13th warrior plot summary

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Ahmad Iban Fadlan, the main character of The Thirteenth Warrior, by Michael Crichton was chosen as Baghdad's ambassador to the King of Bulgars in 922 A. D. As Ahmad traveled north from Baghdad, he encountered a company of Viking Northmen, and this proved the catalyst for numerous adventures. While Ahmad was greeting the Northmen, an old, numinous woman approached the camp and enlightened the Vikings that bear-like creatures were attacking the kingdom of Rothgar in the north. The supernatural, wizened lady then worshiped a god with séance-like prayers and suddenly thirteen small bones appeared. She explained the bones signified thirteen warriors, who would travel north to protect Rothgar. "The angel of death has spoken," said Ahmad's interpreter, referring to the spiritual woman's prediction. The female soothsayer commanded: "The party must be thirteen, and of these one must be no Northman, and so you shall be the thirteenth." Ahmad was chosen as the thirteenth warrior and the band traveled north towards Rothgar.

They encountered a small hut that was ravaged by these monsters, and all of the men inside were decapitated with their heads missing. After seeing the brutality by these creatures, the thirteen warriors quickened their pace towards Rothgar. Upon arriving at the small kingdom and settling into a hut on the outskirts of the town, a band of the bear-like beasts ferociously attacked and slaughtered two of the warriors and escaped with their heads. The next day the town built a small moat with large wooden poles in order to protect the city. That night a massive militia of beasts attacked the city and killed six more of the warrior squad, leaving only five warriors alive. Following the assault, Ahmad examined one of the beasts and discovered he was actually a man disguised with a bear head and fur. While praying, Ahmad had a premonition that since the beast men wanted them to believe they were bears, the creatures must be hiding in a cave where bears live. The cave was discovered and the five warriors planned a nocturnal strike on the cave. The warriors successfully infiltrated the cave, butchered the ruler of the beasts, and escaped back to Rothgar. However, later that night the beasts returned and murdered only the ruler of the warriors, Buliwyf. The beasts fled never to be seen again.

Michael Crichton carefully entwined his tale with descriptive details to illustrate the central theme of the power of prayer. Ahmad exercised contemplative worship throughout the novel and the inspiration derived from his prayers foreshadowed his actions. Just before the final encounter with the beast men, Ahmad fell to his knees in the torrential rain and cried to God for mercy. As the beast men advanced on the town, Ahmad was spiritually revitalized and transformed into a furious and uncontrolled being prepared to kill or be killed. God's presence in Ahmad gave him his life force and the divine power to conquer immense and limitless odds.