Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Eaters of the Dead” as Want to Read:
Eaters of the Dead
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Eaters of the Dead

3.67  ·  Rating details ·  34,503 ratings  ·  1,614 reviews
It is 922 A.D. The refined Arab courtier Ibn Fadlan is accompanying a party of Viking warriors back to their home. He is appalled by their customs—the gratuitous sexuality of their women, their disregard for cleanliness, and their cold-blooded sacrifices. As they enter the frozen, forbidden landscape of the North—where the day’s length does not equal the night’s, where aft ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published August 29th 2006 by Avon (first published March 12th 1976)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Eaters of the Dead, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Adrian Johnson This was a brilliantly conceived and intelligent well-written book about what historical basis may have become the myth-saga of "Beowulf". An adventur…moreThis was a brilliantly conceived and intelligent well-written book about what historical basis may have become the myth-saga of "Beowulf". An adventure quest, the book had serious themes: about cultural clashes, attitudes towards religion, and cross-cultural friendships; the nature of loyalty and courage.

Then it was turned into a simple-minded gore-fest B-film appealing to 16-25 year old males. (less)
Adrian Johnson I think young people would find this book tedious. It is for adults who like history, and intelligent mythology.

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.67  · 
Rating details
 ·  34,503 ratings  ·  1,614 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Eaters of the Dead
Sep 16, 2007 rated it it was amazing
I have to confess, the first time I read this book I thought it was a real manuscript, and that Crichton was just putting it for us in book form...until I got to the epilogue. That was when I understand that Crichton is an amazing story teller.

Digging around, I found out that Crichton did the book out of a bet that he could not make Beowulf interesting. And what a book he came out with!

The book tells the story of an Arab ambassador Ibn Fadlan, as he traveled from Baghdad and hooked up with a bun
Jul 02, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Oi, Are you ready to ride towards Valhalla with mighty Viking warriors? Step right into this ship, dear fellow.

“Animals die, friends die, and I shall die, but one thing never dies, and that is the reputation we leave behind at our death.”

In Eaters of the Dead, Crichton forms a holy matrimony between facts and legends, as he seamlessly combines the accounts of Ahmad ibn Fadlan, a famous 10th-century Arab traveler, with the legend of Beowulf, the Viking warrior who fought against t
Feb 05, 2013 rated it did not like it
Awful. Don’t waste your time. Much despised gory violence. 0 of 10 stars!
Arabian Nights meets « Vikings » : how did I put off reading this book for so long when I loved “The 13th Warrior” and when I have a huge weakness for Vikings? I don’t know. Maybe I have way too many unread books piling up everywhere in my apartment, so some titles slip through the cracks. But my husband had not seen “The 13th Warrior”, so we sat down to watch it the other day and I realized I had a copy of “Eaters of the Dead” somewhere, that was patiently waiting for me to get around to it… No ...more
Let me preface this review by saying Eaters of the Dead is not fantasy. It seems often shelved by people as fantasy, but it is not. There are some fantasy 'themes' eg the story is based on Beowulf, and that is all. A whiff of potential fantasy that is no more than a whiff.
I thoroughly enjoyed the book, although I think it should nearly be classed as a novella. That is what I regard it as.
The movie The Thirteenth Warrior is a favourite of mine and I was pleased to see it did not drift too far fr
Feb 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dead-tree
This was a book that I had on my shelves for a long time and ditched it unread long ago during a spastic weeding-out. It was a stupid decision, but was no doubt prompted by a quick glance-through that revealed it was written like a manuscript and my mood wasn't simpatico with that at the time. But when I rewatched The 13th Warrior recently, I was reminded yet again that it was a book first, and that I should really really read it. Luckily my liberry had it and I could finally finally read it. Wh ...more
Rabbit {Paint me like one of your 19th century gothic heroines!}
This book was everything I have been looking for lately.

Violence? Check.

Great story but not overly done background stories nor weighed down by unnecessary details? Check (while I love these things usually, sometimes you gotta take a break).

Motherfucking Vikings? Check

(I really want to watch this show!!)

This book was a lot different than his usual stuff that I have read, but still really enjoyable.

Thanks Sarah! :D

Jul 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
Very well done if you understand Crichton's purpose...,

I think that the confusion with this book arises from the fact that people don't understand what Crichton accomplished. This is a retelling of Beowulf, in a first person, narrative, entertaining form.
The narrator, Ibn Fadlan, is an actual Muslim writer from the 10th century. The first 3 chapters of this book are actually from his original narrative. Crichton then moves from there in to the fictional portion, using Fadlan as a first hand obse
I'd been wanting to read this book ever since I found out the movie The 13th Warrior was based on it. I'm a fan of historical fiction and thought this would be right up my alley. It was a decent read, shorter than I expected and better than the movie. I love the blending at the start of real excerpts from an historical document with the fiction of Beowulf.

