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Ransom [Paperback]

David Malouf
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
RRP: 8.99
Price: 6.29 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

7 Oct 2010
In this exquisite gem of a novel, David Malouf shines new light on Homer's Iliad, adding twists and reflections, as well as flashes of earthy humour, to surprise and enchant. 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 brilliantly recast for our times.

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Ransom + The Lost Books of the Odyssey + The Song of Achilles
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Product details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (7 Oct 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099539527
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099539520
  • Product Dimensions: 1.4 x 13.2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 66,690 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"A marvel - beautifully written, surprisingly moving... rather brilliant" (Daily Mail)

"A wonderful retelling of the encounter between Achilles and the Trojan King Priam in prose that's so good you want to eat it" (Mariella Frostrup Observer)

"A rich, moving and sometimes disturbing novel" (Scotsman)

"David Malouf writes with the voice of a poet; his graceful fiction deals in truth and is always beautiful... This is a book that will engage and inspire... In writing this novel Malouf is honouring a great work and also making his own" (Irish Times)

"In bringing something radically new, yet sensitively overlaid, to an already powerful epic, Malouf proves that an "untold tale" can be every bit as rewarding as its ancient original" (Philip Parker Financial Times)


`Malouf's prose is marvellously alert to the natural world and endowed with a quality that has one name only: wisdom' --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Troy Story 28 Oct 2009
By Ripple TOP 100 REVIEWER
Taking his theme from a small part of Homer's Iliad, Malouf tells the story of the king of Troy, Priam's grief-stricken voyage into the Greek camp to ransom Troy's wealth for the body of his fallen son, Hector, killed by the equally grief-stricken Achilles whose great friend Hector had killed in battle before Achilles took his cruel revenge. Malouf tells the story in sparse, yet lyrical and poetic fashion suggesting the personal stories behind the epic themes that Homer related. It is an exquisitely written piece managing to be both deeply moving as well as a great piece of story telling.

Of course, Malouf is not the first great writer to be inspired by Homer - writers from Shakespeare through to, more recently, Margaret Atwood's `'Penelopiad'`, have gone down this route before. Malouf, like Atwood, takes some of the events and characters of the source, and creates new stories, filling in the personal thought processes and stories of Homer's characters in a thoroughly modern way. If your main medium is the spoken word, as Homer's tale would have been literally retold, you have to concentrate on the action to keep your listeners enthralled. Malouf fills in some of these gaps for us.

'Ransom' relates the story from the point of view of three main characters - Priam, Achilles and, the beautifully drawn character of Malouf's own invention, Somax, a humble carter who is plucked from obscurity to be chosen to drive the ransom, in the company of his king, into the heart of the Greek camp. His sense of bewilderment in mixing with the great names of the war is palpable. In return, he introduces Priam to the world of idle chit chat which equally mystifies his royal self.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A vivid and atmospheric tale of war 27 Oct 2010
By J. H. Bretts VINE VOICE
David Malouf has in the space of a short novel managed to vividly plunge the reader into the world of the Trojan war.With a few deft strokes he makes the reader feel what it must have been like for the Greeks laying siege to Troy and what it must have been like to be the hopeless inhabitants of the doomed city. He also fills the characters of Achilles and Priam with life and makes them very believable; they are no longer legendary warrior and king but real people making human choices. While a complete and satisfying experience in its own right, the novel also made me want to plunge into Homer's Illiad. Recommended.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
By Jennifer Cameron-Smith TOP 500 REVIEWER
In this novel, David Malouf re-enters the world of the Iliad, to recount the story of Achilles, Patroclus and Hector and provides a very different telling of Priam's journey to the Greek camp. And what a wonderful storytelling it is!

`Dreams are subtle, shifting, they are meant to be read, not taken literally.'

At the end of the novel, Mr Malouf writes that the primary focus of the story is on storytelling itself: why stories are told and why we need to hear them; how stories get changed in the telling; and how much of what it has to tell are `untold tales' found only in the margins of earlier writers. It is possible to read the novel simply enjoying the story without wondering about these broader issues, but they add their own dimension to the writing. It is possible, too, to enjoy this novel without any detailed knowledge of the Iliad. In my case, at least, it stirs a revisiting of the world of the Iliad and probably of the Odyssey, to enjoy those legends anew.

