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Beowulf: The Legend of a Hero

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The exhilarating epic blazes to life -- featuring illustrations by a lead artist on the LORD OF THE RINGS film trilogy. "Look into the flames and let your minds empty. . . . For this is a tale of blood and heat and ashes." It is a tale that has been retold countless times through the centuries -- and here, in an enthralling edition illustrated by a noted Tolkien artist, th The exhilarating epic blazes to life -- featuring illustrations by a lead artist on the LORD OF THE RINGS film trilogy. "Look into the flames and let your minds empty. . . . For this is a tale of blood and heat and ashes." It is a tale that has been retold countless times through the centuries -- and here, in an enthralling edition illustrated by a noted Tolkien artist, the mighty Beowulf is well set to capture new legions of followers. This contemporary retelling of the ancient epic -- narrated with a touch of banter by the faithful Wiglaf and featuring vividly dramatic illustrations -- follows the mythic hero from his disarming of the gruesome Grendel to his sword battle with the monster's sea hag mother to his final, fiery showdown with an avenging dragon.


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The exhilarating epic blazes to life -- featuring illustrations by a lead artist on the LORD OF THE RINGS film trilogy. "Look into the flames and let your minds empty. . . . For this is a tale of blood and heat and ashes." It is a tale that has been retold countless times through the centuries -- and here, in an enthralling edition illustrated by a noted Tolkien artist, th The exhilarating epic blazes to life -- featuring illustrations by a lead artist on the LORD OF THE RINGS film trilogy. "Look into the flames and let your minds empty. . . . For this is a tale of blood and heat and ashes." It is a tale that has been retold countless times through the centuries -- and here, in an enthralling edition illustrated by a noted Tolkien artist, the mighty Beowulf is well set to capture new legions of followers. This contemporary retelling of the ancient epic -- narrated with a touch of banter by the faithful Wiglaf and featuring vividly dramatic illustrations -- follows the mythic hero from his disarming of the gruesome Grendel to his sword battle with the monster's sea hag mother to his final, fiery showdown with an avenging dragon.

30 review for Beowulf: The Legend of a Hero

  1. 4 out of 5

    Neil R. Coulter

    Having finished reading Seamus Heaney’s translation of Beowulf, I pulled this book off the shelf to have a look. The text here, by Nicky Raven, is not a direct translation of the original poem. It’s a narrative summary, all told from the point of view of Wiglaf. After being immersed in the original poem, I found this adaptation forced and bland. The real reason for this book, however, is John Howe’s illustrations. Like his Tolkien artwork, most everything here is good. But as I read through the b Having finished reading Seamus Heaney’s translation of Beowulf, I pulled this book off the shelf to have a look. The text here, by Nicky Raven, is not a direct translation of the original poem. It’s a narrative summary, all told from the point of view of Wiglaf. After being immersed in the original poem, I found this adaptation forced and bland. The real reason for this book, however, is John Howe’s illustrations. Like his Tolkien artwork, most everything here is good. But as I read through the book, I felt that perhaps Beowulf does best in words alone. The words are vivid and thrilling, but to actually see an illustration of what Grendel may have looked like . . . it seems really inadequate, even silly. A lot of the imagery in the poem works best in one’s own imagination, not translated through someone else's illustrations. So despite the lavish illustrations (maybe because of them; and definitely because of the weak textual adaptation), for me this book reduces the power of the original tale.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Sophie Crane

    This was great it taught me a lot about the Anglo Saxons and many heroes. The main character (Beowulf) shows a lot of determination and perseverance.  The book should be read to ages 9 to 14.

