Paperback(First Edition)


Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780753461341
Publisher: Kingfisher
Publication date: 09/15/2007
Series: Kingfisher Epics Series
Edition description: First Edition
Pages: 176
Product dimensions: 5.14(w) x 10.00(h) x 0.54(d)
Age Range: 8 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One


In the wild lands beyond the homes of the Spear-Danes a grim and powerful

monster lived in the darkness. The creature's shape was not unlike a man's,

but his hideous head was sunk between his hunched shoulders and his eyes

were set deep into his skull. His lipless mouth was wide with sharp and

vicious teeth. His matted hair smelled foul, and his skin was blistered with

festering sores. His long arms hung loosely at his sides. On each hand and

foot were curved and terrible iron claws. During the day, when the sky was

filled with light, he would stay hidden away in the marshes. He hated the

brightness and preferred to stay hidden from the sight of humans. But when

night fell, he would creep out from his lair and sniff the air like an animal,

peering around to make sure that he wasn't seen. Then he would go hunting,

killing anything or anyone in his way. This evil creature lived a savage life. His

name was Grendel.

Hrothgar, the great-grandson of Shield Sheafing, was now the king of the

Spear-Danes. Like his ancestor, he was a wise and much- loved king. Under

his rule, the Spear-Danes had become happy and prosperous. King

Hrothgar's thanes had won several battles and gathered many treasures for

the Spear-Danes. To celebrate these victories and riches, the king decided to

build a great feast hall.

"Spear-Danes," he said, "look around you! On this fine piece of land I order

that a great hall be built. It shall be the greatest building ever seen! And when

it is finished there will be feasting, merry-making, and singing, and I will

reward everyone for their work."

Spurred on by their king's speech, the men started work at once. Slowly the

hall rose, high and lofty, built from the strongest trees in the forests.

"Men from other lands will marvel at our hall!" they proclaimed.

When the building was finished, the feast hall was decorated with spun-gold

banners lining the walls. Golden cups and bowls were brought to the hall and

placed on the long table that stood at the head of the hall. Attached to to the

roof gables was a pair of stag's antlers. The hall was named "Heorot," which

meant "stag."

King Hrothgar called everyone to Heorot for a great feast and an evening of

merry making. The hall smelled of roasting meats from the open spit and of

strong mead brewed from sweet honey and pure water. Hrothgar was

generous to his people. He gave them treasures—rings and collars, charms

and brooches made of the finest twisted gold—as a reward for their work and

for their bravery in battles.

But not everyone was happy. When King Hrothgar's brave warriors sang

about victory in the great feast hall, their voices and the music from the

minstrels' harps echoed over the lands until it reached the monster Grendel's

lair. Grendel hated hearing the laughter and singing. He hated the happiness

and friendship of the Spear-Dane warriors. His hatred grew so strong that he

could bear it no longer.

One night, under the cover of darkness, he silently stalked from his marshy

lair to Heorot. He crouched in the darkness, spying on the Spear-Danes and

loathing them for the happiness that they were enjoying. After this first secret

visit, he grew bolder, and on many nights he would creep up to Heorot's door.

Slowly his anger and hatred grew until he decided that he would destroy the

feast hall and all the people within it.

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