2 Book Lovers Reviews


By John Gardner

I am a huge fan of old stories, there is nothing I love more than a retelling of one the great masterpieces from ancient literature. Beowulf is the Iliad of the English language, once I found out there was Grendel’s side of the story, I had to read it.

Grendel really isn’t Grendel’s side of the story, it is Grendel’s life leading up to Beowulf; and we have to be honest here too, Grendel isn’t the real monster in Beowulf, it is his mom, the original momster. Now, with all of the necessities out of the way, what did I think of Grendel?

While contemporary literature, this is not a current story, it was written for a different audience at a different place. This story asks more questions than it answers, it is filled with philosophical thoughts and questions that become cumbersome and convoluted at times. I get the impression that Gardner thought himself above his readers; this feeling was reinforced after reading a bit more about him.

I was looking for an action-filled conflict between a monster and hero, told from a different point of view. Beowulf doesn’t give a whole lot of details on Grendel, it was a story written for warriors, to be told around a fire with plenty of mead to go around. It was a story to make men braver and entertain children. The monster was simply a monster to be destroyed because it was a monster. Grendel’s Mother had the motivation of vengeance, simple and straight forward. While I did get some of Grendel’s motivation, the action and adventure were non-existent.

While the concept was interesting and the story does what I believe the author intended, this story was not what I was looking for.

*3 Stars

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