“Eaters of the Dead” by Michael Crichton is a fiction but with historical background. Through this piece Crichton hopes to express the way of life for the Vikings in the year 922 AD while at the same time creating an entertaining story. Using a manuscript written by Ibn-Fadlan Crichton pieced together a book filled with adventure and excitement. Michael Crichton was born in Chicago, 1942 and always knew he had a talent for writing. He attended Brown University and has since published many books such as “Jurassic Park”, “The Rising Sun”, “Disclosure”, and many more.
Several of his books have been made into movies, for example, “Jurassic Park”, “The Lost World”, “Sphere”, “Congo”, and “Eaters of the Dead” is coming to theatres this summer starring Antonio Banderas. Michael Crichton is also the writer of the hit TV show “ER”. Ibn-Fadlan is a refined Arab courtier representing the powerful Caliph of Baghdad and the whole story line is based on his travels. He is a Muslim and is sent to the Bulgar land to instruct the king in the Islamic religion, acquaint the king with Islamic laws, and build a Mosque in the city. Little does Ibn-Fadlan know where his travels will lead him.
Wyglif is the present chief of the Northmen (at the time) he has fallen ill and is believed to have no chance of recovery. Once he dies, shortly after becoming ill, Buliwyf is made the new leader. Buliwyf is a young noble chosen to be the Northmens new leader once Wyglif dies. He is a courageous warrior, very tall and strong, and skin, hair, and beard of pure white. Herger, one of the Northmen warriors, also became Ibn-Fadlan’s friend. He helped him to translate the words of the Northmen and also helped Ibn-Fadlan become accustomed to their way of life and how to act around the Northmen.
The Wendols” are characters in the story who, as told by Ibn-Fadlan, do not seem fully human. They ride on the back of a black horse and have the head of a bear. They are extremely fierce warriors and are quite vindictive. They give off a stench so strong it hurts to breathe because they consume human flesh and it is always on their breath. They come with the mist, a dark fog that encircles the land when the Wendols come. Mother Wendol is the leader of the wendols and said to be extremely old. To finally beat the Wendols, one must kill her.
She lives in the cave by the sea surrounded by coiled serpents all the time. She makes an almost painful sound when she screams and smells the worst of them all. Ibn-Fadlan is an Ambassador to the Caliph of Baghdad and has been sent to teach the King of Bulgar the Islamic way of life, and to build a Mosque in the city. On his way to Bulgar, he stops with his party in the land of the Northmen. Being extremely hospitable people they welcome the Arabs to their homes and provide them with food, clothing, and shelter for a few nights. As it so happens, their chief is very ill and while they are there, he dies.
The Northmen will not let the Arabs leave their land until after the funeral and ceremonies. During this long process, kin of the new leader arrives and asks for the Northmens help in defeating the Wendols. According to the Angel of Death, an old woman said to have magical powers, thirteen warriors must go to the land of the wendol, one of them not being a Northmen. Buliwyf, the chief of the Northmen demands Ibn-Fadlan to accompany the men in their battle and become the thirteenth warrior. He will not take no for an answer, and so, Ibn-Fadlan’s journey begins.
Twelve other warriors accompanied Ibn, Buliwyf, Ecthgow, Higlak, Skeld, Weath, Roneth, Halga, Helfdane, Edgtho, Rethel, Haltaf, and Herger. With them, Ibn traveled across the oceans and fought many battles. Ibn learned their culture, way of life, and their language. He formed many friendships and gained a new perspective on life. Though there were many difficult tasks to accomplish but Ibn managed well and didn’t realize what he was really in for. Warned many times about the wendols Ibn shrugged it off. He didn’t realize the severity of the situation he was in.
They fought the wendol several times, only killing off a few and pushing the surviving wendol to want revenge. After being beaten badly, Buliwyf announced their new plan, to attack the wendol at their core, Mother Wendol. They would go to the cliff above the cave and climb down, taking the back entrance in. From there they would attack the wendol when they least expected it and hopefully kill their leader. Upon arrival at the cliff, Ibn knew he was in for something extreme, just climbing down the cliff was something he thought would bring him to his death.
One by one, the Northmen went down the cliff, with only the rocky shore below. Finally they reached the cave and attacked. After many wendol had been killed, Buliwyf went for the mother wendol. He stabbed her many times, all the while Ibn fought off the other wendols. No matter how many times she was stabbed, mother wendol would not fall. Finally Buliwyf struck with the fatal blow and the mother wendol collapsed over dead. As Buliwyf turned around, the remaining warriors noticed a silver pin in his stomach that the mother wendol had stuck into him.
As he pulled it out, a gush of blood came with it, and after being reassured of the slaves, horses and treasure he would be allowed to take into the afterlife, Buliwyf passed away. But the wendol came back. They knew of the Northmens leaders death and took advantage of the Northmens weakness. As Ibn put it “no words can describe the final attack of the wendol in the mist, no words will say what blood was spilled, what screams filled the thick air, what horses and horsemen died in hideous agony” After the day passed, and the devastation was taken care of, Ibn remained with the Northmen for several weeks.
After a while he began to long for his homeland and told the Northmen of his situation. With a warm farewell the Northmen bade Ibn-Fadlan goodbye and sent him off to Baghdad, home at last. “Eaters of the Dead” was written in first person and was written in a positive manner. Even with all the death and destruction the tale had its good times. Ibn conquered many demons, including most of his own. He had good times with the Northmen and learned so much, it was a new experience and showed him a whole different point of view. The language in the book was very formal and a lot of good vocabulary words were used.
Dialect was used in accordance with the Northmen tradition. The length of the book was just right, not to short or too long. It kept my interest the whole time. I think the book was well written and interesting. It had a lot of historical information but was extremely entertaining at the same time. I gained a better perspective on the way of life for a culture I never knew I would learn anything about. Though they were different from us, the Vikings had many good attributes to their society and it intrigued me to learn about them.