Gets kind of rowdy, I guess, but should be work safe.
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Michael Crichton's book Eaters of the Dead (which, with a few exceptions, the existing cut of the film does not deviate from terribly much) was written from Ahmed's point of view. It is, in fact, written as a memoir of the character himself who accompanied these men. Why an Arab? Because they were the only people in that area of the world who would have been able to document an event like this one. Eaters of the Dead, and, by extension The Thirteenth Warrior, are meant to portray a de-mythified version of "Beowulf" (the leader of the rescuers is named Buliwyf). It therefore represents a deconstruction of classical rhetoric; a stripping away of the elements and devices that the oral tradition required for the story to survive. The main character had to be literate in order to create a document that could be given any historical credence, which is what the book is attempting to emulate.