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Book Review: Eaters of the Dead

This is my first book review in what I expect will be an ongoing feature of my website.

There is no significance to me starting with Eaters of the Dead other than it is the most recent book that I have read.   Should have started with a more significant book than a 34 year old slim jim novel that is as much memoir as it is novel?

Probably, but that is what I’m reading right now so it will have to do.

Eaters of the Dead by Michael Crichton


Eaters of the Dead is a novelization of the Beowulf legend told from the point of view of an unwilling muslim traveler named Ahmad ibn Fadlan.  Fadlan existed and traveled to to the north where he met Vikings but Crichton introduces and forces Fadlan into a hero’s quest that Beowulf and eleven of his companions are undertaking.

The book became the basis for a movie and then was re-released as The 13th Warrior.

Genre: Historic Fiction

New or Old: Old

What I liked about it

I liked that it was a fresh, well done,  new (well, old now) take on an old tale.  

The characters grow and all of that important book stuff, but more importantly I enjoyed the cameraderie between the characters.  A small group of man facing undaunting odds and “succeeding” is always a fountain of energy for me personally and most men in general.

Another aspect I like was the medical diagnosis of wounds.  Depending on the type of wound they might give you onion soup, for instance.  Then they would smell your wounds around your belly after giving the soup time to move through your system.  If they smelled onion from the wound then they would know that you would die and so forth.  Quite an ingenious method, I thought.

My favorite line is a quote in the book attributed as an old Viking saying — A dead man does noone any good.

This is a good reminder that life is precious and so is each day.

What I do today will effect both my life and the lives around me for good, bad, or just plain uselessness.  Everyone can be a life changing person even if your own life is the only one you change.

Read this book if

If you like wooden historical fiction or just liked the movie but never read the book.  A friend who I discussed this with noted that “it’s a little different take” than the movie and that is true.  There is less glamour and more snot in the book than in the movie.

Don’t read this book if

If the notion or any type of sexual comments offends you, then don’t read the book.

The book has some sexual refrences in commenting on the habits of the Vikings although for the most part this is a reference to the activity without any graphic details.

Also, don’t read this book if you can’t handle a slow start or at least just skip to where he meets the Vikings.  The first twenty pages are background and while they are helpful in getting the character on his way, you can live without reading them.


 This was a book I liked.  If I saw it sitting on your bookshelf, I’d pick it up and leaf through and find my favorite parts.

I review adventure and mainstream novels as well as non-fiction books related to goals / life lessons / productivity. If you’re interested in having a specific book  reviewed, please contact me at