''The 13th Warrior'', aka ''Eaters of the Dead'' is an adventure story that inserts the RealLife Arabic traveler Ahmad ibn Fadlan into a tale of [[HornyVikings Nordic saga]]. Ahmad ibn Fadlan is an educated Arab courtier who is [[ReassignedToAntarctica sent to foreign lands]] as punishment for a courtly indiscretion. He is recruited to serve as the thirteenth member of a group of Norse warriors who answer a call for help from a far-away Nordic king. The kingdom is under attack from the Wendol. [[BadassBookworm The bookish]] Ahmad ibn Fadlan narrates his adventure and his growing respect for the barbarians around him.

The story is a reworking of the classical tale of ''Literature/{{Beowulf}}''. Buliwyf is an {{Expy}} for the hero Beowulf and the remaining warriors form his band. The classic battles are all reworked to replace the monsters with the cannibalistic Wendol. Rather than Grendel bursting into a mead hall, a group of cannibals attack. Rather than attacking Grendel's aquatic mother, the band sneaks into the Wendol's den through water. Rather than a dragon, the Wendol attack force looks like a "glow wyrm" when holding torches aloft.

Creator/MichaelCrichton wrote the original novel, and it was something of a departure from his usual science-fiction fare. He supposedly wrote the novel on a dare from a friend who demanded he "find a way to make ''Beowulf'' interesting." As Crichton was aware of the notoriously dry, bland Ahmad ibn Fadlan and his ability to make any miraculous new wonder sound prosaic and dull, he put the two together [[{{Demythtification}} as if it were Ahmad giving an actual historical account]]. The [[AllCavemenWereNeanderthals Neanderthals]] serving as the film's villains are an expected flourish of science fiction.

The novel was later adapted into a feature film starring Creator/AntonioBanderas and directed by Creator/JohnMcTiernan. Crichton himself performed some reshoots after test screenings, such as making the tribe's queen into a lithe DarkActionGirl. For the release of the film, some printings renamed the book after the film, with the note "Originally Published As 'Eaters of the Dead'".
!!The book provides examples of:
* AdaptationalVillainy: Wigliff is a CompositeCharacter of Hrothgar's two sons (Hrethdric and Hrothmund), Unferth and Wiglaf from the original epic, with every positive trait removed and a lot of negative ones (cowardice, jealousy, physical weakness) added. Like Unferth, he taunts Buliwyf when he arrives in Hurot and is silenced by being exposed as a fratricidal killer, but he doesn't reconcile with him and doesn't give him a weapon to kill Grendel's mother. [[spoiler: He later insults Buliwyf after he dies from the mother's poison and is killed in a duel by Herger, while in the poem Wiglaf killed the dragon after Beowulf was mortally wounded, and Beowulf willed his kingdom to him.]]
* AdaptationDistillation: Of ''Beowulf'', swiftly combined with the writings of Ahmad ibn Fadlan. Besides heavy doses of {{Demythification}}, the story never leaves Hurot (Heorod) after the main characters get there, instead of moving to Buliwyf/Beowulf's homeland and following him there in his old age.
* AllCavemenWereNeanderthals: And [[ImAHumanitarian cannibals]] to boot.
* AnachronismStew:
** While ''Beowulf'' may have been written at any point between the 8th and 10th century, the earlier date is more generally agreed, and the story's Hrothgar is believed to have been a historical king in 6th century Denmark, much earlier than Ibn Fadlan.
** The Wendol are Neanderthals who live in Viking Age Scandinavia, worship [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Venus_figurines Venus figurines]] (a ''Homo sapiens'' artifact) and ride horses.
* BarbarianTribe: The Northmen (from Ahmad's perspective, along with the many non-Muslim peoples he meets as an ambassador before them), and of course the Wendol, who are said to be Neanderthals.
* BearsAreBadNews: The Wendol intentionally invoke this as part of their disguise, weapons and style of fighting.
