Whose Song is Sung: A Novel of Beowulf

Frank Schaefer, Author
Frank Schaefer, Author Tor Books $23.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-312-85756-1
Reviewed on: 03/01/1999
Release date: 03/01/1999
A freewheeling reinvention of the Beowulf epic, Schaefer's debut is narrated by Musculus, a cynical, aging dwarf who looks back, in A.D. 695, on his adventures with his deceased heroic friend, Beowulf the Northman. Schaefer gives us an aloof Beowulf whose readily apparent physical gifts-golden shoulder-length hair, super physique-mask a radical intellect capable of breaking with tradition. He is a driven monster-slayer who lost both his parents by age three and needs to prove his invincibility. Grendel is here the fearsome Grundbar. Musculus, who goes nowhere without his pet raven, Amin, recounts his own early adventures at the court of the Byzantine emperor in Constantinople, how he was sold at the Kiev slave auction to a Greek merchant, his escape and roisterous exploits with Beowulf's brawling, wenching, ferocious band. He's an engaging narrator, blending a modern skepticism with a coarseness appropriate to the brutal medieval setting. Though sometimes ornamental and flowery, his voice is generally supple as it tells a richly textured tale that should appeal to fans of both fantasy and historical fiction. (Mar.)
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