It was short though and could have used a bit more depth to the characters and the various cultures. You didn't really care about any of the
Nov 24, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition

We come from the land of the ice and snow,
From the midnight sun where the hot springs blow.
The hammer of the gods will drive our ships to new lands,
To fight the horde, singing and crying: Valhalla, I am coming!

Page/Plant, Immigrant Song, 1970.

The idea for the book came after Crichton heard his pal giving a lecture including Beowulf as among the Bores of Literature. Crichton notes in an appendix that the book is based partly on the Beowulf myth).

The full name of this 1976 nove
Dec 04, 2008 rated it it was amazing
So I was watching E.R. on NBC, when in the begining a former original cast member came on (Dr. Benton) and expressed condolences for the late Michael Chriton. What? He's dead? I just sat there and cried. This man takes science and makes it accessible and plausable. If you were to take any of his plots, lets say Jurasic Park, and just look at it; you would at first think "Dino's coming back to earth. Yes, it is absurd in a science fiction kind of way." But as you read on you think, "Holy crap! Ca ...more
Nov 14, 2017 rated it liked it
From a kind of historical perspective this is pretty interesting. From a reading standpoint, it was a bit boring. Maybe it is the writing style. I am not sure. But I can say, the movie adaptation is fun. I just don't really have a lot to offer here. It is not a terrible book, but it is not the most awesome read of the year. I am glad to have read it. Just meh.
Arun Divakar
Jan 18, 2013 rated it liked it
In a time when history was an infant, any traveller from a far off land would have been treated a curiosity. To imagine Marco Polo or Ibn Battuta at a place I know of in a time far ago would have been a most amusing thing. This story speaks of one such seemingly unnatural pairing : an Arab in the land of the Vikings. In a time when Baghdad was a shining gem, the Arabs were sophisticated and erudite. They were travellers, warriors, traders and poets and this was built on the intensely fertile int ...more
Aug 06, 2017 rated it it was ok
I'm currently reading "Dragon Teeth" which is written by "CrichtonSunLLC." (I don't know what that means). Anyway, had a flashback to "Eaters of the Dead" which at the time I thought was Crichton's weakest work. However, I just read a number of reviews, and I recently read the latest translation of "Beowulf": when I first read this, I didn't relate it at all to "Beowulf", but since Crichton is one of my favorite authors, it's time for a re-read of this one!
Asghar Abbas
Dec 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
Adventurous, very Arabian Nights vibe. A normal protagonist, without any gimmicks and an Arab/Muslim hero, a rarity in Western mainstream culture. A Middle Eastern met the Northmen and everyone got along just fine and fought a COMMON enemy. No taunting and no one called anyone an apostate or an extremist. Haha. Take heed.
Love of Hopeless Causes
Jan 27, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: fantasy
I liked the movie, and I like Crichton, but this structure isn't for me. Seems a bit self-indulgent. Shouldn't the story be the focus? Twenty pages of fake-real historical placement? Then just massive fast forwards? DNF.
Sep 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: vikings
The film The 13th Warrior was, as I'm sure you are aware, absolutely superb. A classic Viking film and one of those to take on a desert island. As long as the desert island had electricity, plugs, and you had a BluRay player and a tv...anyway, it is absolutely essential viewing for anyone considering themselves anything of a Viking aficionado. I knew it was based on a book by Michael Crichton called Eaters of the Dead, and thought nothing much more, other than I had to read that book one day. Wh ...more
Jammin Jenny
This was a really interesting story by Michael Crichton focusing on the history of Vikings and their Gods. Odin made an appearance with his ravens on each shoulder. He did a really good job of making the Vikings come to life.
Lee  (the Book Butcher)
Jan 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I love the backstory of this book, and liked the execution. for those who do not know Crichton says the inspiration for this book came from a teacher friend calling Beowulf a boring classic. The ever studious Crichton took this as a challenge to make a more intriguing version. the result is a thrilling manuscript style narrative involving a real historical figure Ibn Fadlan a 10th century Muslim ambassador who did have contact with the Norseman. bringing together two culture often ignored by wes ...more
Vasil Meg
Mar 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
To be honest, if it wasn't for the factual note in the end, I would have rated it with 4 instead of 5. The storyline was great, the characters vivid and the vibe dark as it should have been. The ending was more abrupt than I should have wanted it to be.
Mar 29, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: folks who like their historical fiction
Recommended to Mark by: my interest in History
In the opening of this book written in 1976 Michael Crichton rightly critises the historians who discarded the role of the Vikings in Europe during their period of reign. And as such I was quite interested in this novel. I had seen the movie based on this novel and was treated by some other viewers afterwards to the pub and half of them turned out to be historians and they were rather more positive on the subject of the role of the Vikings in Europe and Russia. And recently there was this brilla ...more
Matt Tomerlin
Sep 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What begins as a cold firsthand account of Viking culture becomes a terrifying experimental novel, as the prose gradually becomes less analytical and more eloquent. Crichton was an expert at blurring the lines between fact and fiction.
Mar 06, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Genre: Mythology

