Beowulf Book Review

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I read Beowulf by Seamus Heaney. The story starts by describing a conflict between King Hrothgar of the Danes and a demon named Grendel. Grendel has came to the danes’ mead hall and killed many of their warriors in the past. At one point Hrothgar was a great warrior but is no longer is capable of protecting his people. This attracts the attention of many heroes but none can defeat Grendel. Finally, a boastful, young, warrior named Beowulf comes to Heorot claiming that he can defeat Grendel in hand-to-hand combat. When Grendel attacks again, Beowulf is ready and rips his arm off at the shoulder. Grendel wonders off into the wilderness and dies due to his injury. Grendel’s mother, angry with the Geats, attacks Heorot hall and kills many. Once again, Beowulf promises to kill the monster. He finds the underground lair of Grendel’s mother and attacks. Beowulf was very confident of his abilities when coming into the battle, but is almost defeated. He does defeat her in a sudden deus ex machina addition of a magic sword. This battle shows Beowulf that he isn’t the all powerful warrior that he thought he was. Years later, another monster, threatens Beowulf’s kingdom. A dragon grapples with Beowulf and both are mortally wounded in the process. Beowulf dies and his people set him atop a huge funeral pyre next to valuable treasures. It is implied that his friend Wiglaf will take over his kingdom for him.

I liked the book. It was an interesting look at how good epic poetry can be. Normally reading poetry is not a favorite of mine because it is hard to read casually. Beowulf was easier than most to read and I enjoyed it.

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