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The Coming Of The Dragon (2010)

by Rebecca Barnhouse(Favorite Author)
3.71 of 5 Votes: 1
0375861939 (ISBN13: 9780375861932)
Random House Books for Young Readers
review 1: I enjoyed this takeoff of the classic epic poem Beowulf a great deal. It really had a fantastic & authentic atmosphere, & the story was a good filling in of a short episode towards the end of the poem. It's fun when an author takes a minor character or event from something this well-known & fleshes it out into its own tale & makes their own story. That said, I'm not entirely sure who I'd recommend this to: probably an early middle-school history & literature nerd like I was once. It's sixth-century epic literature, so life is hard, uncomfortable, & sometimes brutally short. A sensitive or younger kid won't be too into that. The vaguely fantasy feel of the presence of dragons may turn off some kids, while its literary antecedents may find other kids running out of potential... more boredom (although it's anything but). At this point, Beowulf has been king of the Geats for many years. A marginal member of the community at best, Rune (so called for the engraved necklace he wears) washed onshore, a baby alone in a small boat with only a sword & shield with him. Many of the more powerful community members feel that he is going to bring nothing but bad luck, & that he should be left to his fate in the ocean. But a local wise woman named Amma insists on taking him in & raising him as her own. Twelve or thirteen years later, things become pretty crazy for Beowulf's people when a dragon starts attacking the community. Can Rune help? Will he ever know who he is or where he came from? A good coming-of-age, finding-your-true-meaning story with a very unusual background.
review 2: I love it when authors tackle retellings of the old, great myths and legends. These stories were passed down through centuries of oral storytelling with good reason: they're exciting and memorable. Since I used to teach Beowulf to my beloved high school English students, I was eager to read Barnhouse's book.Three cheers for authenticity in the Anglo-Saxon culture/way of life. I kept thinking of that old idea: we fear what is beyond the circle of firelight. In other words, as we learn more and more about the world and can see more clearly, we come up with more "scientific" explanations. But to a Geat, an Anglo-Saxon, a Viking--why not have dragons and gods/goddesses and visions and the like? How else to explain things they couldn't understand? In that sense, while we would term this book a fantasy, THEY might not. And this comes through nicely. It's more historical fiction with a clear expression of Anglo Saxon belief.I thought the book was a bit slow and predictable at times in its storytelling--especially in the beginning, but overall, well done. It wraps up mighty quickly, but believably so. It might strike some readers as anachronistic to have women playing as major a role in their society as they do in this book. That, however, is not unrealistic. The Ancient Celts and Nordic peoples gave their women much more freedom than the later British societies did. There is a whole slew of warrior princess types sprinkled in those legends. less
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it was good. enjoyed the events after the death of the dragon more than the previous events.
I didn't think I was going to like this one -- not normally something I would have picked up.
this surprised me.
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