Former publisher offers retelling of Beowulf

Donald Mace Williams, former owner and publisher of The Miami Chief, announced the publication of his newest book, “The Sparrow and the Hall.”

Williams and his wife, Nell Osborne Williams, owned and published The Miami Chief in Roberts County during the early 1980s. After working on newspapers for 12 years, Williams returned to college to finish his bachelor’s degree and went on to get a Ph.D. from the University of Texas. He is the author of two nonfiction books, another novel, and a single-poem chapbook, “Wolfe,” which is a retelling of the Beowulf story.

In “The Sparrow and the Hall,” the central figure is a churl, working and raising his family on a small farm in extreme northeastern England during the seventh century. Though Edgar can barely afford even a metal tip for his wooden plowshare, he looks upon life much as a typical modern American farmer does: with determination, acceptance and good humor. He loves his slot site wife and children, helps his neighbors and, above all, is steadfastly loyal to Keelwolf, the heroic, elegant thane who virtually rules this part of Northumbria.

This loyalty persists, even though Edgar suspects for years that Keelwolf seduced his bride, Gwenda. Along the way, Edgar goes through battles, a plague, loss of loved ones, and an ordeal by boiling water. Like everyone around him, he also undergoes the confusion caused by the changes of official religion – from Christianity to paganism and back to Christianity – ordered by a succession of kings.

The publisher is Bagwyn Books, a fiction-only imprint of the Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies.