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Hild: A Novel (The Light of the World Trilogy) Kindle Edition
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Sorry to say I'm finding Griffith's attempt at historical fiction to be a tad turgid and bogged down by the obviously well researched authentic names words, and events that defy the reader to have a smooth reading experience. She sadly sacrifices readability in her quest for authenticity. For instance, in the practice of two young girls forming a lifelong friendship/partnership the word "gemaecce" is used to refer to the two girls/women. I was not able to do any further research about that practice because that word is nowhere to be found on the Internet, at least on the search engine I used.
If an author is going to write about such things that are so esoteric and archaic that they have disappeared from general knowledge and readily available reference materials, then it's truly a dedicated reader that is able and willing to stick around for the whole of the journey unless that author is able to give a point of view that the reader can grasp. Didn't happen for me.
Another problem for me, in the early parts of the book, was the main character herself. This is a small child who's written by the author as though she's a grown woman. Yes, Hild is supposed to be an exceptional child, but giving her the actions and dialogue of an adult beggars the imagination, at least for me.
But having made that stretch to try putting out something weighty, a good editor would have been necessary to get the lead boots off this prose. As other reviews note, this novel is heavy on the archaic terms to a degree that hampers the reader rather than helping with atmosphere. By page 100, one is tired of the sole point of view: Hild's. She is not a charming child, and by page 100 has reminded the reader of Hild's powers [ occult? -- it is not made clear] and she has already referred to herself countless times as Light of the world. However, the child is not the protagonist and a better choice could have been made for the narrator. Nor does the narrator's coming-of-age hold many surprises. The best aspect of the novel are passages relating to the seasons, and wildlife. Somewhere along the way the author fell in love with her concept for the novel but then lost her way in the execution of it.
Christianity is coming to their part of the world. Hild learns to open her mind to new beliefs while negotiating very carefully around the head of the church who is greedy for power.
This is a period of time that I knew nothing about. The novel made the time seem very familiar. She included details where necessary but left room for imagination to fill in the background.im looking forward to reading the second and third books in the trilogy.
I had to let the unfamiliar names and words slide on by. There is a pronunciation guide at the back of the book but looking words up was hard to do when I was enthralled in the story.
And it is a great story, pulling my reading along, hour after hour, with the struggles of its characters in a society beset with sometimes violent struggles for political and religious power.
Is it essentially a hero's quest? The classic heroic journey for personal destiny and spiritual awakening?
Or is it a merely the careful crafting, through the development of one young woman in a complex society, of a story about the very nature of what it means to be fully human?
At the very least, it is a fully imagined world, including detailed observations of the natural world, and the strategic thinking involved in political and military decisions. The novel revolves around the strengths od Hild, who seems to understand the relationships among the families and hierarchies who work together in a complex medieval society. To me, the characters felt like real whole people, with distinct temperaments and personalities, in other words fully developed rounded characters.
i plan to reread this novel closely, and will recommend it to many of my friends.
I will also tell my friends that this great story includes some quite compelling erotic scenes. Each is essential both to character development and to the momentum of the plot. As with the rest of the novel, these scenes are beautifully written.
Be forewarned however, it would seem there will be at least one more volume of this important imaginative 'biography' of Saint Hild.
Waiting for more might try our patience,
Frankly, I lack the confidence to label this novel "Great."
So many novels of the past labeled "Great" lack the insight into human nature necessary to earn that judgment, especially compared to some recent achievements in English literature. (I cannot judge works that I can read only in translation.)
That said, at this moment , I believe Nicola Griffith deserves the acclaim of the finest literary judges in the world for her great creation.