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on 13 December 2010
Firstly I would like to state that this is an incomparable book to read, even though I must say I am an avid fan of a range of books.
Rosemary Sutcliff has portrayed 'Beowulf' as an excellent example of an Anglo-Saxon book. She has used an immense variety of kenning but keeps it to a minimum to let the words flow. She allows her techniques to bind together in each paragraph with subtly. She writes this book like music; one minute action packed, the next a bit slack. Her habits of expressing things are so brilliant that she sometimes tend to go a bit above expectations. But most of her language is incomprehensible and unpronounceable that you would need a chapter or so to get used to her fashion .Even though her ending brings a tear to our eyes, this makes us pays attention to the moral of the story.

Beowulf is firstly described with 'strength that could out-wrestle the great Northern bear...' and his last description as a life-saver. Surely you may think Rosemary Sutcliff over-exaggerates his abilities but this may be true, yet she writes it in such a way that you wouldn't care about her flaws. One of the reasons I think she did not do up to the best of standards is because she did not describe Hrothgar and Beowulf's relationship in a passionate way that she could of done. That is way I had barely any remorse of Hrothgar's death. But the style she builds up in the climax is so tense and outspoken that you would not dare to put your book down, unfortunately our English teacher cut off at that bit where unanswered questions would be asked; " does Beowulf defeat all the monsters?", " what happens to Hrothgar?" and the famous "What's going to happen next?". Also the fighting scenes are so detailed that every nuance is described clear with an interesting language to set the mood. Lastly, I would like to notify the hidden moral of this story is not to boast your riches like Hrothgar, because one day you would get your revenge.
I would highly recommend this book to all readers, but probably above 10 years of age. I would cajole all enjoyers of adventurous books (even at rudimentary) to take at least a peek at one of Rosemary Sutcliff's greatest produce yet!
A Fellow Latymerian
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Dragon Slayer is a gripping retelling for younger audiences of England's oldest epic. I read it when I was nine, ten years before my first encounter with the real Beowulf at university.
I would have to say that Rosemary Sutcliffe has got it almost exactly right for her target age group, and she makes it a great story which I would recommend to any child. The terrifying violence of the fight with Grendel, through to the final, heroic stand against the dragon is all there. All the non-essentials are stripped out, and Sutcliffe takes us straight into the story without over-explanation.
This is the _story_ of Beowulf: it's not a translation of the poem nor is it a version of the poem for younger readers. And it's a very good story.
The original poem, though, has three more things that this retelling doesn't cover.
First, the language of Beowulf is absolutely riveting. This doesn't come across in any translation I've seen, although Sutcliffe does do a good job in this retelling of giving us the occasional glimpse of it.
Second, the rhythm of Beowulf is powerful and heroic. Various translators have tried to reproduce this, but usually at the expense of clarity. Sutcliffe wisely sticks to prose.
Third, Beowulf is a poem full of digressions - half told stories which fill the poem with greater meaning. These aren't part of this retelling, which is, once again, a wise choice given Rosemary Sutcliffe's audience.
This is a marvellous book to read, and it's also a good book to read aloud in support of a project about the Anglo-Saxons.
If you are reading it to children, it's worth giving them just a glimpse of the sound of the original by reading out loud the first few lines and the last few lines of the poem in Old English - or getting someone who can to put it on a tape for you. Just a snatch of the first poet's voice, to take them back to days dark under the clouds, and as a fitting memorial to a warrior and king who was 'leodum lithost ond lofgeornost'.
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on 4 September 2001
My interest in the works of Rosemary Sutcliff was re-awakened a couple of years ago. It followed a newspaper article reminiscing on the smoke filled long halls full of warriors and bards, evoking the imagery of the sagas of the Dark Ages. I had read a good number of her books when I was at school but despite the fact that my school days are decades ago I felt compelled to re-explore her work.
Beowulf is one of my favourite stories. I recently read an abridged version to my children and I was forced by them to read passages aloud from this work too.
I read Heaney's translation last year and Sutcliff's version is fairly faithful to the original as far as I can tell.
It's fast paced, the imagery is strong - it's just how it should be. Sutcliff does Beowulf justice - even though I am sure I am a good bit older than her target audience.
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on 12 December 2010
Beowulf Dragon Slayer by Roesmary Sutcliff is a vivid and creative re-telling of an original Anglo-Saxon ,epic poem. The historical fiction of myth-like fantasy has been adapted making it an immensely enjoyable read for children age 9 and older.

