Hild reviews, a roundup

This isn't everything but it's most of the last six months' Hild reviews. I've made separate pages for interviews and for miscellany (mostly essays I've written about Hild--the person, the book, the process--and odd or interesting features by others about same). 

There's also one for fan art and cat pictures.

And another for the roundup of links roundups, so you can check for yourself what I might have missed.


"With gorgeously supple prose, Griffith tells the story of Hild, the seventh-century woman who would come to be revered as Saint Hilda. Hild is, according to her ambitious and canny mother, "the light of the world," destined to lead the Yffings into prosperity as the king's seer. But her only magic is that of observations, of reading cycles and patterns of behavior, be they in weather, landscapes, or people. Step by step, thought by thought, we are introduced to Hild's development and deployment as adviser to Edwin Overking at a time of enormous social change, as petty kingdoms clash and merge like tectonic plates. [...] Hild is a book as loving as it is fierce, brilliant and accomplished. To read it felt like a privilege and a gift."

Conversion Starter, Jenny Davidson [No link because it's print-only.]
"In it's ambition and intelligence, Hild might best be compared to Hilary Mantel's novels about Thomas Cromwell. Griffith does not have the extraordinary ability displayed in Wolf Hall to render densely populated political rivalries as vividly and concretely as one might describe the relationships between three or four members of a family...but she has other gifts Mantel doesn't, especially that sharp eye for what happens to plants and animals (especially birds) over the course of the seasons, as well as an understated and just-lyrical-enough prose style that delights the reader locally without ever distracting from the forward movements of character and plot."
"Steeping us in the taste of seventh-century England’s mead, the weight and warmth of its gorgeously woven and embroidered fabrics, and the myriad sights, sounds and scents of long ago, Seattle writer Nicola Griffith has created a marvel and a joy... But it’s the book’s sheer beauty that will most astonish readers. As Hild rushes to rescue her now-grown half-brother and his wife, she envisions herself as a hawk stooping to kill his pursuers. 'Waking and sleeping alike were one thing of hollowing air and falling.' 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."

Vulpes Libris
, Kate McDonald
"Hild, Nicola Griffith’s fifth novel, is very long and very detailed. It’s also the most absorbing and addictive story I’ve read in years. I was subliminally resentful for days until I finished it, finally, at 3am on a Sunday morning. By Sunday afternoon I had started reading it all over again. Being gobbled alive by a story isn’t so uncommon, but needing to go back and be gobbled up all over again only hours later is a mark of something exceptional. Several weeks later, I began it for a third time, because I simply couldn’t get the story out of my head, and wanted to get back into Hild’s world."

Historical Novel Society
Hild: Editor's Choice
"Griffith’s narrative flows like a river; Hild’s thoughts and deeds are expressed in pitch-perfect tone, in prose approaching poetry...utterly brilliant."

Paris Review
"…dazzling… Griffith’s lyrical prose emphasizes the savagery of the political landscape, in which religion, sex, and superstition are wielded mercilessly for personal gain."

Los Angeles Review of Books
Weaving a Hedge, by Brian Attebury
"Midway through Nicola Griffith’s splendid Medieval novel Hild is a scene of hedge-construction. […] This scene can stand for the novel itself, and for its genre of historical fiction. Supporting the narrative are bare facts: names, dates, battles, kings. Between those dead stakes the novelist transplants green shoots, bits of lived experience that link the historical moment to the present. She then lops and bends and weaves these shoots — the smell of horses, the sound of crows, the stirring of desire — to make a pattern that is not only beautiful but also meaningful."


