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Who's Afraid Of Beowulf?

3.73 of 5 stars 3.73  ·  rating details  ·  1,093 ratings  ·  50 reviews
Mightier Than the Sword: "My Hero", "Who's Afraid of Beowulf?" This title contains two comic fantasies: 'My Hero' and 'Who's Afraid of Beowulf'. Full description
Paperback, 216 pages
Published July 25th 1991 by Orbit (first published 1988)
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Stamatios
Having read this book based on its ravenous reviews, I feel cheated and slightly suspicious about the general population's sense of humour. Tom Holt has been compared to Terry Pratchett, but his fantasy creatures set on a contemporary setting could not be any less funny than Pratchett's. The awoken Vikings that rise from their tomb in modern-day Scotland to fight and defeat their nemesis once and for all speak perfect English (courtesy of a spell), catch up on the last 1500 years of history afte ...more
Simon Mcleish
Originally published on my blog here in October 2000.

The second of Tom Holt's comic fantasy novels, Who's Afraid of Beowulf? is rather a tentative affair by comparison with most of them. It gets its comedy from the same idea as Expecting Someone Taller (and many other humourous fantasy novels), as it concerns a group of characters from mythology bewildered by the modern world.

In this case, the bewildered mythological characters are heroes from the Norse sagas, sealed for hundreds of years in a s
...more
Nathan Dehoff
This is the first book I've read by this author, but I find the descriptions of his work to be up my alley, so I doubt it will be the last. That said, while it was cute, it wasn't as funny as it could have been. I think a little more development could have helped, perhaps particularly in terms of the villain, but also as far as differentiating the different members of the Viking band. Still, there were enough good jokes and likeable enough characters to make it a worthwhile read. The plot involv ...more
Corinne Enright
I expected great things of this book. I love mythology, I adore comic fantasy, and I like Tom Holt. Plus, it's got a kicking title. In reality, it was a reasonably well-constructed book, well-written, and with a few really nice moments, but in terms of joke density, it was kind of a drag. It was less "comic fantasy" than "fantasy with some jokes." It wasn't time wasted by any means, but there are better books by this guy.
Jenni
This is really more of a 3.5. While Who's still retains the warmth of Holt's earlier work (if I have a problem with some of his later books, it's how overly cynical they frequently are), it's less joyful than Expecting Someone Taller, and doesn't have as many laugh-out-loud moments as, for example, Flying Dutch. That said, there's still plenty to enjoy here.
Helen
Read this on Dan's recommendation but my husband says he's read it at least twice. I enjoyed the way King Hrolf picked up the modern situation and technologies so that there was a minimum of having to introduce the theory and result of various inventions and the acceptance by the heroes of whatever decisions the king made meant that they just followed along without explanations too. The introduction of most of the board and card games we play as if they were all one game was good and I liked the ...more
Richard
Recommended by John Kikkert. The back of the book suggests that it is combination of Lord of the Rings and Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court. It reminds me of the humor of Patrick McMannus. A group of Vikings come back to life in Scotland 1200 years after being interred in their ship. A mad romp as they go about the countryside trying to find an evil spirit who has been foisted on the world. Tongue in check humor. Wonderful characters such as: Starkad Storvirkssson, Angantyr Asmundarson, ...more
Mary
A present day Archeologist discovers, underground, a ship of Norse Vikings – intact, fully preserved. If you like mythology, Scotland and laughter, check out what happens when a ship of Vikings awakes in present day… to save the world from a Computer Magnate who happens to be a sorcerer who has been living in England for several hundred years. It seems a thousand years ago King Rolf Earthstar of Caithness, and his bickering band of Viking bro’s fought a dreadful battle with the evil Sorcerer Kin ...more
MisterFweem
Got to say I'm glad I read Holt's "Flying Dutch" before I read this one, or I might not have continued. I know a lot of people when they talk Tom Holt, they talk Beowulf. I just didn't see it. The story wasn't fully developed in any respect and the characters, well, I had a hard time telling the Vikings apart. Holt handles the fish-out-of-water story in Dutch a lot better than he does in Beowulf as well.

I recommend reading both books, however, especially if you're a writer -- look at how Holt ha
...more
Kenny
This was the other half of an omnibus and I struggled to get into this. The pacing was a bit off, there were sections of the plot that dragged (or were resolved in a paragraph) and some bits just felt a bit 'puff' writing. This was one of those books that I never managed to get into, instead finding other ways to avoid reading it for a while - so it was also a disjointed read for me. Some good one liners, and I did like the premise, but it just never gets out of second gear.