  3. 4 out of 5

    WS_BOOKCLUB

    I love Beowulf. I have read a few different versions of it, as well as some novels that are inspired by this epic poem. When I found out that there is a retelling that includes illustrations by the artist John Howe, I just had to have it. Like with any classic, there are translations and retellings. This would fall more under the “retelling” category than a full-blown new translation of the original text. It flows a little bit more like a fairy tale than like the epic itself. It’s also a bit simp I love Beowulf. I have read a few different versions of it, as well as some novels that are inspired by this epic poem. When I found out that there is a retelling that includes illustrations by the artist John Howe, I just had to have it. Like with any classic, there are translations and retellings. This would fall more under the “retelling” category than a full-blown new translation of the original text. It flows a little bit more like a fairy tale than like the epic itself. It’s also a bit simplified, which makes it more accessible to a broader age range. It’s a fantastic retelling, but in no way can it replace the original. To be honest, what sold me on the book are the illustrations. Most of you know who John Howe is. For those who don’t let me give a little example of his fantasy cred: he was a concept designer for The Lord of the Rings movies (his style is very apparent in the Fell Beasts), has created cover art for many fantasy novels, worked on other movies such as The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and his art can even be found on Magic the Gathering cards (sadly, my own Magic cards don’t have his art on them). I personally also love his art in A Diversity of Dragons. And let me tell you, his popularity is well-deserved. His art in Beowulf: A Tale of Blood, Heat, and Ashes is phenomenal. The depth and atmosphere he brought to the book elevates it from a story to something more. It drew me in. My oldest will be reading Beowulf (Seamus Heaney’s translation) this school year and I am going to have him also read Beowulf: A Tale of Blood, Heat, and Ashes. I am positive it will deepen his appreciation for the original, as well as give him an opportunity to enjoy some stunning artwork. I highly suggest reading this book. Actually, just buy it and add it to your collection. I guarantee you’ll want to own it. https://wittyandsarcasticbookclub.hom...

  4. 5 out of 5

    Skedatt

    Eh. If this was my first introduction to Beowulf I would have written the story off entirely. There were too many illustrations for a novel and too many words for a picture book. The moralizing in the character biographies in the end that weren't any part of the story, namely that Beowulf would have been distressed that after all the monsters were gone and there weren't any predators, mankind would turn on each other was...what? Why is that even in there? I reread the end of my other copies of B Eh. If this was my first introduction to Beowulf I would have written the story off entirely. There were too many illustrations for a novel and too many words for a picture book. The moralizing in the character biographies in the end that weren't any part of the story, namely that Beowulf would have been distressed that after all the monsters were gone and there weren't any predators, mankind would turn on each other was...what? Why is that even in there? I reread the end of my other copies of Beowulf, including Seamus Heaney's translation, just to make sure that nope, that wasn't in the original story and purely the addition of Nicky Raven. I hate it so much when retellings include extrapolations that have nothing to do with anything. It is important to remember that the people that originally told this story were NOT us. There is no reason that we should tell the story and align it to society's current trends. My 12 yr old read it and was unimpressed, my 16 yr old rolled his eyes when I read the character bio to him. One star for the story, two stars for the illustrations, which are ok, but not especially memorable with the exception of the snaggle teeth on Grendel and his mother that are very reminiscent of deep sea fishes. If you are looking for a book to introduce Beowulf to the early elementary audience, I would suggest the Dover coloring book Beowulf by John Green. For older elementary and middle school I would suggest Beowulf the Warrior by Ian Serraillier. Both are much more respectful and accurate for the original story and keep the adventure intact.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Viel Nast

    a rich and well cared off edition with art from John Howe of the story of Beowulf. the story is powerful and well written and the art... well its john howe! hard bound in a heavy sleeve. the story of Beowulf is well known especially for history and Tolkien fans, a great hero fights monstrous monsters and finally dies. good old stories without too much fuss as they used to make them back in older days when everything was purer and to the point. glad to own this comic book.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Itzel

    In the story “Beowulf,” the author John Howe presents a ‘’brave and honorable warrior’’ who would save a country by killing darkness an evil creature. The name of this warrior is Beowulf. ‘’Beowulf was a young man that was summon to the Hrothgra Hall in Dane to kill Grendel’’ a monster that was terrorizing the Hrothgar Hall by killing their people. Beowulf arrived in the Dane land and started his plan to kill Grendel that night, but Grendel did not show; the night past and there was no site of In the story “Beowulf,” the author John Howe presents a ‘’brave and honorable warrior’’ who would save a country by killing darkness an evil creature. The name of this warrior is Beowulf. ‘’Beowulf was a young man that was summon to the Hrothgra Hall in Dane to kill Grendel’’ a monster that was terrorizing the Hrothgar Hall by killing their people. Beowulf arrived in the Dane land and started his plan to kill Grendel that night, but Grendel did not show; the night past and there was no site of Grendel. Grendel shows himself the next night and Beowulf was waiting for him; Beowulf did not manage to kill Grendel, but he did manage to rip Grendel arm off. After that scene, Beowulf went back to the hall to talk with the king, when Beowulf was talking to the king, Grendel’s mother appears and was furious for what they did to her son, and she started killing and smashing men all over the hall to make them pay for what they did to her son. Beowulf manages to injure Grendel’s mom and the furious beast escapes from Beowulf. Later, Beowulf and other warriors join the journey to find Grendel’s mom. To find out more about Beowulf’s journey you would have to read the story.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Lars Guthrie

