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Eaters of the Dead by Michael Crichton
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Eaters of the Dead (original 1976; edition 2009)

by Michael Crichton

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3,236None1,707 (3.5)69
Member:DidIReallyReadThat
Title:Eaters of the Dead
Authors:Michael Crichton
Info:Harper (2009), Edition: Reprint, Mass Market Paperback, 179 pages
Collections:Read in 2012
Rating:****
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Eaters of the Dead by Michael Crichton (1976)

action (12) adventure (44) Beowulf (89) Crichton (21) ebook (20) fantasy (124) fiction (435) historical (57) historical fiction (182) history (22) horror (39) Islam (16) made into movie (16) medieval (20) Michael Crichton (25) Middle Ages (20) monsters (19) mythology (16) Norse (18) novel (55) paperback (14) read (47) Scandinavia (21) science fiction (60) sff (18) suspense (17) thriller (75) to-read (25) unread (13) Vikings (125)
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Showing 1-5 of 42 (next | show all)
It only took me forever to finish this book but I finally did!
I was surprised I liked because I tried to read his "Congo" and hated it with a passion that curled my toes! I expected the same with this novel. As it was, I enjoyed it. I was explaining the premise of it to someone else and they actually yawned.

I enjoyed the middle chapters more than the last chapters. I had to drag myself through the ending chapters. It was fun for me, in the sense that it reminded me of Lord of the Rings -- adventure :-)

Adrianne ( )
  Adrianne_p | Jan 11, 2014 |
My reactions to reading this novel in1999. Spoilers follow.

This is a not at all disguised retelling of Beowulf with a science fiction rationalization for Grendel. The names are slightly altered, but the setting is still Scandinavia in the Viking age. Crichton’s conceit is that this account is the writing of Ibn Fadlan, an emissary from Bagdad. He has great fun with his introduction at footnotes on archaeological and mythological matters. Some of his quoted sources are real, some fictitious. To draw attention to this tongue-in-cheek mock academia style, the general reference books are not listed alphabetically by author and conclude with Abdul Azhared’s Necronomicon anachronistically listed as edited by H. P. Lovecraft in 1934. There really was an Ibn Fadlan and the first three chapters of the book – all before the narrator is accosted into accompanying Buliwyf’s band – are substantially drawn from it.

The fact that this is a mock travel report make the style of this book less like a modern suspense novel like Crichton usually writes (I presume – I’ve only read this and The Great Train Robbery by him) or the mournful story of Beowulf and more a story of character and social observation. Fadlan’s fight descriptions (he is no warrior and is afraid of heights) are brief and surpassed in length by his many observations on the manners, mores, and psychology of Viking life – including it’s many practical and fatalistic proverbs. Eventually, descending into the Thunder Caves to kill Wendol’s mother, he’s almost a Viking himself. He participates in a duel between feuding Viking factions and helps sacrifice the slave girl that accompanies Buliwyf on his pyre. He’s sorry to leave the Vikings. Crichton completely omits the original part of the Beowulf story where Beowulf fights a dragon in old age. Here he dies fighting the Wendol. Crichton here introduces the notion, further amplified by a mock appendix briefly summarizing questions of Neanderthal culture, appearance, and disappearance, that the Wendol (the Grendel of Beowulf) are a tribe of left over Neanderthal – cannibalistic ones at that. ( )
1 vote RandyStafford | Oct 30, 2013 |
An adequate Viking Costumer. I'm no great fan of Crichton but I am a fan of good stuff about the Northmen. Read "the Long Ships" by Bengtsson instead. Or the "Njal Saga", Beowulf in the Shamus Heany translation....all good books. And I think there was a time when Camryn Manheim should have been in a film as Grendel's Mother. It would have been a hoot! ( )
  DinadansFriend | Sep 19, 2013 |
This is probably the most fun I've ever had reading a Crichton book! The inspiration for the (similarly enjoyable) 1990s movie The Thirteenth Warrior, starring Tony Flags, this short, speedy novel purports to be a translation of a 10th Century Arabic text, and is full of "translator's notes" and "footnotes," in much the same way a real translated text is usually presented. It becomes obvious in the first half of the book that this is a gentle tweaking of the Beowulf story: similar in general structure, but different enough to keep you guessing.

The element that made the book most enjoyable was the narrative voice of Ibn Fadlan, the protagonist of the story and titular 13th of the film version. In a very un-Crichtony way, Ibn Fadlan is dry and restrained, and it makes for a lot of humor, as well as the added intrigue of trying to see past Ibn Fadlan's biases and occasionally unreliable narration to get at what was really happening. In that way, I was actually reminded of [b:The Remains of the Day|28921|The Remains of the Day|Kazuo Ishiguro|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1327128714s/28921.jpg|3333111], where the aged butler often YES I JUST COMPARED MICHAEL FREAKING CRICHTON TO KAZUO ISHIGURO. LEAVE ME ALONE. ( )
1 vote benjamin.duffy | Jul 28, 2013 |
I love re-writes of boring classics. This was well done and enjoyable. Left my copy on a bus in France. D'oh. ( )
  Snukes | Jun 14, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 42 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (26 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Michael Crichtonprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Miller, IanIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
"Praise not the day until evening has come; a woman until she is burnt; a sword until it is tried; a maiden until she is married; ice until it has been crossed; beer until it has been drunk."
- Viking Proverb

"Evil is of old date."
- Arab Proverb
Dedication
To William Howells
First words
The Ibn Fadlan manuscript represents the earliest known eyewitness account of Viking life and society.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Later reissued as The 13th Warrior
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0345354613, Mass Market Paperback)

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

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:35:47 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

Now a major motion picture from Touchstone Films, starring Antonio Banderas. In the year A.D. 922, a refined Arab courtier, representative of the powerful Caliph of Baghdad, encounters a party of Viking warriors on their journey to the barbaric North. He is appalled by Viking customs--the wanton sexuality of their pale, angular women, their disregard for cleanliness, their cold-blooded human sacrifices. But only in the depths of the Northland does he learn the horrifying truth: he has been enlisted to combat a terror that comes under cover of night to slaughter the Vikings and devour their flesh.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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