'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.
- Format: Hardback
- Pages: 560 pages
- Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
- Publication Date: 24/07/2014
- Category: Historical fiction
- ISBN: 9780349134222
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Review by passion4reading
In this first part of a proposed trilogy, Nicola Griffith tells the story of Hild, a girl of royal blood in the Anglisc kingdom of Northumbria in the seventh century; after her death, the world will know her as St Hilda of Whitby. In this fictionalised volume of her life, we follow her from the age of three to the cusp of womanhood. As much as the dynastic politics revolve around men, this is mostly a book about women. The pace as a general rule is slow and character-driven, as Hild has a natural affinity with nature and an uncanny ability to question, notice and make connections when no one else can, making her appear otherworldly and feared by all, even her own people. There is murder and intrigue on all sides, and very often Hild feels like she is simply a pawn in a game played by adults, with an ambitious mother doing everything in her power to advance Hild’s reputation and position to what she thinks her daughter’s fate is, namely being the light of the world.In this story the author very much becomes a storyteller, and the pace and occasionally almost lyrical style of writing often evoke the old Anglo-Saxon poems sung by bards in hall, with a captive audience hanging on their every word. A lot of things are left unsaid and one needs to read between the lines; even so, it is not always clear what the author is trying to say, but I’m certain one needs to read this book more than once to understand all the little nuances, hints and allusions. In any case, Nicola Griffith manages to build a lost world in front of our eyes, recreating Anglo-Saxon England in image and speech, custom and faith.Despite a map of seventh-century Britain and a rough family tree, reading the first chapter you might think you’ve stumbled on a book in a slightly different language, where you only understand a third of what’s going on. That’s why I chose to read the brief author’s note, a note on pronunciation and a reasonably extensive glossary (all contained in the appendix) after the first chapter to try to make more sense of what I’d read, and then read certain passages again in light of the gained knowledge. I would have welcomed a breakdown of the cast of characters as in Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies to keep track of every name, but this is a minor quibble and will not adversely affect your enjoyment of this terrific effort. I will certainly follow Hild as she grows up and can’t wait for the second volume to appear.(This review was originally written as part of Amazon's Vine programme.)