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Beowulf: Dragonslayer by Rosemary Sutcliff

Beowulf: Dragonslayer (1961)

by Rosemary Sutcliff

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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A somewhat simplistic retelling of Beowulf, echoing the language and phrasing but using Sutcliff's own voice and a bit of simpler language without being condescending and giving it a sort of grandeur.

I liked the story of Beowulf hunting down Grendel and Grendel's mother, and his eventual death just seemed right. A good re-telling. ( )
  wyvernfriend | Feb 23, 2015 |
Simple but powerful retelling of the Beowulf story for children. Charles Keeping's heavy, atmospherically Sixties line drawings give added punch. But to quote James Brown, this is a man's, man's, man's world......
Some time later I discovered "Grendel" by John Gardner, the same story told from the monster's point of view.
  PollyMoore3 | Jul 16, 2013 |
Probably best known for her outstanding historical fiction for young readers, particularly that set in Roman Britain - novels such as The Eagle of the Ninth, and The Lantern Bearers - Rosemary Sutcliff here turns her attention to the Anglo-Saxon epic of Beowulf, producing an immensely engaging prose version of the story, sure to please children with a taste for exciting adventure tales.

Divided into nine chapters, this brief novel covers the three major episodes in Beowulf's heroic life: the defeat of Grendel, the monstrous "Night-Stalker" and "Death-Shadow terrorizing the court of Hrothgar, King of the Danes; the defeat of Grendel's mother, a savage "She-Wolf" bent on revenge for the slaying of her child; and finally, at the end of the hero's life, the defeat of the Fire-Drake attacking the people of Geatland. Sutcliff's language is beautiful, her narrative fast-paced and involving. The accompanying black and white illustrations by Charles Keeping reminded me a bit of Victor Ambrus' work, which is high praise indeed! All in all, an immensely satisfying retelling of this classic story, recommended to all who are looking for a prose version suitable for younger readers. ( )
  AbigailAdams26 | Apr 11, 2013 |
Beowulf: Dragonslayer is a simple retelling, aimed at children, of the Beowulf story. I love the way Rosemary Sutcliff keeps it close to the events of the original poem, but with little humanising touches (like Hrothgar putting back the hair of his dead friend wordlessly). She doesn't add anything that can't be substantiated in the poem, but she makes the mud and blood of it feel real, instead of legendary.

It's a very short and quick read, but I enjoyed it. It's illustrated by Charles Keeping, who must've illustrated other books by Sutcliff -- or someone who draws in much the same style did, anyway. It suits it. ( )
  shanaqui | Apr 9, 2013 |
The first book I can remember reading.

And, yesterday, at a local library sale, I spotted a copy of Rosemary Sutcliff's BEOWULF propped up on one of the overflowing tables. The same edition, the same color cover as the one I read all those years ago. What was I? Eight? And the story took hold of me and I easily imagined myself waiting with the other men as something horrible lurked about on the other side of a sturdy door. The fire burned down low, our swords within easy reach.

Those seeking a more literate and definitive translation of BEOWULF should look elsewhere. Check out Seamus Heaney's, I love that one. But this is a short effort (93 pages) that helped me fall in love with reading. Words COULD come to life, here was proof positive. From BEOWULF it was on to the likes of Bradbury and THE HARDY BOYS and since then I've barely looked back.

Thank you, Ms. Sutcliff. This might have been the one that started it all. ( )
2 vote CliffBurns | Apr 20, 2011 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Rosemary Sutcliffprimary authorall editionscalculated
Keeping, CharlesIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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In the great hall of Hygelac, King of the Geats, supper was over and the mead horns going round.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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This thrilling re-telling of the Anglo-Saxon legend recounts Beowulf’s most terrifying quests: against Grendel the man-wolf, against the hideous sea-hag and, most courageous of all – his fight to the death with the monstrous fire-drake.
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A retelling of the exploits of the Anglo-Saxon warrior, Beowulf, and how he came to defeat the monster Grendel.

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