Where I Got It: paperbackswap.com
Who I Recommend This To: Those who enjoy renditions of Beowulf or historical fiction.
Narrator: George Guidall
Publisher: Recorded Books (1999)
Length: 5 CDs
I have read this book numerous times since I was ~17, long before the movie tie-in (13th Warrior) came out. It is by far my favorite Michael Crichton book, and I believe it to be his best work (in my humble snobby opinion). This was my first time enjoying this book in audio format. In short, Ibn Fadlan, a poet and a scholar, is banished from Bagdad for dallying with another man’s wife. He travels to the far known reaches of the Arab world (in the 900s). Eventually, he meets up with a new kind of barbarian, the Vikings. From there he gets sucked into an adventure with them to fight a foe that must not be named. They venture to the far north to help defend a small village from the Wendo, a mysterious race that eat the dead.
If you have read this book, or seen the movie, you probably know that it is another take on the ancient tale of Beowulf. I really enjoy how this book captures the Viking culture through the eyes of a scholarly Muslim. This lead to much amusement, especially in how boisterous the Vikings are, their lack of fear of death, their take on sex, and enjoyment of fighting. Much of the book is told in a almost textbook manor; however, just when you think you might zone out Crichton throws in interesting tidbits that will have you rereading the previous few sentences and laughing out loud.
I have listened to many books narrated by George Guidall and I enjoy his even voice and the way to can capture the ridiculous, sorrowful, and enlightening moments through mere nuances of his voice. However, for this book I have to say I would have enjoyed an Arabic accent to capture the ambiance of the novel.
What I Liked: The scholarly attitude; clash of cultures; fighting a loosing battle and still coming out on top; magnificent heroes that are real people; the character growth of Ibn Fadlan; the dwarves.
What I Disliked: Women were for sacrifice and sex; no Arabic of Viking accents performed by the narrator.