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THE COMING OF THE DRAGON by Rebecca Barnhouse

THE COMING OF THE DRAGON

By Rebecca Barnhouse

Age Range: 10 - 14

Pub Date: Oct. 26th, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-375-86193-2
Publisher: Random House

Shaping her novel around the last part of Beowulf, Barnhouse ponders the question of good leadership in a violent age. When the infant Rune washes up on the shores of Geatland, many see him as cursed, but the aging King Beowulf spares him and places him in the care of Amma, a wisewoman, who raises him with the ancient lays. When the dragon of the poem lays waste to the countryside and kills many, including Amma and much of the guard that are not off defending against the ever-threatening Shylfings, the now-teenage Rune seeks to prove himself and avenge Amma. In a gutsy move, the author locates the climactic battle with the dragon in the center of the novel, forcing Rune and the Geats to cope with life in a post-Beowulf world and imagine new paths to prosperity. Much of this part of the narrative and the characterization seem more informed by 21st-century sensibilities than ancient Scandinavian ones, but within the framework of the likable Rune's coming of age it works, providing readers with much food for thought—and some hope. (author's note, pronunciation guide) (Fiction. 10-14)