Random House UK
ISBN - 10: 0099539527
ISBN - 13: 9780099539520
From the Publisher
A brilliant Homeric fable in miniature for our times -- a lyrical and surprising reworking of the story of the Trojan war by an acclaimed international writer.
What happens when a young prince falls in battle and his body is spirited away to be desecrated and dishonoured? His death is the battle price of another young man''s death, but what price dishonour and a father''s grief?
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. His version opens with Achilles, 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.
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 does King Priam take such an ugly, simple cart and 2 asses to claim his son in such a humbling manner? Malouf delves into some of the empty spaces between chapters of the original and fleshes it out into a well written add-on. This last event (the request to ransom the body of Hector) is dealt with in a relatively brief manner in the Iliad and is the subject of this book as Malouf takes us behind the scenes to show us his interpretation of Priam's motivations.
I really enjoy when snippets of ancient text have been expanded into a larger story that stays loyal to the original work and fits so well into the larger epic. I personally think a work like The Iliad is a tough act to follow but Malouf stays true to the original and provides an entertaining and clever look into the reaction of Priam's wife and family, where they find the cart and the driver, and why he dresses like a commoner and felt free to wander through the Greek camp with a cart full of gold. This is a story about fatherhood, about forgiveness and, though a little cliché, what it means to be human amidst all of these immortal petulant gods interfering in our lives.
How far should a father go to reclaim the body of his slain son for a proper burial? Should Achilles have relented and surrendered the body of Hector? Or if he had kept the body and slain Priam outright wouldn't the war have ended right then with no more bloodshed?
Concise, well-written and a perfect fir with the original tale this is a highly recommended read.