Beowulf: A Tale of Blood, Heat, and Ashes Hardcover – 9 Oct 2007
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As such, while I certainly agree with other reviewers here that this edition is not appropriate for scholarly use, I contend that it IS quite useful as a "picture book" for adults with an interest in the tale and a as a great read-aloud, introduction to the tale for adolescent-age students.
I enjoyed this edition enormously and suggest that - if taken simply as a beautifully illustrated ghost/dragon story or heroic tale - this book may very well encourage younger readers to pursue a more scholarly study of this epic poem when they go on to college. It's also a good hook to keep adolescent-age boys reading.
Serious students of Beowulf are referred to the 4th edition of "Klaeber's Beowulf," edited by R.D. Fulk (UC-Berkeley), Robert E. Bjork (Arizona State) and John D. Niles (U Wisconsin-Madision) published by the U of Toronto Press, in 2008. Or, to one of the variety of editions translated by Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney.
Other helpful titles for the serious Beowulf student would include, "A Beowulf Handbook," edited by Robert E. Bjork and John D. Niles, published by the U of Nebraska Press in 1998) and to "A Critical Companion to Beowulf," by Andy Orchard (U of Toronto) published by D.S. Brewer Publishing, in 2005.
And, of course, Beowulf aficionados will certainly want to track down and rent the movie "Beowulf," originally released in 2007, starring Ray Winstone, Crispin Glover, Angelina Jolie, Anthony Hopkins, and John Malkovich.
Highly recommended for high school and public libraries and readers interested in horror, gothic fiction and the macabre.
R. Neil Scott
Middle Tennessee State University
I purchased it for my younger brother and he found the language easy enough to read, but not so simplistic as to be boring. As for the actual tale, he found it really exciting, to put it simply.
I'd imagine that any child of that age would enjoy this energetic tale of monsters and heroes, especially when told in a way that emphasizes the battles like this book does.
Having learned that Grendel is terrorizing the halls of King Hrothgar and slaughtering his warriors, the mighty Geat warrior Beowulf goes to the land of the Danes to face Grendel. Beowulf fearlessly confronts Grendel only to discover that the monster isn't nearly as easy to kill as he first suspects, for the creature's hide is invulnerable to weapons made of iron and steel. Worse, Beowulf learns to his own dismay, that like the Hydra of Greek mythology, the slaying of monsters tends to reveal more monsters to confront.
I am impressed by the amount of detail in this book's retelling of Beowulf, in particular those scenes that attempt to fill in the blanks of the events not narrated in the original poem. This does a great deal to fully immerse the reader into Beowulf's world.
Included in this book are beautiful illustrations by renowned Lord of the Rings artist John Howe. These wonderful illustrations vividly bring to life this epic tale.
If you enjoy reading the exploits of monster-slaying warriors who end their adventure-filled days by quaffing copious amounts of beer and mead, then this book is for you.
Also, I know it's for kids, but it does have a lot of blood and gore, so I personally wouldn't read it to very young kids, and especially not at bedtime! Lots of scary pictures of Grendel and his mother that might worry them.