But usually there’s a little effort toward having some kind of relationship to the text in question.
Not only is the Ibn Fadian (sic) manuscript revered for its depiction of early of Viking society, but it may be the first and only civilized and documented account of one of the last surviving pockets of organized Neanderthal existence.
By now the attentive reader will recognize that this is (a) the plot of Michael Crichton’s 1976 novel Eaters of the Dead and also (b) the plot of Beowulf.
So let’s establish a few facts. First, the manuscript of Ibn Fadlan (correct transliterated spelling) contains none of the information given in Vega’s summary. Ibn Fadlan did write an account of meeting the Vikings in what is now Russia in 922 (not 928), but this brief description is ethnographic in nature and contains nothing about any battle with a tribe of Neanderthals, whom Vega also identifies as a pack of wild Bigfoot. (Bigfoot, as ancient astronaut writer Lloyd Pye argued, is a Neanderthal.) You can read the entirety of the section on the Vikings here. What he lacks in Neanderthal battles he makes up for in a fixation on the studliness of Vikings: “I have never seen more perfect physiques than theirs—they are like palm trees, are fair and reddish… One man will have intercourse with his slave-girl while his companion looks on. Sometimes a group of them comes together to do this, each in front of the other.” He also recorded the first and only eyewitness account of a Viking funeral, complete with burning ship.
So where did the rest of the story come from?
Well, as it happens, Michael Crichton got mad at a friend of his for claiming that Beowulf was one of the most boring works in literature, so he decided to prove this idea wrong. Therefore, he rewrote Beowulf in a new setting to make it seem fresh and alive. Buliwyf in the novel is very obviously Beowulf, and the Wendol and their queen are quite clearly Grendel and his mother. Crichton gave this book the patina of historicity by grounding it in Ibn Fadlan’s actual journey to Russia and thus subtitling the book “The Manuscript of Ibn Fadlan Relating His Experiences with the Northmen in A.D. 922.” But that was just coloring, the true-life part of the text comprising only the first three chapters of the novel. The rest is Crichton’s own imagination rewriting Beowulf in the guise of a scholarly commentary on Ibn Fadlan. Crichton also cites the fictitious Necronomicon of Abdul Alhazred in the novel’s bibliography!
Crichton explicitly imagined the Wendol as primitive sub-humans, depicted as Neanderthals or some other early human species. The film version, The 13th Warrior, toned this down and merely made them uncivilized humans.
How Vega could have missed this I cannot imagine. The information is not hard to find. Crichton presents it himself in his own afterward to Eaters of the Dead, which Vega is using as his source. Consider how obtuse one has to be to make the following claim about a novel:
Thus, this manuscript is a factual account written as a reference for his king to be informed of foreign society’s daily life and ultimate intentions toward other nations. Therefore “Eaters of the Dead” is more like a diary of Fadian’s (sic) experiences. Even in this light, the manuscript is no less entertaining than a fictional account embellished with wild fantasies. In fact, the most amazing thing about “Eaters of the Dead” is the fact that it is not a tall tale at all but the very real account of events that are nothing short of remarkable.