Over on my personal blog I’ve just posted pictures of Hild as Butcherbird and of the shield her Hounds carry. Usually, when she rides as Hild Yffing, Lady of Elmet, this unsubtle image is hidden beneath a perfectly respectable leather cover painted with the hazel tree of Elmet and the Yffing boar. But when she rides as Butcherbird, that cover comes off to show raw planks splashed chalk white, and daubed with a deliberately crude image in bloody red of a man impaled on a spike: a threat and a warning.
The Butcherbird and her shield
Nicola Griffith is an English novelist living in Seattle. Now dual US/UK citizen. Author of Menewood (2023), Spear, Hild, So Lucky, and five other novels, plus a memoir. Two-time winner of the Washington State Book Award; winner of (among others) Nebula, Tiptree, and World Fantasy Awards, the Premio Italia, and six Lambda Literary Award. Runs a personal website, as well as a research blog. Also on Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Twitter.
5 thoughts on “The Butcherbird and her shield”
Well, well…my first thoughts are that the white shields would not remain so after battles thus obliterating the message for the next go.
I agree Hild may have a dirtier battle worn face. A bit weathered with a scar here or there. And her hair cropped and whiter blonde giving her eyes a more ethereal presentation. Perhaps an Anglo Saxon Joan de Arc?
Given that said, I almost prefer NOT seeing a physical depiction of a protagonist. My reader’s eye sees the character as I interpret what I read into descriptive attributes. Such as Aud. There was a photograph of a tall lithe woman on the cover of the paperback cover of The Blue Place. After seeing it I could not shake that depiction throughout that and follow up novels.
My two cents.
Hild doesn’t look like this at all! I was just playing with AI. She is bony—big bones—her face not at all soft, and her hair is chestnut. It’s long but always bound out of the way.
Well, LOL, as Emily Loutella said, “never mind…”
If your depiction of Hild gets any bonier, she will look just like you, Nicola…which is entirely fitting! No doubt there are good reasons for pushing back the publication of MENEWOOD to August 2023, but I am sorely disappointed.
Me, too. The book should have been coming out next month—but I couldn’t do the rewrite until I had editorial comments. No comment, no rewrite. No rewrite, no editorial approval. No approval, no publication. Sigh. But now at least I have the edits, and now I’m finally rewriting.