Eaters of the Dead

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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....

Basing his story on an actual ancient manuscript dating back to 922 A.D., the bestselling author of Rising Sun and Jurassic Park (both made into films) now ...

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Eaters of the Dead

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Overview

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....

Basing his story on an actual ancient manuscript dating back to 922 A.D., the bestselling author of Rising Sun and Jurassic Park (both made into films) now retells the outrageous adventures of Ahmad Ibn Fadlan, who accompanies a party of Viking warriors to the barbaric north and witnesses their cold-blooded human sacrifices.

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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
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780345383242
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 5/18/1993
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 199
  • Product dimensions: 5.16 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.53 (d)

Meet the Author

Michael Crichton has sold over 200 million books, which have been translated into thirty-eight languages; thirteen of his books have been made into films. Also known as a filmmaker and the creator of ER, he remains the only writer to have had the number one book, movie, and TV show simultaneously. At the time of his death in 2008, Crichton was well into the writing of Micro; Richard Preston was selected to complete the novel.

Richard Preston is the internationally bestselling author of eight books, including The Hot Zone and The Wild Trees. He is a regular contributor to The New Yorker. He lives with his wife and three children near Princeton, New Jersey.

Biography

Michael Crichton's oeuvre is so vivid and varied that it hard to believe everything sprang from the mind of a single writer. There's the dino-movie franchise and merchandising behemoth Jurassic Park; the long-running, top-rated TV series ER, which Crichton created; and sci-fi tales so cinematic a few were filmed more than once. He's even had a dinosaur named after him.

Ironically, for someone who is credited with selling over 150 million books, Crichton initially avoided writing because he didn't think he would make a living at it. So he turned to medical school instead, graduating with an M.D. from Harvard in 1969. The budding doctor had already written one award-winning novel pseudonymically (1968's A Case of Need) to help pay the bills through school; but when The Andromeda Strain came out in the same year of his med school graduation, Crichton's new career path became obvious.

The Andromeda Strain brilliantly and convincingly sets out an American scientific crisis in the form of a deadly epidemic. Its tone -- both critical of and sympathetic toward the scientific community -- set a precedent for Crichton works to come. A 1970 nonfiction work, Five Patients offers the same tone in a very different form, that being an inside look at a hospital.

Crichton's works were inspired by a remarkably curious mind. His plots often explored scientific issues -- but not always. Some of his most compelling thrillers were set against the backdrop of global trade relations (Rising Sun), corporate treachery (Disclosure) and good old-fashioned Victorian-era theft (The Great Train Robbery). The author never shied away from challenging topics, but it's obvious from his phenomenal sales that he never waxed pedantic. Writing about Prey, Crichton's cautionary tale of nanotech gone awry, The New York Times Book Review put it this way: "You're entertained on one level and you learn something on another."

On the page, Crichton's storytelling was eerily nonfictional in style. His journalistic, almost professorial, and usually third-person narration lent an air of credibility to his often disturbing tales -- in The Andromeda Strain, he went so far as to provide a fake bibliography. Along the way, he revelled in flouting basic, often subconscious assumptions: Dinosaurs are long-gone; women are workplace victims, not predators; computers are, by and large, predictable machines.

The dazzling diversity of Crichton's interests and talents became ever more evident as the years progressed. In addition to penning bestselling novels, he wrote screenplays and a travel memoir, directed several movies, created Academy Award-winning movie production software, and testified before Congress about the science of global warming -- this last as a result of his controversial 2004 eco-thriller State of Fear, a novel that reflected Crichton's own skepticism about the true nature of climate change. His views on the subject were severely criticized by leading environmentalists.

On November 4, 2008, Michael Crichton died, following a long battle against cancer. Beloved by millions of readers, his techno-thrillers and science-inflected cautionary tales remain perennial bestsellers and have spawned a literary genre all its own.

Good To Know

Some interesting outtakes from our 2005 interview with Crichton:

"I'm very interested in 20th-century American art."

"I have always been interested in movies and television as well as books. I see all these as media for storytelling, and I don't discriminate among them. At some periods of my life I preferred to work on movies, and at others I preferred books."

