A quirky romance played against the historical background — and the prevailing prejudices — of fourteenth-century Germany. Young Madlen has served as assistant to the local midwife; her death gives Madlen the job by default, a job she embraces reluctantly, until she discovers that her knowledge of herbs and her bedside manner are enough to make her a healer, very much valued in the community. Then she runs afoul of an ambitious nobleman, and is forced to flee. Far away from home, she builds relationships and a reputation under an assumed name, and she wonders if maybe her troubles are over. Of course, they aren’t. In general, the women are better defined in this story than are the men, which may have been the point. The final courtroom scene, though, is a gem.