Eaters of the Dead: A Novel

Eaters of the Dead: A Novel

by Michael Crichton


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From New York Times bestselling author Michael Crichton, a classic, epic tale of unspeakable horror—now available in trade paperback.  

The year is A.D. 922.  A refined Arab courtier, representative of the powerful Caliph of Bagdad, encounters a party of Viking warriors who are journeying to the barbaric North. He is appalled by their Viking customs—the wanton sexuality of their pale, angular women, their disregard for cleanliness…their cold-blooded human sacrifices. But it is not until they reach the depths of the Northland that the courtier learns the horrifying and inescapable truth: He has been enlisted by these savage, inscrutable warriors to help combat a terror that plagues them—a monstrosity that emerges under cover of night to slaughter the Vikings and devour their flesh.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062428882
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 01/26/2016
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 224
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.70(d)

About 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.


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

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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Eaters of the Dead 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 129 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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this book so much I watch the movie version at every opportunity. The movie is titled the 13th Warrior and stars Antonio Banderas.
ragwaine on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Cool historical links, I love parables and stories, good main character.
BenjaminHahn on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was such a fun book to read. It covers so many classical adventure archetypes and the best thing is, its partially based on an historical document, which lends the book a bit of plausiblity that makes the story even more intriguing. Another great element of the narrative is that its told from an outsider point of view so you get the language barrier and its like your discovering this Viking culture and this mysterious threat from a fresh perspective. I have beef with some of Michael Chrichton's personal believes (global warming, ect..) but I have to admit, he's a great story teller.
golfjr on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
sort of gilgamesh and the neaderthals...
masterdeski on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Silly me, I skipped over the introduction part where he said it was all fiction, and didn't realize it was so until I got to the 'Factual Note.' Had to re-evaluate my impressions entirely, but that was all for the better, because what had bothered me as inaccurate or implausible was suddenly fantasy! I particularly remember laughing over his note that he spent several hours looking up a footnote, only to reluctantly conclude that it was one of the fictional ones! I think if I were to create a work of fiction in the format of a scholarly paper that I would keep better notes ...
Aristocats on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Eaters of the Dead, written in 1976 by Michael Crichton, is based upon ambassador Ibn Fadlan's account of his journeys among the early Rus people, Northmen as they are called in the book, and the story of Beowulf. The main conflict is between Vikings and a small Neanderthal population.In the beginning the books is pretty rough: the Northmen are not a clean people, they have customs which in the beginning make the clean Arab Ibn Fadlan cringe, the description of the "daemon"'s massacres are very graphic. This may make some readers give up on the book. As Crichton said in his own words: "I wrote Eaters on a bet that I could make an entertaining story out of 'Beowulf'. It's an unusual book. Readers either like it, or they don't,".However, the adventures and battles are captured very well. Crichton's main accomplishment in my view is the ability to present the story in an old sort of language that is in fact very readable. Also, I admired his research work, the footnotes prove he did quite a lot of it.I enjoyed the book and if you want to find out a little bit about our ancestors, especially Vikings, I recommend it.
SoonerCatholic on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Setting: This story is set in 10th century Scandinavia where it recounts and epic quest.Plot: An Arab courtier is caught up in a Viking quest to destroy a legendary monster.Characters: Ibn Fadlan: Arab, narrator; Buliwyf(protagonist) noble, leader; Rothgar: king whose land is threatened; Mist Monsters: "wendol" Hairy, ape-like, cannibalsSymbols: statuettes, mistsCharacteristics: very realistic, like BeowulfResponse: Although I enjoyed it, I was disgusted by the sexuality and gore. Thoroughly engagin but I thanked God for Christianity.
erniepratt on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was MY kind of adventure book.
DeltaQueen50 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Michael Crichton was a born storyteller and this book, Eaters of the Dead is no exception. Based partially on the legend of Beowulf and partially on the fictionalized writings of Ahmed Ibn Fadlan, an Arab emissary who is intercepted by the Norsemen on his travels.Ibn Fadlan is gathered up by the Norsemen and taken north on their long boat. There are twelve warriors and the Arab makes thirteen, which is considered a lucky number. Their journey brings them to the kingdom of Rothgar and here Ibn Fadlan finds out they are to face the dreaded wendol who come with the night mist to kill, rip apart and cannibalize the Norsemen. Cleverly written as if translated from an ancient manuscript, Michael Crichton delivers an action-packed adventure story that certainly held my attention. Not world class literature by a long shot, but a Viking tale that provides the right amount of thrills and information.
