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Who's Afraid of Beowulf? by

Book Cover - Tom Holt: Who's Afraid of Beowulf?

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Book Cover - Tom Holt: Who's Afraid of Beowulf?

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Book Cover - Tom Holt: Who's Afraid of Beowulf?

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Book Cover - Tom Holt: Who's Afraid of Beowulf?

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Book Cover - Tom Holt: Who's Afraid of Beowulf?

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You can read more about this book at Amazon's websites (where you also can order the book):
Normal paper editions
Amazon UK (Paperback) Who's Afraid of Beowulf?
Amazon USA (Paperback) Who's Afraid of Beowulf?
Amazon Canada (Paperback) Who's Afraid of Beowulf?
Amazon Deutschland (Paperback) Who's Afraid of Beowulf?
Kindle (eBook) editions
Amazon UK (Kindle edition) Who's Afraid of Beowulf?
Amazon USA (Kindle edition) Who's Afraid of Beowulf?
Amazon Canada (Kindle edition) Who's Afraid of Beowulf?
Amazon Deutschland (Kindle edition) Who's Afraid of Beowulf?
Category: humourous fantasy fiction
First published: 1988
Publisher: Macmillan Publishers, published
ISBN: 0-441-88591-8, Paperback, 210 pages
Publisher: Orbit, published 25 July 1991
ISBN: 1857231961, Paperback, 216 pages
Size: 17.4 x 10.8 x 1.6 cm
Publisher: Hachette Digital, published 5 Nov 2009
ISBN: B002TXZRY0, Kindle edition, 216 pages

This novel is included in the omnibus Tall Stories: Omnibus 5.

This book has also been published (February 2002) in the omnibus Expecting Beowulf. (Available in US only)

"Who's Afraid of Beowulf?"

Book synopsis (The back of the book says)

Well, not Hrolf Earthstar, for a start. The last Norse king of Caithness, Hrolf and his twelwe champions are woken from a centuries-long sleep when Hildy Fredriksenn, archaeologist of the fairer sex, finds their grave. Not only that, Hrolf decides to carry on his ancient war against the Sorcerer-King.

In a mixture of P.G. Wodehouse, Norse mythollogy and Laurel and Hardy, Hildy and her Viking companions face such perils as BBC film crews, second-rate fish and chips and the Bakerloo Line in their battle agaainst the powers of darkness.

This book has also been translated to French, German and Japanese.

Reviews of this book

After reading this book I scribbled down this on the January 1997
The first thing that strikes me is that I find the plot similar to "Flying Dutch", but while I continue to read this comic viking-tale, I change opinion. In Caithness, an old grave is uncovered, and the vikings are awaken. They main concern when first awaken, is who's responsible it was to pack the food, and who have had the nerve to move their ladder so they couldn't get out of the ship. After they sorted these important things out they start the plans for their quest; how to assassin the sorcerer-king. To their help they have the archeologist Hildy Fredriksen, who had the pleasure(?) to bump into them. The adventure starts and consists of several amusing incidents; Hildy's more or less fortunate attempts to keep the vikings from attacking the natives, Chthonic sprits getting drunk on high-voltage electricity, and more... I like this book a lot, the vikings fighting spirit never cease to exist, they are always happy when there is an opportunity to get involved in a battlement (beware SAS!). The book isn't that 'complciated' that I found 'Ye Gods!', can be the fact that I don't know to much about mythology (which is very much involved in 'Ye Gods!') that make me prefer 'Whos Afraid of Beowulf' If you found 'Flying Dutch' amusing, then I promise you that you will like this one as well, if you havn't read Flying Dutch, I would recommend that you read this one first, that way you'll have fun reading 'Whos afraid...' and even more fun reading 'Flying Dutch' (that one is still one of my favourites).
After reading this book wrote this
Hildy Frederiksen is an American archaeologist specialising in Scandinavian studies. So when she learns of a find in Caithness where an Eighth-Century Viking longship has been uncovered, intact, she realises that it is the find of the century, eclipsing even Sutton-Hoo!
What she hadn't realised was that its original occupants were still there, and what's more they hadn't been bothered to die, just succumbed to an enchantment that willed them to sleep until their breed of hero was needed in the world again. And guess what, now is the time!
What Tom Holt manages that Terry Pratchett and Robert Rankin doesn't is in the yarn. Holt can string together an unlikely series of events (a must in a fantasy!) and weave them into a damned good plot. Not that Pratchett and Rankin can't do this, just that Holt's plots are stronger.
This is no exception to that. In fact, you could say that it's reminiscent of the TV series 'Gripping Yarns', but don't hold that against it (lol)! The characters are all quirky and likable, including the baddies, especially the baddies. Hildy is obviously out of her depth's, and her personality lends itself to the novel well.
Hrolf Earthstar, last Norse King of Caithness, comes across as being eminently Kingly - oddly enough. And the Sourcerer-King is enough of a bundler to be dangerous...
When it comes down to it, Who's Afraid of Beowulf?, is Tom Holt at his finest - exciting, enchanting and above all else, hilarious!