* BlackIsBiggerInBed: Deconstructed. Every culture apparently has this myth about one ethnic group or another. The Nordic women encountered by the Arabic narrator assume he'll be massively endowed; being well-traveled, he remarks that he's heard identical rumors in most countries, usually about a population that lives far away from whoever is spreading the rumor.
* CityMouse: Ahmad, who is, after all, a travelling writer in the book and banished court poet in the movie. It's addressed numerous times by different characters how unmanly and whiny he is.
* CompositeCharacter: A bizarre case is Wigliff, Hrothgar's son. In Norse mythology, Hrothgar has two sons who are too young to fight when Grendel attacks, hence why they can't be relied on to fight him. The character who taunts Beowulf and is silenced by being reminded about being a fratricidal killer is a courtier named Unferth. Unlike Wigliff, Unferth reconciles with Beowulf and gives him his family's sword to kill Grendel's mother. For added confusion, he is obviously named after Wiglaf, who in the poem joins Beowulf's retinue years later and succeeds him as king after killing the dragon that kills Beowulf.
* DeliberateValuesDissonance: Ahmad's worldview clashes with the Norse just as much as the reader's. For instance, the Norse consider 13 a lucky number.
* {{Demythtification}}: One of the more obvious examples of the trope, since Crichton wrote the book exactly as such.
** Grendel, a beast-like man with the strength of several men, who cannot be hurt by bladed weapons and is capable of ravaging a community for twelve years, is substitued by the Wendol, a tribe of relict neanderthals in bear skins with NoOneGetsLeftBehind (even the dead) as a creed. Grendel's severed arm (his first, and eventually fatal injury) is changed to a Wendol's severed arm being the first evidence that they are corporeal beings that can be wounded and killed.
** The Wendol's "mother" is their leader, an elderly matriarch. She shrieks and is hideously old, but she doesn't really put up a fight. However, she keeps living snakes over her body and uses their venom as a weapon. This is why Buliwyf kills her alone: he is still the only one that [[ExactWords dares to get closer to the snakes.]]
** Before fighting the mother, the Northmen visit a "tribe" of dwarves. Norse dwarves kept in an isolated community by the others, who believe them to have magical powers nonetheless. They give the Norse "magical" daggers to kill the mother and Buliwyf uses one to do it. There is no indication that they are really magical, but the Norse believe they are.
** The dragon is an optical effect, the sight of torches carried by Wendol raiders on the move. The effect is amplified because they only attack at night and under the cover of the mist.
* DoingInTheWizard: Most mystical elements are taken out, but the seers are pretty accurate.
* TheDragAlong: Ahmad is a lot slower in becoming a badass than his movie counterpart.
* TheDreaded: At the beginning, the Vikings have real terror for the Wendol, and the legends that surround them. When Hrothgar asks them for help in fighting "an ancient evil -- a terror that must not be named", the Vikings are so subdued that Ahmad ponders "What thing could affect them so?" As the warriors approach Hrothgar's kingdom, Ahmad writes, "I looked at Ecthgow, the lieutenant of Buliwyf, and saw that he stood in the boat and made a brave face, and yet his knees trembled, and it was not the stiffness of the wind that made them tremble so. He was afraid; they were all afraid; and I did not know why."
* ExternalRetcon: Of ''Beowulf'', via LiteraryAgentHypothesis.
* FanDisservice: The Wendol are naked under their bear skins, though heavily hairy. The Wendol mother wears living snakes instead of bear skins and is "so old she had lost all the characters of her sex."
* ForeignCorrespondent: Ahmad, being an Arab, is puzzled by many things common in Norse culture. However, being a 10th century Arab, he himself has beliefs [[DeliberateValuesDissonance in dissonance]] with modern readers.
* GoingNative: Ahmad begins to adopt Viking culture more and more, culminating with his sleeping with and helping strangle the girl chosen for a VikingFuneral. In the film version it's almost entirely omitted.
* HiddenElfVillage: The Wendol caves. Subverted with the dwarf community, which only exists because the Norse leave their dwarf children there.
