Hild: A Novel by Nicola Griffith
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This was definitely not the book to read as an eARC - getting to the glossary using my Kindle was a pain. I also spent a lot of time looking up names and places, and I really hope that readers get a map and more information that the ARC provides.
Anyway, the blurbage here says that St. Hilda was the most important woman of the Middle Ages. Uh, wrong. She may have been the most important woman in Great Britian during the Early Middle Ages (aka the Dark Ages) but the entire Middle Ages in the entire world? Perhaps, perhaps not. Hild (as she's known here) is the daughter of a king-in-exile, and her life is turned upside down when he is poisoned and she, her mother and their household (which includes a bastard half-brother, Cian) move to the household of her uncle Edwin, King of the Anglisc. There's lots about the life during that time: the wars between the various kingdoms and holdings, the life of slaves and women, the struggle between wealdh priests (worshipping old gods like Woden) and Roman priests (worshipping Christ) for prominence, how the common and royal people live. All very interesting, but at times I just wanted the plot to advance - enough of the birds and food already! I couldn't say that there was a lot of padding, but at times I did want to snip here and there.
We learn about Hild's role as the "light of the world" to Edwin, how her being a seer is really just based on watching, very carefully, the patterns around her, and her conversion to Christianity. However, all this is supposal, as we really know nothing about her life or conversion prior to her founding of the abbey at Whitby. The author here has done a good job with that supposal and readers will come away with a greater understanding of that era (hopefully they'll also have maps and the glossary to help - or do as I did, reading next to their computer so they can learn more).
ARC provided by publisher.