18 Aug 2015


BEOWULF by CAITLIN R. KIERNAN (With an introduction by Neil Gaiman)

BACK COVER BLURB: Who will come to the aid of the beleaguered King Hrothgar, whose warriors have become the prey of the outcast creature Grendel?

A grand and glorious story that has endured for centuries, this classic tale of heroes, gods and monsters takes on breathtaking new life in a remarkable new version for a modern era. 

FIRST SENTENCE {Part 1: Grendel, Chapter 1: A Prowler In The Dark}: The land of the Danes ends here at this great wedge of granite cliffs jutting out high above the freezing sea.

MEMORABLE MOMENT: Please see review.

SOURCE: Ex-library stock.

MY THOUGHTS: Whilst I've always thought I'd enjoy the epic poem I'm one of those people that whilst I quite like to have poetry read to me I don't particularly like reading it.

Based on the screen play by Neil Gaiman and Roger Avery which I did enjoy though as is more often than not the case it pales into insignificance compared to this novel which turned out to be a truly epic read.

One of those (odd?) people who often find their sympathies lying in part with the 'monster' (I always find myself in tears watching King Kong) it did however come as a bit of a surprise to find myself heart-fully sorry over the fate of Grendel.

And as for his 'merewife' mother? Incredibly moved by her love for her son - 'and her sobs become a wail, and then her wail becomes a shriek that rises up and up, leaking out through every minute crevice and fissure, slithering finally from the gaping mouth of the cavern - the cave above her cave - and cracking apart the gaunt ribs of the night'.
Enthralled by her seductive nature - 'And her lips find his, and all he has ever desired in all his life is for this kiss to never end'. I thought the imagery incredibly strong, the characterisation of such wonderful characters something the 'skalds' of old would surely have been proud of.

A wonderfully epic tale, gritty and at times incredibly gory. Not just one of my favourite books of the month but of 2015 so far. 


Kelly said...

I remember reading this waaaay back in the 7th grade when I was 12. Perhaps I should revisit it from an adult perspective.

I've only gotten more soft-hearted with age, so I can imagine some sympathy for the monster.

Suko said...

Wonderful review, Tracy. I'm so glad you relished this book.

carol said...

I don't remember the poem very well, but you've made the book sound awesome.

I enjoy reading poetry, but prefer to read it out loud, which can earn me odd looks if anyone else is at home.

Literary Feline said...

I generally avoid books based on screenplays, but you have me curious with this one, Tracy. I love the story of Beowulf and the way you describe this book has me wanting to give it a try. I am glad you liked it!

Melliane said...

that's great you had such a great time. I should try, I saw the movie but don't remember a lot about it.

Stephanie@Fairday's Blog said...

So glad you enjoyed this one! I read Beowulf in high school- though I am unsure if it is the same version you reviewed here. I would have to go and check. Then we read Grendle by John Gardner from the monster's POV. Tracy- I think you would really like it based on what you wrote in your post.

Melissa (Books and Things) said...

This sounds like one I would enjoy. I love it when authors do retellings on historical works. Glad you loved it!

Brian Joseph said...

I love the original version of this so much. It is the root of so many of today's action and adventure stories.

I also relate a lot to the monster in many stories that I read. I think that it is a sign of well written monster story when we do.

Karen said...

I almost always relate more to the "monster" too.

Karen @For What It's Worth

So many books, so little time said...

I haven't read this or the original although I am sure I have it on my kindle. Really need to bump it up after reading this, thank you :)

Lainy http://www.alwaysreading.net

Brandi Kosiner said...

Certainly epic, and interesting to see old books/themes brought to modern times

Shooting Stars Mag said...

I had to read this in one of my college classes. It does make you feel bad for Grendel!

Gina R said...

Wow...didn't see that one coming. So glad you enjoyed it! Will tackle it myself one day... ^-^