Radaghast on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I loved the 13th Warrior. I love the book its loosely based off just as much. Eaters of the Dead is written like a genuine historical account, and Crichton pulls it off. You feel like you are reading a memoir of a man's horrific experience. With amazing skill, Crichton shows how culture shock is just as terrifying and disgusting as the wicked titular monsters.
CelineNorah on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Brilliant. Just a fantastic read. I love how Crichton captures the exact tone of Ibn Fadlan's voice so that the war with the Wendol sounds just as though you are still reading Fadlan's travel journels. Such humour too, conveyed in such a dry tone. A gem.
DowntownDave on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I loved this book and tore right through with excitement only to find out in the 'Factual Notes' at the end that the whole story (footnotes and all) was 80% fiction. Although, I understand where Crichton was going with it and can understand how it would have been a great story from which Beowulf could loosely have been based on....the unsettling fact is it wasn't! In reading this novel, I truly marvelled at the concept of Neanderthals left still on this planet in 921 AD. Alas...I was left with my imagination running rampant regarding the significance of this 'historic document' and wanting to learn more---only to find out in the end that I was duped! I love Theory/Fiction novels and loved this novel up until the last page when these words pierced my eyes, '...the novel, including its introduction, text, footnotes, and bibliography, should properly be viewed as fiction'. If properly depicted as fiction from the outset...It would still make a great movie. ;0)
brettjames on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is my second favorite Crichton, after Jurassic Park. He said he wrote it after having an argument with someone at a party about if Beowulf was an exciting read or not, and he set out to write the book to prove that it was. It's also nice because he writes it very differently from the rest of his novels, so it's fun to read. A good read, even if the movie they made from it was one of the worst from any of his books.
Anagarika-Sean on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Good novel. The end left me wanting for more, though.
adpaton on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I sped through this book in under three hours: it is a quick, easy and enjoyable read but I must admit I was disappointed and am ashamed to say I preferred the film, The 13th Warrior. The main character is far more heroic in the film, and has nifty accessories like his Arab pony plus the ability to make an unwieldy sword into a scimitar. The wire worm winding its way down the mountain through the mist is beautifully described, the stench and alieness of the 'monsters' well evoked, but still...
andyray on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
One of his earlier novels, Crichton loved to research and put it together for us. Here he brings us into the 11th century and a Muslim courier who becomes "The 13th Warrior" (the motion picture nmae made from this), with a dozen Vikings with weird names in the story that one may be familiar with such as Baiwulf, Helgar, and Wendal (who is a race of filthy carnivoroujs uglies rather than a single monster. Yes. It's another treatment of the greatest saga of our culture -- The Beowulf.
randoymwords on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a lot of fun, having an outsider muslim character espouse Crichton's take on the culture surrounding the Grendel tales. A little disappointing in that he interprets the dragon-fighting passage in a mundane way. Still, I'm a sucker for fun, alternative archeological theories. Neanderthals and vikings? Sure, why not.
aratiel on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
As with all of Michael Crichton's books, this one was easy to read and didn't take me long once I got into it. It's also full of gore, sex, and sensationalism, all easy to digest during lazy summer reading. Again, I must emphasize that I don't like violence, but in small doses and in such contexts it's acceptable, even fascinating...rather like all violence, your intent isn't to look it in the eye, but at the same time you can't pull yourself away. And, while sex is always fun, here it's from the barbaric male point of view, an underlying sign of Crichton's own sexism (very apparent if you read his non-fiction Travels). Not that I don't still enjoy his works. Not to spoil anything, but EotD is basically the story of Beowulf with the names slightly changed and from an Arabic viewpoint. It turns out more or less the same as well, the fight with Grendel (creatures named wendol, collectively), the ripping off of the arm, the plunge into water to fight the mother of the wendol, and the death of Beowulf. The fictional scholars in the end debate whether or not the wendol were in fact surviving Neanderthals, which was interesting. Sometimes it's hard to distinguish fact from fiction in his books, they're so infused with scientific (or scientific-sounding) tidbits, but I think at least his descriptions of Viking customs were correct (I'm aligning this with the little I know about Vikings here...all I know is that I associate them with horned hats and big women singing opera).
DCArchitect on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The only book I've ever read that wasn't as good as the movie.
weemadarthur on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Gripping stuff, if you enjoy this kind of thing. Mixture of fiction and authentic facts. Crichton's version of Beowulf; even though there's no science in this one, this is typical Crichton.
Omrythea on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Hmmm...I love reading Michael Crichton. This one is interesting, although I keep hoping for something to rival the literary greatness of Jurassic Park.