ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Eaters of the Dead

Updated on January 8, 2015
Antonio Banderas as Ahmad Ibn Fadlan in the 13th Warrior
Antonio Banderas as Ahmad Ibn Fadlan in the 13th Warrior | Source

Take a one thousand year old journey to meet the Monsters of the Mist.

Eaters of the Dead is a retelling of the classic Anglo-Saxon epic poem Beowulf from the perspective of an Arab diplomat who ends up joining Beowulf's party to hunt the fearsome monster who has been ravaging the Northmen

It is the year 922 and Ahmad Ibn Fadlan finds himself on an odyssey of danger and adventure far from his home in civilised Baghdad.

This story is based on a first-hand account by the distinguished Arab traveller, and author Micheal Crichton takes this historical manuscript and weaves a frightening story of the Monsters of the Mist.

Based on an historical account

This story is based on an actual account by the Arab ibn Fadlan, who left us his journals.

Author Michael Crichton uses the original diaries of the Ambassador ibn Fadlan and builds his story from them.

This book starts with an adaption of an actual historical manuscript - the original diaries of the Ambassador ibn Fadlan and his travels as an Ambassador to the Bulgars. The Ambassador described elements of Viking culture from a culturally objective perspective.

Crichton then weaves in a fictional account. He does this so skilfully that it's difficult to determine where the factual ends and the fictional begins.

The book was renamed after publication

Three years after Eaters of the Dead was published, a film was made from the book.

The book was then renamed The 13th Warrior to correspond with the movie

The Plot

A Northern Nightmare

The Vikings fear the misty nights for these shrouded nights hide the approach of the Wendol, the Eaters of the Dead.

Stalking out of the darkness and killing with impunity, this northern nightmare has hunted the Vikings even into their own homes, and now, a Viking hero by the name of Buliwyf is sailing to the kingdom of Rothgar, where he and his entourage of Viking warriors and one foreigner (the unlucky Ibn Fadlan) will pit their steel against this ancient evil.

An earlier cover of the book

What a cover! I include this image of an earlier edition for nostalgic reasons.

The book is the same,for some weird reason the publishers thought the mention of Jurassic Park, a horned helmet, and a few ravens would lift the sales. They didn't have to.

If I hadn't known the book was taken from Ibn Fadlan, I would definitely not have bought it.

Anyway, I'm glad I looked more closely and ignored the childish cover. This is an extraordinary novel of Viking values, culture and life, as well as some gory depictions of combat, and a few healthy sexual encounters.

The Vikings wrote very much like this, combat and blood were commonplace to them. But this is no mere bloodthirsty adventure, it's a journey into the past, which it explores with an exhaustive and entertaining thoroughness.

Eaters of the Dead as a Book

Eaters of the Dead
Eaters of the Dead

A wonderful retelling of the story of Beowulf. I've read this at least 5 times and still enjoy it.


Eaters of the Dead as a Movie

The 13th Warrior
The 13th Warrior

The movie from the book is high action with a large dose of humour. Pretty well taken from the original book by Michael Crighton (itself taken from an earlier manuscript), the film is remembered by most for the 'Viking Prayer'



When did the Neanderthals die out? Some interpretations of ancient legends suggest that the last remaining Neanderthals may be represented as monsters.

Crichton likes this type of speculation and he interprets the Beowulf legend as a conflict between homo sapiens and homo sapiens neanderthalensis.

To sum up

I find the title 'Eaters of the Dead', an unfortunate one. The name of the film The 13th Warrior was a better choice all round. (I just had to include the scene of the Viking Prayer).

However a title (like a cover) should never be the judge, and this book is an enthralling, exciting and entertaining read.

What's your experience?

Do you know this story?

See results

© 2010 Susanna Duffy

Make me eat my words?

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      I saw the movie but know it was based on a real diary

    • mariacarbonara profile image


      5 years ago

      Didn't know this was based on real diaries. Now im curious also.

    • SheGetsCreative profile image

      Angela F 

      5 years ago from Seattle, WA

      What an interesting story - may have to check out the book.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      I haven't even seen the movie nor did I imagine it was based on a Crighton story. So, I'm enlightened...:)

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I saw this movie. Great! Didn't know it was from a true story


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)