    Since working with a home-schooled boy last year (if GG reads this, he would like this book) on medieval literature, I've been on a "Beowulf" quest, starting with reading and listening to Seamus Heaney's translation. This is the third children's version I've read and it stands up well against the two other, which is high praise (Gareth Hinds's gripping graphic novel and James Rumford's picture book, which masterfully captures a feel for the old language). John Howe's rich color illustrations are Since working with a home-schooled boy last year (if GG reads this, he would like this book) on medieval literature, I've been on a "Beowulf" quest, starting with reading and listening to Seamus Heaney's translation. This is the third children's version I've read and it stands up well against the two other, which is high praise (Gareth Hinds's gripping graphic novel and James Rumford's picture book, which masterfully captures a feel for the old language). John Howe's rich color illustrations are lavishly printed on thick pages, and Nicky Raven retells the tale mostly from the point of view of Wiglaf, which turns out to be a clever turn. Now onto Michael Morpurgo's interpretation.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Mary Overton

    Beowulf dies in battle with a fearsome dragon. At the great warrior's funeral, Wiglaf (the protege) and Scaife (the constant companion) talk: "An hour later, I sat with Scaife by my side, watching the [funeral] boat drift out to sea, burning brightly, the flames having caught the sweet oils drenching Beowulf's shroud. "'We shall never see the like again,' I observed. "'We have no need,' answered Scaife, enigmatic to the last. I looked at him and raised my eyebrows. "'The dragon was the last of the b Beowulf dies in battle with a fearsome dragon. At the great warrior's funeral, Wiglaf (the protege) and Scaife (the constant companion) talk: "An hour later, I sat with Scaife by my side, watching the [funeral] boat drift out to sea, burning brightly, the flames having caught the sweet oils drenching Beowulf's shroud. "'We shall never see the like again,' I observed. "'We have no need,' answered Scaife, enigmatic to the last. I looked at him and raised my eyebrows. "'The dragon was the last of the beasts of legend,' he continued. 'The time for warrior-heroes has passed. Man now need fear only his own inhumanity.'" pg. 69

  9. 4 out of 5

    Joey Woolfardis

    I would hope that other translations would fare better than thou. Seamus Heaney seems the best way forward. I will keep thee informed.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jenhfor

    As the introduction to this book explains, Beowulf, an Old English epic poem, was written sometime around the early 11th century when an anonymous author pinned 3,182 alliterative long lines of poetry following the epic deeds of the hero Beowulf. Since that time many translations and retellings of Beowulf’s tale have emerged. In this version, author Nicky Raven has chosen to retell the most exciting parts of Beowulf’s epic adventure through the eyes of a young warrior, Wiglaf, who has gone seeki As the introduction to this book explains, Beowulf, an Old English epic poem, was written sometime around the early 11th century when an anonymous author pinned 3,182 alliterative long lines of poetry following the epic deeds of the hero Beowulf. Since that time many translations and retellings of Beowulf’s tale have emerged. In this version, author Nicky Raven has chosen to retell the most exciting parts of Beowulf’s epic adventure through the eyes of a young warrior, Wiglaf, who has gone seeking Beowulf to enlist him to save the land of Dane from a hideous monster. Told in a cadence hinting at more ancient times, this narration of the Beowulf is an excellent edition for today's youth. The tale begins with a terrible monster wreaking havoc for a month on Lord Hrothgar’s castle of Heorot in the land of Dane. The beast, named Grendel, savagely murders and devours almost all the warriors so the king sends Wiglaf across the seas to the land of the Geats to ask King Hygelac to send his most mighty warrior, Beowulf. Beowulf’s heroic efforts to rid the land of Grendel and then Grendel’s mother, and then a dragon unfold until he meets his heroic end. At first glance and quick pass at a passage or two, readers will immediately pick up a Lord of the Rings vibe. There is a reason for this, the illustrator is John Howe, who was very involved in the creation of Middle Earth in the Lord of the Rings film trilogy. His artwork, both colored pencil drawings and watercolor paintings, sprinkled throughout the book in both full page illustrations and smaller inset drawing, along with the font of some sections and headings, might make readers expect Frodo or Gandalf to appear instead of Beowulf. While the shape of the book, being more like that of picture book than a novel, appears to lend itself to elementary school children, the illustrations, the gruesomeness of some scenes, and the level of the vocabulary and sentence structure make it more appropriate for middle school children. Those same qualities that make it attractive to elementary school students might prevent high school age children wanting to pick up the book, but the story and language are definitely sophisticated and engaging enough for them to enjoy.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Netopier