A book for winter, by Robin Sloan
"On the surface, Nicola Griffith’s book is not the kind I usually gravitate towards — which, maybe, ought to make the recommendation count for even more? Hild is set in 7th-century England, and it traces the life of its namesake, the woman known today as St. Hilda of Whitby. I got my hands on an advance copy earlier this year and found myself utterly absorbed. It’s been a long time since I was so happy reading a book this fat; a long time since I was so sad to see it end. [...] As I read, and after, I found Hild’s way of thinking seeping into my brain. She is a scientist before science, a flâneuse before Paris or anything remotely approaching it. She is a watcher, a pattern-finder, a naturalist growing into a politician. [...] This truly is a winter book — big and heavy, with a warm heart. It will look good wrapped in colorful paper."
Hild and the triumph of the skeptical fantasy novel, Annaleen Newnitz
"By the time you've finished this engaging, absorbing novel, you'll feel like you understand the political machinery moving beneath the hide of history. And the great St. Hilda will have come to life in your mind, not as a blessed Saint, but as a real human being with decidedly secular talents. This is one of the truly great novels of the past year. Griffith will seduce you with her lush, fantasy-epic prose, and keep you mesmerized with her well-wrought tale of politics in an age of superstition."

Shelf Awareness
Review: Hild, by Ilana Teitlebaum
"Griffith unfurls a vivid tapestry of nature and craft, belief and myth. Inspired by the life of St. Hilda of Whitby, Hild is an immersive experience, its exquisite language serving as a portal to a distant time and place."

Strange Horizons
[Hild from a medievalist’s perspective—long and juicy. Go read it.]

Book Riot
"I loved it from the start and am calling it: Hild will be one of my favorite reads of 2014."

Lambda Literary Review
, Susan Stinson

"Hild is magnificent, an urgent, expansive pleasure... This is a big book, in every sense of the word. The pages fly by. The great surges of politics, economics and religion fuel and never overcome the tremendous force of the story. The world changes within the book, within Hild, and within the reader lucky enough to fall under its power. Hild is a pulse-pounding page-turner. It is a rich and inspired work of fiction. It is a book that fills both the urge to be taken away and the urge to be brought closer, to be called, as the jackdaws call, both outward and home."

The Other Side of the Brain
"Nicola Griffith’s Hild: A Novel is something rare. It’s a historical fantasy, but it’s not a magical adventure, a bodice-ripper, a military drama, or even a political thriller. It’s not the kind of book you dive into and finish a day later and forget almost immediately. Hild is a whole world with a taste and texture of its own. It lingers. […] Hild herself: A girl in and of the past, navigating a complex and patriarchal world. Griffith hasn’t caved to the strong-woman-defies-patriarchy-and-becomes-a-legit-knight tendencies of fantasy with female leads (although, admittedly, Hild does learn to use a staff). Hild gains power and influence for herself and her family, but not by hacking up bad guys and teaching everyone about equal rights for women. Instead, her weapon is her intelligence. She also isn’t motivated by some personal horror-story—she isn’t strong because she was “broken first,” she’s strong because she has natural ambitions and hopes of her own. She changes the world not because she’s man-like, but because she’s human-like."

The New Republic
"Over the past three years, George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire fantasy-meets-Tudors books have taken the publishing world by storm. The fifth installation, published in 2011, had the highest first-day sales of any fiction book that year, and the most recent season of the HBO adaptation was the network’s second-most popular of all time. We have the CW’s hilarious teen-soap version of Mary Queen of Scots, Reign; before that, there were The Tudors and The Borgias. Hilary Mantel has won two Man Booker prizes for her novels about Thomas Cromwell, which are currently being made into a BBC TV series. And now we have a new entrant into the canon: Nicola Griffith’s novel Hild. / Hild, which takes place in seventh-century Britain, is based on the historic figure now known as St. Hilda, who helped to convert Britain to Christianity. The novel uses her scant biography (about half a page in a Christian history) to weave together an epic bildungsroman. We follow young Hild from the death of her father to her early career as a seer for King Edwin of Northumbria and her eventual evolution into a political actor in her own right. Griffith explains Hild’s mystical powers as a combination of attentiveness and keen intelligence, and limits the discussion of wights and witches to Hild’s less perceptive peers. It is a tasteful work of historical fiction, artfully dramatizing real events to recreate Hild’s seventh-century world."
(A mixed review.)