"In the early 1990s, interviewers began calling me ‘the father of the techno-thriller.' Nobody ever had before. Finally I began asking the interviewers, ‘Why do you call me that?' They said, ‘Because Tom Clancy says you are the father of the techno-thriller.' So I called Tom up and said, ‘Listen, thank you, but I'm not the father of the techno-thriller.' He said, ‘Yes you are.' I said, ‘No, I'm not, before me there were thrillers like Failsafe and Seven Days in May and The Manchurian Candidate that were techno-thrillers.' He said, ‘No, those are all political. You're the father of the techno-thriller.' And there it ended."

"My favorite recreation is to hike in the wilderness. I am fond of Hawaii."

"I used to scuba dive a lot, but haven't lately. For a time I liked to photograph sharks but like anything else, the thrill wears off. Earlier in my life I took serious risks, but I stopped when I became a parent."

"I taught myself to cook by following Indian and Szechuan recipes. They each have about 20 ingredients. I used to grind my own spices, I was really into it. Now I don't have much time to cook anymore. When I do, I cook Italian food."

"I read almost exclusively nonfiction. Most times I am researching some topic, which may or may not lead to a book. So my reading is pretty focused, although the focus can shift quickly."

"I have always been interested in whatever is missing or excluded from conventional thought. As a result I am drawn to writers who are out of fashion, bypassed, irritating, difficult, or excessive. I also like the disreputable works of famous writers. Thus I end up reading and liking Paul Feyerabend (Against Method), G. K. Chesterton (Orthodoxy, What's Wrong with the World), John Stuart Mill, Hemingway (Garden of Eden), Nietzsche, Machiavelli, Alain Finkielkraut (Defeat of the Mind), Anton Ehrenzweig (Hidden Order of Art), Arthur Koestler (Midwife Toad, Beyond Reductionism), Ian McHarg (Design with Nature), Marguerite Duras, Jung, late James M. Cain (Serenade), Paul Campos.

"Because I get up so early to work, I tend to go to bed early, around 10 or 11. So I don't go out much. I suppose I am borderline reclusive. I don't care."

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    1. Also Known As:
      John Michael Crichton (full name), Jeffery Hudson, John Lange
    2. Hometown:
      Los Angeles, California
    1. Date of Birth:
      October 23, 1942
    2. Place of Birth:
      Chicago, Illinois
    1. Date of Death:
      November 4, 2008
    2. Place of Death:
      Los Angeles, California

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.



Continues...

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.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 103 )
Rating Distribution

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(46)

4 Star

(35)

3 Star

(18)

2 Star

(3)

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(1)

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See All Sort by: Showing 21 – 40 of 103 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 15, 2004

    I agree...This book is similar to BEOWULF!!!!

    King Hrothgar, Beowulf and Buliwyf, Grendle and Wendol,Grendles mother and the mother of the Wendol ?????? VERY SIMILAR........... But good book either way.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 9, 2003

    Troy 15 year old, very good

    Very good book but it seems to go very fast, before you no it, it's over. The begining is kinda hard to understand but after that its great!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 5, 2003

    The 13th Warrior

    The 13th Warrior From the first page of The 13th Warrior to the last, Michael Crichton puts together the tales of one Arab¿s journey through foreign lands with a foreign people. Crichton enables the reader to experience the Arab¿s challenges first hand through his words. The 13th Warrior is the story of one man, Ibn Fadlan, an Arab who encounters new peoples along his journey north, on an errand for his caliph. But when his party is taken in by a giant people called Vikings, his journey would take a turn for adventure and excitement. Ibn Fadlan witnesses to the habits of the merry giants. Such as drinking until a ridiculous state of drunkenness is reached, and also indulging themselves at anytime or place with their slave women. He goes on to tell about his and the Vikings¿ purpose on their journey, it includes traveling to the far away kingdom of Rothgar, and defend it from mysterious flesh eating beasts. These cannibalistic creatures present a great challenge to Ibn Fadlan, and bring out qualities in him that he didn¿t know he had. In his book, The 13th Warrior, Michael Crichton does a fantastic job of revealing his realistic and dynamic characters. Crichton was excellent in making the reader feel as if he were there, with the men, back in 921 A.D. The descriptions of the characters reveals their personalities and traits. The conflicts in the story are the events that directly affected the main character making him come full circle from a nonviolent man to a fierce and prideful warrior. Unlike Ibn Fadlan, the main character, the Vikings were more like stock characters, unchanging from the beginning to the end, but nevertheless extremely interesting. All readers, especially those interested in historical fiction, should read this book. This book takes the reader in on the first page and won¿t let them go until the last. It is a book that constantly keeps the reader wanting to know what is coming next.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 15, 2002

    I really liked it alot.

