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Hild [Paperback]

Nicola Griffith
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)

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Book Description

24 July 2014

'You are a prophet and seer with the brightest mind in an age. Your blood is that of the man who should have been king ...That's what the king and his lords see. And they will kill you, one day'

Britain in the seventh century - and the world is changing. Small kingdoms are merging, frequently and violently. Edwin, King of Northumbria, plots his rise to overking of all the Angles. Ruthless and unforgiving, he is prepared to use every tool at his disposal: blood, bribery, belief. Into this brutal, vibrant court steps Hild - Edwin's youngest niece.

With her glittering mind and powerful curiosity, Hild has a unique way of reading the world. By studying nature, observing human behavior and matching cause with effect, she has developed the ability to make startlingly accurate predictions. It is a gift that can seem uncanny, even supernatural, to those around her.

It is also a valuable weapon. Hild is indispensable to Edwin - unless she should ever lead him 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 see the future and lead men like a warrior.

In this vivid, utterly compelling novel, Nicola Griffith has brought the Early Middle Ages to life in an extraordinary act of alchemy. Drawn from the story of St Hilda of Whitby - one of the most fascinating and pivotal figures of the age - Hild transports the reader into a mesmerising, unforgettable world.

Product details

  • Paperback: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Blackfriars (24 July 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0349134243
  • ISBN-13: 978-0349134246
  • Product Dimensions: 15.3 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 247,036 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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You will never think of them as the Dark Ages again. Nicola Griffith's command of the era is worn lightly and delivered as a deeply engaging plot. Her insight into human nature and eye for telling detail is as keen as that of the extraordinary Hild herself. The novel resonates to many of the same chords as Beowulf, the legends of King Arthur, The Lord of the Rings, and Game of Thrones--to the extent that Hild begins to feel like the classic on which those books are based.--Neal Stephenson. Nicola Griffith is an awe-inspiring visionary, and I am telling everyone to snatch this book up. Hild is not just one of the best historical novels I have ever read--I think it's one of the best novels, period. It sings with pitch-perfect emotional resonance, and I damn well believe in this woman and everyone she engages. I finished the book full of gratitude that it exists, and longing for more. --Dorothy Alison. You could describe Hild as being like Game of Thrones without the dragons, but this is so much deeper than that, so much richer. A glorious, intensely passionate walk through an entirely real landscape, Hild leads us into the Dark Ages and makes them light, and tense, and edgy, and deeply moving. The research is flawless, the characters fully alive. If it wasn't like this, it should have been--and I'm sure that it was! --Manda Scott. What a fabulous book! Hild has all the joys of historical fiction--transportation into a strange, finely detailed world--along with complex characters and a beautiful evocation of the natural world. But the tensions of the gathering plot make Hild feel like a quick read--too quick! I fell into this world completely and was sorry to come out. Truly, truly remarkable. --Karen Joy Fowler --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

A literary triumph - an epic historical novel that brings the Dark Ages into the light

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I am quite amazed 15 Feb 2014
By Angus Jenkinson TOP 1000 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
First, this is a book about a girl. It's true that she's an historical personality who ends up being one of the most significant women of the early Middle Ages (some might call it the dark ages). The kind of woman that feminists have rightly pointed out have been under recognised by history. She was certainly very much recognised in her day. So, secondly, this is the seventh century England with warring British kingdoms (and their kings, advisers and religions) struggling for supremacy. So why did I find the fictionalised story of a seventh century girl utterly fascinating and rip-a-long read?

Nicola Griffith has created the portrait of a thoroughly admirable genius. It is really not so easy to create a portrait of a genius that is compelling and utterly convincing. After all geniuses are by definition somewhat exceptional. But here we have one, and the nature of her genius is to be able to read the patterns of the world, the living ecosystems of nature, Society, politics, human affairs, and indeed there collective interactions.

Hild as a baby girl is set up by her mother to be the seer to the King, because her mother sees this as the only way to give her a voice in society and a certain protection over her own options in life (at a time when Noble women lived in the separated world of womenfolk and were married off for political purposes as peacemakers). In order to remain the seer she has to perform, solving problems, eliminating surprises, forecasting events from the kind of harvest to the action of other kings.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I really wanted to love this... 21 July 2014
By Roman Clodia TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Kindle Edition
Set in 7th century Britain, this is a book which I expected and wanted to love. Griffiths has done a very good job of depicting the time with enormous attention to detail: the itinerant society, the structure of the households, the linguistic variances and the struggles for Christianity, as well as the more secular struggle for over-lordship of what is only nominally Britain.

So the background is immersive – less successful, oddly, is the foreground for me: I never either believed in or warmed to Hild herself. Only three when the book opens, she is already more articulate, more sensitive, more self-conscious and more astute than I could believe, and she speaks and thinks like a child out of time. I’m afraid I don’t respond well to fey characters, those acutely attuned to a mysterious natural world that no-one else fully understands: Hild is one of these girls (and yes, in fiction they’re nearly always female) who talks to stoats and listens to the crows.