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."

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."

"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 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.)"

San Francisco Book Review
"The beauty of the medieval historical novel Hild is that it is a story about a woman who becomes a powerful and inspirational figure…"

Addison Recorder
Shedding Light on an Unfairly Darkened Age, Christopher Walsh and Andrew J. Rostan
[Great email colloquy about Hild. Definitely worth reading.]
"Chris: Fiction about the Middle Ages can be a very mixed bag of idealized medievalisms and anachronistic pageantry. Knights gallivant across countrysides regardless of a historical tradition of chivalry in that country, dressed in armor shining bright despite the technology or preferred protection of the time. Honor and such are paramount. I love the Middle Ages, but reading historical fiction set in the time period can be a considerable chore given how many authors opt to write what feels medieval instead of what is medieval. Such is gloriously not the case with Hild."

Far Beyond Reality
Hild, by Nicola Griffith, by Stefan Raets

[Long and juicy]
"I am here to tell you: don’t hesitate. Read this book. It is wonderful and your life will be the richer for it. [...] This is a journey of a novel. I was lost to the world reading it. If you’re only going to read one historical novel this year, make it this one. If you weren’t planning on reading a historical novel, read it anyway. Buy it this weekend: it will be, after all, the Feast Day of St. Hilda."

The Week
Novel of the week: Hild
"This 'fierce, brilliant, and accomplished book' brings to life a 7th-century England in which women worked in every corner of the economy."
(print only for now, but they liked it)

The Sunday Guardian
"Perhaps Griffith's greatest achievement here is in not giving Hild a modern mind. […] Hild is immersive and feminist, and believable. Whether this is historical fiction or fantasy (and Griffith suggests that perhaps there needn't be a distinction between the two) it's complex and intelligent.", by Alyx Dellamonica
"In the hands of a great storyteller, it carries us into lands every bit as faraway and exotic as Frank Herbert’s Arrakis or Ursula Le Guin’s Gethen. Historical fiction even makes aliens of our ancestors, by illuminating how humanity’s attitudes, beliefs and cultural practices have changed over centuries gone by. Such a book is Nicola Griffith’s Hild…a remarkable fictional account of Hilda’s early years. […] This is a book sure to be compared with everything from The Mists of Avalon and Wolf Hall to, I’m betting, The Lord of the Rings. It has it all—the epic sweep, the utterly convincing level of detail, and the larger-than-life characters. Griffith has taken a handful of pages from the Venerable Bede and made a gift of them for us all, creating in Hild a passionate, unique and thoroughly unforgettable heroine."

The Proximal Eye, by Mark W. Tiedemann
"I mention science fiction at the beginning because at a certain level, if we’re dealing with something deeper than costume drama or plot-driven adventure fiction, the exercise of finding, comprehending, and actualizing on the page an entire period from the past—Republican Rome, Hellenic Greece, the Mesopotamia of the Sumerians, the Kingdom of Chin, or post Roman England—is much the same as building a world out of logic and broad-based knowledgeable extrapolation. In some instances, extrapolation is all-important because the fact is we simply do not know enough to more or less copy a record into a fictional setting. Instead, we have to take the tantalizing scraps of what remain of that world and supply the connective tissue by imagining what must, what probably, what could have been there. And in the process we discover a new world."

Boston Bibliophile
"The book is extremely dense and immersing; you can't read it in short spells. I had to take at least an hour at a time to read it and it's not always easy to find that much time- one reason it took me almost six months to finish it. But Griffith puts you right there, right in the thick of it, with her deeply descriptive writing, characters that feel like flesh and blood and extensive plumping and embellishing of the setting. You will experience the daily life of the seventh century, from food to clothing to cleaning to all kinds of daily rituals. No aspect of life is left unexplored and the book is a feast for the imagination and the senses. / What I loved most about Hild is the relationships between the characters, particularly Hild and Cian's diverging friendship. I really felt her frustration and helplessness as they grew apart, as Cian's sexuality developed and lead him away from his childhood friend..."

