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The Tower of Beowulf Paperback – August, 1996

3.8 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

An interesting novelization of Beowulf, revealing as much of our times as of Beowulf's own. Godwin broadens the base of the poem, believably bringing in Norse myth; placing Christian coloring in context. The stylized structure of the story's progress forms a frame supporting more fully-fleshed characters than the economical language of epic allows, exploring the pressures of prestige-based leadership and the personal cost of the warrior code.

From Publishers Weekly

Fantasy literature tends to recycle its settings and themes, so it's greatly refreshing when a sword and sorcery novel appears that avoids the formulaic pitfalls of the genre. In this case, Godwin accomplishes the feat through a compelling exploration of an ancient classic, much as he did in Robin and the King. Because the outcome of Beowulf's adventures are rarely in question, Godwin must make the story exciting without relying on plot-driven suspense. He does this by rendering his characters' motivations, especially those of the monsters, so vivid and heart-wrenching that at times readers will find themselves rooting for Grendel and his mother, Sigyn (though this version of the tale can't compare to Gardner's powerful Grendel). Godwin also layers this most basic of man-kills-beast tales with insights into the superficiality of beauty and the differing mysticisms of the Norse and Christian mythologies, and he offers a well-reasoned interpretation of what makes a hero. If the historical background is sometimes rendered with more imagination than fidelity, Godwin's interpretation of the legend still makes for a gripping saga.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Avon Books (Mm) (August 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0380721651
  • ISBN-13: 978-0380721658
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 4.2 x 7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,443,538 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By David L. Allen on August 8, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"The Tower of Beowulf" is Parke Godwin's prose retelling of the Beowulf saga. Godwin attempts to flesh out the heroic saga with a more modern look into the minds and motivations not only of Beowulf but of the monsters he faces. Grendel's mother, Sigyn, in particular is given more of a back-story; as an illegitimate daughter of trickster god Loki and a giantess, she grows up in an illusional fantasy world created with the best intentions by Loki to spare her the grief of her true, hideous existence. This part of the book mirrors the sympathetic re-interpretation of the Grendel himself by John Gardner in his book of the same name and is very touching. Similarly, Godwin provides a glimpse into Beowulf's psyche; here he is imagined as a man who in his youth led a callow attempt at a raid that resulted in the deaths of all of his compatriots that now haunts Beowulf the adult and infuses him with a near suicidal desire to prove himself worthy of honor and respect by tackling ever-more-dangerous tasks. He battles the Grendel and Sigyn not because he is a hero, but because of his prior failure and cowardice. These twists, along with Godwin's elegant prose, make this a tale well worth reading. Godwin's imagery is vivid, from the blue-lipped Danish princess and her armed escorts gliding down the Rhine on a boat encased in ice, to the descriptions of Sigyn and Grendel's hideous forms. For anyone wanting an enjoyable, well-written and imaginative retelling of the Beowulf legend, look no further. Recommended.
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Format: Paperback
I'm not quite sure what to make of this work. It is an adaptation, in novel form, of the epic of Beowulf. It some ways, this works very well, while in others it doesn't work well at all. Parke Godwin specializes in retelling legends (Robin Hood, Arthur, St. Patrick, Beowulf), in a historical context, or at least a more realistic, lucid form then usual.
This book taught me more about the Viking religion of Odinism than I really wanted to know (at least, I think it did, as I have to take the book's word that it is accurately portraying it). It got into Grendel's head, into the dragon's head, into Beowulf's head. While they were all dynamic characters, at times there just wasn't enough. The story would skip forward twenty years, and fill in the intervening, sometimes relevant, events in just a few paragraphs. By the same token, the book would build up to confrontantions, only to have them be extremely short and abbreviated.
Still, Godwin did a masterful job showing us what {he thought} the values of sixth century northlanders were. He also manages to tie in Christian influences, add more depth to power stuggles, politics, and international relations. And the opening sentence says it all, "Before men reasoned such things could not happen, when all men knew they could."
An interesting, at times slightly boring, but ultimately satisfying book, this is worth reading if you can find it.
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By A Customer on February 1, 1999
Format: Hardcover
after reading the original this provided a very interesting view of the story. It facilitates a deeper understanding of the poem by exploring different interepretations than I would have found myself.
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