Synopses & Reviews
A brilliant, lush, sweeping historical novel about the rise of the most powerful woman of the Middle Ages: Hild.
In seventh-century Britain, small kingdoms are merging, frequently and violently. A new religion is coming ashore; the old gods are struggling, their priests worrying. Hild is the king's youngest niece, and she has a glimmering mind and a natural, noble authority. She will become a fascinating woman and one of the pivotal figures of the Middle Ages: Saint Hilda of Whitby.
But now she has only the powerful curiosity of a bright child, a will of adamant, and a way of seeing the world — of studying nature, of matching cause with effect, of observing her surroundings closely and predicting what will happen next — that can seem uncanny, even supernatural, to those around her.
Her uncle, Edwin of Northumbria, plots to become overking of the Angles, ruthlessly using every tool at his disposal: blood, bribery, belief. Hild establishes a place for herself at his side as the kings seer. And she is indispensable — unless she should ever lead the king 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 read the world and see the future.
Hild is a young woman at the heart of the violence, subtlety, and mysticism of the early Middle Ages — all of it brilliantly and accurately evoked by Nicola Griffith's luminous prose. Working from what little historical record is extant, Griffith has brought a beautiful, brutal world to vivid, absorbing life.
"Award-winning LGBT author Griffith brings a sci-fi appreciation for alien culture and a woman's perspective to this fictional coming-of-age story about real-life Saint Hilda of Whitby, who grew up pagan in seventh-century Britain. Daughter of a poisoned prince and a crafty noblewoman, quiet, bright-minded Hild arrives at the court of King Edwin of Northumbria, where the six-year-old takes on the role of seer/consiglieri for a monarch troubled by shifting allegiances and Roman emissaries attempting to spread their new religion. Eventually Hild is baptized along with Edwin a scene Griffith depicts as less about spirituality than pomp and politics. Puberty's sexual awakening soon follows, propelling Hild toward her slave girl, then the former girlfriend of Hild's longtime boyfriend, Cian, who teaches Hild swordsmanship and other manly skills. Britain in the years after Rome is a relatively undiscovered country for historical fiction. Griffith goes boldly into the territory, lingering over landscape, wallowing in language, indulging the senses, mixing historical fact with feminist fiction in a sweeping panorama of peasants working, women weaving, children at play, and soldiers in battle: the Dark Ages transformed into a fantasy world of skirt and sword. Agent: Stephanie Cabot, The Gernert Agency." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
“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
About the Author
Nicola Griffith is a native of Yorkshire, England, where she earned her beer money teaching womens self-defense, fronting a band, and arm-wrestling in bars. In 1993 she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Her novels are Ammonite, Slow River, The Blue Place, Stay, and Always. Her writing has appeared in Nature, New Scientist, and the Los Angeles Review of Books, among other places. Her awards include the Tiptree, Nebula, and World Fantasy awards, the Premio Italia, and the Lambda Literary Award (six times) — most recently for her memoir, And Now We Are Going to Have a Party. Griffith lives with her partner, the writer Kelley Eskridge, in Seattle, Washington.