A very unique way to write a story, Crichton uses a mix of actual historical documentation and personalised fiction to blend two classic stories together into his own work of hitorical fantasy.

This book overlaps the stories of Beowulf and the documented adventures of historical writer Ahmed ibn Fadlan and merges them into an original story written in the style of Ibn Fadlan's travelogue. What I think is great about this book is that Crichton ties the history so well together wit
Benjamin Duffy
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 str ...more
Dec 04, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Michael Crichton fans
Eaters of the Dead: 2.5 stars

I've only ever actually seen Crichton's work - The Andromeda Strain (the original, not the remake), Jurassic Park, The Great Train Robbery and The 13th Warrior (based on Eaters) - and, technically, I still haven't read him. Based on this novel, I'll still not be reading him any time soon.

Don't get me wrong: It's by no means a bad book. The medievalist in me thinks the conceit of reading an actual, scholarly translation of the travels of Ibn Fadlan, a 10th century Ara
Oct 18, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
Not always historically accurate, but definitely a quick and entertaining read. The concept of the book is interesting but I think I would have liked more detail, especially since the book echoes a lot of classical hero's journeys (especially Beowulf). I think perhaps I am not a fan of Crichton's writing, but I would definitely be interested in re-reading a re-vamped version by another author who really could've added a lot more historical and cultural details.
Karl Marberger
A quick, fun and informative read.
Reggie Kray
Jun 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
Love it when a book exceeds my expectations. The veracity of this work? Dubious at best. Still, a good yarn.
A fun riff on Beowulf, academic writing, archaeology, anthropology, paleontology, and textual criticism that also happens to be a rip-snorting adventure novel.
Buliwyf said: "You have seen much of our ways. Tell me what is true. Do you draw sounds?" I answered that I did. "Then look to your safety, and do not be overbrave. You dress and now you speak as a Northman, and not a foreign man. See that you live."

And thus we have Crichton's wonderful amalgamation of an actual 10th century manuscript, and the legend of Beowulf. Eaters of the Dead is the story of Ahmad Ibn Fadlan, an Arab emissary who, through an encounter with a group of Northmen, is appropria
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Binary
  • The Venom Business
  • Scratch One
  • Masters of War: History's Greatest Strategic Thinkers
  • The Andromeda Evolution (Andromeda #2)
  • Zero Cool: A Novel
  • Brunner the Bounty Hunter (Warhammer Chronicles)
  • Easy Go
  • How to Defeat a Demon King in Ten Easy Steps
  • Relatos de horror
  • La zona muerta
  • More of Poirot's Finest Cases: Seven full-cast BBC radio dramatisations
  • Odds On
  • First to Fight: The Polish War 1939
  • Toxin: The Devil You Know
  • History of Bourbon
  • America in the Gilded Age and Progressive Era
  • The Real Sherlock
See similar books…
Michael Crichton (1942-2008) was one of the most successful novelists of his generation, admired for his meticulous scientific research and fast-paced narrative. He graduated summa cum laude and earned his MD from Harvard Medical School in 1969. His first novel, Odds On (1966), was written under the pseudonym John Lange and was followed by seven more Lange novels. He also wrote as Michael Doug ...more

Related Articles

You might know comedian Colin Jost from his work as the co-anchor of Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update, or perhaps you know him as Scarlett Joha...
112 likes · 42 comments
“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.” 83 likes
“Each person bears a fear which is special to him. One man fears a close space and another man fears drowning; each laughs at the other and calls him stupid. Thus fear is only a preference, to be counted the same as the preference for one woman or another, or mutton for pig, or cabbage for onion.” 13 likes
More quotes…