Sarai's Reviews > Eaters of the Dead

Eaters of the Dead by Michael Crichton
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Jul 09, 09

bookshelves: general-fiction
Read in January, 1988

from Amazon: By Stuart W. Mirsky "swm"
...this book is in fact based on a real manuscript by the Arab traveller ibn Fadlan in the tenth century who made his way from the Caliphate to the shores of the Volga to treat with the Bulgar kingdom which was then ensconced there (apparently to entice the Bulgars away from their Khazar overlords who were then enemies of the Arab empire). This ambassador of the Caliph faithfully recorded much of what he saw among the barbarians, including encounters with the Oghuz Turks and the Norsemen who were then frequent travellers along the rivers of what would one day become Russia. ...But Crichton's book is not just a reprint of ibn Fadlan's manuscript (which is available, in English, in various scholarly tomes). Crichton enlarged upon the tale he found and appended an apparently fictional second half which takes ibn Fadlan north, in the company of his new-found Norse comrades, to the viking lands, there to face a shadowy menace of unknown origins. In this second half, Crichton blended historical speculation with the Beowulf tale in Old English (the chief of the viking crew which inducts ibn Fadlan is called "Buliwyf") to suggest an ending to ibn Fadlan's adventures which surely never happened. But it's done quite nicely, hard to tell where the real tale ends and the author's fictional enterprise begins, and it keeps you reading right to the final moments. It's not a particularly stirring tale, rather dry in fact, but it's thought provoking and well-paced and a wonderfully interesting way to do an historical novel. The movie (THE THIRTEENTH WARRIOR) unfortunately struck me as a might simplistic but it did a very nice job of putting viking flesh on the narrative's bones so I wasn't sorry I went to see it.

I agree with the opinion above. :) Except I enjoyed the movie as an action flick on its own merit.
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