested. He is a reluctant executioner and torturer, who has to psyche himself up with drink before performing his duties. He behaves with sympathy and compassion towards those who he has to deal with, and does his best to spare them mental and physical suffering often using his skills as a herbalist.
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It was quite a change reading a historic novel set against the background of mid-17th century southern Germany, a time that does not feature too heavily in German literature - far less so in English publications. There are plenty of novels dealing with witchcraft and witch hysteria, however, the plot and its characters are imaginative and I found it difficult to put the book down until I had read the story's conclusion. However, my enjoyment was somewhat spoilt by the clumsy translation (Who on earth wrote that glowing review of the traslator on the back pages?!). Being bilingual, I can see the original German "filtering through" on almost every page and it really grates! Some of the literal translations make little sense in English. If the translator intended to convey a sense of time and place he would have done much better to employ the slightly archaic style one often finds in, say, English civil war novels.
As it stands, it's a good story (that would also make a good film), however, it will win no literary prizes!
1 Comment 61 of 64 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The Hangman's Daughter is a medieval mystery set in 17th century Bavaria.

Schongau, a small German town recovering from the ravages of the 30 Years War finds its fragile prosperity and economy threatened by accusations of witchcraft after a young boy is dragged dying from the town's river with a mysterious Venus mark tattoo.

The Schongau's hangman, Jakob Kuisl, is tasked with clearing up the matter quickly, irrespective of evidence or guilt, by the council eager to avoid any unrest. As Jakob investigates, aided by Magdelena, the eponymous daughter and the town's underestimated young doctor.

The Hangman's Daughter is an entertaining and easy read. Potzsch includes enough description to allow the reader to visualise but doesn't overcomplicate the story or setting and as a result it it much more accessible and enjoyable than more serious books from the medieval mystery genre such as The Name of the Rose or The Instance of the Fingerpost.

The narrative rattles along quite well and the characters are well defined and easy to distinguish. An dramatis personae is included at the front for easy reference should you forget or become confused. The Uncorrected Proof edition I had excluded the Schongau map and the author/translator biogs, but as space is left on headed pages I would assume they wii be included in the published version. The translation form the original German works well and flows in English

Overall, I liked this book a lot. Good story, good characters, a bit of intrigue and a medieval setting. Not at all bad! 4 stars, recommended read.
1 Comment 48 of 52 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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I carried on reading this book because I was intrigued. However as far as translations go... I winced so many times that I may have a permanant tic in my eye. The translator seems familiar with British expressions ("having it off" is definitely a British expression) and American ones too... but has missed the finer points of what to say when. Telling someone that the potions created would give him a "hard on" in a HISTORICAL novel is crude and just wrong phrasing in so many ways. It just jars on the nerves and I do believe this is bad translating.

If Oliver Pötzsch has paid someone to do the translation for him he should demand his money back. If he's written this slang into an historical novel then he should go back to being a journalist.
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