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Funeral Games (The Novels of Alexander the Great) Paperback – 10 Oct 2002

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Funeral Games (The Novels of Alexander the Great) + The Persian Boy: A Novel of Alexander the Great: A Virago Modern Classic (VMC) + Fire from Heaven: A Novel of Alexander the Great: A Virago Modern Classic (VMC)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 338 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Books; New edition edition (10 Oct. 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375714197
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375714191
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 1.9 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,325,465 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

Renault's skill is in immersing us in their world, drawing us into its strangeness, its violence and beauty . . . a literary conjuring trick . . . so convincing and passionately conjured (The Times)

The Alexander Trilogy stands as one of the most important works of fiction in the 20th century . . . it represents the pinnacle of [Renault's] career . . . Renault's skill is in immersing us in their world, drawing us into its strangeness, its violence and beauty. It's a literary conjuring trick like all historical fiction - it can only ever be an approximation of the truth. But in Renault's hands, the trick is so convincing and passionately conjured. (Antonia Senior The Times) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Book Description

In the final novel of her stunning trilogy, Mary Renault vividly imagines the life of Alexander the Great, the charismatic leader whose drive and ambition created a legend. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Roman Clodia TOP 100 REVIEWER on 25 May 2006
Format: Paperback
This is the third book of Renault's Alexander Trilogy which started with Fire from Heaven and continued with The Persian Boy. It's a difficult book to read as the absence of Alexander, dead in Babylon, is so painful to contemplate, but that's a mark of how involving and real the books are: we really care that this man is dead, and like some of the characters at least, we too are disorientated and don't know how the world is going to continue without him.

It does, of course. But not as it once was: the death of Alexander forces the hands of everyone ever involved with him and the political machinations of his family, friends, enemies and fellow commanders is what this book focuses on. Political, complex and intricate, it yet subtly shows the strength and force of personality of Alexander himself in the very fact of his absence which haunts this book to the end.

A far cry from Manfredi and Pressfield, this is both steeped in an understanding of the ancient sources and yet is an imaginative recreation of a vanished world that belongs uniquely to Renault.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By J.K. Currie VINE VOICE on 21 Dec. 2012
Format: Paperback
Mary Renault's last novel is one of her best and my own personal favourite. The third book of the Alexander trilogy begins in Babylon with the Macedonian king dying and ends in Alexandria decades later with the great survivor, Ptolemy king of Egypt, commenting briefly on what had been the essence of Alexander, what had perhaps made him worthy of the title, `the Great'.

One of the most impressive things about this novel is that it can be fully appreciated in its own terms and does not depend on a reading of the first two. It has a lyrical and melancholy atmosphere which evokes a world lost and going astray, of a golden age declining into violence and loss with only a few relics preserved here and there - and this despite the attempts of some very worthy men and women to preserve what had been achieved under Alexander. It is also a convincing meditation on the nature and transience of power, of the qualities necessary for the wielding of authority. It draws convincing pictures of flawed and lesser men and their attempts to grasp what Alexander had possessed. When I first read this novel nearly thirty years ago, I thought of it as Renault's `War and Peace' and I still consider the comparison apt. There is a huge cast of characters, male and female, soldiers and courtiers, and the author carefully, deftly draws out the consequences of Alexander's death and the reactions of those who served him to moving and often tragic conclusions.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By nicola rush on 25 May 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a 'have to read' if you have read the first two, and I really did not want to go into this book without Alexander - being just as smitten with him as many of his followers were. And you do feel the pain of the separation - cleverly written by Renault. It is devastating to see how everything Alexander worked for became unraveled, with squabbling and murder throughout, in attempts by all in positions of power to gain control of a fragmented Empire. Alexander is very much still present throughout the book as he would have been in the hearts and minds of both friends and enemies of the time. This at least gives a little comfort. A difficult read if only for the absence of Alexander and the crimes that followed his death.
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By Iset TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 7 Dec. 2014
Format: Paperback
I’m actually marking Funeral Games down from the first two books in Mary Renault’s trilogy; Fire From Heaven and The Persian Boy. The difference? Renault jumps about a lot in time here. Of course her previous novels did this too – all of them were selective in their scenes, not comprehensive – but this time round Renault covers a much wider span of time, the events of thirty-seven years in total, a wider range than the first two books combined. And historically those thirty-seven years were chock full of conflicts, plots, and sudden reversals of fortune as Alexander’s generals duked it out for a slice of his empire. As a result, Renault ends up jumping from event to event, and some scenes, especially in the second half of the book, feel abbreviated, and the characters sketched rather than fully, immersively formed. That was my single major problem with Funeral Games. It was difficult to get into the story in the same way I had with The Persian Boy or Fire From Heaven, when Renault had to sketch the huge cast of characters that pop up over these thirty-seven years and resort to a tiny brushstroke here and there to try and convey much more about these characters.

The first half of the book felt much better written than the second half, largely because it spends a lot of time on the immediate aftermath of Alexander’s death, and Renault can lavish more pages on events and developing the characters involved. It distinctly feels like a more coherent narrative. This section of the novel retains Renault’s signature deft touch at characterisations and breaking down complex events into something lucid and understandable on a human level, without detracting from their complexity.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By John P. Jones III TOP 500 REVIEWER on 4 Oct. 2013
Format: Paperback
Mary Renault wrote numerous historical novels set in the ancient Greek world. She meticulously researched her subjects, and her novels are credited for being historically accurate. The interactions of her characters are highly plausible, with dialogue that rings authentic. Her first novel was The Last Of The Wine, written in 1956, and set during the Peloponnesian Wars. Her trilogy was written over a period that spanned the `70's. I've read and reviewed the first two volumes, Fire From Heaven, written in 1969, and The Persian Boy, written in 1972. This would be her concluding volume, written in 1982. She died the next year.

Renault was a homosexual. It is difficult to imagine the full circumstances for her decision, but in 1948 she and her "significant other" fled what they considered to be an intolerant England for a more liberal South Africa, where she would live for the rest of her life. Though she always stated that she did not want to be categorized as a "homosexual writer," she did legitimately depict the various known and suspected homosexual relationships in the Greek world, including Alexander's. Such inclinations had very real world consequences for the survival of his empire. As Renault recreates the words of Ptolemy: ` "A pity his mother was not like her. She would have had him married before he set out from Macedon, and seen that he got a son. He could have had an heir of fourteen by this time. She'd not have sickened him with a marriage while he was a child.
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