* ImAHumanitarian: The Wendol, hence the book's name.
* LostWorld: The refuge of the Wendol. Like in the movie, the limits of their territory are marked by posts with bear skulls, but the book says that they are much larger than common bear skulls, implying that they are cave bears. It is not established if cave bears are also still alive in the mountains around Hurot, however.
* TheLowMiddleAges: The action takes places during UsefulNotes/TheVikingAge.
* NoEnding: The manuscript, and thus the book, ends just before Ahmad ibn Fadlan is about to embark on a new adventure, practically in the middle of
** Which is part of Crichton showing his work, as historians often have to deal with sources that have been partially lo
* OffWithHisHead: The Wendol steal the heads of those they kill, including some of Buliwyf's men.
* TheReveal: Ahmad gets a clear view of a Wendol without his bear skin and describes his features in detail. It's undisputably a Neanderthal. This causes an "academic" storm in the book's epilogue.
* SeaMonster: When Ahmad sees whales in the Baltic for the first time in his life, the Norse tell him that they are sea monsters and that they destroy ships by copulating with them. It is as unclear to Ahmad, the reader and the in-universe translators if the Norse really believe this or they are just pranking Ahmad.
* SettingUpdate: The immediately post-Roman story of ''Beowulf'' is moved forward to the Viking Age.
* ShownTheirWork: As is typical of him, Crichton displays his erudition. His worldbuilding was and is so convincing that years later, not eve himself could tell which parts he made up. He said one of the annoying parts was that he'd fabricated his references so well that he'd spend hours trying to look up a book, and sometimes still wasn't sure whether he just couldn't find it or he'd made it up himself.
* ThirteenIsUnlucky: Well, it was certainly unlucky for Ahmad to be picked as the 13th warrior of the party. But [[DeliberateValuesDissonance the Norse]] consider 13 a [[InvertedTrope lucky number]], and Ahmad is one of the few that survives to tell the tale.
* TwiceToldTale: ''Beowulf''.
* YouCantFightFate: Ahmad is forced to go with the Vikings because it's their custom to have a foreign 13th warrior, and they won't discuss it.

!!The movie provides examples of:
* ActuallyPrettyFunny: After Ahmad shows off his skills with a sabre and eventually points his blade at the still sceptical Weath, he, without blinking, asks if he can give the cut-down sword to his daughter after Ahmad gets himself killed. Everyone cracks up, including Ahmad himself.
* AdaptationalAttractiveness: The case of the Wendol queen mentioned above. She was originally a fat old woman, embodying the Wendol's "prehistoric Venus" stone figures. And it was done on ''Crichton's demant'', as he wanted Buliwyf to be DistractedByTheSexy a bit.
* AdaptationalBadass: While the Ahmad in the book was on a diplomatic missions, has no particular skills, and barely manages to keep himself alive in fights, the Ahmad in the movie was banished for his (implied to be unconsummated) love of a woman forced to marry another against her will, is a talented equestrian, swordsman and blacksmith; and is capable of learning a language just by careful observation and listening (at least in an immersive environment). He starts the movie about as competent in a fight as his book equivalent, but it turns out it's because he doesn't know how to use that style of sword.
* AdvantageBall: As long as the Wendol are considered supernatural, they seem almost invincible, slaughtering the 13 with ease. The moment their true nature is revealed, they start dying and fighting like standard {{Mooks}}. It is implied this is because the warriors lose their fear of them.
* AllCavemenWereNeanderthals: The movie keeps the Wendol's love for bear skins and human meat but oddly subverts this. They have their own language, enough engineering skill to build a solid bridge, and can wage hit-and-run cavalry warfare. It is debatable if they are still Neanderthals in this version. While those [[TroubledProduction in the scenes shot]] by [=McTiernan=] have some passable Neanderthal eyebrows and chins, the new mother and the chief added in the reshots by Crichton don't, and their tech only complicates things (see AnachronismStew).
