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Eaters of the Dead [Mass Market Paperback]

Michael Crichton
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (245 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Sept. 12 1988
"Crichton excells at storytelling."
In A.D. 922 Ibn Fadlan, the representative of the ruler of Bagdad, City of Peace, crosses the Caspian sea and journeys up the valley of the Volga on a mission to the King of Saqaliba. Before he arrives, he meets with Buliwyf, a powerful Viking chieftain who is summoned by his besieged relatives to the North. Buliwyf must return to Scandanavia and save his countrymen and families from the monsters of the mist....

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From Amazon

Michael Crichton takes the listener on a one-thousand-year-old journey in his adventure novel Eaters Of The Dead. This remarkable true story originated from actual journal entries of an Arab man who traveled with a group of Vikings throughout northern Europe. In 922 A.D, Ibn Fadlan, a devout Muslim, left his home in Baghdad on a mission to the King of Saqaliba. During his journey, he meets various groups of "barbarians" who have poor hygiene and gorge themselves on food, alcohol and sex. For Fadlan, his new traveling companions are a far stretch from society in the sophisticated "City of Peace." The conservative and slightly critical man describes the Vikings as "tall as palm trees with florid and ruddy complexions." Fadlan is astonished by their lustful aggression and their apathy towards death. He witnesses everything from group orgies to violent funeral ceremonies. Despite the language and cultural barriers, Ibn Fadlan is welcomed into the clan. The leader of the group, Buliwyf (who can communicate in Latin) takes Fadlan under his wing.

Without warning, the chieftain is ordered to haul his warriors back to Scandinavia to save his people from the "monsters of the mist." Ibn Fadlan follows the clan and must rise to the occasion in the battle of his life.--Gina Kaysen

