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
"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....
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful: A good but badly titled novel, September 16, 2003 Reviewer: james sadler from Garland, TX United States 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? To do so, he inserts an unusal element: Ibn Fadlan. Faslan is a Muslim, who is sent on a mission to the King of Saqaliba (and not by choice, he has essentially been forced on the journey). He eventually meets a group of Scandanavians who he considers to be truuly barbaric (guess that's why they call them "barbarians). For Fadlan, his new traveling companions are disgusting and horrific, but the leader of the group, Buliwyf ("Beowulf"), who can communicate in Latin, likes Fadlan and Buliwyf sort of adopts Fadlan, sort of like a puppy dog (probably much to Fadlan's chagrin). Fadlan then finds himself enmeshed in a journey to Scandinavia to save Buliwyf's people from the "monsters of the mist." Ibn Fadlan travels north with Buliwyf and soon finds himself facing seemingly near invincible enemies who curiously always gather their dead and take them with them after a battle. This was an extremely clever take on the Beowulf legend, subtlely telling a tale that could literally have been the basis for the Beowulf saga had it actually occurred. As with many of Crichton's best works, its engrossing reading, though not necessarily great literature. As the story progresses, the Scandavians characters prove to be far less one-dimensional then they originally appeared and Fadlan gets a lesson in understanding other cultures. The explanation for what the "monsters of the mist" are is also a clever twist and, oddly, a believeable one. Unfortunately, the title of the book (it describes one of the more problematic habits of the monsters of the mist) probably kept more than a few readers away when this was first published, and I'm not even sure it was ever published in hardback as I've searched and never been able to find it in hardback format. The film version actually had a more enticing title: "The Thirteenth Warrior." Despite the title, this is Crichton in top form and a very engrossing read.