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The Coming of the Dragon (Geats and Shylfings)

3.73  ·  Rating Details ·  422 Ratings  ·  62 Reviews
Rebecca Barnhouse weaves Norse gods, blood feuds, and a terrifying dragon into this spectacular 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 him right back to the s
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published October 26th 2010 by Random House Books for Young Readers (first published January 1st 2010)
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Sharon Tyler
Jul 27, 2012 Sharon Tyler rated it it was amazing
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
Aidan Jones
Mar 08, 2017 Aidan Jones rated it really liked it
I liked this book very much. I gave it a 4* because some parts of it were really slow paced, while others to fast paced. Also, the ending isn't really as exciting as other books have read. But overall, it was an exciting book with a new author for me. I can't wait to read the second book! This is an action and adventure book with some crazy death and random turns of events that make the book more interesting.
Apr 22, 2012 Chachic rated it really liked it
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
Feb 14, 2012 Betsy rated it really liked it
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
Aug 02, 2014 Sticks rated it really liked it
I was expecting this book to be slightly boring. I've never really read anything like this and didn't know what to expect. So I was pleasantly surprised to find myself liking it. The writting flows well, and the author really capturesthe time period well.

The characters are well thought out and have their own personalities. Rune is a little awkward and kind of a missfit, but he really comes into his own at the end of the book. Ketil is, I guess you could call him, his best friend. And he's there
Amy "the book-bat"
I like how the author was able to weave parts of Norse mythology with the epic poem of Beowulf. The story was exciting and action-packed right to the end. I enjoyed it much more than I thought I would, since I don't read huge amounts of fantasy. I do enjoy a bit of Norse mythology on occasion and I liked Beowulf the numerous times I have had to read it, so perhaps that is why I liked this book so much.
Katharine Ott
"The Coming of the Dragon" - written by Rebecca Barnhouse and published in 2010 by Random House Books for Young Readers. When I saw that this story was related to the legend of Beowulf, it went on the TBR list right away. Early history taking place on the lands of the British Isles is fascinating, and the back matter of this book identifies a particular genre, "Anglo-Saxon literature - works composed in England between the years of 600 and 1066." Beowulf is an aging king in this exciting action ...more
Dec 15, 2010 Charlotte rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

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
Aug 24, 2012 Mallori rated it liked it
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
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
Sep 28, 2010 Stephanie rated it it was ok
The one word to describe this book would be: meh. That’s it. To be honest, it kept me relatively entertained and I was interested enough to keep flipping the pages but it didn’t really call out to me nor did I feel particularly engaged in the book.

The story followed the life of Rune from when he was a little boy and found cast off in a boat to when he finally learned how to be brave. While he was vaguely interesting, there were too many other characters and all of them had odd, hard-to-remember
Oct 25, 2011 Pica added it
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
Aug 14, 2012 Brett rated it really liked it
Shelves: juvenile-fantasy
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
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
Dec 31, 2010 Sarah rated it it was ok  ·  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
Jul 16, 2012 Phoebe rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 29, 2011 Stacey rated it really liked it
Shelves: young-adult, fantasy
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
Feb 22, 2012 Faith rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
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
Jul 30, 2015 Lana rated it it was amazing
love books about dragons cause i love dragons so obviously i do not like it very much when this are portrayed as evil and are killed off but this was a tale following the poem of boewolf and it was so well written i had to feel happy when the dragon was killed on behalf of the very unlikely hero who came out of this!! i love the way the hero is always beset by doubts and never takes his own strength or heroism for granted till the very end. its a great book full of magic, belief in superstition ...more
Jul 29, 2012 Tisha rated it really liked it
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
Feb 27, 2016 Katie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting read, though not my cup of tea. A sort of expansion of the Beowulf tale specifically geared toward younger readers, The Coming of the Dragon seeks to imagine what life would have been like for the Geats after the end of the Beowulf epic. Barnhouse infuses historical facts and themes into this story to give readers a deeper understanding and appreciation of the original text. A trifle simple at times, and definitely geared to middle-grade readers, but good nevertheless.
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.
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.
Eric Krause
May 11, 2011 Eric Krause rated it it was amazing
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!
Nov 03, 2016 Kyla rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this little known book. It's based on the poem Beowulf, which is new to me. I enjoyed the characters, the storyline, and the writing style. I wish it had continued further into the story as I would really like to know more about the characters and how their lives turned out. It's another great book for a family to read/listen to together.
Peggy Harkins
Sep 05, 2013 Peggy Harkins rated it really liked it
Shelves: own
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!
Nov 04, 2015 Jeneé rated it really liked it
When I picked this book up and started reading it, I have to be honest I didn't read anything about it. So pleasantly surprised when I find out it's based on the story of Beowulf.
This was a wondering fantasy story and sucked me right in.
I also loved how culturally authentic it was. I love when authors do their research!
Jo Oehrlein
Dec 07, 2015 Jo Oehrlein rated it liked it
Shelves: dragon
I didn't remember this part of Beowulf. Maybe we never read it?

I like the backstory that she filled in. Amma and Rune are interesting and Rune's training in peace making (even though he didn't realize that's what the training was) is great training for a king.

Probably could have done without the instalove at the end.
Maureen E
May 19, 2011 Maureen E rated it liked it
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]
Jul 14, 2014 Amanda rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya, children-s
Two things are possible regarding this book. The first, I may have liked Beowulf better if I had read this book first. Second, I may have liked this book more if I didn't already have a pretty poor opinion of Beowulf as a character.

The story is definitely exciting and interesting and certainly worth checking out!

And Robin Sachs is a great narrator for the audiobook.
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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...

Other Books in the Series

Geats and Shylfings (2 books)
  • Peaceweaver

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