The Idle Woman
"This was a rare thing: a book I came to on the strength of its subject, knowing nothing about its author, hoping that it would be a amusing read - only to find myself simply blown away by the quality of the writing. And I'm not easy to impress. [...] Richly-described, sensitive and very far from being conventional, this is a real treat for anyone interested in this period - or anyone who loves lush, evocative language and the poetic resonance of ancient words - gesith; gemæcce; hægtes. Griffith has done a fabulous job and I hope she might turn to more historical fiction in the future, rather than the sci-fi and crime which I understand she's focused on so far. She certainly has a gift for it. Do get your hands on a copy if you can - settle back and savour it - and come and tell me what you think. I do hope you enjoy it. And why wouldn't you? Here is the gleam of arm-rings, brooches and torcs; the fellowship of mead and songs; and the echoes of heroic grandeur in an age which is already coming to an end: 
We ride in service to a dream from the gods. If our dreamer's horse fails, you will give her yours. If her food runs low, you will give your own. She will light our way. And now we ride."

Chaotic Compendiums
Hild, by Nicola Griffith, by Caitlin Martin
"If you read one book in the historical fiction genre this year, Hild is the one. It is epic and the writing is gorgeous - sprawling across seventh century Britain much like my cat sprawls in the window each morning to catch the sun on his belly. It is bursting with story - rich, detailed, fully imagined." 

Chasing Hilda
Hild by Nicola Griffith, by Pastor Pilgrim
"This beautifully written book is about that fascinating era of the 7th century Anglo-Saxons in Britain’s Northumbria and East Anglia with a focus on St. Hild(a) of Whitby. It reads almost like poetry as it is so lyrically written."

Locus Magazine
Hild review by Cecelia Holland
"Time after time, a sentence brings you there – "slack tide, when the muscular surge of the water stops, is just gone, like a dying man’s breath." "The rain was coming down like rods of glass from an iron lid of a sky." [...] As an evocation of the Dark Ages it’s a beautiful read, reminding me often of Dorothy Dunnett’s King Hereafter and Sigrid Undset’s Kristin Lavransdatter."
[No link because it's only in the print edition (Dec 2013) but it's well worth seeking out for Holland's interesting approach to the ease/difficulty approach of 16th vs. 7th centuries in fiction.]

Washington Post
Hild by Nicola Griffith, Sara Sklaroff
"Griffith has taken what little is known of the life of St. Hilda and imagined a vibrant, if brutal, world. Her descriptions are inventive and vivid, making Hild a pleasure to sink into... Our male heroes are going to be jealous."

New York Times Magazine
[Just a snippet rather than a review but, hey, NYT Magazine!]

The National
"Griffith’s book is not a novel to race through, but rather one to sink into and ponder, as Hild does, why people do what they do, why they believe what they do, and whether we control our own fate or whether, in fact, “fate goes as it ever must”."

Paste Magazine
Hild by Nicola Griffith, Annie Frazier
"Evocative and full, the language of Hild forms a rich and colorful and wholly real portrait of an imagined seventh-century England. Completely different, otherworldly in its scope and ambition... Homer and Virgil used similarly breathtaking artistic effects... Intoxicating."
[This is long and juicy. Definitely worth reading.]

Epic fantasy without magic, Anna Perieberg Anderson
"Ambitious, astonishing...vivid, detailed, and utterly real. [...] This is the greatest feat a historical novelist can pull off, and Hild does it better than any book I've read since Kristin Lavransdatter (and Sigrid Undset won the Nobel Prize, so that's high praise). Like Lavransdatter,Hild feels like it was written at the time it portrays — immediate, profound, and captivating."

