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Eaters of the Dead Mass Market Paperback – Sep 12 1988

4.0 out of 5 stars 246 customer reviews

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Mass Market Paperback, Sep 12 1988
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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; Reissue edition (Sept. 12 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345354613
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345354617
  • Product Dimensions: 10.7 x 1.9 x 17.5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 91 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars 246 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,654,513 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

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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Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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Format: Mass Market Paperback
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. Just think about it; neadrathal men at war with Vikings?! This is, in fact, a genuis retelling of Beowulf using a trick invented by HP Lovecraft.
A ways back Lovecraft wrote the "Necronomicon." It is his version of the Simarillion or Elder God's Bible, a book dealing with the Ancient Ones from his Cthulu short-stories. If you've read those stories you immediately recognize it as such. But Lovecraft, rather than name himself the author, made up a "Mad Arab" and said that this Mad Arab was the true author, and Lovecraft was just translating it. Clever, funny, but a problem because there are a lot of teenagers out there picking up the Necronomicon and believing it's real cause they have never picked up a Lovecraft Cthulu book.
Showing his wit, Michael Crichton actually lists the Necronomicon as "Recommended Reading" in the appendix next to several books on Viking culture.
What Michael Crichton was doing, as another pointed out, was to present the events of Beowulf in a faux-factual form. He presents what happens as real things, from the viewpoint of an Arab who saw Bulwyf (Beowulf) battle the Wendol (Grendel). From the sleeping-trap to the recovered arm to the wurm to the mother wendol, everything that happens in this book mirrors events in Beowulf. Don't view this as stealing, however. This isn't Robert Jordan stealing from Frank Herbert (shudder). This is the most clever remake of the famous epic poem since "Grendel," a story told from the viewpoint of the famous monster.
It's a good read all on it's own, with enough facts to make it seem real. It's even more enjoyable to fans of Beowulf, who can admire how well Crichton changed the poem and made a lone Grendel and his mother into an army of primitave, unevolved men.
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