Hild by Nicolas Griffith
- Method of Obtaining: I received a copy from the publisher.
- Published by: Farrar. Strauss, and Giroux
- Release Date: 11.12.2013
Hild is born into a world in transition. In seventh-century Britain, small kingdoms are merging, usually violently. A new religion is coming ashore; the old gods’ priests are worrying. Edwin of Northumbria plots to become overking of the Angles, ruthlessly using every tool at his disposal: blood, bribery, belief.
Hild is the king’s youngest niece. She has the powerful curiosity of a bright child, a will of adamant, and a way of seeing the world—of studying nature, of matching cause with effect, of observing human nature and predicting what will happen next—that can seem uncanny, even supernatural, to those around her. She establishes herself as the king’s seer. And she is indispensable—until she should ever lead the king astray. The stakes are life and death: for Hild, her family, her loved ones, and the increasing numbers who seek the protection of the strange girl who can read the world and see the future.
Hild is a young woman at the heart of the violence, subtlety, and mysticism of the early medieval age—all of it brilliantly and accurately evoked by Nicola Griffith’s luminous prose. Recalling such feats of historical fiction as Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall and Sigrid Undset’s KristinLavransdatter, Hild brings a beautiful, brutal world—and one of its most fascinating, pivotal figures, the girl who would become St. Hilda of Whitby—to vivid, absorbing life.
Do you know anything about St. Hilda of Whitby? No? Me neither. Well, I didn’t – until I picked up this gorgeous book by Nicola Griffith. Hild takes on history with imagination, a deft writing style, and some of the most complex, gorgeous storytelling ability I have ever read. That’s not to say it’s an easy book, or a particularly gripping one due to the nature of St. Hilda’s life, but there is something about a well-crafted, historical tale that tells a little known story that is so appealing to me. I am so glad that it didn’t disappoint.
So, first of all, let me talk about Griffith’s writing. It’s masterful and beautiful and all those adjectives that people use to try to describe a brilliant writing style. But, more than anything, what struck me was how knowledgeable it was. Not once, as I was being led through the story, did I get the impression that Griffith had been lax in her research. Her ability to use words and names that are strange to the modern eye is visible testament to her knowledge. I also read an interview given by her recently where she recognizes the historical inaccuracy in the cover, but notes that it was just too gorgeous to pass it by.
Speaking of the cover – that’s exactly what caught my eye. Brilliant imagined, it stands out as being something different. One of my biggest pet peeves when it comes to historical fiction is the complete contrast in covers – from flimsy, beautiful women (only the back of them) type books or beautiful women with crowns on their head (a la Philippa Gregory) to stark symbols or crests. The cover for Hild is a nice change; period gear (although slightly inaccurate as the author ported out), striking font, and an art style that brings to mind the setting.
I really don’t want to just gush over this book more. Suffice it to say that any serious historical fiction fan, or really, anyone who has had a passing interest in the Dark Ages, should check Hild out. It never hurts to learn about fantastic, strong, females who changed history and this is a great book to start that learning process with.
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