The Coming of the Dragon
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The Coming of the Dragon

3.68 of 5 stars 3.68  ·  rating details  ·  250 ratings  ·  45 reviews
Rebecca Barnhouse weaves Norse gods, blood feuds, and a terrifying dragon into this spectacular historical fantasy, a retelling of the end of the Old English poem Beowulf.

When he was a baby, Rune washed up onshore in a boat, along with a sword and a pendant bearing the runes that gave him his nickname. Some people thought he was a sacrifice to the gods and wanted to send h...more
Paperback, 336 pages
Published October 11th 2011 by Bluefire (first published January 1st 2010)
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Sharon Tyler
After reading, and loving, Peaceweaver by Rebecca Barnhouse I decided I needed to read the companion book The Coming of the Dragon (which was published first). This young adult book; appropriate for middle grade readers and older, was inspired by Beowulf. During the time of peace following Grendel's defeat readers meet Rune. As an infant he washed up on the shore, and many thought he should be killed or left to die. However, Amma, a far-seeing woman knew he was coming and raised him as her own w...more
Chachic
Originally posted here.

The Coming of the Dragon by Rebecca Barnhouse is a retelling of the latter part of Beowulf. I don't think I've ever read Beowulf or a retelling based on it. I don't know much about this epic tale because we never studied it for school. The Coming of the Dragon came highly recommended by both Brandy of Random Musings of a Bibliophile and Charlotte of Charlotte's Library so I decided to give it a go. Also, I'm very curious about the companion novel, Peaceweaver, because Ana...more
Betsy
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 mo...more
Brett
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 o...more
Brandy Painter
Review originally posted here.

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 pretty excited about the existence of this book.

This book says so much and at the same time the story is so simple. It is Rune's story and shows his journey from taunted farm boy to one of the king's men fac...more
Christina (A Reader of Fictions)
Like most everyone else, I had to read Beowulf in high school. I hated it. However, I did like Grendel more, so I was still interested in a book based on Beowulf. To be honest, though, I really do not remember the end of Beowulf, like at all. So, I can only base this on itself, and not on the cleverness of the retelling.

The story is definitely told in an ancient epic kind of manner that seems fitting to the tale Barnhouse is telling. The writing is good. I see no reason why fans of Beowulf shoul...more
Charlotte

Anyone who wants lovely historical fiction with a dragon added need look no further than this one!

After defeating Grendel and his mother, Beowulf got to enjoy a long stretch of peace as king of the Geats. Peace of a sort, that is--a festering feud with a neighboring people keeps things somewhat on edge, but at least the dragon rumored to live up in the mountains still sleeps. But when an ill-wishing man from far away steals a golden treasure from the dragon's hoard, it flies out, wrecking havoc...more
Pica
Read the full review at Pica Reads.

Some parts of The Coming of the Dragon were very enjoyable. Others, less so. Barnhouse obviously has talent as a writer, but the retelling of Beowulf was not very interesting to me. Once she struck out into her own story, the entire book became much more engaging.

The Retelling
The early parts of The Coming of the Dragon went very slowly even for my standards, which are pretty patient. I appreciated all of the detail Barnhouse put into the story, but I didn't con...more
Sarah
Jan 12, 2011 Sarah rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: grades 6-9
Recommended to Sarah by: dragons
When Rune was an infant, he was found washed ashore in an old rowboat. Amma, a wise, elderly woman, takes him in and raises him as her own. Now 14-years-old, Rune is a quiet young man, always wondering about the meaning of the symbols on the necklace he was wearing when he was found as a baby.

While chasing after his loose goat in the woods, Rune sees a dragon fly overhead and is terrified; dragons hadn’t been seen in ages—why would one be out flying now? Has someone stolen from its treasure hoar...more
Mallori
Aug 24, 2012 Mallori rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Mallori by: Book Smugglers
I enjoyed this book, but I was able to put it down, if that makes sense? Some books, you can't put down, you are drawn into the action and the story, and have to find out what happens next. This book, I didn't connect with as much. Sometimes it felt slow, I wasn't always sure where it was going, and I put it down a couple of times to do other things. However, if you want an interseting story to fill a few hours, this could be a good book for you.
And I do plan on picking up and reading the compa...more
Stacey
Rune has grown up always being reminded of how he came to the kingdom, never quite fitting in. When he was a baby he washed up on the shore in a boat with a sword, shield and pendant with runes on it. His namesake. Some thought he was a sacrifice to the gods, but luckily King Beowulf thought differently. Sending Rune to live on a farm during the summer, he comes to the king’s hall to learn how to fight in the winter. One night in the mountains someone wakens the dragon, and Rune has the chance t...more
Phoebe
Jul 22, 2012 Phoebe rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: Deborah, Cheryl
King Beowulf is an old man when a boat appears on the tide, containing a naked baby, and a sword, a shield, and chain mail. Some mysterious silent message passes between Amma, a refugee woman, and the King, and the baby is not slain, but brought up at a nearby farm. Years pass and the baby, now a young man called Rune, finds life hard at the edges of the village. He is not courageous and can't wield a sword; and the day he encounters a terrible dragon is the most horrifying of his life. How the...more
Faith
I hadn't thought about reading Beowulf, until I read this book for the English Festival at my school. After I'd finished it, I decided to read the poem, and quite liked it! The book, though a little slow in the beginning picked up later on.

