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Eater's of the Dead

by Michael Crichton

review by Ari Óðinssen

       Michael Crichton was dared by a college collegue to make Beowulf 'exciting'. He spent several years attempting to find out whether the story was grounded in any historical facts, as his friend Schliemann had done with the Illiad. The only evidences he could uncover during those years, the early 1970's, were contained in Ibn Fadlan's records of the Northern Russian traders he had encountered during his exile to the north. His status as a college undergraduate may have led to such assumptions as this, “I had read portions of the manuscript...well-known to scholars, providing one of the earliest eyewitness accounts of Viking life and culture.” He admittedly used this sparse and skewed testimony to weave together what he felt must have been the facts behind the Beowulf saga, and admits, under the delusion that this 'Viking society' were the standard for all Northern folk of that time, that his work became a confusing, even to himself, bit of fiction. That the folk described therein were rodhmenn, or traders unattached to any kingdom or country, and even if they were anything as the pristine and uptight Fadlan represented them, they were certainly the outlaws of their day, and all the standards and norms of society they were escaping in their lifestyle was what was recorded, certainly nothing of the proper northern lifestyle or manners. Reading his fiction with such things in mind, and noting that even his footnotes, quotations and references are entirely false (excepting of course those citing Fadlan), anyone of northern extraction would deservingly be insulted by this work. The movie wasn't half bad however. The sets were beautiful.

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