"In winter I like sprawling novels, full of conflict and intrigue, and during the bleakest, coldest days of December I holed up with Nicola Griffith’s Hild, a book of love and sex and war and religious upheaval, and I recommend it even over the warmest pair of Sorels." Maud Newton

Chicago Tribune

Hild by Nicola Griffith, by Michael Robbins
"The promotional materials for award-winning sci-fi and mystery author Nicola Griffith's new doorstop of historical fiction, Hild, read in part: "As in Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall and Sigrid Undset's Kristin Lavransdatter, Nicola Griffith's luminous prose evokes the violence, subtlety, and mysticism of early medieval life." / Leaving aside my suspicion that neither of those novels contains Griffith's luminous prose, and the fact that neither is set in the early middle ages, I must note that Hild has much less in common with Booker bait like Wolf Hall than with T. H. White's The Once and Future King and George R.R. Martin's Game of Thrones. / This is a good thing if, like me, you found Wolf Hall a tedious, overwritten mess, or if, like me, you downed the Game of Thrones novels like a — oh, like a flagon of mead or whatever. Critics do love a nice medieval trope."
[It took me a while to realise that Robbins actually liked the book. Bit of an odd review.]

Story Studio Chicago
January Booklist: What we’re reading
"A wonderful telling of the early life of St. Hilda of Whitby, circa 650 AD. But this Hild is a unique creature who must pay attention to detail in order to survive. The language is transporting, and Griffith writes in an intense, close 3rd person that leaves Hild haunting you long after the book ends. I think this will be next year’s Booker winner. –Jill Pollack"
[Emphasis theirs.]

Radish Reviews
"Hild is, without a doubt, one of the best books I’ve read this year. [...] Hild is about an extraordinary, singular woman. It’s about the women in her life and the constraints they lived under and how they were still able to influence the path of history. They did it subtly, through weaving patterns and taking calculated risks instead of with swords and open violence, but they did it nonetheless. / This is an amazing book. Read it."

Neon Tommy
Hild, Jennifer Kuan
"Hild is fresh, rich and engrossing. The fusion of notes of fantasy with history weaves a captivating tale of who Hild might have been, and Griffith's Hild is an enchanting one."

Three Guys One Book

Hild by Nicola Griffith, Judy Krueger
"I have spent the last four days in seventh century Britain so fully engrossed in its brutal and beautiful world that sitting down at my computer feels like I have come back to the future. [...] Her writing is poetic and tuneful, like lyrics to a song."
An Anthology of Clouds
Hild, by Nicola Griffith, Valerie Stivers
"A more perfect cup of witchery does not exist, for those of us who like historical romance but also have literary standards. […] The book is a spectacular accomplishment, and is totally immersive in the details of pre-modern life. Hild’s triumphs as a seer in a hostile king’s court are constructed so smoothly from fear, cunning and circumstance, that they’re as believable to us as they are to her. Griffith also finds convincing ways for Hild to partake in the culture of swords and war, while still being circumscribed as a woman would have been. The rise of the Christian church and driving out of the old gods (Woden!) is as frightening as it’s meant to be. And the character’s sexual awakening [...] a gift, coming from a writer with Griffith’s skill... An amazing book."

Crazy for Books
Review: Hild, by Jennifer
"Novelist Nicola Griffith is the latest to publish a book based on the life of a medieval character. In the recent past several writers including Sigrid Undset, Mary Renault and more recently Hilary Mantel have written books on the life of heroes and heroines of the Middle Age. Mantel even won two Booker prizes for her historic novels."

