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Eaters of the Dead

Eaters of the Dead

4.2 106
by Michael Crichton

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It is 922 A.D. The refined Arab courtier Ibn Fadlan is accompanying a party of Viking warriors back to the north. Fadlan belatedly discovers that his job is to combat the terrors in the night that come to slaughter the Vikings—but just how he will do it, Fadlan has no idea....


It is 922 A.D. The refined Arab courtier Ibn Fadlan is accompanying a party of Viking warriors back to the north. Fadlan belatedly discovers that his job is to combat the terrors in the night that come to slaughter the Vikings—but just how he will do it, Fadlan has no idea....

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal

Set in the year 922 C.E., Crichton's 1976 novel finds Ahmad ibn-Fadlan, Arab ambassador representing the Caliph of Bagdad, thrust among a band of Vikings heading north. Initially, he is disgusted by the barbaric behavior of both the men and the women but soon learns that the warriors seek a group of men or beasts—they know not which—that come in the night to kill and devour them (think Grendel). This was morphed by Hollywood into the 1999 Antonio Banderas vehicle The 13th Warrior. Crichton is always a crowd pleaser, so buy this one.

—Michael Rogers Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Detroit News
Praise for PREY: “Crichton is a master storyteller.”
Chicago Tribune
“Crichton writes superbly…the excitement rises with each page.”
New York Newsday
“One of the great storytellers of our age…What an amazing imagination.”
San Antonio Express-News
“Readers turn to Michael Crichton’s novels for entertainment with relentless drive.”
New York Times Book Review
“Crichton’s books [are]…hugely entertaining.”
Chicago Sun-Times
“Like Stephen King, like Robert Ludlum, Crichton knows how to keep a story moving. He writes with an undeniable narrative energy.”
Houston Chronicle
“Crichton knows how to craft a tale, one that keeps the reader turning the pages.”
Los Angeles Times
“Michael Crichton is one of our most gifted popular novelists. A true son of Jules Verne and H.G. Wells…. A master of plausible and frightening scenarios…. He is a connoisseur of catastrophe.”

Product Details

Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.16(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.53(d)

Read an Excerpt

Eaters of the Dead

By Michael Crichton

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2006 Michael Crichton
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0060891564

Chapter One

Praise be to God, the Merciful, the Compassionate, the Lord of the Two Worlds, and blessing and peace upon the Prince of Prophets, our Lord and Master Muhammad, whom God bless and preserve with abiding and continuing peace and blessings until the Day of the Faith!

This is the book of Ahmad ibn-Fadlan, ibn-al-Abbas, ibn-Rasid, ibn-Hammad, a client of Muhammad ibn-Sulayman, the ambassador from al-Muqtadir to the King of the Saqaliba, in which he recounts what he saw in the land of the Turks, the Hazars, the Saqaliba, the Baskirs, the Rus, and the Northmen, of the histories of their kings and the way they act in many affairs of their life.

The letter of the Yiltawar, King of the Saqaliba, reached the Commander of the Faithful, al-Muqtadir. He asked him therein to send someone who would instruct him in religion and make him acquainted with the laws of Islam; who would build for him a mosque and erect for him a pulpit from which might be carried out the mission of converting his people in all the districts of his kingdom; and also for advice in the construction of fortifications and defense works. And he prayed the Caliph to do these things. The intermediary in this matter was Dadir al-Hurami.

The Commander of the Faithful, al-Muqtadir, as many know, was not astrong and just caliph, but drawn to pleasures and the flattering speeches of his officers, who played him the fool and jested mightily behind his back. I was not of this company, or especially beloved of the Caliph, for the reason that follows.

In the City of Peace lived an elderly merchant of the name ibn-Qarin, rich in all things but lacking a generous heart and a love of man. He hoarded his gold and likewise his young wife, whom none had ever seen but all bespoke as beautiful beyond imagining. On a certain day, the Caliph sent me to deliver to ibn-Qarin a message, and I presented myself to the house of the merchant and sought entrance therein with my letter and seal. Until today, I do not know the import of the letter, but it does not matter.

The merchant was not at home, being abroad on some business; I explained to the door servant that I must await his return, since the Caliph had instructed I must deliver the message into his hands from mine only. Thus the door servant admitted me into the house, which procedure took some passing of time, for the door to the house had many bolts, locks, bars, and fasteners, as is common in the dwellings of misers. At length I was admitted and I waited all day, growing hungry and thirsty, but was offered no refreshments by the servants of the niggardly merchant.

In the heat of the afternoon, when all about me the house was still and the servants slept, I, too, felt drowsy. Then before me I saw an apparition in white, a woman young and beautiful, whom I took to be the very wife no man had ever seen. She did not speak, but with gestures led me to another room, and there locked the door. I enjoyed her upon the spot, in which matter she required no encouragement, for her husband was old and no doubt neglectful. Thus did the afternoon pass quickly, until we heard the master of the house making his return. Immediately the wife arose and departed, having never uttered a word in my presence, and I was left to arrange my garments in some haste.

Now I should have been apprehended for certain were it not for these same many locks and bolts which impeded the miser's entry into his own home. Even so, the merchant ibn-Qarin found me in the adjoining room, and he viewed me with suspicion, asking why I should be there and not in the courtyard, where it was proper for a messenger to wait. I replied that I was famished and faint, and had searched for food and shade. This was a poor lie and he did not believe it; he complained to the Caliph, who I know was amused in private and yet compelled to adopt a stern face to the public. Thus when the ruler of the Saqaliba asked for a mission from the Caliph, this same spiteful ibn-Qarin urged I be sent, and so I was.

