Eaters of the Dead

In His Own Words

The story behind this novel appears in an essay in the paperback edition. The short version is, I wrote Eaters of the Dead on a bet that I could make an entertaining story out of Beowulf.

It’s an unusual book. Readers either like it, or they don’t. I’m quite pleased with the movie (13th Warrior), which I think captures the feeling of the novel very well.

Michael Crichton


The year is A.D. 922. A refined Arab courtier, representative of the powerful Caliph of Bagdad, encounters a party of Viking warriors who are journeying to the barbaric North. He is appalled by their Viking customs — the wanton sexuality of their pale, angular women, their disregard for cleanliness . . . their cold-blooded human sacrifices.

But it is not until they reach the depths of the Northland that the courtier learns the horrifying and inescapable truth: He has been enlisted by these savage, inscrutable warriors to help combat a terror that plagues them — a monstrosity that emerges under cover of night to slaughter the Vikings and devour their flesh.

From the Archives

This is an early cover design for Michael Crichton’s Eaters of the Dead.

Eaters of the Dead Promo Material

In His Own Words

Jerry [Goldsmith] has written something like 250 film scores, and now that he is 70 years old has decided to “cut back” to 5 scores a year! Not long ago he gave a concert in Carnegie hall, and there in the audience were all his producers and directors.

I myself have done a half-dozen projects with him, going back thirty years, and I believe the explanation for his great success is extremely simple: Jerry is a musical genius, and he works hard. Of course, Jerry’s been my good friend for many years, and sometimes I think I’m too impressed with him, and hold him in too high regard. A while back, I was looking at the beginning of The Edge and thought, “Hey, whoever wrote this score is terrific, too.” And then the credits start: it’s Jerry. I had a similar thought as Air Force One, began, thinking wow, this score is great, percussive and clean and tense. But that was Jerry, too.

As for his score for The 13th Warrior, it’s all that I ever hoped for—and just what I expected.

The 13th Warrior (Movie)

Release Date: August 27, 1999
Running Time: 1 hr. 42 min.
Director: John McTiernan
Screenwriter: William Wisher and Warren Lewis
Based on the Novel By: Michael Crichton
Studio: Touchstone Pictures
Starring: Antonio Banderas, Diane Venora, Omar Sharif

In His Own Words

I changed the title [from Eaters of the Dead] because the original was just too disturbing for many people. Changing the title was my idea; the studio didn’t want to do it. But I felt we should. During filming, people would say to me, “What are you working on?” and I would say, Eaters of the Dead. And they would say, “What? What’s it called?” and then when I repeated the title for them, most of the people said, “I don’t want to see that” or “Ugh, I’ll skip that one.” They didn’t even ask what it was about, they were just put off by the title. The other thing was that people couldn’t remember the title. “What is it? The People Eaters?” That meant to me that there was a problem with the title. So we changed it.

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