`This old fellow, like most story tellers, is a stealer of other men's tales, of other men's lives.'

Jennifer Cameron-Smith
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Priam meets Achilles 3 Aug 2011
There was a time before the written word, yet when the written word was still young, when story tellers were celebrities and the tales of Gods and heroes were recounted from memory around camp fires late into the night. David Malouf has us in mythical territory, and just like those story tellers of the ancient world, he seeks to recount a tale that is not without some relevance to our everyday lives.

In simple terms David Malouf conjures a dramatic, poetic retelling of Priam's meeting with Achilles, when the king of Troy seeks to pay ransom for the return of his son's body, Hector's body, whom Achilles has killed in combat and then proceeded to haul around the battlefield tied to the axle of his chariot day after day, eleven days so far, in a vain attempt to assuage his grief and guilt over the death of Patroclus, his closest and dearest companion. So, Achilles has lost Patroclus and Priam has lost his son, Troy's hero, Hector, only for Priam he is one of many sons, and he has never really known any of them, not as a father should, but only as a king knows an heir, the offspring of wife or concubine, remotely, tangentially, occasionally.

Malouf imagines a journey, a journey conceived by Priam himself as a simple ransom request, where he travels across the plain of battle to the camp of the Greeks, travels as a common man not a King, travels to the place where Achilles struggles with his demons, to seek, beg if necessary, ultimately to trade for his son's body, on a journey which becomes an awakening, where a King comes to understand a little of the ordinary lives of his subjects, what it is to be a father and in so doing becomes a father himself.

It is drama based on mythology and it applies to all our lives, just as the Greeks realised then when they sat around the camp fires late into the night and listened to the story tellers.

Masterful storytelling.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Don't pay the Ransom
A great fan of Iliad and Odyssey and all derivative literary efforts, but this novel did not reproduce anything of what the Iliad means for me. A rotten, boring novel.
Published 1 month ago by Dr. Gary S. Shea
5.0 out of 5 stars Jaw-dropping
This is utterly beautiful. Exploring the tiniest sliver of the siege of Troy, the moment when an aging father lays himself bare before the killer of his son, it is exploded into an... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Guy
4.0 out of 5 stars Reviewing David Lakouf's Ransom
David Malouf's Ransom, a short moment where time is suspended with the gods playing their usual role of manipulating puppeteers and Homer curiously remaining silent. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Jean-Christian Bonnet
2.0 out of 5 stars Boring!
I would have prefered to have read the original text. Some moving insights into the lives of the carter and the father but on the whole not my kind of book.
Published 11 months ago by Dancing Queen
5.0 out of 5 stars Moving re-working of an ancient story
A most moving account of King Priam's embassy to Achilles, developed from the Iliad of Homer, to plead for the body of his son Hector, Malouf is a poet as well as a novelist, and... Read more
Published 13 months ago by Anne Brumfitt
5.0 out of 5 stars An unmissable addition to the tragedy of Troy for everyone who loves...
This is indeed an 'exquisite gem' of a book. I don't think I have ever read a better account of a very small extract from Homer's famous 'Iliad'. Read more
Published 23 months ago by Schneehase
5.0 out of 5 stars Ransom
Fabulous in both senses of the word - a slender novel that entrancingly re-imagines the events and characters of Homer's Iliad at the point when Achilles takes revenge on Hector... Read more
Published on 18 Aug 2012 by lesley saunders
4.0 out of 5 stars Moving and poetic
A short novel centred on Priam's visit to Achilles to ransom the body of Hector. This is a moving tale conveying the horrors of war. Read more
Published on 13 May 2012 by M. F. Cayley
4.0 out of 5 stars Lyrical re-telling of an episode from the Iliad
In this short book, Malouf re-enters the Iliad and expands the episode from close to the end when Priam travels to the Greek camp to ransom back his son Hector's body from... Read more
Published on 9 April 2012 by Roman Clodia
5.0 out of 5 stars Ransom
A beautiful book. The kind you don't want to end. Priam's visit to Achilles to beg for the body of his son Hector is retolled with great tenderness and insight. Read more
Published on 25 Mar 2011 by sid
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