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Hild: A Novel Paperback – Illustrated, October 28, 2014
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“One of the best novels, period.” ―Dorothy Allison
“Truly, truly remarkable.” ―Karen Joy Fowler
“Extraordinary...[Hild] resonates to many of the same chords as Beowulf, the legends of King Arthur, The Lord of the Rings, and Game of Thrones.” ―Neal Stephenson
“Hild is a book as loving as it is fierce, brilliant, and accomplished. To read it felt like a privilege and a gift.” ―NPR
“Terrific… Griffith has taken what little is known of the life of St. Hilda and imagined a vibrant, if brutal, world... Hild [is] a pleasure to sink into.” ―The Washington Post
“Sharp as steel, clear as garnet, essential and sensual and right, Griffith's telling of Hild's adventures offers us something far better than mere comfort: the lure of the sublime.” ―The Seattle Times
“Splendid...I can hardly wait for the next.” ―Los Angeles Review of Books
“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
About the Author
- Publisher : Picador; Illustrated edition (October 28, 2014)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 560 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1250056098
- ISBN-13 : 978-1250056092
- Item Weight : 15.2 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.44 x 0.99 x 8.27 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #158,601 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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The character of Hild is fascinating and well-drawn. She seems real to me. If you like Brianne of Tarth or think Barb in “Stranger Things” should have been the main character, this is the character for you, and then some.
The writing is magnificent. This is some of the most realistic writing about sexual relationships that I’ve ever encountered.
Here’s the thing, though. You have to have patience with this book. If you are one of those readers who needs nonstop pop-culture action, this book will disappoint you. (I would never take a star away from this book for that. A great book finds its readers.) If you read for great characters, great atmosphere, and great writing, you won’t be disappointed. I see this book is the first of a trilogy, and I don’t see any more of them. Hild has to go on to become St Hilda of Whitby—intriguing, because in this first book, she inhabits a transition world between paganism and Christianity, and she herself has been carefully groomed as a pagan seer ( and a warrior, to boot). I will be fascinated to see how she turns into a convent-founding Christian saint, if the writer ever gets to the other volumes of the series. This is not one of those series novels that leaves you hanging at the end, though, so if she never does, I won’t feel at all cheated.
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.
Top reviews from other countries
Nichola Griffith’s HILD is stunning, challenging, exhilarating, courageous – and at times shocking!
Fiction set in this period is rare and though many publishers have been wary of taking it on, I have noted with growing excitement new novels set in the 7th century recently emerging. Perhaps this is partly sparked by interest in the discovery of the fantastic Staffordshire Hoard! Whatever it is – I welcome it! Living within sight of Whitby Abbey and utterly obsessed by this period myself, I approached this chunky new novel with some trepidation, but quickly realised that I would be picked up and carried along by a master storyteller. HILD does not give us the traditional religious sainted abbess, but I have never been happy with that pious image. Instead, Nichola Griffiths fills the huge gaps in our knowledge of Hild’s early life with soaring imagination and a tale of epic proportion, without ever straying far from what is known of the period. Young Hild takes on the role of seer, which makes perfect sense to me. We follow her as she learns to survive in a violent, devious world by developing a reputation of ‘otherness’ along with physical strength, intelligence and sensitivity – she is personally vulnerable. A powerful sense of magic and destiny is conveyed, without ever needing to step into fantasy. This Hild is a killer when she deems it necessary and a ruthless warrior – an aspect that I felt slightly less comfortable with. I’m impressed by the enormous breadth of research – we discover every aspect of Hild’s world: smells, sounds, mead-hall culture, stinking hovels, weather, food and song. I particularly enjoyed the theme of textile production that threads and weaves its way throughout. Griffiths does not hold back on her usage of Anglo-Saxon words; she expects her reader to make an effort to understand - and I’m sure that the more we are exposed, the more accessible these words will become - they are after all the roots of the language we use everyday. HILD covers the early, unknown period of Hild’s life and I look forward with enormous curiosity to discover what will happen next. How can she possibly get from here to ruling a double monastery? I can’t wait to find out!
The Wake took me a month to read. With its approximation of Old English it is rich and tangled and takes you straight into the turbulent mind of its protagonist and into the old ways of a land swiftly and inexorably changing. Hild has already taken me twice that time and l am only a quarter of the way through. Why is it such a slow read? There is so much detail of daily life in the seventh century, and that tends to swamp the narrative. Hild barely emerges as a fully rounded character. She should be fascinating, but she comes across as annoying. The minor characters are more vividly drawn.
Nicola Griffith has done admirable research, but the story has little pace and intermittent excitement. Yet there is something compelling about her style which keeps drawing me back. Her prose is distinct and unusual with touches of poetry. It is a time l know little about, and l have already learnt so much about society, clothing, customs and language. In the end, though, it is not a patch on The Wake, or, indeed Bernard Cornwall's Saxon Chronicles.