Being a blogger has its perks. It's not just the fame, the fortune, the prestige that naturally associates itself with the act of blogging. Sometimes, just sometimes, you get free stuff.
Along with Dr. Noakes and JJ Cohen, I was fortunate enough to be sent an advance copy of Ashley Crownover's Wealtheow: Her Telling of Beowulf. Overall, I have to say that I enjoyed the book. As you may guess, the novel (re-)tells the story of Beowulf from the point-of-view of Wealtheow, Queen of the Danes and Hrothgar's wife. In this telling, the plot revolves around her and the focus is on the role of the wife, as peace-weaver, as settler of feud, in this society.
Beowulf, as you might expect, shows up eventually and the familiar story takes over. But this is almost an epilogue to the main telling and Crownover spends the majority of her time on the shape of Danish society and the subtle interactions among all those with different roles to play.
Crownover certainly is a good storyteller. The narrative flows along at a quick pace and the characters are well-drawn. I have minor quibbles here and there but my only major concern was about the role magic seems to play in this society. It's not there, then it's sort of there, then it's REALLY there, then not so much again. When magic became important in the narrative -- and that comes suddenly -- it's quite jarring and, for me, was almost a "jump the shark" moment. Luckily, it wasn't.
Overall, I'd recommend the book. It might go well in a course on medievalism, especially if paired with Zemeckis' telling of Beowulf.