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Ransom

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  2,971 ratings  ·  434 reviews
David Malouf shines new light on Homer's Iliad, adding twists and reflections, as well as flashes of earthy humour, to surprise and enchant. 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, ...more
Kindle Edition, 125 pages
Published July 1st 2012 by Random House Australia (first published 2009)
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Average rating 3.81  · 
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Manuel Antão
Nov 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010
If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.


The Gods are Infantile and Infinitely Wise: "Ransom" by David Malouf



(Original Review, 2010-01-15)



Someone else mentioned David Malouf's “Ransom” in a linked discussion. I highly recommend the book to others once they've been through “Homer.” What Mr. Malouf does with the relationship between Priam and Achilles manages - I think - to hold fast with the classic but simultaneously locate Homer's work in a contemporary context (2009 is
...more
Vit Babenco
Jan 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The ancient times… They still agitate us and we are ready to return to antiquity again and again.
In the ancient times, when gods were many, they were easy to reach – should one just doze off and some numinous being wouldn’t take long to appear. It’s a shame that in the modern times we can see nothing but dreams.
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
...more
PattyMacDotComma
Nov 12, 2012 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.

...more
Sophia
Jan 18, 2016 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
...more
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,
...more
Cristina
Aug 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
David Malouf's Ransom is an intense and often deeply poetic retelling of books 22-24 of the Iliad that in the epic poem recount King Priam's journey to the Greek military camp to ransom Hector's body from Achilles.

I clearly remember reading this episode in Homer's poem in school and being completely moved by it and Malouf's re-imagining didn't fail to provoke in me the same feeling of deep sadness at the encounter of two men equally stunned by a profound and unutterable grief.

It's very easy to
...more
Terence
Nov 25, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Kathy Turner
May 21, 2012 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
...more
Gearóid
Mar 23, 2015 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!
Lawyer
Feb 28, 2010 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 ...more
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
...more
Terry
3 - 3.5 stars

Homer’s _Iliad_ has long been considered one of the cornerstones of western literature and culture and the themes and events it presents have become part of our common language of myth and metaphor. The story and characters have been tackled by numerous writers wishing to comment or expand upon Homer’s model, or provide their own take on its events. In his novel _Ransom_, David Malouf does this as well, though he concentrates on one small, though significant, scene: Priam’s journey
...more
Teresa
Feb 26, 2010 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.
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
...more
Kiwi Begs2Differ  ✎
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
...more
Kathi
Aug 29, 2019 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
I NEED THIS! Sounds soooooo good
F.
Dec 30, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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'
...more
Roman Clodia
Aug 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 Achilles.

Malouf writes in lovely, lyrical, economic prose (`the corpses he moves among: headless, limbless, savagely hacked, hovered about by ghostly exhalations and the fires of the dead'), and conveys atmosphere very well.

I guess my caveat about this book is that by expanding this single episode, Malouf is forced to spell
...more
Tamara Agha-Jaffar
Ransom by David Malouf is a brilliant re-telling of a pivotal moment in Homer’s Iliad when Priam, the aged king of Troy, journeys to the enemy camp to offer a ransom in exchange for his son’s body. What makes the event so poignant is he has to make the offer to his son’s killer, Achilles. In his skillful and detailed portrayal of Priam, Achilles, Hecuba, and Somax, Malouf performs a masterful task of fleshing out these characters, rendering them as fully rounded human beings. He depicts them ...more
K.P. Ambroziak
**highly recommend**
***but read The Iliad, too!!***

I read this a year ago and just re-read it. It’s amazing how much of a difference a year makes. I loved it the first time I read it. (What’s not to love?) But this time I admired it. There’s a beauty to it that I can’t quite describe. Maybe it’s a little like Somax’s beast, Beauty. You’re immediately drawn into the tale, forced to notice it. The prose it subtly poetic and there’s a meditative quality to the story. This almost feels like a
...more
Lydia
Yes, this was excellent.
Roger Brunyate
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
...more
Collin
Jan 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ransom is indeed a retelling of a part of The Iliad. It is one of the defining moments of the poem when Priam kneels and kisses Achilles hand, asking for the return of his son’s body. But in the poem, we are never told just how Priam makes it into the Greek camp. He simply shows up. This short little novel is Malouf’s version of the journey and how Priam arrives at the camp with the ransom. Malouf makes the story very much about Priam and his thoughts and ponderings while travelling on the mule ...more
Laura Leaney
Jul 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jane
Jun 22, 2012 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 ...more
Laura
Very enjoyable and an interesting take on one scene from the Iliad
Marcus Hobson
Nov 06, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mythology
'Ransom' was published nine years ago, but I have only recently discovered it. I recall the cover, but it did not draw me in, because I know that if I had looked at the subject matter, I would have bought it nine years ago. I love Homer, and all stories surrounding the Trojan War and the travels of Odysseus.
This has been a bumper year for me with 'Circe', 'The Silence of the Girls' and Emily Wilson’s new translation of the 'Odyssey'. Now I have 'Ransom' to add to my list of favourite spin-offs
...more
Evan
Jun 20, 2011 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
Carolyn Mck
Sep 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: re-read, anz16
I recently re-read this remarkable novel.

The title refers to the treasure that King Priam brings to Achilles to redeem the body of his son, Hector. Achilles has killed Hector in revenge for the death of his beloved companion, Patroclus. In his violent grief and rage, Achilles has violated the rules of war by galloping his horses in front of the walls of Troy, day after day, pulling the body of Hector behind his chariot.

This is far more than a re-telling of these scenes from the Iliad. Malouf
...more
Iset
Ransom feels like a thought. An internal monologue. Heck, when I was halfway through reading the book it struck me; “this feels like fanfiction”. Namely a particular type of fanfiction, where the author is inspired by one particular scene or moment in an established story, and is driven to expand upon that moment, to delve deeper into the complex web of thoughts, motivations, and emotions going on inside the heads of the participating characters. This is often achieved through extensive internal ...more
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Play Book Tag: Ransom - Malouf - 4 stars 7 14 Jul 03, 2019 06:14AM  
Play Book Tag: ransom | David Malouf | 4 stars 5 13 Jul 01, 2019 01:32AM  

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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.
“Words are powerful. They too can be the agents of what is new, of what is conceivable and can be thought and let loose upon the world.” 8 likes
“He had entered the rough world of men, where a man's acts follow him wherever he goes in the form of story.” 2 likes
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