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Enjoyable Medieval Saga
on 7 December 2011
This lengthy saga, which was translated from German as part of the Amazon Crossings programme, covers the life of Eleanweore for a period of a little over twenty years in the latter half of the 12th Century. Starting in East Anglia, Ellen is forced to flee from her home aged 12 and, initially disguised as a boy, she pursues her ambition of becoming a leading swordsmith. The adventure moves from Suffolk around various parts of France and then back to East Anglia.
I enjoyed this tale and got through this long book quite quickly as it grabbed my attention sufficiently that I really wanted to know what was going to happen to Ellen next. In some respects it is fairly simplistic as we have Thibault, a good, old fashioned villain who pops up to give Ellen trouble at intervals and in many ways it is a clear cut issue of black versus white or good versus evil. Personally I found the first half of the book more interesting than the second as there was quite a lot more action, and once Ellen is back in England, the pace seems to slow considerably. I did not find the very end of the book worked as well as most of the rest of this story. The author first gives us a fairly lengthy history lesson to set the final scene, which she does not feel the need to do elsewhere, then efficiently sets about tying up all the loose ends. However, it all seemed just a little bit too tidy for my taste.
I thought this was generally well translated from the original German, although from time to time little modernisms crept in which seemed just a little out of keeping. Ellen makes a convincing heroine and is a strong, ambitious woman, living at a time when there was strong and fairly widespread prejudice against women doing much apart from looking after the home and family. Although bad things, sometimes very bad things, happen to her, this is one of those stories where you know she is going to ultimately triumph. It certainly abounds with unlikely coincidences, although I did not feel that these features in any way detracted from the story.
I understand that the other two books in the trilogy, The Silver Falcon and The Golden Throne, will be translated in due course, and I look forward to reading them. The Silver Falcon at least picks up with the same characters which we got to know in The Copper Sign.