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Funeral Games (Vintage) [Paperback]

Mary Renault
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
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Book Description

10 Oct 2002 Vintage
“Renault’s best historical novel yet.... Every detail has solid historical testimony to support it.”–New York Review of Books

After Alexander’s death in 323 B.C .his only direct heirs were two unborn sons and a simpleton half-brother. Every long-simmering faction exploded into the vacuum of power. Wives, distant relatives, and generals all vied for the loyalty of the increasingly undisciplined Macedonian army. Most failed and were killed in the attempt. For no one possessed the leadership to keep the great empire from crumbling. But Alexander’s legend endured to spread into worlds he had seen only in dreams.

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: 20.3 x 13.2 x 2.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,838,964 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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"With the haunting-haunted Funeral Games, Mary Renault completes her recreation-and-creation of Alexander the Great. Now that Renault's trilogy is complete, it is plain that her Alexandriad is one of the twentieth century's most unexpectedly original works of art" (Gore Vidal)

"Brilliant and brutal... she has retained her unnerving genius for making the remote past live without diminishing its remoteness and alien glitter" (Sunday Times) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Book Description

The classic final part of the acclaimed Alexander the Great trilogy --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
By Roman Clodia TOP 100 REVIEWER
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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
This is the last in Mary Renault's Alexander trilogy, although Alexander doesn't really make an appearance in it at all. His shadow hovers over everything that happens, but he is dead by the start of the book. This is about how his followers, relatives, successors tore themselves apart after his death, each striving to assume power, to follow Alexander's wishes, to avenge old scores and feuds. Of course, the whole point of a man like Alexander is that no-one could follow him, no-one could live up to such a legend. Sometimes I think it's a strange way to end a trilogy of books about Alexander, with Alexander dead and gone by the end of the middle book, but I suppose how his empire disintegrated after him is as much a part of his story as anything that went on before.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By John P. Jones III TOP 500 REVIEWER
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. Whose fault was it that he wasn't ready for a woman till he met the Bactrian?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
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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