Monday, 22 September 2008

Eaters of the Dead by Michael Crichton

Eaters of the Dead by Michael Crichton

I loved this book ... I'm a huge fan of traditional epic tales, and Crichton's reworking of Beowulf didn't fail to impress.

'Written' by Ibn Fadlan, emissary of a Caliph, it tells the tale of his journey with a group of Northmen / Norsemen who return home when summoned by Rothgar to help defeat the Wendol who keep terrorising villages.
The leader Buliwyf (Beowulf) and his men faced the fierce hairy savage wendol (Grendel), their snake haired mother who lives in a cave, and the fire serpent (the wendols with torches snaking down the hillside).
Fierce battles, Viking lifestyle, an Arab emissary, and monsters galore, make for a brilliant tale. It even has footnotes, commentary and an appendix...all fictional though.

Crichton cleverly weaves the actual tales of Ahmed ibn Fadhlan and the Anglo-Saxon poem Beowulf, into this brilliantly constructed story.
At the end Crichton explains why he wrote the tale, his love of Beowulf and his reading of some of Ahmed ibn Fadhlan tales in college.

A lovely book.
Read it or at least see the film the 13th Warrior which is based on this. The film weaves in all three monsters which Beowulf faces in the poem ... Grendel (the wendol), the mother and the dragon (fire serpent).

Read 22/9/08

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