Saturday, February 22, 2014

Hild roundup #13

No interviews this week but two weeks' worth of reviews, including two (!) in The Toast. Both long, juicy, and worth your time. If you read just one thing, then read one of those. Seriously.

All previous round-ups here. (Note to insane completists: there’s a lot of stuff. A lot. Don't burst anything...)

If you get to the end of this marathon roundup your reward is another cat reading Hild.

The Toast
"If you are a female reader of genre fiction, you have probably gotten used to being dismissed. You are dismissed within the narratives of the stories you love, which all too often cast you as a lover or a witch, a virgin or a crone, a sexy plot-device on two long, supple legs [..] The good news is that Nicola Griffith’s Hild is the book you’ve been waiting for, the one that has room for you in it: it’s long and smart and beautiful, set in a world so old that the languages and tribes feel supernatural in their distance from our own, and it’s expansively, gloriously, breathtakingly feminist, nearly six hundred pages of story about women that takes them and their complex, active lives seriously."

"This novel imagines a history for Hild, following her from age three to her late teens, and does so in a way which is both utterly believable and entirely absorbing. I really can’t stress that last point enough. […] The bare bones of the story that Griffith imagines for Hild would be remarkable enough, but she doesn’t stop there. Instead, she takes it to another level entirely, exploring the development of Hild’s personality and identity with extraordinary skill and, in doing so, carving out a character of rare depth and complexity."

The Toast (again!)
"If you read Nicola Griffith’s new historical novel Hild, you’ll learn a lot about life in seventh-century Britain. When you finish the book you’ll find it strange not to be drinking sharp white mead and eating game. You’ll miss the textures of cloth, the aural world of birdsong and snapping twigs, the sense of a battle axe always at your side. Hild’s senses are near-superhuman in their acuity; she’s extraordinary, like many of the characters we love best. But she’s thoroughly grounded in her time, in its political realities and religious uncertainties, and you never get the sense that she’s invulnerable."

The Cannonball Read
"Was sort of uninterested in this book, until I read this blog post by the author. Boom! Sudden interest, give it to me now. And I’m really glad I picked it up. My experience with Hild is the textbook example of why it’s a good idea to read outside your normal genres every once in a while. I don’t read very much historical fiction, and those I do read are usually the ones that have some sort of unusual hook, like TWO MEN IN WWII RUSSIA LOOK FOR A DOZEN EGGS! (City of Thieves) or WOMAN TIME TRAVELS TO SCOTLAND AND HAS LOTS OF SEX! (Outlander). [...] Hild is Nicola Griffith’s examination of the early years of St. Hilda of Whitby, about whom almost nothing is known, except that she was probably one of the most influential women who ever lived. (Really, you should click that link at the top — it’s very interesting.)"

Lindy Reads and Reviews
"While this isn't a lesbian novel, I did appreciate the significant bisexual content. I also like the way Griffith quietly inserted a reference to her very first novel, Ammonite (1993), by having Begu gift her gemaecce Hild with one of these fossils. […] Readalikes: The Eagle and the Raven (Pauline Gedge); Wolf Hall (Hilary Mantel); The Skystone (Jack Whyte); The Last Light of the Sun (Guy Gavriel Kay); Mists of Avalon (Marion Zimmer Bradley); and Kristin Lavransdatter (Sigrid Undset)."

Room to Speak
"There are four ways that Hild stands out as a feminist piece of literature:
1) The novel features a powerful young woman, smart enough to influence the men who “control” the politics…
2) No emphasis is placed on her appearance or beauty. Griffith’s characterization of Hild is focused on her intellect, not on her desirability as a wife or mother…
3) While most of the characters believe Hild to be some sort of witch, the reader is left to wonder if she possesses magic, or if she is incredibly insightful and cunning enough to use this insight to gain influence…
4) Breaking down the societal norm of assuming a woman is straight (or if she is not straight then she must be a lesbian). Griffith allows Hild to explore her sexuality and sexual need/desire more fully than is typical in literature."

Wyrt Wizard
"Whether historical fiction, fantasy or another genre, the best novels create a believable world and show it to the reader. In most cases the novelist opens a window to display the world to the reader. Nicola Griffith does much more in her fascinating novel Hild. She pulls the reader right into seventh-century England and gives the reader a vantage point behind the title character’s shoulders. Griffith’s depiction of Northumbria is so vivid that the reader can hear the battle sounds and smell the animals in the barn."

The Bastard Title
"Well, it’s barely February, and I’ve already read a strong contender for my favorite book of the year. Hild was an incredible novel, the kind that will be very hard to top."

Compulsive Overreader
Hild by Nicola Griffith, Trudy Morgan-Cole
"Hild is the kind of work of historical fiction that can’t be discussed without using words like “epic.” […] In terms of its depth and scope as a historical novel I can’t compare this to anything other than Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall."

The Wichita Eagle
"Much of the book is about how deftly and delicately Hild manages to use her skills as a woman (girl, really) in a time when men ruled utterly. / Like Game of Thrones, Wolf Hall and many other books about kings, Hild traces the complex strategies of alliances and wars to gain more power."

"…the land and way of life for Hild and Edwin and Cian and all the others is immediate and alive in this book… Hild climbing a tree to watch the flight of the birds. Cian desperate to show off his fighting prowess. Edwin nervously watching his gesiths for signs of disloyalty. And everyone trying to make sure they make it through to next summer, and preferably better off than last time. It’s a stunning piece of work."

[ff to 33-minute mark]
Rebecca Onions endorses Hild, and Dana Stevens says "you had me at '7th-century nun.'"

[In which a librarian talks about the podcast of my reading from Seattle Central Library]
"Nicola Griffith has the type of voice which is perfect for reading aloud. It draws you in and welcomes you to sit and listen."

[Yes, a live event that’s now past. But I’m including it in the hope that someone will give me a report.]
Well-known scholars of Tolkien studies and popular culture will discuss the ways in which the works of later authors both develop from and go beyond J. R. R. Tolkien’s works of fiction, especially The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarillion. Panelists will discuss the relationships between Tolkien’s works and recent works such as Nicola Griffith's Hild, Neil Gaiman’s Ocean at the End of the Lane, J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan series, George R. R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series, Doctor Who, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, among others.

Hild spotted in the windows of:
Foyle's Southbank
I was scooping these images (from Twitter? Facebook?) in the UK via my phone using limited WiFi; attached info fell by the wayside. I apologise. If you sent these please get in touch so I can thank and credit you.

And finally, the moment I know you’ve all been waiting for:
Talya the Russian Princess (who is served by Anne) has her way with Hild 
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