Other people's reviews of this book

Val Mullers review from July 2012

Libwen review

If you have read this book and have written down your thoughts, please mail me the location of your review and I will link it from here.

What critics have said

`Cleverly executed and surprisingly moving'


`Hilarious...wonderful...well done Mr Holt'

`A book for the Monty Python and Douglas Adams Fans'

`A Good Deal of fun!'

Quotes from Who's Afraid of Beowulf?

`He has has been an evil man and ours and the world's enemy, but in
 Valhalla all earthly enmities are put aside, for all who go there, so
 it is said, are soon united in common hatred of the catering staff.'
  `Then, why did he break that glass case?' asked the chief guard.
  `You know what it says on the notices,' replied Hildy desperatly.
`In case of fire, break glass.'
`Are you hijacking my bus, then?' asked the driver.
`Yes,' said the unarmed man unhappily. The driver went white, and Danny felt panic coming on. What if the man tried to resist and defend his passengers? Bothvar Bjarki would like that.
`It's all right, really,' he said, as reassuringly as possible,
`I'm with the BBC.'
  `Are we being taken hostage?' asked an old man in the fourth row.
  `No,' said Danny. `You're free to go.'
  `Pity,' said the old man. `That would have been one eye for George Macleod and his pigeons.' He shrugged his shoulders wearily and picked up his shopping-bag.
 `Who are you?' Danny said.
 `Bothar Bjarki,' said the man with the axe. `Are you going to surrender, or shall we fight for a bit?'
 `I'd rather surrender, if it's all the same to you.'
 `Be like that,' said Bothvar Bjarki.
`Will they be all right?' Hildy asked doubtfully. `They don't seem very practical to me.'
 The King nodded. `I should think so,' he said. `Take Angantyr Asmundarson, for instance. To join the muster at Melvich, he marched all night from Brough Head to Burwick - that's right across two msin islands of Orkney - and since there was no boat available he swam over from Burwick to the mainland, in the middle of a storm. Then he ran all the way from Duncansby Head to Melvich, on the morning before the battle, and still fought in the front rank against the stone-rolls of Finnmark. Complaining bitterly about his wet clothes and how he was going to catch his death pneumonia, of course, but that's just his way.' He paused, and contemplated his fingernails for a moment.
 `Put like that, I suppose, it rather proves your point. Only a complete idiot would have gone to so much trouble to get involved in a battle.
 Come on,' he said briskly, `it's time we were going.'
`No, Starkad,' said the King kindly. `I know you're not afraid. But not this time. I'll explain later.'
 Starkad sat down, looking dejected, and Brynjolf patted him comfortingly on the shoulder. `It's because you're so stupid, Starkad,' he said gently.
 `You'd only be in the way.'
 `Oh,' said Starkad happily. `If that's the reason, I don't mind.'
  `I'm an archaeologist,' said Hildy. `I dig up the past.'
 The King raised an yeybrow. `You mean you refresh old quarrels and keep alive old grievances? Surely not.'
  `No, no,' said Hildy, `I dig up ancientthings buried in the earth. Things that belonged to people who lived hundreds of years ago.' As she said this, she began to feel uncomfortable.She had forgotton about the brooch.
  `Do you really?' said the King. 'We used to call that grave-robbing.'
 `Shall I bring the game, then?'
 Prexz scratched his head. On the one hand, the world was full of new, exciting things for a chtonic spirit to do: elemnts to explore, currents of power coursing through the magma layer to revel in, static to drink and ultrasound to eat. On the other hand, he was winning.
 `Go on then,' he said. `Might as well.'
The King rose slowly to his feet and beckoned to the wizard, who had been sitting outside the circle of the firelight, apparently, trying to find a spell that would make a beer-can magically refill itself.
...he had in his briefcase the synopsis of his life's work, a startling piece of investigation that would, if carried through with the proper resources, conclusively prove that the Milk Marketing Board had been somehow connected with the assassination of President Kennedy.
Hildy looked back at the Champions. They seemed to be discussing something of extreme importance, and from what she could make out it was mainly to do with whose job it should have been to pack the food.
`"Quiet as the grave," they say. Some hope.'

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Book Cover of Expecting Someone Taller

Quote from Expecting Someone Taller

'Get lost,' said Memory, and the bat did its best to obey.
 Being gifted with natural radar, however, it didn't find it easy.
(Tom Holt, "Expecting Someone Taller")
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