It’s interesting subject matter. David Malouf focuses in on one of the most touching moments in Homer’s The Iliad – the death of the hero Hector, and his father’s humble journey into enemy territory to beg his killer, the famed Achilles to ransom and return his body for a proper burial.
Malouf bases much of his action from The Iliad, but also takes liberties with the myth. This makes it a richer text, as he introduces more elements for readers to discuss and break down. He also makes it a more human story, by removing the emphasis from the interference from the Gods, and more on to the actions and decisions of the characters.
There is a subtlety to Malouf’s writing that many appreciate, although I find it distances me from the characters. This should be heart-rending, but is a step more cerebral than this. A thinker rather than a feeler. I can’t get lost in the narrative, although I can appreciate the craft.
Currently this is on the VCE English text list, and it would be a terrific text for students to write on.