* AnachronismStew:
** The Wendol get this even more than in the original book. In addition to the Venuses, they also have body paint (we don't know if Neanderthals did, though they may), cave paintings (very unlikely), and they also fight with horses and throwing javelins (certainly not). Relic Neanderthals or Cro-Magnons, [[AcceptableBreaksFromReality it is not unbelievable]] that they'd pick new technology from their neighbors if they lived for another 31,000 years.
** Each of Buliwyf's men wears a completely different set of armor that in many cases won't be made for centuries, or is outdated by centuries. There is a Roman gladiator's ''murmillo'', a Spanish conquistador's ''morrión'' and breastplate, a Greek-looking set of scale armor, and Buliwyf wears a Vandal helmet and part of a 15th century knight's plate armor at the same time.
** Ahmad turns his broadsword into a shamshir - a Turkic cavalry saber introduced in the Middle East from Central Asia in the 12th century.
* ArtisticLicense: Ahmad, unable to wield a Viking broadsword, uses a grindstone to turn it into a Arabian shamshir. This would result in a useless sword. Because of the different forging techniques used to make them, the sword would now be nearly unable to hold an edge and would be incredibly weak - likely either breaking or bending the first time it hits something. Not only this, but he manages to do it in what appears to be a fairly short period of time. A grind of this magnitude on a hand-worked wheel would take ''days''.
* ArtisticLicenseGeography: The map in the beginning shows Baghdad in the middle of the Caucasus, at an equal distance between the Black and Caspian seas.
* AscendedExtra: Ahmad has a romance with an unnamed Norse girl, however brief. In the book, he simply found himself ravaging random slave girls like his Norse comrades before the battle.
* AutomatonHorses: While some care and feeding of the horses belonging to the Viking band is depicted (Ahmad is shown carrying hay for his horse) and some sense of the difficulty of transporting horses by longship is shown, the movie would have the viewer believe that not only was a tribe of hundreds of Wendol able to live undetected [[spoiler:in a cave within miles of the Viking settlement]] but that they also kept hundreds of horses there. A single horse would need at least an acre of excellent pasture, year-round.
* BadassBeard: Many Vikings. Buliwyf is beardless, but he's still the most badass character in this movie.
* BadassBookworm: Ahmad Ibn Fadlan, but he's more of a ladies' man.
* BadassCreed:
** Actually a funeral prayer, but treated as one:
--->''Lo, there do I see [[ThickerThanWater my father]]\\
Lo, there do I see [[ThickerThanWater my mother and my sisters and my brothers]]\\
Lo, there do I see [[ThickerThanWater the line of my people]], back to the beginning\\
Lo, they do call to me\\
They bid me take my place among them\\
[[WarriorHeaven In the halls of Valhalla]]\\
Where the brave\\
May live\\
** Ironically, it gets reprised as a SurvivalMantra before the final battle. The heroes are facing down an entire army and [[spoiler:the heroes' leader, who starts the chant, already knows he is dying from being poisoned in the last confrontation. The others join in as they don't expect to survive either and [[DefiantToTheEnd it gives them the courage needed to fight anyway]].]]
* BarbarianTribe: Besides the Norse and the Wendol, the movie adds a Tatar army at the beginning of the movie [[TheWorfEffect who promptly scampers]] at the sight of a Viking longship.
* BearsAreBadNews: This part is kept like in the book. However, here is also used ''[[DeathByIrony against them]]''. Ahmad asks the Northmen how do they hunt for bears, thus leading to his realisation that they need to find a cave system large enough for the entire tribe to live in it.
* BetterToDieThanBeKilled: before the final battle, the women prepare to kill the children in case of Wendol victory.
* BilingualBonus: In an early scene, there's a fairly lengthy speech in Swedish.
* BloodKnight: ''All'' of the Northmen, who seem to enjoy battle more than anything else in the world.
* BoisterousBruiser: Many of the Northmen, but mainly Herger the Joyous, Ahmad's caretaker.
* BigGuyFatalitySyndrome: [[spoiler:Of course, the biggest (and oldest, therefore more experienced) of the 13 is killed in battle with the Wendol. And he has the slowest, most painful death of all.]]