From Library Journal

This engaging audio adaptation presents Crichton's (The Lost World) variation on the Beowulf tale from the perspective of a contemporary reporter. The narrator, Ahmad Ibn Fadlan, courtier in the court of the Caliph of Bagdad, is detoured from his diplomatic mission and joins a group of Vikings on a heroic quest. Led by their chief, Buliwyf, the band attempts to rid the Kingdom of Rothgar of the dreaded "wendols," or mist monsters. Ibn Fadlan records not only the story of the quest but also his views on Viking life, society, sexual habits, and government. This medieval account is presented in the form of a modern scholarly translation, including an introduction, supporting materials, and footnotes. Crichton's excellent story is further enhanced by George Guidall's superb narration. A great performance and highly recommended for all audio collections.AStephen L. Hupp, Urbana Univ., OH
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Beowulf meets A Thousand And One Nights June 5 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Michael Crichton, never at a loss at putting a whole new slant on the tried and true, has given us a fascinating tale that combines some of the best elements of what might have happened if Sharazad had met up with Beowulf instead of the sultan Shahriyar. In "Eaters of the Dead" (an unfortunate title if there ever was one), Crichton introduces us to Ibn Fadlan, the story's narrator, a young Arabian who has had the misfortune to capture the heart of the young and beautiful wife of a rich old merchant. Ibn Fadlan is unwillingly sent out of harm's way on a mission to the faraway kingdom of Saqaliba. En route to his destination, he meets a group of Scandinavians, led by a brawny warrior called Buliwyf (the ancient spelling of Beowulf?). Ibn Fadlan thinks the Scandinavians are beyond gross; their habits are disgusting, they're little more civilized than animals -- but he finds an affinity with Buliwyf who can communicate in the common currency of the Latin language, still alive in the 10th century when this story takes place. Buliwyf convinces Ibn Fadlan to come with him and his men to Scandinavia, where they are being terrorized by a mysterious and monstrous entity that emerges from the mists and leave carnage and bloodshed in their wake.
In "Beowulf" this entity was, of course, Grendel, but in "Eaters of the Dead" the monster turns out to be a group of cannibalistic Neanderthals who sow terror everywhere they appear, and with good reason. As in "Beowulf", there is a battle to the finish in which only one side can survive.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fruits of a Dare July 11 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
In the afterword, Michael Crichton writes that this novel arose out of a dare - that anyone could, and would willingly immerse themselves in the world of Beowulf. The novel wrestles with two very intriguing ideas. First that Beowulf was based on actual events (and he actually mentions Heinrich Schliemann, who believed the Iliad was true, and thus helped prove Troy's existence). The second, that the battles described in Beowulf were actually battles between the Cro-Magnon Vikings and a tribe of Neanderthals. To tell his story, he has as his narrator and hero Ibn Fadlan, an Arab traveller who had journeyed among the Vikings in Russia in 921 A.D. He uses the extant writings of Ibn Fadlan to begin the story and describe Viking life, even though he lived at a later time then when Beowulf originated. And all of this would make for some interesting, if rather dry, reading but for one thing: Crichton can write. He lays out a story-line that is both economical and compelling. He says that the first three chapters are rewritten from Ibn Fadlan's manuscript, but for this clue, one could not easily discern where Ibn Fadlan ends and where Crichton begins.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Exciting read Feb. 8 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This book is presented as an account of an Arab traveler taken along a quest with Vikings around a thousand years ago. Crichton does a good job of presenting the text as an historical account and in many ways this reads as an interesting historical narrative of true events. The story is a fairly quick read and I think any that enjoy action/adventure stories set in the distant past would like it.
Because of the footnotes and eyewitness type narrative done in a fictional novel, it's hard to know what customs and beliefs presented are actual and what are totally made up. It all reads as true to life, and I suppose that is what makes it so interesting. I'm going to guess that Crichtons presentation of customs and rituals such as the one in which the Viking men can and do take any of the slave woman at will, often several times a day, is completely made up, a males fantasy indeed, however it makes for interesting reading and I'm sure it's intertwined with some customs that are actually factual.
I saw the movie when it first came out, and that fact didn't diminish the reading of the novel. I'd also like to point out that, unlike Timeline, in which Crichton takes characters back in time in a time traveling machine, this book supposes an eyewitness account of a foreigner traveling to distant lands back at the time the adventure happened and that Crichton merely translated the story for us from several scholarly texts. I liked this approach better as it wasn't as fantastic or as hard to shallow.
In any case, while this book is hardly classical literature, it's a fun read and I give it a good recommendation.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Allah and Odin Jan. 23 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I admit that I struggled with whether or not I was reading fiction or nonfiction when I first encountered this novel. Actually, I thought that I was reading fiction based on actual research. Considering the scholarly listing of sources in the back of the book I do not think that I was being too gullible. After all, there actually was a 10th century Arab traveler by the name of Ibn Fadlan.
Then I noticed that the story was sounding more and more like Beowulf. In fact, it was like a cross between _Lord of the Rings_ and Beowulf- complete with weapon-forging dwarves in caves. I finally realized that this was what Crichton was trying to do. He was creating a plausible historical verification for the events that occur in Beowulf seen through the eyes of an outside observer. And he did it very well.
At first I found the picture presented of the Vikings to be disgusting. They are presented with no redeeming features at all i.e. dirty, uncouth, treacherous, drunken, lascivious pigs. But then slowly, as they travel on their heros' journey to the far north the characters slowly seem to be transformed. Traits such as humor, honor, and courage begin to show through. This continues until the leader of the party (Buliwyn) appears finally not only as the most classical of questing heroes, but also as the resurrected image of Odin himself.
One other thing little thing, the monsters of the mist being portrayed as cannibalistic, warlike Neanderthals seems a bit far fetched. After all, it seems that the Neanderthalers were a gentle folk who were probably exterminated by Homo sapiens that were not all that dissimilar from the Vikings....
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Crichton at his best
An amazing read, fact and fiction blended in a way only the master, Crichton, could do. I have read it several times and get something new from it each time. Read more
Published 9 days ago by Dave Pearson
5.0 out of 5 stars Eaters of the Dead
A person either enjoys books like this or not. Myself I enjoyed this book. the book tells a story based on some of the manuscripts of an Isalmic man who encourters Norsemen. Read more
Published on March 4 2011 by Carol
1.0 out of 5 stars Madness
What a sleeper "What is this madness?" I must say I was stunned when I picked this book up. Read more
Published on July 1 2004 by nesia
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, but misunderstood...
Let me begin by saying this is not a true story. While the name of the Arab may appear in history, nothing else follows suit. Read more
Published on June 3 2004 by Benjamin Reeves
5.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining viking adventure story
Loosely based on writings found that were by an Arab scholar about his interactions with a band of Viking warriors during the time period when the Norsemen were at their raping and... Read more
Published on Feb. 15 2004 by Cwn_Annwn
1.0 out of 5 stars I am now morally opposed to reading anything by Crichton
I did enjoy reading this book but I am very angered by the way the author lied. In the introduction, he claims that this book pretty much was an accurate translation of the... Read more
Published on Nov. 23 2003
4.0 out of 5 stars Eaters makes you full
The Eaters of the Dead is based partly on fact and largely on imagination. Michael Crichton wrote this story on a dare. Read more
Published on Nov. 7 2003 by "rosenjy"
4.0 out of 5 stars A good but badly titled novel
As I understand it, Crichton essentially wrote this on something of a dare: Could he re-write the Beowulf saga and make it work for modern readers? Read more
Published on Sept. 16 2003 by James Sadler
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent,feels like you are reading a modern thriller!
You all recognize Michael Crichton as the author of books such as Jurassic Park, Disclosure, and Congo. Read more
Published on July 13 2003 by Nayeem Arefin
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