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Hild: A Novel (The Light of the World Trilogy) Kindle Edition
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|Length: 560 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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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.
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.
Well. This one did. I was lucky enough to read it on my phone so I had to take it bits at a time, instead of inhaling it over a few days like I normally would with a book of this kind, so I got more out of it. I lived with Hild and not just read it, and wanted to whomp her upside the head at various intervals, but I always understood *why* she did something even if I didn't think it was the wisest thing she could have done. Griffith made her whole world come alive as well. There were only two minor flaws in this book. The first was that the Christians never told stories. This is a country where people will walk five miles for a chance at a good one, and Fursey, Paulinus and James never told stories like Jonah and the whale, Lot and his exciting family, and David with his complicated love life, just to name a few (although it's probably just as well nobody talked about Saul around King Edwin, it would not have turned out well). The other flaw? The book ended! Arrgh! However, the author did say that she was working on more, which made me forgive her. Her setup for future goodies was well done, too--you can almost smell the ozone of the upcoming lightning strike that will explain to Hild why the yellow crystal in her carnelian set was the best of all.
This book made me feel bigger inside, as if I had to grow to make it all fit. Few books do that ('a noble spirit embiggens the smallest man"--Jedediah Springfield). And those like that are keeper.
Yes, this book really does walk on water, heals the sick and blind, and in its spare time, works with the deaf. Five stars.