Oh, and the alien ch
...more
Christiane
This book and "Expecting Someone Taller" are my favorite Tom Holt books. Unassuming student archaeologist Hildy Frederiksen finds an intact Viking burial, complete with surprisingly alive Vikings. It turns out that the sorcerer enemy the Vikings fought many years ago is alive and well in modern-day Britain and the Vikings, with Hildy’s reluctant help, have to defeat him again. It is very, very funny watching the Vikings adapt to modern day customs; though I read this book many years ago I still ...more
Henrik Rostoft
A bit of a letdown, compared to his other novels.
Zoe
While Who's Afraid of Beowulf? is a lot of fun and quite entertaining, the plot is more than simplistic and the characters are rather 2-D. Yet the combination of simplistic plot and characters with a good writing style and well written humor puts this book on the map.
Although often compared to Terry Pratchett, Tom Holt would be better compared to Neil Gaiman, and, in fact, Who's Afraid of Beowulf fits right in with American Gods.
I highly recommend this novel, but as a light summer read, not as
...more
Amanda
Tom Holt writes funny books for smart people. He does expect you to know what he's making fun of, and he doesn't hold your hand and tell you why things are funny. If you aren't familiar with the original material he's satirizing, it's just not that funny. Like watching High Anxiety without being familiar with Hitchcock's work. This probably isn't as great as Expecting Someone Taller but it's still good stuff. If you haven't read anything by Tom Holt, do yourself a favor and try him out.
ChJ Loveall
Another fine book from Mr Holt.
Marshall
I think this book was an attempt at a British humor version of Lord of the Rings, based on Norse mythology. It was cute. The premise was pretty good, but it didn't hold my attention much after the first 25 pages. The narrative was a bit choppy, so it was hard to follow along. My favorite part was the two Chthonic spirits always up to some kind of mischief while playing a game called Goblin's Teeth, but these guys only showed up occasionally and briefly.
Nancy
This was a fun little lark of a book. Archaeologist Hildy Frederickson discovers a Viking longship buried in a Scottish marsh. The site turns out to be the burial ground of a Viking king and twelve champion warriors. King Hrolf and his men aren't actually dead, they have been under a magical sleeping spell but are now awakened for one last battle against evil. With Hildy as their guide in this future world, the heroes go forth to fulfill their destiny.
Ronn
Not bad. It's no 'Good Omens', but it held my interest.
Jrubino
If you looking for something light, shallow, nonsensical, and rather mediocre, then this novel should fit the bill.

From the opening chapter, the characters were scripted and lacking any realism. I mean, even the 1200-year-old Viking warriors speak modern English?

Sure, it might be explained by some magic or whatever, yet I don’t have the patience for such a short-cut style. It shows lack of imagination and respect.
kari
This is one of the most hilarious books I've read. I read it several years ago and still remember how amused I was.
It's about a young woman who finds a long ship of Vikings buried in a hill and she accidentally brings them back to life and what happens next. There is magic and chthonic spirits and too much to explain. FOr a wild read, give this one a try.
Traummachine
This book was cute. Definitely not as funny as Pratchett's best, but Holt does a great job of letting the setup for a joke build so that it reaches its full potential. We've all heard that timing is everything for comedy, but I'd never thought about it for a book. Holt did a wonderful job of educating me.

I'll definitely pick up more of his material.
Terri
Hildy is an archeologist who finds a perfectly preserved Viking ship under a mound in scotland. And then her world is turned upside down when its inhabitants wake up from a spell. Vikings in Modern day Scotland cause a lot of funny antics as they try to save the world from an evil Sorcerer King.

A cute, zany romp
Jen
Very fun to those with a passing familiarity with Scandanavian and Saxon lore and legend. The characters are lively, it's an incredibly fast read (I finished it in an afternoon), and there are just enough smash-'em-up moments to be worth the warriors' time. Delightful.
Brian O'rourke
A witty, charming read from a very funny author. Some 7th Century Vikings wake up in 20th Century England, and use their new friend the American archaeologist Hildy Frederiks-dottir to settle some unfinished business with the sorcerer-king, now a British software magnate.
Elena
Another really lovely Tom Holt. I think this might be my second favorite after Expecting Someone Taller. Clever premise, delightful story featuring brainy, plumpish, lady archaeologist. What's not to like? Very sweet ending.
Steve Mitchell
Tom Holt creates brilliant comic fantasy tales by taking stories from mythology and setting them in the present day. In this one Viking hoards do battle from Caithness to London to settle a twelve hundred year old score.
Lea
I suppose, if I was british or a viking scholar, I would have found this book quite amusing.... As I am not either of these things, I found it a bit dated and not entirely entertaining... Still better than most TV, though.
Bob
My first foray into the world of Tom Holt and I'm not disappointed. A semi- Terry Pratchett with a dash of Monty Python. Maybe most easy compared to Bad Omens. I will read more and I hope they continue to get better.
Audrey
Along the lines of Terry Pratchett, but not quite as funny. I'm a fan of Norse mythology and the like, so this amused and entertained me, yet it wasn't laugh out loud funny as I'd been told Holt's writing often is.
Deedee
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Tom Holt (Thomas Charles Louis Holt; born September 13, 1961) is a British novelist.
He was born in London, the son of novelist Hazel Holt, and was educated at Westminster School, Wadham College, Oxford, and The College of Law, London.
Holt's works include mythopoeic novels which parody or take as their theme various aspects of mythology, history or literature and develop them in new and often humor
...more
More about Tom Holt...
The Portable Door (J. W. Wells & Co., #1) Expecting Someone Taller You Don't Have to Be Evil to Work Here, But it Helps (J. W. Wells & Co., #4) In Your Dreams (J. W. Wells & Co., #2) Earth, Air, Fire and Custard (J. W. Wells & Co., #3)

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