RANSOM is not a book. It's a time machine. Give it the slightest chance, accept it on its own terms, and it will carry you back to King Priam's meeting with Achilles just as surely as Somax's simple mule cart in this story carried Priam himself to that same meeting. Each word is smoothly polished and carefully fitted into the beautifully structured whole, creating a story that is as well crafted as a poem and which will grip you just as tightly as if you were in the wooded hills of Greece sitting around and gazing into a late evening campfire listening to Malouf spin his magical yarn of Priam's trip to find and to meet Achilles -- a short two day trip that turns out to contain almost as many life-lessons both for Priam and indeed for all of us all as did Odysseus's ten year journey home to Ithaca after the war. Throughout the trip Somax unknowingly serves for Priam much the same humanizing function as did the Roman slaves who during parades stood immediately behind returning generals in their chariots continually whispering into their ears "Remember, thou art but a man". And in so doing Somax opens vital new vistas in Priam's old mind. Observing this process is especially compelling for those of us over a certain age who will feel close to King Priam as we ourselves ride forward toward our own destinies, making peace with many painful things as we go. This book is a gem. Kenneth E. MacWilliams
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