In our company there was the ambassador of the King of Saqaliba who was called Abdallah ibn-Bastu al-Hazari, a tedious and windy man who talked overmuch. There was also Takin al-Turki, Bars al-Saqlabi, both guides on the journey, and I, too. We bore gifts for the ruler, for his wife, his children, and his generals. Also we brought certain drugs, which were given over to the care of Sausan al-Rasi. This was our party.

So we started on Thursday, the 11th of Safar of the year 309 [June 21, 921], from the City of Peace [Bagdad]. We stopped a day in Nahrawan, and from there went swiftly until we reached al-Daskara, where we stopped for three days. Then we traveled straight onward without any detours until we reached Hulwan. There we stayed two days. From there we went to Qirmisin, where we remained two days. Then we started and traveled until we reached Ramadan, where we remained three days. Then we went farther to Sawa, where we remained two days. From there we came to Ray, where we remained eleven days waiting for Ahmad ibn-Ali, the brother of al-Rasi, because he was in Huwar al-Ray. Then we went to Huwar al-Ray and remained there three days.

This passage gives the flavor of Ibn Fadlan's descriptions of travel. Perhaps a quarter of the entire manuscript is written in this fashion, simply listing the names of settlements and the number of days spent at each. Most of this material has been deleted.

Apparently, Ibn Fadlan's party is traveling northward, and eventually they are required to halt for winter.


Excerpted from Eaters of the Dead by Michael Crichton Copyright © 2006 by Michael Crichton. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Michael Crichton (1942—2008) was the author of the groundbreaking novels The Andromeda Strain,  The Great Train Robbery, Jurassic Park, Disclosure, Prey, State of Fear, and Next, among many others. His books have sold more than 200 million copies worldwide, have been translated into thirty-eight languages, and have provided the basis for fifteen feature films. He was the director of Westworld, Coma, The Great Train Robbery and Looker, as well as the creator of ER. Crichton remains the only writer to have a number one book, movie, and TV show in the same year.

Brief Biography

Los Angeles, California
Date of Birth:
October 23, 1942
Date of Death:
November 4, 2008
Place of Birth:
Chicago, Illinois
Place of Death:
Los Angeles, California
B.A.. in Anthropology, Harvard University, 1964; M.D., Harvard Medical School, 1969

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Eaters of the Dead 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 106 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It would seem the other reviewers failed to read the author's notes. Ibn Fadlan did write an account of his trip to Russia to see Vikings in A.D. 921 but Michael Crichton (on a dare!) fused that into a fictional retelling of Beowulf to make it exciting and accessible for modern readers. The fictional, pedantic manuscript we read is his artistic device. The majority of the book is not an ancient manuscript but a clever novel masquerading as an ancient manuscript. But all in all, I loved the book and the movie!
Thorne2112 More than 1 year ago
This book is written with unerring historical accuracy. A *fine* remake of Beowulf.
MsSea More than 1 year ago
I was looking forward to reading a history, made into a story, that would cast a new perspective on an ancient race. Instead I was stuck reading a rehashed version of Beowulf. Very disappointed
Tommax More than 1 year ago
I recently read the book "Eaters of the Dead". The book is the predecessor to the movie The 13th Warrior, and after the movie was released the book was actually renamed "The 13th Warrior." This book is an interesting view of the life and journeys of a man who was born and raised in the Arab culture and then was thrown into the culture of the Northmen. The turning point of the book comes when the main character, Ibn Fadlan, is called to go to battle with these Northmen who he barely knows and hardly understands. He is constantly amazed by the lack of fear and love for battle of these men, especially one who stands out as the groups leader known as Buliwyf. Buliwyf leads their group of men by example and even at one time says, "I have no fear of anything, even the callow fiend that creeps at night to murder men in their sleep." This fearlessness helps the group of men as they fight an unknown enemy that attacks at knight and in the mists when they cannot be seen, and feeds on the flesh of the dead. Overall the book is very captivating and well written. It has parts that are slower to read, but it seems like these parts are always followed by chapters that fly by without you realizing you've even turned a page. The book was a fun read and a quick one too. I would suggest it to anyone who has seen the movie and enjoyed it. The parts that were quickly touched on in the movie are given more attention and detail in the book. One of my favorite things about the book was the parts that are lost in the picture of the movie, such as the smells or the building emotions are vividly described in the book to the point that I personally had to take breaks because my senses would become overwhelmed.
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Please read previous reviews on this book. It is not your average novel. I found it hard to get through the first chapter.
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Zartan More than 1 year ago
Eaters of the dead is an amazing book from an amazing author. From start to finish the author takes you on an epic journey in the lives of the Vikings. There is great detail through out and one can easily visualize what is occuring in the novel. Easy and enjoyable reading for anyone...Highly recommended
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manimal93 More than 1 year ago
This is a pretty good book, but not for everyone. It is translated from a manuscript found by Micheal Crichton. It accounts the travels of a muslim as he spends time and travels with vikings. I recommend this book to fans of old tales and fans of Micheal Crichton.
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