The Saga of Beowulf by R. Scot Johns
from the back of the book:
'The Saga of Beowulf is the first complete novelization of the classic 10th century Old English poem Beowulf. Breathtaking in scope and relentless in pace, now follow on the epic quest in this riveting adaptation chronicling the tragic wars of the rising Nordic nations, the endless blood-feuds of their clans, battles with mythic creatures in an ancient heroic age, and the final, futile struggle of one man against the will of Fate that made him a legend.'
The Saga of Beowulf is an epic tale with trolls, dwarfs, dragons, ogres, revenge, true love, epic battles, heroes, magic, curses and everything else you need and want in a true epic. Though it was slow going at first. I was enjoying the story but there are a lot of people, lots of them with similar names, it takes place in several different places, has flashbacks and complex relationships between the characters. There is a lot going on. It was a while before I could keep track of it all to the point where I was just reading the story instead of working out who everyone was. There is a list of proper names in the back that I found very helpful before I had all the names set because it has a sentence or two about who they are. It also has the pronunciation of all the names which was helpful too. A lot of the book is about fights and battles which are often described in bloody, gory detail. But it isn’t all about violence. The characters are well developed and have depth. You get to know them by seeing their backgrounds and personal struggles. So it is also about love of family, friends and country and internal conflict. It is about concepts like bravery, cowardice, strength and honor. The writing is almost lyrical and although I thought it was out of place among people I thought were mostly illiterate when Beowulf said someone had signed their own death warrant, the style of writing and the wording is very fitting to the tale. It somehow makes the tale grander in some way and you sit in rapt attention as the larger than life heroes and their monster infested world comes to life. It tells the entire story of Beowulf’s life and at 640 pages is a long story and not a light read. You have to be willing to put the time in. But if you have any interest in Beowulf or just enjoy good adventure stories I think the time spent will be well rewarded.
If you want to know more about the book you can go here. A lot of research went into this book and you can see the process and how Johns made the decisions on how to translate the source material if you look under adaptation notes.