I'm writing a fantasy story with a human female blacksmith as the protagonist set in a vaguely early-to-middle medieval Europe-like continent.
My protagonist is from a small remote village (of about 400 villagers) in the mountains, and has been apprenticed to a master village since nine. (This master blacksmith is the only blacksmith in the village.) She is remarkably strong in building up her basic foundations quickly, while comparatively slow in doing creative explorations. The master also recognized her talents and was very zealous in training her to be an independent blacksmith as soon as possible.
By the age of eighteen, my protagonist is a blacksmith who is generally good in everything (except tools of war, which the shop does not make because there's very little demand) but a master of none, and skilled for her experience but not quite an expert yet. Also, working in the only blacksmith's shop in the village has worked both for and against her, such as the fact that she had no competition and isn't used to division of labor.
At this point, I'm planning a significant event in her career where she decides to relocate to a larger city in order to improve faster and expose herself to new blacksmithing environments. (I'm aware that such relocation was difficult in real life, but there are reasons that this is not a problem here.) This city has a few blacksmith's shops, and artisans' guilds are not a thing yet. The protagonist is obviously not skilled or wealthy enough to start her own shop and survive in the competition, so she tries to join a local blacksmith's shop. Unfortunately, although all the blacksmiths agree that she's skilled for her experience, none of the shops are particularly interested in hiring a new smith at the moment, especially not a young one who's been working mostly alone.
I'm seeking two advices here.
- Is the above story (including the part up to her relocation) plausible? What points are unrealistic or could be improved? Of course, some fantasy elements and the privileges of being the protagonist should be accounted for. Anyway, general remarks regarding the story are quite welcome.
- What can my protagonist do to get a job?
This is a big "overcoming a great hardship" arc for my protagonist's story, so I'm trying to get my protagonist to overcome this unemployment issue 1) in a satisfying way and 2) as a blacksmith. (For example, earning the gratitude of a local smith isn't quite a satisfying solution, even though it's perfectly reasonable.) Some external event setting up the stage for a breakthrough is acceptable, as long as the event is a setup and not the solution itself. Refining the story of my protagonist's apprenticeship in order to build a compelling scenario for her relocation and employment is also very much welcome.
Note that she's in a new town, meaning she is currently unable to do any forging unless some shop is willing to let her use their tools. However, if she really must forge something, her old village is just one day's trip away. Though the local smiths would probably let her use their tools after their day's work is over.
p.s.) If anyone knows books or online resources where I can learn about the life of medieval European blacksmiths, I'd be very glad if you can recommend me some. I'm looking for information beyond just what blacksmiths made and stuff, but more like how they interacted with other villagers, how they interacted with miners or caravans to get their metal supply, what kind of occupational hazards existed, etc.