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Beowulf
Hinds, Gareth
Teen Fiction HINDS

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From Publishers' Weekly:

The king of heroic epics gets a lavish visual interpretation in Hinds's full-color mixed-media gem, originally self-published as three separate issues in 2000. He begins with a credit to two versions of the familiar story (A.J. Church's 1904 translation and that of Francis Gummere), in which a vicious monster named Grendel terrorizes the great hall of King Hrothgar for 12 winters, and the hero Beowulf arrives from afar, to try to defeat the creature and succeeds-with his bare hands. Then he must contend with Grendel's mother, when she comes to avenge her son's fate; the third chapter deals with the mournful end to the hero's life, resulting from a battle with an enormous dragon. Each chapter begins with a brief narrative (paying homage to the cadences of the story's early verse renditions), before giving way to a lengthy, wordless and bloody battle. Hinds's angular perspectives and unusual color palettes (dark, ruddy colors, deep burgundy blood, and not a ray of sunshine in sight) lend the book an almost overwhelming sense of menace. The third and most emotionally forceful chapter centers around an incredible two-page spread that shows the dragon awakening; it's an arresting image in a book filled with many. For fantasy fans both young and old, this makes an ideal introduction to a story without which the entire fantasy genre would look very different; many scenes may be too intense for very young readers. Ages 10-up. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

Menacing, moody, and faithful to the eighth-century epic, Hinds's rendering draws on a translation evoking Old English verse. We begin with the sea burial of ruler Scyld and follow great-grandson Hrothgar and the monster Grendel's attacks on Hrothgar's clan. Then Beowulf arrives from Geatland and takes on-in breathtaking hand-to-hand combat-first Grendel and subsequently Grendel's troll-hag mother. With triumph and treasure, he sails home to become the good ruler of Geatland. But years later, a fearsome dragon threatens, and the aging Beowulf slays the dragon but dies himself. The epic ends full circle with another funeral. Hinds's evocative art renders the fight scenes with great power, and although the voice-over text in Celtic-style lettering is not easy to read, it's worth the effort, especially read aloud. Gaiman takes a different approach, re-working the original plot by shifting Grendel's mother to a witch-temptress character. Instead of fighting Beowulf, she makes a devil's bargain with him as she had with Hrothgar, lust and greed overcoming both men. Accompanied by modern-style dialog, the art is more classic than Hinds's, although with much the same dank coloring. Old English purists may hate it, but it's a compelling, well-drawn story based on the new film. While Old English terrors originated in outside forces, modern terrors are born from our own flaws. Hinds's is for teens up, and Gaiman's (with sexual references) for ages 18+.-M.C. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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