* BullyingADragon: Inverted. When Herger is purposefully bullying Angus, he's doing it exactly to get him angry, force a duel and [[spoiler:kill him by surprise]].
* ChekhovsLecture: The explaination behind Thunder Cliffs and the sound they make. It comes to play in the final act, when the remaining warriors are trapped deep in a cave system and suddenly start hearing thunders. What starts as a joke about incoming rain quickly turns as a way of figuring out a escape route through the water.
* ConservationOfNinjitsu: In the first skirmish, the 13 take casualties against a small raid. In the first main battle, the remainder backed by the locals lose several more. In the caves, they lose yet more in tunnel fighting but take many enemies with them. In the last battle, [[spoiler:four drive off an army and the only casualty was already dying from an earlier wound.]]
* CoolSword: Ahmad's scimitar, which is basically a Norse broadsword ''grinded down'' into a sabre. It still has a hilt of a broadsword, giving it an uncanny look and is absurdly sharp, making up for Ahmad's lack of strength.
* CrouchingMoronHiddenBadass:
** Herger won the duel using this. From the point of view of his opponent he was an older, shorter and weaker guy with a really big mouth and ego to match. What Angus didn't know was that the whole situation was a set-up to get him killed and send a message to his boss.
-->'''Herger:''' Deception is the point! Any fool can calculate strength.
** The Northmen treat Ahmad like an useless FunnyForeigner TagalongKid at first, but he can actually fight and be useful in their quest.
* DarkActionGirl: The tribe's queen, at least in the final version.
* DareToBeBadass: The choosing of the thirteen (until Ahmad is drafted as number 13) consists of calls of "Who shall be the Xth man?" "I shall be the Xth man!"
* DecapitatedArmy: First the tribe's queen, then their general. It's lampshaded by a local oracle when she gives cryptic advices to the remaining warriors.
* DebutQueue: The seer casts the runes and names the warriors to be appointed on the quest one by one.
* DeadpanSnarker: Several of the vikings have their moments. But perhaps the most memorable moment is when the vikings are told that the oracle they must consult is a mad old woman, and Herger comments "the perfect advisor."
* DemotedToExtra: Wigliff and his herald disappear after Herger's duel with Angus.
* {{Demythification}}: By removing the dwarf daggers, the movie's version of Buliwyf's fight with the mother weirdly gets closer to the original poem, yet keeps the non-fantastic approach. He decapitates her with his sword (rather than it breaking down and him using another random, older, more powerful sword lying around in the cave to do the did), but he loses it still during the escape from the Wendol's cave (which is more accidented than in the book, where the Wendol guards simply left their posts after the mother was killed).
* DepartmentOfRedundancyDepartment: "In the halls of Valhalla", Valhalla meaning "hall of the slain" (singular).
* DevelopingDoomedCharacters: Averted, and unlike a typical case - with amazingly bad results for the story. Since most of characters are [[FlatCharacter completely underdeveloped]], there is no impact to their deaths, as ''they aren't even named in-story'' and some of them exist only in the DebutQueue scene.
-->'''Vladimir Kulich''': We shot for 10 months. We had ''plenty'' of time to establish characters.
* DiedStandingUp: [[spoiler:Buliwyf]] dies sitting on a log, watching the enemy retreat.
* DoNotGoGentle: [[spoiler:Buliwyf]] is poisoned and so fatally sick that he can hardly stand, but when the battle starts he's there with his sword and his dog because that's just how Vikings do it.
* DualWield: In the final battle one of the warriors wields a sword and a short axe.
* DueToTheDead:
** Herger gives some gold to Wigliff [[spoiler:for Angus's funeral, after killing him.]]
** Hrothgar pays for [[spoiler:Bulliwyf]] to have a royal funeral as thanks for his heroism.
* EmbarrassingNickname: Ahmad is initially referred to by the northmen as "Eben, a mispronounced "Ibn", which means "son of" in Arabic. Later on Herger starts affectionately referring to Ahmad as "little brother."
