The year is A.D. 922. A refined Arab courtier, representative of the powerful Caliph of Baghdad, 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 . . .
Set in the year 922 C.E., Crichton's 1976 novel finds Ahmad ibn-Fadlan, Arab ambassador representing the Caliph of Bagdad, thrust among a band of Vikings heading north. Initially, he is disgusted by the barbaric behavior of both the men and the women but soon learns that the warriors seek a group of men or beasts they know not which that come in the night to kill and devour them (think Grendel). This was morphed by Hollywood into the 1999 Antonio Banderas vehicle The 13th Warrior. Crichton is always a crowd pleaser, so buy this one.