Image description: Richly coloured cover of a novel, Menewood, by Nicola Griffith, painted predominatly in blue, gold, black, and red. The image is of a young woman—Hild, the protagonist of the novel—standing tall against an ominous backdrop of medieval warfare. Behind her in the upper left, the top corner is golden, with white-hot tipped yellow arrows arcing overhead against what might be dark mountains or forbidding trees. The arrows are, perhaps, on fire. Crows are dodging them. Below the arrows and crows a mounted warrior charges from left to right, shield glinting silver, sword raised, face hidden behind a helmet. Behind Hild to the right, against a sky full of dark cloud and smoke, the arrows fall towards a host of spears and banners. The pale blue banner in the foreground shows a stylised boar with garnet eyes. The banner behind that displays a raven. In the centre of the image, and taking up more than half of the total image area, is Hild. She looks directly at the observer with blue-green eyes filled with a weight of experience beyond her years. Her expression, partially obscured by windblown hair—pale chestnut with a slight wave—is clear and farseeing: this is a woman who makes decisions that decide lives. She wears what appears to be fishmail armour beneath a richly textured but torn and worn cloak. The cloak is mostly sky blue and held together at the breast by a great, early medieval equal-armed cross brooch of gold and garnet inlay. The belt beneath the cloak is styled somewhere between Celtic and ‘Anglo-Saxon’ interlace. In her right hand she hold a wooden quarterstaff, bound with blood-spattered iron. The cloak is overlain with other images: a red fern, a black war horse, a crow, black leaves, cloud and smoke, and bare, blood-red branches. Lettering, of textured gold in early-medieval style, is superimposed on the image. “Menewood,” centred below the cross brooch in large type. Below that, in smaller type, on the left “Author of Hild” and, on the right, “A Novel.” Below that, in large type, “Nicola Griffith.”
In early seventh-century Britain, a woman builds and wields power
From the publisher:
In the much anticipated sequel to Hild, Nicola Griffith’s Menewood transports readers back to seventh-century Britain, a land of rival kings and religions poised for epochal change.
Hild is no longer the bright child who made a place in Edwin Overking’s court with her seemingly supernatural insight. She is eighteen, honed and tested, the formidable Lady of Elmet, now building her personal stronghold in the valley of Menewood.
But Edwin needs his most trusted advisor. Old alliances are fraying. Younger rivals are snapping at his heels. War is brewing―bitter war, winter war. Not knowing who to trust he becomes volatile and unpredictable. Hild begins to understand the true extent of the chaos ahead, and now she must navigate the turbulence and fight to protect both the kingdom and her own people.
Hild will face the losses and devastation of total war, and then she must find a new strength, the implacable determination to forge a radically different path for herself and her people. In the valley, her last redoubt, her community slowly takes root. She trains herself and her unexpected allies in new ways of thinking as she prepares for one last wager: risking all on a single throw for a better future…
In the last decade, Hild has become a beloved classic of epic storytelling. Menewood picks up where that journey left off, and exceeds it in every way.
Menewood begins four months after the end of Hild, and covers less than four years of Hild’s life, but those years are some of the most tumultuous in Northern British history: epic and intense, full of the extremes of war. If you imagine it as a trilogy in one volume you might get a sense of what to expect. Hild experiences almost every emotion a person can—love and lust, war and victory, grief and loss, belonging and savage joy—all while guiding others past their own fear and ambition. Through it all she grows and changes, coming to truly understand power and how to make, break, and shape kings.
Menewood is also full of quieter moments: peace, pleasure, contentment; forgiveness, friendship, and farewells. It is a book about life—how it feels, what it means, why it changes—set against the backdrop of total war and regime change.
If Hild was about a child relying on her agile mind and acute observations of nature and human behaviour to stay one step ahead of the whims of a volatile king, then Menewood explores a young woman becoming herself: learning to live life on her own terms, how to build and wield power—exploring and really inhabiting who she is.
Above all, Menewood is about Hild. She is on every page, the burning heart around which events turn. And, just as in the first book, Hild is most at home in nature, so the book is full of water, sky, and high wild places. I can’t wait for you to read it.
Bookshop.org | Amazon.com | Apple Books | Barnes & Noble | Phinney Books | Target
For enquiries about appearances or interviews or other Menewood-related opportunities, the person to talk to is my publicist at Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Molly Grote.