    This was definitly one of Crichton's better book's. However, I only gave this four stars, because I had heard alot about this book, and had been wanting to read it for a long time, but when I finally got it, I realized that I had gotten a different published version of the book. I thouhgt that I was getting a really good action book by Crichton, It was not what I had expected, but I think It Is still a masterpiece of Crichton.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 19, 2002

    A BOOK TO SET DOWN TO

    I thought it was a good book. I think you will be impressed by it. He wonderfully describes the beliefs and situations of Ahemd Ibn Fadlan. You'll remember it better than Congo.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 5, 2002

    This is BEOWULF by Michael Crichton

    OK, this is a fun read, but Crichton is less than forthcoming about this version of the Beowulf saga. If the author really means to provide readers with a trail into literature so they can, at their discretion, make up their own minds about the veracity of Ibn Fadlan's tale, then he should be as careful to note its amazing similarities to the Beowulf cycle of stories. This selective use of citations of ancient manuscripts is why I gave it two stars. I like a rangy yarn as well as the next person, but I do not care to have an author use pseudo-scholarly methods as 'authentication.' Also, my copy is dated 1976 and there is some really great material about Neanderthalers (including two analyzed samples of their mitochondrial DNA) that has been published since. You might also want to check out paleoclimate data (this story occurs just before the Little Ice Age) and have a good atlas at hand. Crichton does provide helpful geographic information. If you are not of an historical inclination, this is an enjoyable adventure yarn.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 18, 2001

    Masterful storytelling - a must read

    First half of book - I find Michael Crichton¿s The 13th Warrior to be an informative and entertaining book. There are several features that make the book enjoyable. The first feature is the introduction. The introduction provides us with valuable information about the history of the story. We are provided with a brief listing of its translations as well as background information about the original author, Ibn Fadlan, and those whom he wrote about, the Northmen a.k.a. the Vikings. The second helpful feature is Crichton¿s use of footnotes. The footnotes help the reader to understand problematic vocabulary and also provide historical context. The third feature that strengthens the book is Crichton¿s careful editing of the Fraus-Dolus translation. Crichton tells us that he removed unnecessary or rambling lines from the text, and adapted the sentence structure to that of modern English. Such editing makes the story more easily understood and enjoyed. The final feature, which I think adds the most to the story, is the incredible storytelling of Ibn Fadlan. Fadlan does a concise yet complete job of portraying nearly every aspect of daily life in all of the cultures that he encounters. In addition, he compares and contrasts each culture to his own, in an effort to learn and appreciate as much as possible about those he interacts with. Fadlan describes people, places, and events in an unbiased, serious, and detailed tone which allows the reader to form his own opinion about the story. The introduction, the footnotes, Crichton¿s editing, and Fadlan¿s masterful storytelling make The 13th Warrior informative and engaging. Second half of book - I enjoyed the second half of The 13th Warrior. In this part of the book we learn more about the Northmen culture through Ibn Fadlan¿s discussions with his translator Herger. These discussions are particularly informative because Ibn compares his own culture with the Northmen culture, so the reader is able to get a real sense of exactly how Ibn felt. Ibn does an excellent job of dissecting the Northmen¿s way of life as he sees it. He puts the reader in the shoes of the Northmen as well as himself in various stages of the story so we view certain situations from several points of view. The one aspect of this book that I enjoy and appreciate the most is Ibn¿s relentless pursuit of unbiased and accurate reporting. Throughout the story he reminds the reader that he viewed events first hand (i.e. ¿I saw with my own eyes¿¿), and almost constantly uses the word ¿verily¿ which means ¿in truth¿ or ¿in fact.¿ It seems as if Ibn knows that his writings will be read and studied for many years to come. In conclusion, it comes as little surprise that Ibn¿s work has become so celebrated.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 11, 2001

    One of the best

    Besides Timeline, this is Crichton's best novel.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 28, 2001

