A brilliant, lush, sweeping historical novel about the rise of the most powerful woman of the Middle Ages: Hild. In seventh-century Britain, small kingdoms are merging, frequently and violently. A new religion is coming ashore; the old gods are struggling, their priests worrying.
Hild is the king's youngest niece, and she has a glimmering mind and a natural, noble authority. She will become a fascinating woman and one of the pivotal figures of the Middle Ages: Saint Hilda of Whitby. But now she has only 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 her surroundings closely and predicting what will happen next - that can seem uncanny, even supernatural, to those around her.
Her uncle, Edwin of Northumbria, plots to become over-king of the Angles, ruthlessly using every tool at his disposal: blood, bribery, belief. Hild establishes a place for herself at his side as the king's seer. And she is indispensable - unless she should ever lead the king astray. The stakes are life and death: for Hild, for her family, for her loved ones, and for 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 Middle Ages - all of it brilliantly and accurately evoked by Nicola Griffith's luminous prose. Working from what little historical record is extant, Griffith has brought a beautiful, brutal world to vivid, absorbing life.
©2013 Nicola Griffith (P)2013 Macmillan Audio
Excellent historical novel.
Insight into how a "see-er" unraveled the patterns of the times.
Because of all the unfamiliar names, places and terminology, Hild was not the best candidate for an audio book. I wanted to see a reference map for 7th century Great Britain so I could understand where the various kingdoms were. I needed a glossary for all the unusual terms, and a genealogy chart would have been helpful, too. I wanted to page back to look at names, and couldn't do it. The story was lovely, engaging, well written and well read - but I think I would have enjoyed an e-book or hard cover edition of Hild much more than an audio rendition.
Probably the best.
It's been described as "Game of Thrones without the dragons" and that's fairly accurate. But the writing is just beautiful, and the women are richly realized.
She's got a gorgeous voice, and does a great job with choosing various contemporary UK or Ireland accents for the characters. I particularly enjoyed her performance of the narrator's ditzy friend Begu. She also reads like she admires and enjoys the prose, which is indeed worthy of it.
There's no supernatural elements in this book, just people who believe in the supernatural (Christ included), so if you're expecting a fantasy book, bear that in mind. Also, there's a lot of dynastic politics and geopolitical maneuvering, which can sometimes be hard to follow in audio format as one tries to keep track of names and places. Griffith's website has lots of resources, including maps and a family tree. The book felt real and vivid, totally immersing me in its world. What a place to visit!
The details were fascinating, and as dense as it was at times, every detail furthered the story.
There is no hope
I usually love historical fiction but this book knocked me out faster than a sleeping pill.
No, I don't think so.
This received such good reviews, especially with the promise of a queer female character but the story lost me.
I was really disappointed. I thought that there would have been more layers to Hild. I would have like there to be more of a fantasy element, or at least have Hild be more of a Joan of Arc character.
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