By Rebecca Barnhouse

Rebecca Barnhouse weaves Norse gods, blood feuds, and a terrifying dragon into this stunning retelling of the top of the outdated English poem Beowulf.

When he used to be a toddler, Rune washed up onshore in a ship, in addition to a sword and a pendant bearing the runes that gave him his nickname. a few humans concept he was once a sacrifice to the gods and desired to ship him correct again to the ocean. fortunately for Rune, King Beowulf disagreed. He lifted the boy from the boat and gave him to Amma, a wisewoman dwelling on a farm a long way faraway from the king’s corridor, to elevate as she observed fit.

Sixteen years later, Rune spends his summers laboring at the farm. And at King Beowulf’s request, he involves the corridor every one iciness for guns education. yet by some means he by no means rather matches in. many folks nonetheless worry he'll convey a curse at the state. Then a negative factor occurs. On a lonely crag on a mountain that belongs to the giants, somebody awakens a dragon. it's time for Rune to discover the warrior inside of himself and turn out to the doubters as soon as and for all that he's a real hero.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Come on, you could aid us,” Surt acknowledged. “We’ve bought wooden beneath after which we’ll tie straw round it. What approximately its tail? What does that seem like? ” Rune advanced, his shoulders enjoyable, and grabbed a wisp of straw. As they labored, developing a dragon so long as a tall guy, the 2 farmers joked with each other and complained approximately having to be clear of their farms on the top of harvest. “Your farms weren’t burned? ” Rune requested them in shock. He had come to think about the complete nation, all its fields and farms, as a smoldering break, just like the king’s corridor. “Wouldn’t have believed what they stated approximately this monster if I hadn’t obvious Wald’s farm—the entire factor burned to cinders. Wald, too, and Thorgunna and all their childrens. ” Surt diminished his head for a second, then shook it. “Shame, that used to be. They have been sturdy humans. ” “Aye,” Buri stated. “But if we’re going to have any harvest in any respect, we’ve received to come back. My spouse can’t do it—she’s obtained the newborn to appear after, and the animals, and she’s approximately to have one other one. ” “What, an animal? ” Surt threw him a punch, through a smile. “Hoping for a horse—we convinced may perhaps use one. ” either males laughed. Then Buri grew to become severe back. “The king must get on with it, get this dragon out of ways so that they can come back to paintings. ” Rune stared at him. “It’s in contrast to that. ” “What’s that, now? ” Surt requested, having a look up from the wire he was once winding round the lengthy tail. “You don’t simply exit and kill a dragon and feature it performed with,” Rune stated, taking a look from one farmer to the opposite. “It’s no longer that simple. Finn attempted, you recognize. It obtained him killed. ” “Well, definite, yet he glided by himself. What a idiot. ” Rune infrequently learned he had moved till he came upon himself greedy Surt’s sleeve and staring without delay into his eyes. “Finn used to be no idiot. ” Surt gave him an odd glance, and Rune stepped again, shedding Surt’s tunic. Surt brushed it as though he have been dislodging a bit of airborne dirt and dust after which, within the surprising silence, went again to the tail he was once developing. Rune observed the look he exchanged with Buri. Finn could have been no idiot, yet Rune felt like one. simply whilst he’d received the men’s self assurance, he’d thrown it away. “Sorry,” he mumbled. “Hand me that stick, could you? ” Buri acknowledged, easing the silence. They persisted to paintings, Surt and Buri conversing in low voices approximately their households, their farms, and chiefly, the harvest, whereas Rune sank into his personal darkish concepts. As he formed a dragon’s leg with straw, his swordbelt bit into his hip and he shifted it. it'd be more straightforward to paintings if he took it off, yet he didn’t belief the 2 farmers—or himself. He’d already misplaced the sword as soon as. His father’s sword, taken from the fellow he’d killed—Amma’s son. What had it performed to her, having the weapon at the back of the hut all these years? He considered her sitting on her three-legged stool on iciness evenings whilst the wind quested round the partitions and despatched bursts of chilly air during the smoke gap. He remembered the best way she may draw the sword from its sheath and carry it as much as the dancing firelight, painstakingly checking it for rust ahead of dipping a rag into her pot of whale oil.

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