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Saga of Beowulf Book Review

By / April 30, 2009 / no comments

For those of you not in the know, Beowulf is a 10th century old English poem that has been translated and adapted many times; from good text translations to terrible film adaptations. In the poem, Beowulf is a giant of a man descended of kings, yet king he is not. Because of his father’s deeds and his uncle’s jealousy he became an outcast and sent on a deadly mission that no one ever thought he would come back from. His mission was to kill the unstoppable ogre, Grendel.

R.Scot John’s very good version (that’s because it’s not a film) of the epic tale stays as true to the poem as possible. He starts off slow, introducing characters and a bit of history among the clans, but then Grendel is introduced and it is all on. In my own minds eye I could envision Grendel wrecking havoc, sundering the souls of men and feasting on their flesh. This is due to R.Scot’s ability to describe a scene, telling enough for you to form an image but not so much as to not let your imagination flow. I was personally amazed at the information this book presented. Turning a poem into a full blown novel is not easy and more than a little did R.Scot do when researching the tale of Beowulf. Any parts that he did change were very sensible, making it easier to read and overall added to the story well. The best change was the twist of Grendel’s father and the importance of Wiglaf.

What I liked most perhaps about the story of Beowulf is that he is human. While I was reading the book, I was always comparing Beowulf to other mythical heroes, Samson and Hercules being two that came to my mind quickly. Yet Beowulf was unto his own and I was glad they he wasn’t like them. I would not have liked to read about an all conquering hero, I like my hero’s flawed. He was young but too brash, had the strength of thirty men in his arms but unwise in the way of life.

Tempering the good with the bad I must say that a lack of a professional editor has hurt this book. From spelling mistakes, to misplaced names, to insufficient map detail has caused some annoyance while reading. A good editor should have solved these problems, but this is a learning curve fledgling authors often take (especially when low on capital).

Overall I was impressed by R.Scot’s work, more so when I visited his website fantasycastlebooks.com after finishing the book. The Saga of Beowulf is action packed and true to the heroic fantasy genre. I would really love to pick up some original work from R.Scot because this book only hints at his originality and the underlying ability he has for writing heroic fantasy.

Review written for Best Fantasy Books by Jon Snow, from Sleeping with Books.

About the author


Blog editor, admin and founder of BestFantasyBooks.comYou'll find me on the BestFantasyBook forums and spending my spare time reading fantasy books and writing lists for this site. In fact, I have no spare time -- running this site IS my spare time!


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