The 100 Books Project: Eaters of the Dead.

“…but I knew them to be mortal, and they could die.”

“Eaters of the Dead” by Michael Crichton

Without a doubt, I’m a part of the camp that believes that the book is almost always better. I don’t think it takes much to be apart of that camp; most people are. But there are always the exceptions, and Eaters of the Dead by Michael Crichton is one of those exceptions. I’ve always been a fan of The 13th Warrior, the film that was produced from this text, and it still takes the candle comparatively. Eaters of the Dead, however, is still a very fascinating read, a gripping story, and a really neat cultural-comparitive study of two very different cultures in the first century.

I particularly liked the style of Eaters of the Dead because I’m a history major, and Crichton has written his account of an Arab traveling with Vikings in the first century as a primary document, translated into English. It reads like a historical journal, of the narrator, Ibd Fadlan, taking note of the strange Viking customs he observes as he travels with them to the North to defeat the strange race of men-beasts called wendols. As the story develops, if you are not aware of it already, the reader starts to realize the familiar themes about these wendols and the leader of their group Buliwyf, and the suspicion is confirmed once it’s revealed that they must defeat the wendols by slaying the mother. This is a brilliant retelling of the classic Beowolf story, gathering into it historical detail and an anthropological outsider’s point of view.

The story is great, the action scenes very well done, and while the tone has the dryness of a historical document, it is not so dry as to be boring. It’s a really great creative resource, as well as a neat take on the Beowolf myth. I’m also a sucker for journals, be they genuine artifacts, psuedo-historical like this one, or pure fiction. But I still like the movie better. Blame it on Antonio Banderas.

Books Read: 15/100.


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