It is the tale of Geatish warrior Beowulf who feels a debt of duty through loyalty to his father, towards king Hrothgar, whose men are being terrorised and slaughtered by an evil demon, named Grendel. Beowulf and his men sail across the' whale road' to defend the king and slay Grendel , but as the story unfolds, Beowulf must conquer other horrific demons and foes, testing his strength, endurance and belief.

The story is fast paced and action packed, it is a gripping tale, a book you cannot put down.

Although it is a short quick-read Sutcliff has given the characters great depth and vivid portrayal through her descriptive language. I also enjoyed the use of Anglo-Saxon words, making the story authentic, old and atmospheric.

There is no happy ending BUT there is a clear and powerful moral message, which describes Beowulf's life as courageous and honourable.

I would highly recommend this book to any reader who enjoys the heart pounding excitement and passion of a historic tale
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VINE VOICEon 6 July 2011
As with any Rosemary Sutcliffe book the Dragon Slayer is super and really gripping. Not a original but a great retelling for young people of the epic "old" peom Beowuf.

I first reda this at school when around 10/11 years of age - as an adult can still read it and enjoy the story. There are some scary pages perhaps for very young readers (and the not so young!) - but in no way does that distract from a great book.
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on 10 December 2010
This version of The Beowulf poem is a perfect book for young readers to understand the famous story of the protagonist-a brave young warrior. In this short rudimentary novel it is explained and written by Sutcliff targeted especially at children but still keeping the anglo-saxon structure.
In this book Beowulf had received news from a crew sent by Hrothgar, the Geatish king, to send for help from Hygelac's hall as a horrific monster has been haunting the Hrothgar's palace at night. The book consists of The Hero overcoming a few monsters. Unfortunately, this book has a very sad ending (i will not ruin it for you). It will be mostly be aimed at young reader who are trying to find a book which consists of action, suspense and a touch of sensitivity.
Personally I think i was an avid reader of this book, a lot of suspense and action is included in this book with a pinch of sadness. i Liked the way the author used could language-very similar to that of an anglo-saxon book. It has a lot of action as Beowulf is a brave young warrior gone to help the Danish king to fight a terrifying monster. It had a good use of language and description, which one can really take abroad to include in its own writing. The characters were very well described and you could have a good vivid image in your head. Also, this book has a good moral to take on board, and which you can learn from. This book is not very lengthy so it is easy to understand and to remember the plot. Overall i think this is a very good book which i would recommend to avid young readers to enhance their vocabulary and descriptive knowledge. RECOMMENDED
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on 13 December 2010
Beowulf Dragonslayer by Rosemary Sutcliffe is what i would describe as a 'timeless classic'; it includes detail, descriptive language, suspense, excitement (battles and dragons!) and a great plot.

I enjoyed this book because it is very descriptive and vivid, and makes it seem like I am 'in' the book. I definetely enjoyed the part of the book where Sutcliffe explains that Beowulf's battle with the FireDragon would be his last battle. Even though most of my classmates did not think that was very well put I looked in to it and found out there are lots of questions that rise up like: How will he die? Will there be blood? Maybe Sutcliffe is lying? How could Beowulf die, he is supernaturally powerful? etc.

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys fantasy or just wants to enjoy a book. Beowulf is only approximately 100 pages but every page is vital for you to understand the overall plot.

I would vote this book a 9.5/10 easily. I took away 0.5 of a mark because in the chapter, 'Grendel' straight away Grendel opens the gates of Hrothgar's Hall and immeadiately starts to tear apart the first of the thanes. To me there was not enough detail.

I enjoyed this book and i will definetely read it again!

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on 5 August 2014
Simple, powerful and imagination-stirring. I loved Rosemary Sutcliff books as a child and I still love them as an adult. I'd never read her version of Beowulf before and it stands up. She allowed me as a kid to imaginatively enter the past and fostered a permamnent love of history by making it vivid and heart stirring.
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on 28 January 2015
Well, my 12 year old son, not me, but anything that gets him reading is a good thing. In fact, that's a good enough reason for me to "love it" too!
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on 19 October 2016
Beautifully written - would highly recommend. Quite different style to modern children's books - so this is a challenging read and well worth purchasing.
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