The 13th Warrior

The 13th Warrior is a 1999 American historical action film based on Michael Crichton's 1976 novel Eaters of the Dead, which is a loose adaptation of the tale of Beowulf combined with Ahmad ibn Fadlan's historical account of the Volga Vikings.


Ahmad ibn Fadlan is a court poet of the Abbasid Caliph Al-Muqtadir of Baghdad until his amorous encounter with the wife of an influential noble gets him exiled as an "ambassador" to the Volga Bulgars. Traveling with his father's old friend, Melchisidek, his caravan is saved from Tatar raiders by the appearance of Norsemen. He takes refuge at their settlement on the Volga River, and communications are established through Melchisidek, and Herger, one of the Norsemen, happens to speak Latin. From Herger, both learn that the celebration being held by the Norsemen is in fact the precursor to a funeral for their recently-deceased king. Herger also introduces them to one of the king's sons, Buliwyf. Ahmad and Melchisidek witness a fight in which Buliwyf kills his brother in self-defense, which establishes Buliwyf as heir apparent. That is followed by the funeral of the dead king, who is traditionally cremated on a Viking ship, set adrift with a female slave who offers to sacrifice herself and accompany him to Valhalla, the Norse afterlife (or "heaven").