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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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
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.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780788734595
  • Publisher: Recorded Books, LLC
  • Publication date: 1/8/2002
  • Format: Cassette
  • Edition description: Unabridged

Meet the Author

Michael Crichton

Michael Crichton was a writer and filmmaker, best known as the author of Jurassic Park and the creator of ER. One of the most popular entertainers in the world, Crichton sold more than 200 million copies of his books, which have been translated into 40 languages and adapted into 15 films. Long before the carefully researched techno-thrillers that ultimately brought him to fame, Crichton wrote—with remarkable speed and gusto—ten high-octane suspense novels to support himself while studying at Harvard Medical School.

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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.


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
( 105 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 105 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 28, 2006

    Beowulf for modern audiences

    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!

    7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 12, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    This book is written with unerring historical accuracy. A *fine*

    This book is written with unerring historical accuracy. A *fine* remake of Beowulf.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 28, 2012

    Very good.

    I likef the partabout the Danes not washing.

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 20, 2011

    Better than the movie

    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.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 3, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    EATERS a must read

    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

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 17, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Why Rehash Beowulf?

    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

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 13, 2014

    Not what i thought

    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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  • Posted October 11, 2010

    A enjoyable book by a great author

    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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  • Posted April 4, 2010

    Eaters of the Dead

    Eaters of the Dead is a story about an Arab messenger who is sent on a mission by the Caliph of Baghdad. On his journey, he comes across a group of Viking warriors, and unwillingly joins their fight against the Eaters of the Dead. The Arab is now made a part of their army, and sent out with them on a journey to protect other clans in the barbaric North. Several fights ensue, and most of the thirteen warriors that were brought on the journey are killed. The conclusion of the story will have you on the edge of your seat wondering what will happen next. The book shows many of the differences in cultures back in the earlier years of history. Something that the Vikings believe in will totally go against what the Arab messenger will believe in. Often times, the Vikings will make fun of the Arab for not being like them, and get a good joke out of how he has only one god of believe in. I really liked how all the characters were introduced, and how in went into more depth about the different customs that the different cultures. I didn't like how the book seemed to confuse you with all the different characters introduced at one time. I found it difficult to keep track of what was going on or who said what. I think that someone should read this book because it has an exciting story, and can keep you occupied for a few days. If anyone has seen or read Beowulf, they will be right at home with the book. The story is a different version of the poem. Throughout the book, numbers can be found after some words. The numbers lead you to a separate part of the book where everything is explained in more detail. If you are finding something confusing, just look at the bottom of the page, and the words are translated into a more modern way of speaking it. Michael Crichton is an awesome author, and he translated this story into a more understandable way of think about it. Overall, I think that Eaters of the Dead is a great story that most people will be able to sit down and enjoy for a couple hours of the day.

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  • Posted February 23, 2010

    It is said, they eat the dead.

    Being a not terribly avid reader, I saw the film The 13th Warrior first and enjoyed it immensely. When I learned it was based on a novel by Michael Crichton, I sought to obtain a copy. Eaters of the Dead is one of Crichton's shorter works, and is written in a very unusual style: specifically it is presented as if it were historical fact, from the point of view of Arab ambassador Ahmed Ibn Fadlan. This is both a strength and a weakness. It is a strength because it allows the reader to know pretty much everything about the main character, as Fadlan voices his innermost thoughts and opinions at great length, and a weakness because Fadlan can't write action to save his life. His descriptions of the Vikings' battles with the Wendol are pretty vague. Nevertheless, the gripping, suspenseful story coupled with the novelty of Crichton writing the novel as though it were historical truth, complete with footnotes, more than make up for the vaguely defined action scenes. The Vikings themselves are an interesting bunch. Leader Buliwyf is the typical stoic, manly man's man, but has moments of introspection and is clearly an intelligent man despite the savage lifestyle the Vikings lead, whilst Herger, the only Viking who is bilingual and can converse with Fadlan, is a bit one-dimensional, serving as little more than a mouthpiece for Buliwyf and the others, but fortunately, he doesn't grate. The rest of the Vikings are fairly interchangeable. Definitely one of Crichton's best. My one complaint is I don't like the subplot involving King Rothgar's son, Prince Wiglif, as it seems unnecessary and the swordfight Fadlan and Herger have with him and his herald at the end seems very anti-climactic after the final conflict with the Wendol. Nevertheless, such shortcomings are excusable and Eaters of the Dead is one of Crichton's best.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 26, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Eaters of the Dead (aka the 13th Warrier)

    Eaters of the Dead is based on the epic poem Beowulf. It is hard to follow, although M.C. does his best. I am not a fan of Vikings, etc., which may have caused my rating. When making movies of his books, I do not believe they have ever done justice to them (Jurassic Park being the exception to the rule - but then again, it was directed by Spielberg [need i say more]). I did not see the film, maybe it is better than the book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 9, 2009

    better than beowulf

    michael chrichton said that this was an attempt to re-write beowulf, well he did a good job, this was a hell of a lot better, i know people are gonna say stuff like, "o, he just doesn't understand poetry," or "well look at the use of the english language back then". Whatever, i like a good entertaining story and this one kept me going. if you like a good adventure that takes your mind away to somewhere else this is a fantastic book. quick read also.

