Monday, July 23, 2012

The 13th Warrior or Eater of the Dead

"It avails you nothing. We say: A man should be moderately wise, but not overwise, lest he know his fate in advance, The man whose mind is most free of care does not know his fate in advance." -Herger, Eaters of the Dead (p. 80)

In 1974 Michael Crichton took up a dare, he decided to try and make the story of Beowulf an interesting one, thus came the novel Eaters of the Dead. Later when the book was made into a movie it was republished under the title that people most knew it by The 13th Warrior. Under either name it is a wonderful book!

Crichton takes a story that, while it is an adventure tail, has gone out of date for most of society. As the man whod ared him said, people no longer read this story of their own free will. How many of you can say you read it outside of a classroom setting? While I love the story of Beowulf myself, I know I never would have picked up the old epic had it not been an assigned reading in my literature classes. Since the first time I read it, however, it has become a favorite of mine. Which made me sceptical to pick up this retelling, but with the author being Michael Crichton I knew I had a better shot of likeing it than if it had been someone else. And I was not let down.

Michael Crichton takes what he has been given int he fragments of the original and fills in the blanks. However, the end result is not a choppy pieced together puzzle where the edges are clearly seen. No! Instead we are left with a tale that flows from original material of one source to fiction to details of another material without the reader knowing what is false and what is fact. And what is more is the story reads as a factual eyewitness account that readers have no trouble believing. In fact I have read many reviews from readers that believed they were reading a true translated account. I was almost one of these readers. It was not until I first encountered the name of Buliwyf that I remembered this was a fictional work elaborating ont he Beowulf story.

This is such an amazing novel, Crichton is such an amazing author, that I cannot do the book justice in my review. All I can say is that I recomend everyone one read this story! I almost wish we had been made to read it alongside the original story of Beowulf back in college, it would have led to some unique perspective on the story.

So if you have a little time, pick up this book. Just be careful as I almost gaurentee you will be soon looking for more of Crichton's work, as I find myself doing now.

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