Fire from Heaven by Mary Renault
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Bookshelves: fictional-history, historical-fiction, love-story-not-a-romance, myth-and-legend
This first installment of the imagined youth of Alexander the Great is beautifully written. I have only just discovered Mary Renault. Sad for all the years I’ve missed; glad for all the reading ahead of me.
The large cast of characters with unfamiliar names did get confusing. This may have been unavoidable, in order to portray the infighting, backbiting, and general political intrigue that was rampant among the various tribes of ancient Greece. However, the significance of the bad blood between Attalos, Pausanias, and Philip of Macedon – and the part it played in Alexander’s destiny – got lost in the shuffle. Or was that intentional, to show how any seemingly small and forgotten thing can change the world?
I would have liked a more close-in view of the relationships among Alexander, Philip, and Olympias, but can also see it may have been impossible to do that while maintaining the broader sweep of the story. The relationship with Hephaistion is sensitively written. This was a thoroughly enjoyable book. I have a hold on The Persian Boy and am really looking forward to it.