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Ransom

3.81  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,946 Ratings  ·  322 Reviews
In his first novel in more than a decade, award-winning author David Malouf reimagines the pivotal narrative of Homer’s Iliad—one of the most famous passages in all of literature.

This is the story of the relationship between two grieving men at war: fierce Achilles, who has lost his beloved Patroclus in the siege of Troy; and woeful Priam, whose son Hector killed Patroclus
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Paperback, 224 pages
Published January 25th 2011 by Vintage (first published 2009)
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Sophia
Jan 18, 2016 Sophia rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 tbh

this is a retelling/elaboration/extrapolation of books 22-24 of the iliad by homer. at first, i thought it was so difficult to read. the writing was eloquent to the point where the words just seemed to swim on the page and i couldn't make sense of any of it. but eventually, i got accustomed to the writing and began to appreciate how impeccably malouf conveys the exact notion he wants to convey. he's a talented writer, although i do think he could be more succinct in many places.

the way h
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PattyMacDotComma
Jan 19, 2016 PattyMacDotComma rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Australian literature lovers; classical history buffs; lovers of quality literature
5
How could I give less to such an inventive interpretation of an old tale in such a beautifully written book?

I was ignorant of the story of the siege of Troy (well, I’d heard of it, but didn’t know much else), and I’ve never read The Iliad (for shame!). Greeks vs Trojans. That story.

No matter. If you’re as ignorant as I, you will still enjoy a re-telling of this part of by one of Australia’s best authors, David Malouf. This is a story with dreams and gods, but with very human hopes and desires.

B
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Kathy Turner
May 27, 2012 Kathy Turner rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“We are mortals, not gods. We die. Death is in our nature. Without that fee paid in advance, the world does not come to us” (p. 184).
David Malouf in Ransom (2009) re-tells Homer’s story of Priam’s ransom of the body of his son Hector from Achilles. While the Classical world focussed on the role of fate in the lives of Kings and heroes; Malouf writes of the dual role of fate and chance. The re-telling is thus addressed to us, who have forgotten perhaps both the role of fate and that of chance, so
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Gearóid
May 09, 2015 Gearóid rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Just brilliant!
Enjoyed very sentence.
There are lots of good reviews on this book.
All I can add is that even though it is quite a
short book it was totally absorbing and just
couldn't put it down!
Terence
Jan 21, 2013 Terence rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Lovers of Homer, fans of modern mythic reinterpretations
Recommended to Terence by: Daniel Mendelsohn
Shelves: mythologies
I’ve never liked Achilles but the more times I read The Iliad and related material, the more I’ve come to appreciate the difficulties he faced. Do you act in the world and risk failure or the betrayal of everything you hold true? Or do you – in effect – keep your head down and hope the gods take no notice of you? (I can’t buy into the Bronze Age warrior ethic of Homer nor its modern equivalent but I can understand that fear of acting, and in that sense I have a deep sympathy for Achilles.) Even ...more
Teresa
Mar 02, 2010 Teresa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Teresa by: Lisa Hill
A beautiful story that is both simple and complex. Malouf takes a portion of a well-known ancient Greek tale and fleshes it out in order to address what is basic about humanity: what it means to be mortal, to be a father, to be able to empathize with others, to be a man in the world. It also comments on what leads to that empathy: the vivid, detailed storytelling from someone seemingly simple of things seemingly mundane that ends up leaving you, the listener, the one enriched.
Lyn Elliott
This is one of the best works of fiction I've read for a long time. Outstanding.
Malouf has centred his story on the journey of Priam from embattled Troy to Achilles' tent to ransom his dead son Hector after eleven unbearable days watching Achilles drag Hector's dead body behind his chariot. Mutilated every day, the corpse is made whole again over night by the gods, pushing Achilles into further rage and outrage.
Whereas the Iliad is a story of deeds and actions, this is a story of inner turmoil,
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Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.)
This is without a doubt one of the best books I've read in a while. It was so damned good that I turned around and read it again as soon as I had finished reading it the first time. It doesn't take long to read, at just over 200 pages, but it packs a big wallop. Ransom, published in 2009, is Australian poet and author David Malouf's most recent offering after nearly ten years; and I have to say that it was well worth the wait.

Malouf's novel takes as its inspiration a series of events that occur
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Kiwi
Mar 03, 2016 Kiwi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book recounts the events in the last books of the Iliad in a surprisingly modern way, but it retains the power and elegance of the ancient text. I was impressed by Malouf’s ability to express the humanity of the characters and his enchanting language skills. I really liked how the author seamlessly weaved the tales of an unknown character, Somax, with the famous heroes and gods.

While I loved the tender dialogue between Priam and Hecuba, I think that Malouf spent too much time narrating Pria
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Judith Starkston
Ransom focuses on the moment in the Iliad when King Priam retrieves his son Hector’s body from Achilles. In twenty years of teaching that part of the epic, I never survived a class without having to wipe away tears. For me, it is the single most revealing moment in literature about what it means to be human. Nothing tops it. To choose that moment for a book’s primary subject! —audacious and, it turns out, wise.

