The Copper Sign, by Katia Fox, attracted my attention because it is the story of a girl who longs to be a swordsmith. In medieval England, the daughter of a blacksmith has enough trouble following her father’s trade. Learning to be a swordsmith is unheard of. So Ellen runs away, disguises herself as a man, and learns. She is stubborn, strong-willed, and skilled. All the ingredients for a good story.
This novel never delivers. It is filled with detail about blacksmithing. I learned a lot about forging medieval swords, but the detail did not move the plot along. The struggle to become a skilled swordmaker is a good one, but Ellen also has an obsessed knight stalking her, and a man she loves but uses her. Every time something goes well for her, fate slaps her in the face. There is only so much of that a reader can stomach. Eventually, we want the heroine to triumph!
This is the first book of a trilogy, but I will not be reading on. It is also a translation, which may account for some of the issues with character’s speech patterns and descriptions. The fact that it is a translation, however, cannot excuse the repetitive plot. There are many other fantastic new books out there–it’s okay to skip this one!