    Great and thrilling story retold by Nicky Raven through the eyes of Wiglaf - Beowulf's companion. When I first time held the book in my hands I was quite surprised by its weight. It has only some 70 pages or so but they're really thick. I had a strange feeling everytime I tried to turn the page that I was holding more pages between my fingers and always tried to separate them. I've literally never seen thicker pages in a book. But that's not the only good thing about this edition. It's lavishly i Great and thrilling story retold by Nicky Raven through the eyes of Wiglaf - Beowulf's companion. When I first time held the book in my hands I was quite surprised by its weight. It has only some 70 pages or so but they're really thick. I had a strange feeling everytime I tried to turn the page that I was holding more pages between my fingers and always tried to separate them. I've literally never seen thicker pages in a book. But that's not the only good thing about this edition. It's lavishly illustrated by incredible tallented John Howe who really know his stuff and together with great overall design and thrilling story, this book was a real page-turner. I enjoyed every page of Beowulf's story and I will definetly read another retelling and translations, for this ancient story got me interested.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Louise

    Obviously this is not the full-blown story, since it's an illustrated kid's book, but it was very well done . The story is told in an interesting and gripping way, and is accompanied by excellent illustrations by John Howe. I don't typically read kids books much, but I have the Seamus Heaney version of Beowulf sitting on my shelf, and have been kind of intimidated by it. Now that I have a better idea of the story (and how interesting it is), I am more excited about picking up the Heaney version! Obviously this is not the full-blown story, since it's an illustrated kid's book, but it was very well done . The story is told in an interesting and gripping way, and is accompanied by excellent illustrations by John Howe. I don't typically read kids books much, but I have the Seamus Heaney version of Beowulf sitting on my shelf, and have been kind of intimidated by it. Now that I have a better idea of the story (and how interesting it is), I am more excited about picking up the Heaney version!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Dunn

    I've read this beautifully illustrated rendition of Beowulf aloud to each of my children as part of our history/literature studies. The story is gruesome at times, which parents should know before passing this book to sensitive young readers, but the illustrations are lovely in an epic way. I've read this beautifully illustrated rendition of Beowulf aloud to each of my children as part of our history/literature studies. The story is gruesome at times, which parents should know before passing this book to sensitive young readers, but the illustrations are lovely in an epic way.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Kara Jones

    I never read this version of the book and I really enjoyed how it was retold and it was still on tracked and matched up with the other version that I have read previously. I enjoyed Beowulf, I think it had an interesting plot and it had actions scenes throughout the book that were in depth.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Mackenzie Keffer

    I really enjoyed this book for its pictures and story. I have read the longer versions of Beowulf before, but this made me understand it much better. I think I should have read this first instead of reading the originals. It would have helped.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jelena

    I bought this edition because of John Howe's illustrations - which I love. It was also the first time I actually read Beowulf. Wow...that ending about man's own inhumanity really makes you think twice about what the poem is about. I bought this edition because of John Howe's illustrations - which I love. It was also the first time I actually read Beowulf. Wow...that ending about man's own inhumanity really makes you think twice about what the poem is about.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Patrick

    Great, fast-paced retelling for a younger audience with wonderful illustrations by Howe. The graphic design on the pages is lovely, too, using reproductions of the Beowulf manuscript (Nowell Codex) in the margin.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Angie

    Excellent illustrations and storytelling.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jeffrey Lazarus Buggy

    A great retelling of an epic Anglo Saxon classic, and a awe inspiring insight into a forgotten world of heroes.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Cambria

    Illustrations were simply beautiful and well thought out. Although I expect no less from John Howe.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Sebastián Posada

    This book is an excellent retelling of Beowulf ina very much understandable language than the original tales. Besides is fillled with gorgeous art by John Howe, really recommend it.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Eric Chappell

    Fantastic. Difficult to find a good abridgment of epic tales. Though the language is a little advanced, the story flows and the illustrations are excellent. Great intro for kids.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Melanie Tillman

    A great version of the classic story with gorgeous illustrations by the same artist who did the concept art for The Lord of the Rings films.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Eric Starr

    A fine re-telling. Of course it doesn’t live up to the original, being a narrative prose telling…BUT THE ART!!!!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Hannah

    This book both thrilled and terrified the boys!