* {{Fanfare}}: The score by Music/JerryGoldsmith.
* TheFatalist: The movie presents Norse culture as such, leading to NotAfraidToDie. Before their first battle Herger tells Ahmad not to fear death because his fate is fixed and nothing he can do will change that. RealLife Islamic culture of course tends at least as much towards fatalism as Norse culture possibly did[[note]]Most descriptions of Norse psychology stem from the sagas, written centuries later[[/note]].
* FlatCharacter: Vladimir Kulich, who played ''the'' lead would later lament that one of the reason why the movie didn't live up to its true potential was because the 13 characters weren't developed properly. Half of them don't even have spoken lines beyond "I shall be the Xth man!" in the choosing of the thirteen scene.
-->'''Vladimir Kulich''': You've got 13 characters that you don't develop fully. So when you start to lose them to the battles, you don't really care, because you are not connected to them. And I made a suggestion, which unfortunately didn't happen, 't was: We are on this boat. All you have to do is take a hand-held cam, walk around the boat as you travel and give each character 20 seconds. (...) But they never got that, so we lost a lot of characters in the first battle. You didn't knew who they were.
* FunnyForeigner: The Vikings take Ahmad for this although he progressively earns their respect. Bizarrely, one of the final trailers stressed the first part without referencing the second, [[CoversAlwaysLie making it look like a comedy.]]
* GeneralFailure:
** Despite being under constant Wendol attacks to the point of his people being depleted of men of fighting age, Hrothgar doesn't even put up a palisade before Buliwyf and his companions show up.
** Despite the Wendol's earlier mastery of cammouflage and scouting, once the Wendol leader breaks out the cavalry, he just keeps a frontal attack on one point of the Norse fortress and attempts to ZergRush it.
* GoodBadTranslation: What Omar Sharif comments on what the Vikings say is pure comedy gold for anyone who understands Scandinavian languages.
* AGoodWayToDie: When wounded Helfdane decides to stay behind in the cave tunnels, he remarks to the sorrowful Ahmad, "today was a good day," even smiling. As said below, all of the vikings are invigorated by battle, and do not fear dying in combat.
* HeroesLoveDogs: Buliwyf is accompanied by a large red dog for most of the movie.
* HeroicSecondWind: Downplayed with Buliwyf, [[spoiler:who still shows up for the final battle despite being fataly poisoned and barely walking, but it's obvious for everyone he won't last long regardless of circumstances]].
* HeroicSpirit: [[spoiler:Buliwyf]] is dying of poison, and still fights in the climactic battle.
* HijackedByJesus: Ahmad's Muslim prayers would sound Christian-lite to a Muslim audience. Muslims do not refer to Allah as their father.
* HollywoodHistory: Guilty of assuming big Vikings = big swords = big horses and using it to showcase Ahmad as the odd man out. In reality, the Arabs used similar swords (curved swords are much more recent) and had ''larger'' horses.
* HollywoodTactics: The Wendol cavalry sends charge after charge against an entrenched enemy and only attacks on one place. When their leader is killed, they immediately retreat to presumably never be heard of again.
* TheHorde: The Wendol, who have a number big enough to be taken for a "fire wyrm" when they move with torches in a myst. There are apparently hundreds of them, if not more.
* HornyVikings: Averted. The Vikings have their cultural quirks, to be sure, but the helmets worn seem oddly [[ScavengerWorld scavenged]] and the crew are generally [[RagtagBunchOfMisfits motley]].
* HotterAndSexier: [=McTiernan=] filmed a fight between Buliwyf and an old Wendol mother like in the book, played by 73-year-old Susan Willis. When the studio removed [=McTiernan=] and gave the directing chair to Crichton, he reshot the scene with a young "mother" played by 31-year-old Kristen Cloke, and even claimed that Buliwyf was injured because he was DistractedByTheSexy. The credits still list Willis and not Cloke despite the movie not featuring the former at all.