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  • Posted January 26, 2009

    Eaters of the Dead_wow what a good book!

    Eaters of the Dead is based on a journal/ script of the ambassador of the king of the great city of peace (Baghdad). The story takes place in the Anglo-Saxon era, with many references to animal of modern times to be monster of the past. The main character/ protagonist is the Arab Ibn Fadlan, an ambitious man in him late thirties. This story has a lot of dialogue, and also has much of action, violence, and gore.<BR/><BR/> Ibn Fadlan leaves the city of peace with a mission to make contact with the northerners and to inscribe the main events of his trip. One of the great descriptions of Ibn Fadlan is ¿Then, with a curdling scream to wake the dead, Buliwyf leapt up, and in his arms he swung the giant sword Runding, which sang like a sizzling flame as it cut the air. And his warriors leapt up with him, and all joined the battle. The shouts of the men mingled with the pig-grunts and the odors of the black mist, and there was terror and confusion and great wracking and rending of the Hurot Hall.¿ This was at the battle at King Rothar¿s territory against the dreaded dark mist and their fearless horsemen. This a awesome story for anyone who likes history and loves war.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 5, 2006

    Eaters of the Dead was great!

    An Arab official has just been given the worst assignment of his entire career. He must venture with Vikings into their world and out of his. On his journey he will be forced to face his fears, battle horrible creatures, and just try to stay alive. One of his fears he must face is the barbaric ways in which the Vikings live, from their poor hygiene to their heathen ways of life. During the story the Arab and Vikings face horrific creatures said to be ferocious man like beasts who eat the bodies of the men they kill. The Vikings and the Arab find themselves surrounded by these creatures and must fight to save their lives. I found this book to be well written. It has a great plot, suspense to keep you on your toes, and it even teaches us about the history and lives of the Vikings. This book is written for those strong of heart, those who can stomach the many graphic battles and gore of the battlefield. The book holds your attention and makes you want to read the next page to know what happens. All-in-all I recommend this book to anyone interested in Viking folklore or to anyone who¿s just looking for a good action adventure story.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 16, 2006

    A Great Book

    I first heard about the book after I saw the film 'The 13th Warrior' and I was really impressed with the book. The descriptions of the North men and their customs is vivid and you really fall into the details and feel like you're there.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 26, 2005

    A wonderful book

    A great book better than I have read in a long time. I would like to state that this is nothing close to Beowulf I have read both, possibly by a different author, but They are two very different books. Though both are very good books...

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 12, 2005

    A rousing adventure with an intriguing premise.

    Fascinating. According to the author's 'factual note' at the end, the first three chapters of this book are indeed the manuscript of Ibn Fadlan, relating his experiences with the Northmen in A.D. 922. The tale that's spun from this beginning is fiction, but Crichton manages to mimic Fadlan's style so well that I found the transition seamless. Who might the 'wendol' of Northern legend have been, in truth? Crichton bases his story on one theoretical answer to that question. This richly detailed little book (compared to the lengths of his later works) took me along on Ibn Fadlan's adventure, and made me believe it real for as long as I stayed immersed. That's the best compliment I can give to any author.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 26, 2004


    This book is great. I have never read a book, wich descibes the vikins so alive and correct. It feels like you´r besides them, figthing their battles, and having their cellabrations. If you are a Scandinave, (wich I happen to be) or even if you have just seen some of the remains of the old vikingcastle or tombs, and liked it, you´ll love this book. The details on the wikingships, the houses, the boats, trelleborg (wich still exists), and the story of the adventures of ibn, is so PERFECT, that you almost wish you were a wiking. You gotto read this book.....(sorry about the bad writing, i´m just a stupid Dane)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 29, 2004


    This was an awsome book. IT had a good story to it. I would sugest reading it any day.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 6, 2004

    Good book but the movie was better

    This was the first book I have read from Michael Crichton. It was a good story. The thing I liked about it was the fact that it is a true story written a thousand years ago. I liked the movie better, which usually isn't the case. But the book was real good in storytelling. I would have to say though the story went too fast and would have like to see it go more slowly. Granted the story was taken from written account of Ibn Fadlan's journeys. The book I feel gives more support to the movie, which cannot give all the details that the book can give. I look at the book as a good story and a historical account of a journey that happenned to one Ibn Fadlan one thousand years ago. I liked the description of the Vikings and their customs. How Ibn eventaully became a warrior and adopted the Viking ways. You see how he develops into a warrior like the Vikings. The book was a very good story, and gives good accounts of the vikings.

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