A classic expertly retold, issued in a handsome, slightly oversize format with Ambrus's robust illustrations. The siege of Troy ends ""in a flash of fire, a splash of blood and a trampling of horses,"" and Odysseus sets out on the journey home, little knowing how long and hazardous it will be. McCaughrean tells the tale in clear, semiformal prose, ornamented with poetic passages ("". . .all those men who had answered the call to war and mustered from every island and shore of the O-round ocean. . ."") and flashes of (often grisly) humor: "" 'Mmm. Two eyes. Almost repulsive. But I won't let it put me off. Me, Polyphemus, I'll try anything once.' Reaching out, he picked up the fattest member of the crew and crammed him into that cavernous mouth."" In Ambrus's full-page ink and watercolor illustrations (alternating with b&w), Odysseus stands boldly aboard his ship, encounters a series of lissome women (bare-breasted, in the case of the Sirens), and comes home at last to his stubbornly faithful wife, Penelope. The long passages in tiny type may intimidate some readers outwardly, but the adventure's timeless spell will soon draw them in. A fitting companion to Rosemary Sutcliff's Black Ships Before Troy (1993).