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The Coming of the Dragon (Legacy of Beowulf) Library Binding – October 26, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 5-8–Loosely based on the final years of Beowulf's kingship, this imaginative retelling fleshes out the story of the only man who truly stands beside the great king to the end. Rune is an infant when he washes ashore in a mysterious boat and is spared death by King Beowulf and Amma, a strange old woman who becomes a mother figure to him. The king protects Rune and trains him to fight, but he remains a threat and a misfit in the minds of most villagers. He is content living a simple life until a vicious dragon is awakened and destroys everyone and everything he loves. Avenging his family leads him to answers about his own heritage as well as some nail-biting suspense as he confronts the dragon more than once. While Rune's naked insecurity and self-doubt wear thin at times, his innocence and perseverance make him a sympathetic and unlikely hero. An adventure-filled coming-of-age tale.–Mandy Lawrence, Fowler Middle School, Frisco, TXα(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From Booklist

Rune has never known his parents, and the villagers who raised him are not completely convinced he isn’t cursed by the gods. But when King Beowulf is in direst need, only Rune stands by his side, finally able to claim his destiny. Barnhouse takes the final section of Beowulf, which focuses on the story of young Wiglaf, and weaves an absorbing tale of a young man finding his courage. Told as a straight narrative, descriptions of settings and plot elements reflect back to the epic itself. Although few characters are fully developed, Rune and the woman who raised him—as well as King Beowulf—emerge as rounded characters. This is a great bridge book to use in a classroom either before or after broaching the Beowulf story. An author’s note clearly indicates which bits of the novel have been fabricated and which are drawn directly from the poem. This novel would also appeal to those who enjoy Norse mythology in general and to readers of Judson Roberts’ Strongbow Saga. Grades 7-10. --Cindy Welch --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 840L (What's this?)
  • Series: Legacy of Beowulf
  • Library Binding: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers (October 26, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375961933
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375961939
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,536,194 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 2, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The third section of Beowulf has always been my favorite. It is just so sad and uncertain, yet hopeful at the same time. Like most endings are in life. Plus there's a dragon. There are very few stories that can't be improved by the presence of a dragon. So, I was very excited when this book came out. And I was not disappointed.

This is Rune's story and shows his journey from taunted farm boy to one of the king's men facing a dragon, and then on to a bit more. Through Rune's story the reader gets so much more though. Not the least of which is a very accurate representation of Anglo Saxon life. I have to agree that this aspect did remind me of Rosemary Sutcliff in that the power was in the details. Small things were included that gives the reader a sense of the setting and did not require a lot of description. There is also a lot said about seeking wisdom, governing, war, peace, love, friendship and family. None of this is didactic, it is the story.

The plot is fast paced. The story covers little time. Things with the dragon happen quickly. The story taken from Beowulf ends about two thirds of the way in and the rest of the novel is pure invention and follows the things that occur in the land post dragon. The end is a bit rushed and some of Rune's emotions are startling in how quick they form but it was still concluded well.

Rune is a fascinating main character who comes across as real. I felt everything he was feeling so acutely as I read the book I actually had to double check to see what point of view it was written in before typing this review. It is third but I could have sworn it was first. All of the secondary characters are interesting as well, particularly Beowulf and Amma.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Charlotte on December 15, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Barnhouse does a delightful job bringing this last chapter of the saga of Beowulf to life, and I was completely satisfied with the historical accuracy of her story. I spent several years studying things Anglo-Saxon, but never, to my shame, have read my satisfaction is not as watertight as it might be! However, it is almost unheard of for me not to find nits to pick in most historical fiction, and it was so nice not to find any here. I was reminded of Rosemary Sutcliff, my favorite writer of historical fiction,who taught me most of what I know about the Romans.

Rune, a teenage boy struggling to find his place in life, struggling to be brave in the face of the un-faceable, is a believable hero who is put in an impossible place and rises to the challenge. He's not one of your cocky, self-assured heroes who will clearly come out on top; rather, he's one of the self-doubting ones, who finds in himself more than he ever imagined. His character development comes not just from central problem of the dragon, but is also bound up in the larger, more complex questions of the mystery of his origins, and the future that awaits him.

There is magic, and the gods are at work, but these fantastical elements are subtle, and integrated into the fabric of the story in a way that strengthens the central plot, rather than distracting the reader. And finally, the great cast of supporting characters includes some strong-minded girls, although, in as much as this is Rune's rather dragon-centric story, they don't get as much page time as the boys do! My only area of vague dissatisfaction was the ending, which seemed a bit forced and rushed.

However, despite that one reservation, I think this is one of those rare books that I enjoyed just as much now as I would have when I was the age of the intended audience, which is to say lots.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Tracy Barrett on November 24, 2010
Format: Hardcover
This fast-paced story should appeal to both boys and girls intrigued by the Middle Ages.

Although based on the epic of Beowulf, this book stands very well on its own, and no knowledge of the medieval tale is necessary (although readers familiar with Beowulf will appreciate it even more). At its center is young Rune, who washed ashore as a baby in a boat that also carried weapons and armor, wearing around his neck a pendant bearing mysterious words written in runes, giving him his nickname. He grows up ignorant of his parentage until the land is tested by the fury of a dragon, when he has to call on his courage and what little training he has as a warrior to defend his adopted people.

Rune is a very appealing character who isn't perfect, but who tries hard to do the right thing. Other characters are well drawn and individual.

It's refreshing to read a book set in the Middle Ages whose author really knows the subject. Her expertise never becomes heavy-handed, and it lends an air of realism to even the supernatural aspects of the story.

Teachers should consider adding The Coming of the Dragon to their students' reading lists.
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Format: Paperback
You don't have to know anything about the epic Beowulf to enjoy this well-woven story of the old dragonslayer king. I loved reading this book--I didn't want it to end, it is truly a joy to read! With a wonderfully descriptive rendering of the time period, the author weaves in a story of a youth's coming-of-age that any modern teen (or adult) can identify with. Includes an author's note (she's a medieval scholar) and a pronunciation guide. Pronounce "Geats" (Beowulf's tribe): "YAY-uhts".
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