#7 in our new regular feature that offers up staff-selected recommendations for your consideration.
This week I’m going with an oldie but a goodie by the amazing Michael Crichton. His retelling of the Beowulf saga, Eaters of the Dead, is masterful and a gripping read, with all the drama and grounding in fact that this prolific writer brings to all of his work.
In A.D. 922 Ibn Fadlan, the representative of the ruler of Bagdad, City of Peace, crosses the Caspian sea and journeys up the valley of the Volga on a mission to the King of Saqaliba. Before he arrives, he meets with Buliwyf, a powerful Viking chieftain who is summoned by his besieged relatives to the North. Buliwyf must return to Scandanavia and save his countrymen and families from the monsters of the mist….
Crichton shares how the retelling came to be when a friend of his was giving a lecture on the “Bores of Literature”. Included in his lecture was an argument on Beowulf and why it was simply uninteresting. Crichton stated his views that the story was not a bore and was, in fact, a very interesting and compelling work. The argument escalated until Crichton said that he would prove to him that the story could be interesting if presented in the correct way. And he more than proved his point with this amazing tale, replete with adventure, daring, swordplay, Vikings, Neanderthals, demons, and battles with both actual and mythical creatures, along with real and fictional details and footnotes and sources and characters that blur the lines between fact and fiction and keep you turning pages.