Ransom
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Ransom

David Malouf

In this exquisite gem of a novel, Achilles is maddened by grief at the death of his friend Patroclus. From the walls of Troy, King Priam watches the body of his son, Hector, being dragged behind Achilles' chariot. There must be a way, he thinks, of reclaiming the body - of pitting compromise against heroics, new ways against the old, and of forcing the hand of fate. Dressed simply and in a cart pulled by a mule, an old man sets off for the Greek camp…

Lyrical, immediate and heartbreaking, Malouf’s fable engraves the epic themes of the Trojan war onto a perfect miniature - themes of war and heroics, hubris and humanity, chance and fate, the bonds between soldiers, fathers and sons, all newly burnished and brilliantly recast for our times.

Review

Why read a retelling of a classic of Western literature? Read David Malouf’s latest to find out. Beautiful and so very lyrical, Ransom is Malouf’s version of Homer’s Iliad, delving primarily into the relationships between men in the midst of a long and bloody war.

The great Greek warrior Achilles mourns the death of Patroclus which spurs him on to defile the body of the heroic Trojan, Hector. Hector’s father King Priam, grief-stricken, resolves to ransom his body with treasure from his kingdom’s coffers. And along the way, another man, the humble cart-driver Somax who bears Priam to Achilles, becomes an unlikely ally to the king. This is simply stirring writing. With great sensitivity and insight, Malouf explores the bonds between fathers and sons, husbands and wives, comrades in arms, and men of different stations in life who have been thrown together with a common purpose. What could have been an overly masculine story, in Malouf’s hands, becomes a compelling novel about grief, love and pride that will resonate with every reader. Read it slowly and savour every word.

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