The Inferior 4

"The other thing that makes Hild a terrific read is the prose, which is gorgeous. I could quote parts of this book all day: "Long-legged birds speared shellfish, and women with sacks collected coal and driftwood, dodging the surf that ran up over the sand like the froth in a milkmaid's pail. The sky showed as blue as twice-dyed linen. The sea was restless, glinting like napped flint." Look at the alliteration: "Long-legged"; "collected coal"; "surf" and "sand" and "sky." Look at the near-rhymes: "ran" and "sand"; "twice-dyed"; "glinting" and "flint." Look at the startling similes: "as blue as twice-dyed linen"; "glinting like napped flint." It's as close as you can get to poetry in prose."

The lost Entwife
"Hild takes on history with imagination, a deft writing style, and some of the most complex, gorgeous storytelling ability I have ever read. […] So, first of all, let me talk about Griffith’s writing. It’s masterful and beautiful and all those adjectives that people use to try to describe a brilliant writing style. But, more than anything, what struck me was how knowledgeable it was. I really don’t want to just gush over this book more. Suffice it to say that any serious historical fiction fan, or really, anyone who has had a passing interest in the Dark Ages, should check Hild out."

Books By the Willow Tree
Hild by Nicola Griffith, Marie G Johansen
"I don't know where to start. I read a lot, generally at least two books a week. I love large, thick books that can take awhile to read. When I love a book, the longer it lasts the better it is! I read with enjoyment. I don't spend my reading time with anything that I don't enjoy, which is why I seldom give books less than 3 stars here or on any other site on which I post my reviews. Actually, most of my reviews are 4-5 stars. This one should have at last 7 stars by that reckoning. Some books, very few actually, are finished but stay with me, like the after taste of a particularly fine something .. wine, chocolate, a favorite dessert or meal. This book is staying with me, and I am wishing that the sequel was already available so that I could continue to savor the reading. [...] Ms. Griffith is a master at prose. This book, in places, reads more like poetry, each word so finely tuned that they sing like a finely tuned violin or as the voices in a perfectly pitched acapella."

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea
"It is an astonishing book. And one filled with beauty and power. Griffith’s prose is spare, but her eye for line and rhythm, the perfect turn of a phrase, is hard to match. The world she depicts feels real, textured, nuanced: full of patterns, complicated relationships, violence, love, need. Hild herself is a fantastic character, and Griffith explores the loneliness to which her pattern-seeing, bright, sharp mind and adamantine will subjects her with grace, and power, and elegant brutality."
Fox Home
"Despite gruesome scenes of battle and torture this is a book that can be called lovely, because this is a book about seeing. We see a beautiful land that is still mostly natural. We see it through the eyes of Hild..."

Keep the Wisdom
"I have spent the last four days in seventh century Britain so fully engrossed in its brutal and beautiful world that sitting down at my computer feels like I have come back to the future."

Literary Omnivore
Review: Hild


Sacramento News and Review
From Pagan to Saint, Kel Munger

Val's Random Comments
(Neither random nor by someone called Val, but long and discursive and interesting.)
"Hild is a fascinating piece of literature. […]  It is also one of the most rewarding reads I've come across this year. I can't wait for the continuation of Hild's story. When that book is published it will no doubt jump right to the top of my to read list."

The Next 50
"If you have any interest at all in historical fiction, the Middle Ages in Britain, the change from pagan religions to Christianity, the early church in Britain, the role of women in medieval times, etc., READ THIS BOOK. […] I understand from the afterword that there is a second book in the works.  I can hardly wait.  This one will be going to the nursing home with me (if I still have all my marbles) because it is a gorgeous read and I look forward to re-reading it repeatedly in the future."

Journey of Faith
(Fascinating stuff, from the perspective of faith.)
"Like all great novels, Hild transcends the world it describes. […] Karen Armstrong writes in A Short History of Myth, that mythology (like good fiction) is fundamentally about our experience. 'A myth was an event which, in some sense, had happened once, but which also happened all the time. Because of our strictly chronological view of history, we have no word for such an occurrence, but mythology is an art form that points beyond history to what is timeless in human existence.' But 'myth is not a story told for its own sake. It shows us how we should behave.' […] Perhaps it's time to let this image of being 'the light of the world' change me more completely.  Perhaps it's time to see how far my light can shine."

