Review by K.P. Ambroziak
***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 bedtime story, if that makes sense. Malouf takes a snippet of time in a gargantuan lapse, zooms in, and somehow makes it overflow.
Okay, I’m a HUGE fan of Homer. I know both the epics inside and out. I’ve read them, I’ve heard them, I’ve taught them, but Malouf gets at something here I never sensed in the source material. Perhaps it’s a matter of leveling it. I mean bringing it down low, almost like the way Priam removes his crown and becomes “an ordinary man” for this task. There’s something run-of-the-mill here that works. It’s not dramatic. It’s touching. Achilles, too, is razed. Malouf does this lovely job of hinting at his brutish and violent behavior while making him broken and empathetic. One of the more touching moments is the exchange at the gates as Priam leaves. “Call on me, Priam, when the walls of Troy are falling around you, and I will come to your aid,” Achilles tells him. Priam’s answer chills him, and the two share a godly moment. The future is already sewn. They both seem to know the truth of the matter. Continue reading