John Gardner's Grendel is a modern twist on Beowulf. Gardner portrays Beowulf’s monster as an intellectual frustrated by the limitations of life. His mother, with whom he lives, is unable to hold an intelligent conversation, and the same holds true for the animals of the forest. Grendel is victim and aggressor: he first meets men when he slips from his cave and is attacked by a band of warriors. Grendel recalls how a singer he calls "the Shaper" sang of life's beauty, but he follows the advice of the dragon - to do as he likes and feel no compunction about it. The dragon places a spell on Grendel to make him invulnerable, and the monster begins eating men without having to fight them first. He laughs off King Hrothgar's man Unferth, and decides to protect him to show his own power. He falls half-in-love with the queen, deciding to spare her, because to kill her would be pointless. When the Shaper dies, some dark fate appears to be approaching. At last Beowulf arrives, and lures Grendel to the mead hall where he fatally injures him. Young adults will appreciate Gardner’s ironic retelling of the epic, and enjoy hearing the first literary villain's side of the iconic tale.