The AudioBookaneers
Release week: Nicola Griffith's Hild

"Curious, I stayed up past midnight Monday night to jump aboard, and am well, well pleased with Hewitt’s narration, though far from finished as the audiobook runs well into a 24th hour. It’s a book I’ve been eagerly waiting all year."

KOHO Radio (audio)
[In which Pat Rutledge, from a Book For All Seasons in Leavenworth, talks about Hild. She loves it. Seriously. Go listen.]

Notes from the Bedside Table
"One of my very favorite books this year, out of EVERYthing I've read this year. A big, rollicking, epic book about a young woman named Hild who lives in 7th century Britain."
[René is the owner of Eagle Harbor Books in Bainbridge. I met her at PNBA where she was so kind so me and to Kelley.]

Kristen Hannum
Bright mind, quiet mouth
"If you read Hild, and I heartily recommend that you do, notice how Griffith describes place, transporting you to a wild, early Britain. Notice how she shows us how Hild thinks, in terms of patterns, a metaphor of the weft and warp of weaving that well-born women learned from earliest childhood. “Hild walked the hills in the golden time before dusk, senses wide open but no longer restless. One evening she was moved to tears by the blaze of crimson, gold, and green of the wold, moving at the centre of a vast pattern that she knew she would never have the words to explain. The pattern watched over her from the face of every leaf and every tiny flower of furze. She felt safe and sure.”"
[A Catholic perspective on the novel. Worth reading.]

The Lawrentian
Nokes on New Books, Lauren Nokes
"This well researched and beautifully written work of historical fiction tells the story of St. Hild of Whitby as a young woman in seventh-century Anglo-Saxon England. The new religion of Christianity conflicts with the old pagan gods and feudalism holds sway. After the death of her father, Hild becomes court Seer for her uncle. Griffith writes vividly about life during the Middle Ages, especially the joys and struggles of female lives."
[First time I’ve seen something from a student newspaper so I couldn’t resist including it.]

Respiring Thoughts
Book Review: Hild by Nicola Griffith,
"There is an elegance and beauty to this book that’s rather mesmerizing at times. Hild is a dense, involved read, but it’s worthwhile for the authenticity that Griffith brings to the table. It’s the kind of book that you immerse yourself in, that you somehow experience rather than simply read."

Literary Lindsey
Review: Hild, Lindsey
"This is the sort of book you want to live inside. Nicola Griffith has meticulously created a world on the verge of chaos. We readers get to enter 7th century England from a unique position. Hild gives us eyes and ears into both the weaving rooms with the women of the court and on the road to battle with the kingdom's warriors. But no one knows who will be in power next and everyone's motives are suspect. Hild travels with the king, from one town to another as they broker support for his rule and suppress uprisings."

Peace Moon Arts
Hild: a review
"This book offers a window to the lost world of 7th C. Britain, almost unknown even to those of us who love the Middle Ages. I was immediately enchanted…"

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."

Hild, Sarah Rachel Egelman
"From family loyalties to political maneuverings, from the secrets of the written word to the strength of swords, Hild’s is a complex story and a good one for readers wishing to lose themselves in a thick, elegantly told and captivating novel."
[I think I missed this one from January but if you’ve seen it before, hey, it’s not the end of the world]

"Hild is a remarkable novel set in this time; remarkable because of the world in which it is set, and due to the remarkable character upon which it centers.  Remarkable because Hild was a real person, born in 614; and because the life glimpsed in these pages is what we believe it to have been, to the best of our ability to know. Even though it reads like some kind of epic fantasy, familiar enough to follow but strange enough in words and deeds to be otherworldly, it is our own past. […] Yet this is where we came from. This is amazing. This book is remarkable."

