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The Persian Boy: A Novel of Alexander the Great: A Virago Modern Classic (VMC) Paperback – 7 Aug 2014


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Product details

  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Virago (7 Aug. 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1844089584
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844089581
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 3.1 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 109,515 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)

Renault's masterpiece. One of the greatest historical novels ever written (Sarah Waters)

Mary Renault is a shining light to both historical novelists and their readers. She does not pretend the past is like the present, or that the people of ancient Greece were just like us. She shows us their strangeness; discerning, sure-footed, challenging our values, piquing our curiosity, she leads us through an alien landscape that moves and delights us (Hilary Mantel)

Mary Renault's portraits of the ancient world are fierce, complex and eloquent, infused at every turn with her life-long passion for the Classics. Her characters live vividly both in their own time, and in ours (Madeline Miller)

All my sense of the ancient world - its values, its style, the scent of its wars and passions - comes from Mary Renault. I turned to writing historical fiction because of something I learned from Renault: that it lets you shake off the mental shackles of your own era, all the categories and labels, and write freely about what really matters to you (Emma Donoghue)

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. Nowhere is this more evident than in The Persian Boy . . . Bagoas is a brilliant narrator. Rendered unreliable by his passion, he is always believeable and sympathetic . . . His Persian background allows him to see the king and his Macedonians through the questioning eyes of an alien' (Antonia Senior The Times)

Book Description

In the second 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.

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By J Gozzi on 7 Aug. 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Mary Renault's second and probably best book in the Alexander trilogy. It tells the story of a young Persian aristocrat, Bagoas, who sees his father betrayed, captured and killed by a former friend, and who himself is taken, castrated and sold into slavery. The book charts his progress until he is taken into the King of Persia's household, and then into his bed. When Darius is defeated by Alexander at the battle of Gaugamela, Bagoas becomes part of the spoils of war, and is presented to him as a bribe. The book thereafter charts Alexander's tumultuous and remarkable life and exploits and Bagoas's part in them, as an acknowledged lover, until Alexander's death in Babylon, and the power struggle that erupts, leading to the third book of the trilogy, Funeral Games. Bagoas was a chronicled part of Alexander's life, and this sensitive and tragic account of his life has for many, many years been my favourite book. The writing is superb, the research and historic detail unimpeachable, the emotion (but never sentimentality) overwhelming. I rarely finish this book (even after more than 30 readings) without a lump in my throat. A superb book and a classic for grown-ups. I cannot recommend it highly enough.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Roman Clodia TOP 100 REVIEWER on 2 Jan. 2015
Format: Paperback
Renault's Alexander is one of the most complex and haunting fictional characters, and this book (the second of the trilogy which began with Fire from Heaven and continues with Funeral Games) is probably the most accessible. It follows Alexander's last years of conquest in Persia and the East, and is told by Bagoas, the Persian eunuch who once served Darius, King of Kings, and so is won by Alexander along with the rest of Darius' kingdom and personal possessions.

The love that grows between Alexander and his 'Persian boy' is romantic and romaticised, but is effectively offset both by the parallel relationship with Hephaistion, and the military conquest of the East, the hardship and the conflicts that it engenders amongst the native Macedonians who have been away from home for over 10 years.

Renault does a fabulous job of integrating the ancient sources while never letting them inhibit her imagination in the slightest, and 'her' Alexander has been hugely influential in the way that he is received and understood today.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Miss Renault gives us a master work fit for its subject...the life and conquests of Alexander the Great told through the voice of the Persian boy who loved him as a man not just as a king. The love of Bagoas shines through the work. It is described with erotic passion but never with crudeness. To read this is to fall in love with Alexander and grieve for his loss....and to love Bagoas and Hephaistion also for they shared in his worship. Miss Renault's skill in depicting Alexander's world is such you can see and taste and smell it in all its glory. A joy to read, a grief to end. I cried, reluctant to know those shining eyes had closed forever.
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