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3.56  ·  Rating details ·  355 Ratings  ·  41 Reviews
A vivid re-telling of the classic tale of high adventure, desperate enterprises and bloody encounters.

This thrilling re-telling of the Anglo-Saxon legend recounts Beowulf’s most terrifying quests: against Grendel the man-wolf, against the hideous sea-hag and, most courageous of all – his fight to the death with the monstrous fire-drake.
Hardcover, 93 pages
Published 1965 by E.P. Dutton and Co., Inc. (first published 1956)
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Beowulf: Dragonslayer is a simple retelling, aimed at children, of the Beowulf story. I love the way Rosemary Sutcliff keeps it close to the events of the original poem, but with little humanising touches (like Hrothgar putting back the hair of his dead friend wordlessly). She doesn't add anything that can't be substantiated in the poem, but she makes the mud and blood of it feel real, instead of legendary.

It's a very short and quick read, but I enjoyed it. It's illustrated by Charles Keeping, w
May 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the book that kinda started it all for me, as far as my memory allows that is. I can remember my Dad reading me this in bed, using the drama of his voice to heighten the experience, and seeing the stark ink drawings---particularly of Grendal's severed arm---and just being in a state of delicous fear and wonder.


I must have been about 8 years old or so. I went on to Robert E Howard's Conan books and then, The Lord of the Rings, but I owe a lot to Sutcliff's rendering of this great poem.

Casey Hampton
May 19, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-sff
Spear – Sword – Clang - Shield. Let the blood of my enemy quench the thirst of my blade.

Okay, okay. I got a little swept up in this, but damn it, it's good.
Rosemary Sutcliff's Beowulf is a narrative retelling aimed at younger readers. Charles Keeping's illustrations are a fine compliment to Sutcliff's proficient grace with the art of story.

This is made special by the utter absence of condescension. The text isn't dumbed-down for c
Zach Costello
Mar 19, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Beowulf" is a book that starts out with a creature named Grendel. He is slaying all of the king's men in Denmark. The king needs help and calls out to Beowulf. He comes to the king to find the creature that stalks the land. Beowulf kills the creature, but Grendsl's mother wants revenge and Beowulf must kill her. He does so but barely makes it out alive. Many years later Beowulf becomes king of the Danes. When he is old a dragon sets fire to his land. Knowing that it will be his last battle Beow ...more
Sutcliff does it again, taking one of the great works of Western civilization and making it readable for kids. Rather than a substitute for Beowulf, I think that this lyric retelling will leave kids with a taste for the original when they're old enough to tackle it. Highly recommended.
Feb 23, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting and simple re-write of Beowulf that evokes the original and has slightly archaic language and phrasing but also makes it acceptable.
M. Jones
Apr 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really rate Rosemary Sutcliff as a writer - she trained as an artist and that shows - and this retelling of Beowulf imparts more humanity to the characters while retaining the heroic setting of the story. It's also a proper Dark Age tale, and she's shorn it of the Christian references which always felt to me like a late and unnecessary addition. Her writing also echoes brilliantly the spirit of the original Old English - there are the kennings like 'whale-road' for sea and the like, and an ast ...more
Gail Thompson
This book is relatively short, just 90 pages long. It re-tells the story of Beowulf, a character in the oldest written tale we have, dating back to middle Saxon times. The original story is written in the form of an epic poem of 3182 lines, and was thought to have been first written down in the 8th century. The story is older than this however, and is based on the the 5th century, according to the society it describes.

Rosemary Sutcliff has re-told the story in modern English for children. Bringi
Apr 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: boekwurms
Sutcliff provides another excellent retelling for young readers, remaining true to the original, yet subtly fleshing out the story with details that would satisfy present-day readers and cutting down on the seemingly irrelevant substories. It suits her reputation as a first-rate writer of historical novels for young readers, mistly placed somewhere in the past of the British Isles.

Sutcliff was 'n vermaarde skrywer van historiese romans, wat meestal in die geskiedenis van die Britse Eilande afspe
Feb 21, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2013
I have a slightly different edition -- a school edition from the early 60s -- which is not on GR.

This is entertaining for what it is; a prose re-telling of Beowulf, clearly written for children. The drawings are fitting, and in that '60s line style that was so common in school books and illustrated books of the era. It's not a bad translation, but it tends to the lengthy recount with abrupt endings; I thought the final paragraph in particular was a little abrupt. It's interesting that Sutcliff
James Choi
This book was called Beowulf: DragonSlayer and it is very exciting adventure about Beowulf. He goes on journey to kill Grendel and his mother but he continues on journey after becomes King of Danes. When Beowulf is king he is too old, but he continue to try to beat the Fire Drake and never give up. I like how story is filled with action and it is very exciting because you want Beowulf to win. I recommend this book because the story has many details so it feels real and you can feel that Beowulf ...more
Matilda Rose
Beowulf is an old Anglo-Saxon legend about a monster named Grendel who Beowulf defeats to save King Hrothgar and his men. He then travels to seek out Grendel's mother, who also fails to win the battle, and brings back the sword hilt with which he killed her, because the blade melted away in the monster's enchanted blood. Therefore King Hrothgar and his men can eat in peace without having to lock the doors in fear of being eaten.

