Thursday, January 29, 2015

The ending of Hild: not a romance

* This post contains spoilers for Hild and Hild II *
From: Diane

My book club just had a discussion about Hild. It was a lively exchange. I enjoyed the book very much, but several of us had issues with the ending. Our question is why do you have Hild and Cian end up together? It seemed like throughout the book Hild (and everyone else except Cian) knew or guessed that they were half siblings and of the clear taboo that this posed. We didn't want to see the book ending on a typical romantic novel story arc. 
It might seem like a romantic ending but it isn't. It was a selfish move on the part of Edwin, Paulinus, Æthelburh, and Breguswith—a move Hild had to accept. It's also the springboard into the next part of the story.

What follows contains spoilers for the beginning of Book II so skip everything between the lines if that's something you want to avoid.
Hild knows that the Yffing dynasty—certainly Edwin—will fall soon. Given that 'fall' in the 7th C means 'die horribly', she's looking for a way to keep herself and her loved ones safe. Being married to Cian does that.
  • It keeps Cian safe because:
    (a) He's no longer regarded as a contender for the throne—he's now officially Ceredig's son, not Hereric's, and therefore not an Yffing and therefore not a rival to any dynasty.
    (b) If he's no longer Edwin's chief gesith, he's much less likely to die in any upcoming battle.
  • It keeps Hild safe, because she's no longer the seer, no longer linked the king as his political advisor, she's a wife
  • If Hild is safe, her gemæcce is safe.
And that doesn't include all the people of Elmet whom Hild frankly thinks she can protect better than anyone else. Bottom line, though: she has no choice.

Also, I wanted to create a serious break with Hild's previous way of life. She has to change; this is one way to do it. But don't imagine she's going to live a long, peaceful life as Mrs. Boldcloak. For one thing, Mr Boldcloak, wilfully ignorant in Book I, can't remain remain so forever—and he's not going to be happy when he finds he's been lied to. And, y'know, the 7th C is a bloody and dangerous place. Plus, well, Hild is Hild; she's not the stay-at-home type.
Rest assured there's much change ahead. The arc of Book I is a small part of the whole, and the ending is a tiny part of that. So I hope you stick with it through the remaining two books. It's going to get interesting...
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