As far as plot or story goes, it’s as simple a book as could be. A grieving father ig
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Lawyer
Mar 22, 2010 Lawyer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those interested in the Trojan War, Greek mythology, Achilles, or historical fiction
Recommended to Lawyer by: NYTimes Book Review
Malouf has created a masterpiece study on loss. Focusing on King Priam of Troy and Achilles victory over Priam's eldest son, Hector, Malouf never mentions the origins of the Trojan War. Paris and Helen of Troy have no place in this story. This is a story about fatherhood, the meaning of it, and the loss of a child seen through not only the eyes of Priam and his Queen, Hecuba, but also through the eyes of a commoner, Somax, who is called upon to drive Priam to Achilles' camp in an attempt to rans ...more
Jane
Apr 02, 2015 Jane rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Gorgeous retelling of the poignant episode in the Iliad of Priam's seeking the body of his son, Hector, from Achilles. The plot device of a simple carter, Somax, who drives Priam to the Greek camp is added. This serves to make Priam a more human, accessible character. Novel explores simple joys, grief, sorrow and emotional pain in all classes of characters and shows these feelings are universal; on a rest stop, the carter reveals his family life and death of his own son while trying to help anot ...more
Freya
May 22, 2016 Freya rated it liked it
Shelves: 2015
I delved into this book feeling really excited, but ended up quite let down. However, I must be perfectly honest and admit that there is a high chance that I only felt that way because of how devoted I am to Madeline Miller's The Song of Achilles.

I think that it is important to point out that Ransom revolves more around Priam's world rather than Achilles'. This is understandable once you've finished the book and gathered its main theme. Having said that, if you are looking to explore Achilles' p
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Laura Leaney
Aug 09, 2011 Laura Leaney rated it it was amazing
This novel is a new telling of a very small section of Homer's "Iliad," the one where King Priam of Troy infiltrates the camp of Achilles to plead (offer ransom) for the body of his son Hector. This is pretty much all the action of the novel - but Malouf gives an elegiac philosophical grandeur to the scene that is absolutely beautiful. We are now privy to the thoughts of Priam and Achilles, and the complexity of both men - as well as the nuances of their pain and sadnesses - make for compelling ...more
Evan
Jun 20, 2011 Evan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Okay, I'm being stingy. This is a lovely book. As one reviewer aptly noted, Malouf bears comparison to the Greek playwrights, especially Euripides, who mined the blank spaces in Homer and created new rich narratives fully respectful of their source. No doubt, this story of fathers brought low and humanized by the mortality of their sons, speaks more to me now than when I was only a son. The ancients, Homer included, don't linger in the humble emotions that modern audiences crave. So that's where ...more
Roger Brunyate
May 18, 2016 Roger Brunyate rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: hidden-gems
Mortals

David Malouf, who first visited the classical world near the start of his career with An Imaginary Life (1978), about the poet Ovid, now returns to it with his latest novel Ransom, a retelling of the last book of The Iliad. This short book, its small beautiful pages fitting easily into the hand, is nonetheless vast in scale, fully worthy of its original. Malouf writes as a poet, beginning with Homeric grandeur, but moving towards simple humanity. He strikes the heroic tone early in desc
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The Book Voucher
A Slightly Philosophic Book Review.

A reimagination of one of the most famous stories in all of literature - Achilles's slaughter and desecration of Hector, and Priam's attempt to ransom his son's body in Homer's The Iliad - Ransom is the first novel in more than a decade from David Malouf, arguably Australia's greatest living writer.
A novel of suffering, sorrow, and redemption, Ransom tells the story of the relationship between two grieving men at war: fierce Achilles, who has lost his beloved P
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Keith Currie
Mar 19, 2015 Keith Currie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Price Paid

There are those who love this short novel, and there are those who say ‘Might as well read the Iliad’. Does Malouf add anything to Homer in his ‘re-imagining’ of Iliad Book 24?

For anyone who knows the Iliad the opening and theme of Ransom present no problems: Achilles has killed Hector in revenge for his killing Patroclus, Achilles’ closest companion; Achilles causes daily abuse to the corpse of Hector, but each night the gods restore the body. Achilles has had his revenge but he
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Vit Babenco
Jan 17, 2015 Vit Babenco rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“Often, in the lapse of light in the chamber where he sits nodding, or in a leisure hour beside the fishpond in his garden, one or other of the gods will materialise, jelly-like, out of the radiant vacancy. An old, dreamlike passivity in him that he no longer finds it necessary to resist will dissolve the boundary between what is solid and tangible in the world around him – mulberry leaves afloat on their shadows, the knobbly extrusions on the trunk of a pine – and the weightless medium in which ...more
Becky
Apr 09, 2010 Becky rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Bailey
Jul 16, 2011 Bailey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
Malouf's novel takes as its inspiration a series of events that occur near the end of Homer's The Iliad: the death of Achilles' friend Patrocolus (Book 16), Achilles' killing of Hector (Book 22), the funeral of Patroclus (Book 23), and Priam's late-night visit to Achilles to beg for the return of his son's body (Book 24).

