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24 March 2014

Hild (Light of the World #1)

Hild by Nicola Griffith is the first book in her Light of the World trilogy about Saint Hild of Whitby who played a large role in Brittan in the Middle Ages.

Readers are introduced to Hild as a young child. Her mother had a dream that said Hild would the Light of the World, a seer for her king. Her uncle, king Edward of Northunbria, heeds this prophecy and uses Hild to help plan attacks on other kingdoms.

Hild is a bright child who can see the patterns in things and often comes to conclusions before they are obvious to others. She has visions and sees omens that guide her advice. One of the patters she sees is that Christianity is coming to Brittan. It will be a major force in the politics as some convert and others resist.

Volume one of the trilogy sees Hild into adulthood. She is a strong character, more so for a woman of her time period. She is surrounded by characters that are brought to life by the magic of Griffith's words. 

Based on historical research and using real people from history as characters, Griffith has created a novel of Brittan in the 600s - a time of many kings, knights, superstition, and political intrigue. Hild reads like an epic fantasy (as many of them are set in a Middle Ages-like worlds) and shows life in the seventh century. The beginning of the book is a steep learning curve of names, different languages, and some confusion, but it is worth the time to read through the beginning to an amazing story. Hild is as much a legend as Joan of Arc, though less well known. Griffith brings her alive and makes readers care about her and the people around her.

Griffith, Nicola. (2013). Hild. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

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