Hysterical Hamster
"the brilliance of this book isn’t the amount of research on show.  The brilliance is how Griffiths brings these characters to life without ever applying a 21st Century gloss on who they are.  If Hild frees her slave later in the novel it’s not because Griffith has turned her into an abolitionist, but because Hild has acted within the bounds of her society and the power she holds."

Seattle Public Library
LivFun: Book Reviews, Misha Stone
"Fans of well-researched and vivid historical novels will devour this tale and wait impatiently for the sequel."

Brown Study
"I didn't plan it this way, but I can't think of a better book to champion during Women's History Month. Griffith's work is historical fiction at its finest, illuminating a slice of Anglo-Saxon history that begins and ends for most of us with Beowulf and the heroic culture of the mead hall."

Reading the Ages
Hild by Nicola Griffith, Kathleen Ingram
"I very much enjoyed this long but beautifully written tale of a favourite time and person."

As the Moon Climbs
Hild by Nicola Griffith, Valerie Valdes
"Sometimes you take a bite of a treat expecting one flavor, and find yourself savoring something entirely different but nonetheless delicious…"

Geek Girl in love
"Anyone who is interested in the craft of writing should read at least some of this book"

Reflets de mes lectures
"La lectrice de ce dernier est d'ailleurs très agréable. En bref, Hild est un roman de très bonne qualité que je ne peux que conseiller."
[It’s in French, but a Google translation will give you the gist.]

Quoi de neuf sur ma pile?
"Très documenté, "Hild" est aussi très joliment écrit, dans un anglais teinté d’archaïsme qui colle parfaitement au contexte."
[Yep, more French, but this is longer and juicier and, well, Google will have a stab at this, too.]

Hild by Nicola Griffith, by Silvia McIvers
"Hild is the second daughter of a dead king, but her mother dreamed that Hild will be the Light of the World, and is determined to make her dream come true. / Half the book takes place before Hild is old enough to wear a veil band and girdle, which means she's never gotten her period. She is a little, little kid with a big, big brain."

Bisexual Books
"If you like historical epics with a leisurely pace and detailed world building, and your only complaint is that none of those books have queer protagonists, then Hild is for you."

Book Banter
"Griffith doesn’t look to tell your average medieval historical novel of back to back action scenes and historic battles, but a moving story of people interacting and living through this tumultuous time and what they did to make a difference. And then of course, there is the captivating cover to draw any reader in."

Great Book Escapes
"I enjoyed reading this book slowly, getting a real sense of how society worked in the 7th C. At first I struggled to read the strange names and words of a language that is so unfamiliar, but this enhances the experience of imagining the 7th C and the book would be poorer without it. The use of unfamiliar words become part of the world unfolding, so that an understanding of their meaning becomes clearer, and with the glossary at the end of the book all is revealed. I think you absorb this story so that it becomes familiar."

University of St. Francis Library
[Scroll down—the PDF has no internal linkage.]
"Hild is the first novel in quite some time I’ve literally been unable to put down. It is a richly diverse, beautifully written novel with a little something for everyone. If you are a historical fiction enthusiast or are simply looking for something new to read, I highly recommend it!"

Camden Public Library
[Sadly, Marie doesn’t think there’s any character development in the novel, but she does compare it—again—to Umberto Eco and MZB. One of these days I need to revisit the comps count.]

Have a Heart of Fire; Have a Heart of Gold
"There are books that begin to make me sad as I go on, because the book gets thinner and thinner on one side...and I know I will be having to leave that world and those people soon. / Hild was one of those books. It was not just the fact that I finally felt represented in a historical novel — something that is not to be underestimated. It was not just the fact that the historical details were fascinating to the extreme, especially the religious, outlook, and domestic details. It was not just the fact that I absolutely ADORED Hild, as a person, and her brother and her cronies and her people and her land. I guess it was all of those things. But more: I was utterly immersed in the world. I was growing as Hild was. I was helpless yet powerful, strong yet frightened, friend to all peoples but friend of no person."
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