* HumanPincushion: [[spoiler:The largest viking, Halga (played by Asbjorn "The Bear" Riis)]], gets stuck with a half-dozen spears, [[spoiler:the red-headed Skeld]] gets stuck with four. Both during the second battle.
* INeedAFreakingDrink: After (barely) surviving the Wendol's assault on the village, Ahmad is looking out at the devastation when Herger walks up to him with a flask of mead in hand. He offers Ahmad a cup, which he refuses on the grounds that alcohol made from grain or grapes is forbidden by his religion. Herger laughs and presses the cup into Ahmad's hand, telling him it's [[LoopholeAbuse made from honey.]] Ahmad stares at the cup for a long moment, then chugs it down. He then passes it to his Norse fling, who also welcomes it.
* InformedAbility: The end credit lists the warriors with their attributes like, for instance, Helfddane (Fat). Apparently, the seer called for men with this attributes in the DebutQueue. But most of this is not displayed on screen, Edgtho the Silent gets more lines than Halga the Wise, Weath the Musician never plays music, Skeld doesn't seem any more superstitious than the others (or than any 10th century norseman would be). The only ones who seem to match their attributes are Heger the Joyous and Rethel the Archer.
* InstantAwesomeJustAddDragons: Subverted and lampshaded. It turned out the "fire wyrm" is just a cavalry column with torches, and Herger said he would have preferred an actual dragon. Of course, given that the size of the fire wyrm in question meant it was comprised of literally ''hundreds'' of warriors, all mounted on horseback and moving independently, his preference for a straight-up lizard is understandable.
* JumpedAtTheCall: The other 12 warriors, who eagerly embark for the quest.
* LoopholeAbuse: Herger offers Ahmad a post-battle drink, which Ahmad refuses saying he cannot partake of alcohol made from grape or grain. Herger cheerfully points out the mead is made from honey, so Ahmad shrugs and joins in.
* MadnessMantra: Ahmad manages to kill one of the Wendol in the second battle, and gets a chance to inspect the body to discover that the Wendol are not supernatural creatures but rather ordinary humans. The revelation breaks him for a moment, and he can only repeat "It's a man" before flying into a rage and attacking the rest.
* MadOracle: As one of the Vikings sardonically notes, "The perfect adviser."
* MaybeMagicMaybeMundane: [[spoiler:In addition to the strange oracles, Buliwyf's reappearance at the end for the final battle is rife with Pagan symbolism of the god Odin, implying a supernatural source for his HeroicSecondWind.]]
* MightyWhitey: Averted. Ibn Fadlan impresses the Vikings with his skills, not least his literacy and horsemanship, but he never surpasses the Vikings in the skills they teach him, and while he is a fairly competent fighter he is nowhere near a match for any of the Vikings. If anything, the Vikings consider him the TagalongKid, even going so far as to call him "little brother". And of course, Ahmad ibn Fadlan is an Arab.
* MillionMookMarch: The "fire wyrm" is in fact ''hundreds'' of mounted warriors, each carrying a torch.
* MrExposition: The young nurse-like Norse woman and the MadOracle are there just to tell the heroes what's going on and what they should do next.
* OffWithHisHead: Besides the Wendol kills, there is also [[spoiler:Herger decapitating Angus in their duel.]]
* OverlyLongName: When asked his name Ahmad starts giving his full lineage. The Vikings get annoyed and decide to call him Evan (after the Arabic ibn, "son of") from then on, likely because they heard him repeating the word as he gave his name and assumed that it was an important part of it.
* PeltsOfTheBarbarian: These are vikings, so when they wear their huge fur capes, it's half for warmth, and half to make them look even more imposing.
* RagtagBunchOfMisfits: The only thing the 13 share in common is being embarked on the same quest. The Vikings get along pretty fast, most of them already knowing each other, but for Ahmad it takes most of the story to finally start getting along.
* RatedMForManly
* ARealManIsAKiller: In the novel Ahmad is timid and wimpy until he learns how to fight and be a real man from the Norse warriors. In the movie, it is heavily implied that he already has some skill with a scimitar, and the Norse gain a great deal of respect for him once it becomes apparent he can hold his own.
