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Hild

by Nicola Griffiths

I loved this book but then I'm sucker for all things Anglo-Saxon. It seemed to me that this might really have been how a high-born Anglo-Saxon woman could have lived. Forget Saint Hild. This is a real woman.

Extract

She wondered what else they were saying now, in their little mounted huddle, but she made no attempt to approach and listen unnoticed. She was taller than any of them and better dressed, and wearing more gold than an aetheling. They knew who she was. She was an aelf, a freemartin, a haegtes. She was an angel, a maid, a butcher-bird. She was rich, she was subtle, she could break your mind and read your heart. She had the ear of the king. The mouth of the gods. She could call the weather or sway a battle. She could speak any tongue of man and many of beasts. She would listen, she would feed you, and a gift from her hand had a way of multiplying. She walked in the night, invisible, said some, like Cait Sith. She could tell you where to plant or how to birth your cow. She would hold your hand if you were dying, hold it like your sister might, or your mother. No doubt she would fuck your sister, or your mother, or your brother - maybe even your cow, for good measure. She could heal you or poison you, charm you, charm away your warts, charm the birds from the trees, fly up into a tree.

Parallels

Credo by Melvin Bragg
The Wake by Paul Kingsnorth
Hereward by Charles Kingsley
 

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