Eaters of the Dead

Cover of Eaters of the Dead.

Surprisingly good: Crichton’s version of Beowulf, told from the perspective of an Arab traveller who gets taken along on the famous journey. The book strikes a decent balance among several things: the voice of an old epos and modern pacing; displaying the clash between the two cultures while also being an adventure book; proposing plausible origins for the myth while also making them sound sufficiently magical. Neanderthals as the origin of Grendel were a particularly neat touch.

Attention to detail was also nice: vowel shifts, evolution of place names traced backwards – some of it plausible, some pure fiction. I also enjoyed the pretty straightforward, no-nonsense discussion of fear, confusion, pride, and similar emotions that are often only implied, but never mentioned out loud in adventures like this. Well handled all around.

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