This compact novel, with its Homericly noble prose, is surprsingly powerful. It is not the story of the gods and goddesses, but the story of humans and human failings and feelin
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Rick
Mar 30, 2014 Rick rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Ransom is a retelling of part of The Iliad, the part after Achilles kills Hector when Priam, mourning his son’s death and anticipating the brutal conquest of his city, must decide how to reconcile a king’s duty with that of a father’s. Malouf, a prize-winning Australian novelist, does a superb job of recreating the mythic world of the heroes and gods of pre-historic Greece while at the same time humanizing the super-sized men and women of Troy and its besiegers.

Priam and an elderly cart man make
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Dirk
May 28, 2010 Dirk rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Anyone who knows me would know I’d love this book. Homer is the cornerstone of my idea of literature, perhaps of being a person. I’ve long admired the fine Australian writer David Maloof. In the Iliad after Achilles has killed Hector and is desecrating his corpse daily, his father, Priam, loads a wagon with treasure and accompanied only by a herald drives alone into the Greek camp and begs the return of his son’s body for appropriate burial. Achilles is moved to compassion. This is Maloof’s stor ...more
Chuck Lowry
Nov 26, 2014 Chuck Lowry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Chuck by: My friends at Faulkner House
Most people fasten on this book as an interesting retelling of the story of the combat of Achilles and Hector and the ransoming of Hector's body by his father King Priam. I was not so crazy about it from that perspective; I prefer Homer and from the point of view of simple narrative, I did not see anything in here that was better than Homer's account in The Iliad. What impressed me about this book was something entirely different, the humanizing, almost the contextualization of a king. We see Pr ...more
Roger
Dec 03, 2014 Roger rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a wonderful book! David Malouf is more well-known for his novels than his poetry, but it is as a poet he started his literary life, and a poet he remains, as this gem of a novel shows. The story is based on the section of the Iliad in which Patroclus is killed, Achilles kills Hector and drags his body before the walls of Troy, and ends when Priam reclaims Hector's body from Achilles.

This book though, is about human feeling - rage, grief, and love. There is a strong undercurrent in the book
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g
Jan 16, 2010 g rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: greece-and-rome
A quick read, this novel is an interesting reimagining of part of the Trojan War story, where King Priam begs Achilles for the body of his son Hector. The war is taken for granted: its cause is not discussed, and Paris is briefly mentioned only once or twice, Helen not at all. Though the perspective alternates between Achilles' and Priam's, the voice throughout is controlled and thoughtful, more believable as an old king's than a hotheaded young warrior's. Priam's transformation as a character i ...more
Linda
I think I'm weirdly particular with books that revisit greek mythology - I need the author to strike a particular tone, touch on particular themes etc and if that isn't done, I react very negatively. With this book, I did enjoy the first few pages with Achilles and I didn't mind the Heracles/Priam backstory, otherwise, it wasn't my thing. The emphasis on free will, the extended discussions that Priam holds with his family, the emphasis placed on being royal, making Achilles have fatherly inclina ...more
Christopher Reeves
Mar 22, 2015 Christopher Reeves rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
Smell The Book Review

9 out of 10

David Malouf is a well-established author and I doubt he needs my help at this point, but I was so impressed with his book that I wanted to review it here for anyone else interested in books related to Homer's works.

I have always been a huge fan of "The Iliad" and all the books it inspired. As with other large "epics" like this there are sometimes short episodes or interactions between characters that are not always fully explained or obvious to the reader. Why do
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poingu
With wrenchingly beautiful prose Malouf offers readers another way inside the beauty of Homer's story of Achilles and Priam, these two tired men, these enemies, who discover together how close their grief has brought them to one another. The book is careful, vivid, perfect, not Homer, something else, something fine.
Anna
May 07, 2015 Anna rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Perhaps I sold this book short by reading it swiftly and thus superficially. Nonetheless, like every other book I’ve read based on The Iliad (The Song of Achilles, The Rage of Achilles, Ilium, etc) it mostly awoke the desire to re-read the Iliad again. I was introduced to Homer’s poem at school when I was 16 and I loved it. (To some extent I think that’s a tribute to my teacher, as another class successfully put me off Shakespeare for many years.) No modern re-telling has ever quite captured the ...more
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David Malouf is the author of ten novels and six volumes of poetry. His novel The Great World was awarded both the prestigious Commonwealth Prize and the Prix Femina Estranger. Remembering Babylon was short-listed for the Booker Prize. He has also received the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Award. He lives in Sydney, Australia.
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