Rosemary Sutcliff portrayed Beowulf very well, and wrote it in a mor
Elizabeth Kennedy
May 22, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this well written retelling of Beowulf for younger readers. I read it out loud to my 8 and 10 year old boys, who paid more attention than I expected. Of course, the Grendel on the cover (hairy green backside and all) helped pique their interest. They also liked the pen and ink illustrations peppered throughout the story. We all appreciated the vivid, poetic language. Hopefully this experience will allow them to approach their inevitable junior or high school reading of Beowulf with som ...more
Feb 10, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: children-s-lit
Rosemary Sutcliff excels at bringing the classics to children in a fantastic way, and Dragon Slayer is no exception. The retelling of Beowulf in Sutcliff's words adds to the story. The narrated version is very well done. Sean Barrett's smooth British accent is perfect for this story. Beowulf, long ago, was always recounted aloud and so this taped version makes the whole experience that much more authentic.
Mar 25, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great introduction to "Beowulf", though is not a verse translation but a prose or 'story' edition, aimed at children. Those unfamiliar with "Beowulf" or epic poetry, this is a great starting point - should you wish to read "Beowulf" as a poem.
[This is my mother's copy from when she was in 8th grade]
Sue Kozlowski
Interesting. Was written a long time ago - the 1st great early epic. Hrothgar is the King of Danes in Denmark and his kingdom is attacked by the monster, Grendel. Beowulf is a great warrior and he kills Grendel. Beowulf also kills Grendel's mother, the Sea-Woman. Beowulf rules as king but then is killed by a dragon.
For something of a review, see Lukasz Neubauer's essay "Adapting an Old English Epic: The Case of Rosemary Sutcliff's Beowulf: Dragonslayer" in Adapting Canonical Texts in Children's Literature (pp. 113–26). This article lists a number of 20c adaptations for children (pp. 114–15).
Nov 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-alouds
This was a fabulous read aloud! The language is rich and descriptive. The characters (mostly) heroic, but believable and the monsters are just scary enough. I am guessing, Tolkien borrowed extensively from the original poem and used the ideas in LOTR and The Hobbit.
I didn't read this edition...or at least the book I read didn't have that cover with the little "dragonslayer" addition to the title...And I wouldn't call him so much a "dragonslayer" as a "goblin-thingy-slayer" because that is far more accurate.
This book was a great introduction to Beowulf for my boys! While the language is made up of older words and long sentences, it is prose that reads like poetry. I will definitely be reading more of her retellings to my kids in the future.
Nov 29, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
Czytane bardzo dawno temu, skojarzyłem przy okazji filmowej adaptacji. Pamiętam,że bardzo mi się podobała ta książka, ale miałem wtedy coś koło 7 lat... W każdym razie na pewno bardziej do mnie przemawia ta stylistyka aniżeli mity greckie.
Aug 14, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
100 page retelling of Beowulf for children.

Great introduction to the story - just the fighting bits, but enough of the social history to get a context.

I read a really old version so pictures were dated and did not support the text.

Loved it!
John somers
A childrens version of the story of the saga of Beowulf but as always with Rosemary Sutcliff well written enough to appeal to adults, with no important details omitted and told with an excellent understanding of dark ages culture.
Mar 16, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was the version of Beowulf that I read in high school and I think that Sutcliff did an excelent job with this story-form version. It is a great introduction to the basic tale.
Mar 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Has to be one of the most fondly remembered book of my reading years! Rosemary Sutcliffe is beyond all reasonable doubt an expert in her field of writing, highly recommended.
Aug 15, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A clever and easily accessible re telling on the characters from Norsk legend Beowulf and his epic adventures.
Kai Shen
Oct 01, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an interesting book. It has cruel monsters that terrorises villages but there is a great hero that saves them all!!!
Mar 16, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Well written intro to the Beowulf epic for kids. Treat yourself and read her beautiful take on the Arthurian legend--Sword at Sunset.
May 06, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
It was OK. I wouldn't teach this one again, though.
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Rosemary Sutcliff was a British novelist, best known as a writer of highly acclaimed historical fiction. Although primarily a children's author, the quality and depth of her writing also appeals to adults, she herself once commenting that she wrote "for children of all ages from nine to ninety."

Born in West Clandon, Surrey, Sutcliff spent her early youth in Malta and other naval bases where her fa
More about Rosemary Sutcliff