Maybe I just prefer the Middle Ages to the California Gold Rush. Maybe's it's just that all the descriptions of dust, bad food, and outdoor toileting facilities reminded me of my miserable summer camp in the Sierras. I enjoyed her previous two books so very much, that I couldn't believe how hard it was to get through this one. In her medieval books, the story is compelling and the historical details feel necessary; I felt this book's plot was merely an excuse for lots of miner slang and unpleasant personal hygeine details. Those things are interesting in themselves, but are available in history books and primary sources, even for children. This felt more like a history lesson and less like a novel than any of her previous work.