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Who's Afraid Of Beowulf?
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Who's Afraid Of Beowulf?

3.77  ·  Rating details ·  1,930 Ratings  ·  82 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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So, Norse literature is my thing. Really, really my thing. But while there were parts of this book where I was slightly annoyed by inaccuracies (kite shields? in the eighth century? I think not), the Anglicisation of names (eths are my favourite letters :3 ), and the text's attitude to textual criticism (the whole idea of 'authorship' of a saga kind of pains me), it was so much fun that actually I didn't care that much.

It was pretty clear that the author really did know his stuff - all those all
Sep 16, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 22, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 06, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 22, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I know far too much about history for me liking this a little... stoped reading it, to bad presentation of the Norse. It have its funny parts but not that many either. Have been my sitting-on-the-buss-but-too-tired-to-read-anything-with-story-to-focus-on-book.
Timothy Boyd
Jan 15, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very good comedy fantasy book. Great story and characters. Very recommended
Faith Chapman
It doesn't really matter if you're a Beowulf fan. If you like snarky British humor, noble kings, and a goofy cast of support characters, you'll enjoy this book.

There are definitely references only true Beowulf fans will understand, and there were several times I felt left out of a joke. Even so, it was still an entertaining read.

My only complaint is that the ending fell pretty flat, which was somewhat excusable, given the lighthearted tone of the book, but it still disappointed me.

So yeah. Beowu
Aug 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Holt's books are so much delicious fun. I've always enjoyed them but sometimes find them a bit hard to follow as they meander through a landscape of imagination. This one struck me as a bit different; more organized and well-structured than some others I have read. Or maybe I was just in a better state of mind and relate more to the subject matter. Although I'm not sure why I would relate better to Vikings in the modern world but that's irrelevant. Loads of fun anyway.
Nov 25, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2017
I definitely liked Tim Holt's Expecting Someone Taller better than this. I liked the premise of Vikings coming to our time to defeat a great evil, but I felt like this was a bit too silly.
Dec 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Witty, off the wall funny, and great subject matter. A lovely little read
Todd Campbell
Oct 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Highly amusing, very cleverly written. Totally enjoyable read.
Jason St. Clair
"What are the deeds of heroes, except a few frightened people doing the best they can in the circumstances?" pg 193
Mar 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
When I see Tom Holt I have come to expect a magically bizzare and comedic tale and this was no exception. I have long suspected that there is something sinister about technology and this story confirmed it, however I cant say it has tempted me to try seagull.
Any fan of Tom Holt will love this book.
no no no...just could not finnish, I've rea to much of Dark Age and Viking history to read a book like this. They behave just wrong and have wrong clothins and jewelry
Sep 17, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Whilst this was a lot of fun to read, there wasn't masses of story to it, and the end resolved rather suddenly. Generally seemed more interested in the amusing possibilities of contrasting 1,200-year-old Vikings against the modern world (which were very funny) than the storyline.
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
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
Jun 10, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Archaeologist Hildy Frederiksen has always wanted to make a major discovery and an intact Viking ship burial certainly fits the bill. She most definitely does *not* expect the dead Vikings to come back to life and is understandably rattled when they do. It seems a thousand years ago King Rolf Earthstar of Caithness, ('God forsaken place but it is my Kingdom') and his band of heroes fought a dreadful battle with the evil Sorceror King, won the battle but lost track of their enemy and so found it ...more
UPDATE: Just re-read this book. And I'll be honest, I don't remember reading it before. I have more to say on it here:

Still three stars. In my earlier review I recommended reading both this and Holt's "Flying Dutch." Now, I'd just recommend the latter.

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'
Apr 21, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
G.R. Matthews
This is a good story told with a literal sense of humour - it made me smile.

Viking's wake after 1,200 years to fight their immortal enemy... that's the story in a nutshell, but that shell covers over the struggle (more an adjustment) to modern life, which turns out not to be too different to Viking life, the search for their enemy and the eventual showdown.

The characters are well drawn and prose focuses heavily on the humour... which is what I'd expected and looked forward to.

It was all a bit li
Jun 16, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A newly discovered archaeological site impedes development of a pipeline, and all hell breaks loose in Scotland and England. Or is it the other way round? An evil wizard plots world domination from his computer company's London office tower. The archaeological site contains a Viking longship complete with a crew of sleeping heroes in advertently awoken by an American archaeologist. Will they stop the evil wizard in time or go to Valhalla trying? Will they grant an interview to a roving BBC repor ...more
May 26, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: humor, fiction
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
Hannah Snell
Apr 27, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There were lots of things that I enjoyed about this book - the concept, the mythology, much of the humour. But this is not the laugh-out-loud humour of Terry Pratchett, or the sharp wit of Jasper Fforde, and, as a result (perhaps of taste?), let this down. Further let-downs were the 2D 'depth' of the characters and the thinness of the plot - it often felt that there were more details missing and it lacked the scope that it promised. However, this didn't prevent it from being an enjoying read, an ...more
Jun 22, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 07, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jan 04, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 26, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
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.
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.
Nov 19, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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.
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Tom Holt (Thomas Charles Louis Holt) 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 humorous ways. He has also pro
More about Tom Holt

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“The fault was lying on its' back...” 1 likes
“What are the deeds of heroes, except a few frightened people doing the best they can in the circumstances?” 0 likes
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