  26. 4 out of 5

    Yixin

    Beowulf is a different folk epic because it needs to be translated into modern English first then rearranged as this book. The content is quite long, that because it is hard to rewrite the poem style into the narration. The illustration is this book is amazing; it looks like the copy of oil painting from museums. This book set up a hero figure as Beowulf, during his fight with a dragon as shown on the cover page, it retold lots of details in the book, for example, it included the story that told Beowulf is a different folk epic because it needs to be translated into modern English first then rearranged as this book. The content is quite long, that because it is hard to rewrite the poem style into the narration. The illustration is this book is amazing; it looks like the copy of oil painting from museums. This book set up a hero figure as Beowulf, during his fight with a dragon as shown on the cover page, it retold lots of details in the book, for example, it included the story that told by Beowulf, a folk epic in a folk epic. The illustration in this book is detailed, and it can be divided into two groups, one is the figures, the other is an environment. But this book is for young children to read this book because illustration does not explain many of the content, children need to read the words one by one, and it has lots of name in the content. The illustration always using light color as it happened in another world, even in the fighting scene, it used bright yellow which background is black, which used those long descriptions to stand out our hero.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Ian Moreno

    Beowulf is another classic story that has been told for centuries. This version does well in conserving the original story of Beowulf but also adds amazing pictures to it. It follows the same story of the mythical hero fighting the villain named Grendel. I really enjoyed the part where Beowulf disarms Grendel in order to send a message to him. This is another great picture book that should be shared with students, family members, and friends. Illustrated by John Howe using art known as Tolkien, Beowulf is another classic story that has been told for centuries. This version does well in conserving the original story of Beowulf but also adds amazing pictures to it. It follows the same story of the mythical hero fighting the villain named Grendel. I really enjoyed the part where Beowulf disarms Grendel in order to send a message to him. This is another great picture book that should be shared with students, family members, and friends. Illustrated by John Howe using art known as Tolkien, the pictures are absolutely captivating. Watercolor, pencil and ink make all the pictures look very detailed and specific. The dark colors used during Grendel's appearance is noticeable and goes well with the story. The same could be said with the brighter colors used on anyone other than Grendel.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Kevis Hendrickson

    Beowulf: A Tale of Blood, Heat, and Ashes is a retelling of the 11th century Old English poem Beowulf. It is the tale of an ancient Germanic warrior named Beowulf who is determined to kill the evil monster Grendel. 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 Beowulf: A Tale of Blood, Heat, and Ashes is a retelling of the 11th century Old English poem Beowulf. It is the tale of an ancient Germanic warrior named Beowulf who is determined to kill the evil monster Grendel. 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.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jaymie Christensen

    It was fun for me to find a kid’s version of “Beowulf” at the library because I studied the actual story extensively as an undergrad in the English program at St. Scholastica. This rendition with the awesome illustrations and more kid friendly unfolding and use of vocabulary is an awesome testament to the original work. I will definitely be using it in my own classroom. This book is an example of traditional literature because it has been around for a very long time– in fact it’s still one of th It was fun for me to find a kid’s version of “Beowulf” at the library because I studied the actual story extensively as an undergrad in the English program at St. Scholastica. This rendition with the awesome illustrations and more kid friendly unfolding and use of vocabulary is an awesome testament to the original work. I will definitely be using it in my own classroom. This book is an example of traditional literature because it has been around for a very long time– in fact it’s still one of the oldest pieces of English literature to have ever been found. This story would work great as a preface for teaching kids about the first literature that there ever was, and/or to show just how long literature has been around when in a reading or writing unit. It is also useful for introducing kids to mythology. This book is best suite for 5th or 6th graders due to its content.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Adriana

    Giovanni just picked this one put at the library, it is his "scary story"! I found myself trying to conjure up the plot of Beowulf from high school (3 monsters: Grendel, Grendel's mother, dragon!) and tell this story to him from the AMAZING illustrations (the illustrator worked on the lord of the rings movies)and speed-reading the copious chapter text, in a "modern retelling." I just may sit down and actually read it, all that Middle English from the original was cool but left me a little hazy o Giovanni just picked this one put at the library, it is his "scary story"! I found myself trying to conjure up the plot of Beowulf from high school (3 monsters: Grendel, Grendel's mother, dragon!) and tell this story to him from the AMAZING illustrations (the illustrator worked on the lord of the rings movies)and speed-reading the copious chapter text, in a "modern retelling." I just may sit down and actually read it, all that Middle English from the original was cool but left me a little hazy on the plot details...

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