The story is part Joan of Arc, part Sword in the Stone, overlaid with a semi-mystical sense of femininity. At just eleven, Hild is telling the king where to set his battles and his slaughters – and, yet, at the same time, Griffiths refuses to pander to the idea of superstition and/or divine revelation or intervention. It’s almost like Hild is a modern girl thrust back in time so that despite being named ‘the light of the world’ (repeatedly), she is actually just an acute observer.

Many people may well love this and Griffiths has certainly done a fine job of depicting a time of major transition in British history – I just couldn’t engage with Hild and her story, though, in the way that I wanted to.

(This review is from an ARC courtesy of the publisher)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my best reads...ever! 4 July 2014
By Bookie TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Kindle Edition
This is one of the most amazing books I've ever read. I was enthralled from start to finish, totally immersed in a different but very real world. Such is the strength of Nicola Griffith's writing in this powerful epic. It's a truly astonishing achievement; a skilful blend of fact and fancy, a remarkable period brought to vibrant life.

I knew very little about this historical period or the central character, Hild, who would eventually become St Hilda of Whitby. The cast of characters is enormous and the map and family tree are useful. I also found the Author's note at the end, together with the glossary helpful. The scope is ambitious. In addition to incredible detail about day to day life, it explores the politics of the period, power struggles, feuds, the Royal Court, new religion and the power of superstition. I learned a great deal about weaving, language, food and the nomadic nature of life. There's a lyrical and often haunting quality to the prose. Lengthy descriptive passages rather than being intrusive were a pleasure to read. Every page is oozing with life.

There is relatively little written about this period and one aspect I found interesting was the way in which women had an integral role as equals at all levels of society. But that's only a small part of this stunning novel. It's difficult to do the book justice in a short review, but it's epic in every sense and one I'll read again.

My thanks to the publisher for a review copy via Netgalley.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant! 4 May 2014
Format:Kindle Edition
This is an historical novel about the early life of Hild who became St Hilda of Whitby. It begins with Hild as a three year old who is groomed by her mother to be the ‘light of the world’; a seer to her uncle, Edward king, thus keeping the family safe in a dangerous time of social politics in the 7th C. As she grows Hild spends her time watching and listening; to nature, the land, ordinary people, and those in court, growing in knowledge and wisdom to advise Edward king. In a time when pagan gods and Celtic Christians are being replaced with new Christians from Rome, Hild has the foresight to embrace change without losing her own countenance. Through battles, unrest, cold winters, and dry summers, she entwines her life with the loyal men of the king and with the people of wić’s and vills (towns and settlements) applying both brutal force and compassion in fighting and, care and fairness to people of the land.

“Keep a quiet mouth and a bright mind” is a lesson that she is given; this is such a powerful line and one that illustrates all that Hild becomes. I love the way the Nicola Griffiths uses the language of a bright three year old to describe the life around her which grows in complexity as she ages. There are so many beautifully written lines that Griffiths enthrals you with: The three year old rejecting the suggestion she might be frightened, with the thought ‘She was three; she had her own shoes’. In the story Hild is a ‘pattern maker’ for the cloth that the women weave, and with the same skill she gives Hild, Griffiths weaves the story and histories in her writing.

I enjoyed reading this book slowly, getting a real sense of how society worked in the 7thC .
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Well-written, interesting novel
Hild is a very well-written historical fiction novel and whilst there's a good mix of both the known history from the era it's set and slightly fantastical elements for me the... Read more
Published 2 days ago by Bathory0303
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
still to finish
Published 4 days ago by Anne
5.0 out of 5 stars Enthralling!
A beautifully written story that grabs you from the first page and does not let go until the final page. Read more
Published 12 days ago by Mara Greenwood
4.0 out of 5 stars Hild and Seek
I wasn’t sure whether to be pleased or alarmed when this book arrived. At nearly 600 pages this is a whopping great tome, which isn’t always a good thing when it comes to... Read more
Published 29 days ago by L. A. Hardy
5.0 out of 5 stars Hild
Hild is a a child with an uncanny knack for reading people. What we today would call psychology and logic, was then seen as something more sinister. Read more
Published 29 days ago by Rubbah
4.0 out of 5 stars Strange and fascinating world of the past recreated
We know a lot less about 7th century Britain than about other more popular choices of time period for writers of historical novels which many writers of fiction might find an... Read more
Published 1 month ago by joc66
4.0 out of 5 stars Hild
If you like epic historical novels then this one may well be your thing. It is set in seventh century Britain and brings the so-called 'Dark Ages' vividly to life. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Damaskcat
5.0 out of 5 stars Hild
Very easy to read book.It is about St Hilda before she became a saint
She was the niece to Edwin King of Northumbria. Read more
Published 1 month ago by A. V. Calvert
4.0 out of 5 stars A tale of the Dark Ages.
Hild is a young girl taken to the court of King Edwin by her mother, both to protect the child and to get close to the king. Read more
Published 1 month ago by P. A. Pendrey
5.0 out of 5 stars Is the gleam of gold stirring from within 7th century settings for...
Is it possible that the gleam of gold is stirring from within 7th century settings for fiction?

Nichola Griffith’s HILD is stunning, challenging, exhilarating,... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Theresa Tomlinson
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