* RuleOfCool: Ahmad cannot swing his standard-issue Viking sword (based on the false idea that Western swords were more heavy and unwieldy than Eastern swords; such a Western sword would actually weigh 2-2.5lbs at most) so he grinds it into a pseudo-scimitar. The process would have destroyed the blade's cutting edge in reality, because of its blade geometry (such as the cross section would not take to grinding, nor be as strong when changed from straight to curved). But it does make him look more badass when he gets it to the shape he wants.
* RuleOfFunny: The Vikings mock Ahmad's little Arabian horse. While Arabian horses were relatively small at the time to better survive in the desert, Scandinavians rode ''ponies'', which were also small to survive in the cold. The Vikings' attitude toward Arab horses is TruthInTelevision for a lot of people who don't know what these [[PintSizedPowerhouse Pint-Sized Powerhouses]] are capable of. In reality they are [[HiddenBadass Hidden Badasses]] which have been [[http://www.arabianhorses.org/education/education_history_bedouin.asp bred for battle]] for centuries.
* SadlyMythtaken: In the film, Herger tells Ahmad that the All-Father (Odin) "wove the skein (thread) of your life a long time ago." In Norse mythology it was the Norns who wove the threads of fate (comparable to the Fates in Greek mythology), not Odin.
* ShownTheirWork:
** While the movie is historically speaking [[AdaptationDecay a step down]] from the scrupulously researched book since it introduced many [[AnachronismStew anachronisms and errors]], it did have a more or less direct quote from ''Beowulf'':
--->"Luck, often enough, will save a man if his courage holds."\\
''Wyrd oft nereð unfægne eorl þonne his ellen deah'' (''Wyrd'' often spares an undoomed man when his courage endures.[[note]]Wyrd can be translated as Fate or Luck[[/note]])
** The "Mead is OK" justification under LoopholeAbuse is not considered valid by many modern Muslims, but was in fact largely accepted in the period the story is set in.
** After killing [[spoiler:Angus in a duel]], Herger throws a [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weregild weregild]] at the prince's feet.
* SuddenlyAlwaysKnewThat: In the film, Ahmad suddenly reveals that he's a total whiz with an Arabian-style saber, after having spent half the film showing that he's a NonActionGuy.
* SupportingProtagonist: Ahmad is the viewpoint character of Buliwyf's story.
* SwordDrag: Right before the final battle starts, [[spoiler: Buliwyf]] shows up as the last act of defiance. Since he's fatally poisoned, he can barely walk and drags his sword behind him.
* TrainingThePeacefulVillagers: Downplayed. There is a "turning the village into a fortress" scene (which the villagers had not done already, despite the constant attacks by the Wendol), and they shoot arrows while the surviving warriors hold the field alone in the final battle.
* TranslationConvention: In the beginning of the film, Ahmad ibn Fadlan speaks Arabic, which the movie-goers hear as English. He travels with Norsemen, who speak only Norse. Over a montage, he makes a dedicated effort to learn their language. The dialogue changes slowly but surely from Norse to English, showing that Ahmad has learned the language. In the book, his character spends most of the story slowly learning the language and having most things translated into Latin by bilingual Norsemen (usually Herger).
* WhatHappenedToTheMouse: The prince and his remaining henchmen are never seen nor mentioned after the sham duel. Most likely they were lost somewhere in the cutting room with other lacking pieces of the film.
* TheWorfEffect: In the beginning, Ahmad's party panics at the sight of a coming Tatar army. They take refuge in a river creek, where they are approache by a Viking longship. The Tatars flee immediately.
* WorthyOpponent: Buliwyf gives the leader of the Wendol a respectful salute at the end of the first siege.
* YouCantFightFate: The Norse consider that every man's fate has been written siunce the day he was born. When the Northmen's oracle decrees Ahmad is to be the 13th warrior, his protests are completely ignored.