Rune grew up being an outcast, after washing up on the shore. Amma did her best to raise him and teach him everything he would need to be a king, maybe knowing what future he held. Then there was the dragon and the various dragon fights, and the little romance...more
Tisha
Loved this book! Quick read, plausible action. Great to recommend to those who want books about dragons, but it's also a coming-of-age, figuring-out-who you are story. Rune washed up on the shore of the Gaet's land as a young child, and was taken in by another foreigner, Amma. He grows up as a farmer, but then ultimately comes into his own as a warrior when the dragon is unleashed in their lands. Based on the story of Beowulf, who is the king when Rune is a youth, this is a great way to understa...more
Robyn
I was initially intrigued with the fact that it was "inspired" by the epic poem Beowulf. It was actually more of a sequel than a companion, but I liked it. It was very well written. My only concern in recommending it to my usual fantasy/action students is that it takes a little time to get into. I was definitely hooked by the middle, and it had some of the best swordplay/battle scenes I've read in a long time. I just don't know how many will have the patience to get there.
Lisa Delaine Youngblood
Rune learns the truth about his heritage after a dragon attacks his town. Rune was found floating in the river by Amma, the strange but respected wise woman. Despite his attempts to go unseen, he is despised by some in the village as a harginger of bad luck. After the dragon attacks and kills his Amma, Rune finds that he must reach beyond himself to save the kingdom.

This story is inspired by the Beowolf legend.
Maureen E
One of the reasons I loved Lavinia was the fact that I felt it brought a forgotten character of the source material to life, while still being in harmony with the source. Now, granted that I know Beowulf a lot better than I know the Aeneid, this is exactly where Coming of the Dragon falls short. It’s a nice coming of age story, but to me it never read as Beowulf. [Sept. 2011]
Eric Krause
Quite an enjoyable read. A good look at a different perspective of the Beowulf myth through the eyes of a different character. It takes place at the end of the epic poem, 50 years after the battles with Grendel and his mother. It was a great fictional tale and setting, but with enough historical facts to ground it. I highly recommend this one!
Peggy Harkins
I have never been a big Beowulf fan so I wasn't expecting to love this book. I was surprised at how much I liked it. Once I got into it, it was hard to put down. Now I'm reading Peaceweaver, which is about a parallel character (same time, different place). I may go back and take another look at Beowulf!
Lisa
I enjoyed this story - again on audio. It is appropriate for ages 10 and above. I think that both girls and boys will enjoy the story. It tell the story of Rune set against the back drop of King Beowulf. Of course there are dragons, magic, swords, mystery and intrigue. Enjoy!
Rose
It's not every day that you find a Beowulf retelling. It's been a while since I have read Beowulf, but Barnhouse did a nice job of creating and expanding characters into fully-fleshed people. Makes me want to go back and read the original now.
Tricia
Rune is a typical outcast, he is blamed for problems just because of who he is. Now he is following disappearing goats and falling of mountains. Can he find the courage he needs to face the dragon and save the village?
Jennifer Calhoun
Enjoyed the characters, especially Rune and that way he saw himself. I also really liked the author's notes at the end explaining with parts of the story were taken straight from the Beowulf poem and which were her own creation.
05mckennac
I liked this book beccause when he first went up against the Dragon he failed but he kept trying, he did not give up. And when the king died and crowned him king he decided to do the right thing. And stop the war.
Jenny Mock


I really enjoyed the description of Rune's daily life. I think this story stands on its own quite well and is an interesting reinvention of the end of the Beowolf poem.
Michelle
3.5. Nothing special about this story. I give an extra half star for the exciting parts. The first half of the book I was so bored, I should've just put it down
Kim
Slow starting, picked up my interest, really grabbed my interest for the last third of the book, but ended disappointingly. The ending seemed too abrupt and unfinished.
Krissy
I thought it was as good read its something new from what most authors are writing these days. Its well written and well constructed. Its worth the read.
Misha
It was fun to see a more accessible tale told during Beowulf. I'm looking forward to other books by this author.
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1520317
Reading was like breathing to Rebecca when she was growing up. It still is. She loved the Little House books, and fought with her brother over books in the Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators series. Later, she discovered science fiction and fantasy, from The Lord of the Rings to Arthur C. Clarke to Ursula K. LeGuin’s Earthsea series, and many, many other books she and her best friend sha...more
More about Rebecca Barnhouse...
The Book of the Maidservant Peaceweaver The Book of the Knight of the Tower: Manners for Young Medieval Women Recasting the Past: The Middle Ages in Young Adult Literature Ring-Giver

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