"Grendel heard the laughter and the harp song from the King's high hall, and it troubled his dark dreams, and he roused and came out of the waste lands... So swift was his attack that no man heard the outcry; but when the dawn came, thirty of Hrothgar's best and noblest thanes were missing."
So ran the story of the sea captain who brought news to Geatland of the terror that ruled the court of Hrothgar, King of the Danes, the terror of the monster Grendel, the Night Stalker, who preyed upon the bravest champions of Denmark.
Among the Geatish warriors who listened to the seafarer is Beowulf, whose father Hrothgar had befriended. He determines to set sail with his war-boat companions and rid Hrothgar of the terrible scourge.
After a bloody battle Beowulf conquers Grendel; but Denmark is not free. Even more dreadful than Grendel is his mother, the Sea-Woman, who seeks revenge for the death of her monster child. In a mighty undersea struggle the hero vanquishes the brutal Sea-Woman, and returns to Geatland. In time he becomes king of his people, and before his death he frees them from the wrath of the Fire-Drake who is ravaging Geatland. In this last battle with the Fire-Drake, Beowulf is fatally wounded. The saga ends with his warriors mourning at his funeral pyre.
Rosemary Sutcliff, a master of historical narrative, recaptures for young readers the spirit, the majesty, the power and the excitement of the ancient Anglo-Saxon epic of brave warriors, horrendous monsters and fierce battles. Charles Keeping's dramatic pictures are the perfect complement to the text.
—from the dust jacket of the first U.S. Edition (1962)
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