Eaters of the Dead ★★✬☆☆

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Title: Eaters of the Dead
Series: ———-
Author: Michael Crichton
Rating: 2.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Historical Fiction
Pages: 167
Words: 54K


From Wikipedia

The novel is set in the 10th century. The Caliph of Baghdad, Al-Muqtadir, sends his ambassador, Ahmad ibn Fadlan, on a mission to assist the king of the Volga Bulgars. Ahmad ibn Fadlan never arrives, as he is conscripted by a group of Vikings to take part in a hero’s quest to the north; he is taken along as the thirteenth member of their group to comply with a soothsayer’s requirement for success. In the north, the group battles with the ‘mist-monsters’, or ‘wendol’, a tribe of vicious savages (suggested by the narrator to have been possibly relict Neanderthals) who go to battle wearing bear skins.

Eaters of the Dead is narrated as a scientific commentary on an old manuscript. The narrator describes the story as a composite of extant commentaries and translations of the original story teller’s manuscript. The narration makes several references to a possible change or mistranslation of the original story by later copiers. The story is told by several different voices: the editor/narrator, the translators of the script, and the original author, Ahmad ibn Fadlan, who also relates stories told by others. A sense of authenticity is supported by occasional explanatory footnotes with references to a mixture of factual and fictitious sources.

My Thoughts:

Earlier this year Dave reviewed this book and it caught my interest. I’d watched, and enjoyed the movie that was produced based on this book: The 13th Warrior. I’d seen this book on my libraries shelf ever since I was a tween but the title really turned me off. In all honesty, it still does. Without Dave’s review I never would have mustered up enough interest to dive into this.

Sadly, the book isn’t nearly as interesting as the movie and is filled with pointless and fake footnotes. This purports to be a historical document and as such is one of those “Historical Fiction” books where the author makes up wholesale yards of crap to further his story but will insert real historical bits and bobs as well. This has all the historicity of Shakespeare’s Henry V.

I was bored for most of this. It wasn’t exciting, fast paced or very interesting. While not nearly so boring as the Andromeda Strain (I read that back in 2001 but have not yet gotten the review into it’s own post) there were several times that I looked down at the percentage bar on my kindle to see how much I had left. That really isn’t a good sign.

On the bright side, I will end up watching the 13th Warrior sometime this year because of this and can expound on how the movie is a much better product than the book. Thinking about it, that seems to be the case for MANY of Crichton’s books. Feth, even Congo was a better movie than the book!

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

31 thoughts on “Eaters of the Dead ★★✬☆☆

    1. Glad it was amusing. Sometimes when I get cranky it can be hard to keep it light.

      The movie is good stuff. been over a decade since I watched it though, so my memories aren’t very fresh…

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Not a grendel in sight. Just brutish neanderthals.

      My only memory of the movie, that’s clear, is of Banderas learning the language at the camp fire as they travel. I thought it was well done and conveyed how smart a cookie his character was.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. You really didn’t like it? While I didn’t think it was the greatest movie, it was interesting enough. And the whole talking gorilla? That didn’t tug at your little scottish heart?

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I’m not a huge fan of his books, but we love all the movies. I tried Dragon Teeth a few years back and just couldn’t get into it. I may try again one day though. Excellent review. Sorry the book wasn’t a better read for you though.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. One of those rare cases of “the movie was better”: I had forgotten that the movie “The 13th Warrior” was inspired by this novel, but I have fond memories of it – and now that you’ve mentioned it, I feel like rewatching it. From your description the book sounds quite boring, so indeed let’s give the movie a prize… 😉
    Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I think I’ll stick to my fond memories of the movie rather than potentially having those spoiled by the book.

    I’m still not ready to try another Crichton after the absolute disappointment that was Pirate Latitudes. I doubt reading this would make me feel favourable towards him

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The thing with the movie is, all you have to do is watch it again and poof, the good memories are back.

      However, I don’t recommend reading this if you want a “good” Crichton experience.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I liked the novel. It even footnotes the Necronomicon. I’ve only read one other Crichton novel besides this, The Great Train Robbery.

    As for The 13th Warrior, the replacement Blu-Ray arrived today from Germany to replace the DVD copy that spontaneously cracked.

    Liked by 1 person

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