    Eaters of the Dead

    'Eaters of the Dead' is based on true journal entries of an Arab Courtier by the name of Ahmad Ibn Fadlan, dating back to A.D. 921. Ibn Fadlan was sent by the Caliph of Baghdad to be an ambassador to the King of the Bulgars. The reasoning behind Ibn Fadlan being sent off was he slept with a very rich merchant¡¯s wife. So Ibn Fadlan was banished from Baghdad. On his journey to his new home Ibn Fadlan runs into a clan of Viking Warriors and is summoned to accompany 12 of the Viking Warriors to Scandinavia to help the people of a north kingdom from this ¡°mist monster¡±. Along Ibn Fadlan travels he finds the warriors social living to be somewhat disgusting and not very humanlike. The warriors are violent, very sexual and not very physically healthy. The action described in Ibn Fadlans journey is very exciting and at times I couldn¡¯t put the book down. This whole book is narrated in Ibn Fadlans voice, because the book is based on his diary like writings. At the end of the book you find out what these ¡°mist monsters¡± are. I¡¯m not going to give the ending of the book away but I suggest that if like action books this one is a keeper.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 23, 2001

    another piece of the puzzle

    A great read. Anyone who enjoyed Beowulf will love this book. Is it really from an ancient manuscript? The '13' symbolisim is very interesting. Clues to this meaning can be found in the Illuminatus!(Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson) and Hell's Angels (Hunter S. Thompson).

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 23, 2001

    Another piece of the puzzle

    A quick and easy book to read. Really from an ancient manuscript? Maybe. The number 13 is signifigant. Clues to its meaning are found in The Illuminatus! trilogy and in Hunter S. Thompson's Hell's Angels.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 25, 2001

    Beowulf

    I don't know how to spell it but bear with me. This is the fictional story of Beowulf, in detail written from the eyes of an observer. Amazing writing, I normally don't dig books that much and I flew through this one. Story flows well, if you've seen the movie its worth picking up. Goes more into detail and takes a different approuch to the overall outcome of the story. Thanks, c_schafer@hotmail.com

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 2, 2001

    Almost Real!

    The 13th Warrior was the best I'd ever seen. Vladimir Kulich and Antonio Banderas were amazing. Would recommend for all to see.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 6, 2001

    Its Crichton Again

    This book was great I love to read books of long ago things. he gives you the impression that there really were monsters and great creatures long ago.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 2, 2001

    Ibn's Journey

    Michael Crichton's Eaters of the Dead is a superior book filled with the spectacular journey of Ibn Fadlan. If I could rate this book from one to five, I think it deserves a four. I thought it was suitable how Ibn Fadlan gave a detailed description of the different societies he encountered on his journey. I also enjoyed how he respected everyone's culture, especially the Vikings. When he was with the Vikings, Ibn got to see all types of eerie things that he thought never existed. I thought it was interesting how he had the chance to come in contact with those eerie things. Another thing I thought was pretty good about the book is how Ibn Fadlan stayed devoted to his religion even when faced with many hardships. Overall I thought this was a splendid book. If you are interested in reading about the journey of Ibn Fadlan and his encounter with the Vikings, you should read this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 18, 2001

    About Eaters of the Dead

    Just an amazing story to read. Although the books is mostly fiction, the author seems to bring the beauty of Viking culture, a culture that continues to be view under the idea that they were just a group of nomadic barbarians. The book is not only exciting, but also easy to read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 24, 2000

    Awesome Book

    This book keeps you going from page one. It never let, nonstop action. Definitely on my top ten.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 24, 2000

    Utterly Mezmorizing

    This is an incrediabe eye-witness acount of a truely powerful culture. The arab courier (I won't try to type his name without the book next to me)shows he has a great eye for picking up small details about the Vikings and their culture that make the book irresistable to put down. His story telling is top notch. Throughout the novel the arab makes note of several things that he did not intend to be funny, but at the same time,looking at it from our cultural perspective they are very funny. He was shocked, for instance, that the Viking women would get very physical during sex, and described his witness accounts of such in a humorous manner. The book also gives an unparralled look into how the Vikings lived, breathed, and died. That aspect of it alone drew me in and made me want to read a second and third time.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 7, 2000

    great

    think it was a great bookand movie

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 30, 2000

    Whoa!

    This is one of the greatest novels I've ever read. Michael Crichton's writing is great and his action sequences are set up perfectly. The only other thing I want now is a sequel. There has to be a sequel!

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