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The Persian Boy [Paperback]

Mary Renault
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
RRP: 8.99
Price: 7.67 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

6 Nov 2003
The Persian Boy tells the story of the climactic last seven years of Alexander the Great's life through the eyes of his lover, Bagoas. Abducted and gelded as a boy, Bagoas was sold as a courtesan to King Darius of Persia, but found freedom with Alexander after the Macedon army conquered his homeland. Taken as an attendant into Alexander's household, the beautiful young eunuch becomes the great general's lover and their relationship sustains Alexander as he survives assassination plots, the demands of two foreign wives, a mutinous army, and his own ferocious temper.

Product details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Arrow; New Ed edition (6 Nov 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099463482
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099463481
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 125,727 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Book Description

The second book in the Alexander The Great trilogy, now back in print after many years

About the Author

Mary Renault was educated at Clifton High School, Bristol and St Hugh's College, Oxford. Having completed nursing training in 1937 she wrote her first novel Promise of Love: her next three novels were written during off-time duty whilst serving in the war. In 1948 she went to live in South Africa but travelled widely. It was her trip to Greece and her visits to Corinth, Samos, Crete, Delos, Aeginia and other islands, as well as to Athens, Sounion and Marathon, that resulted in her brilliant historical reconstructions of Ancient Greece. Mary Renault died in 1983.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
36 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The most human look at Alexander ever 4 Oct 2002
This is the most moving book I have ever read.
It tells the tale of the later parts of Alexander the Great's conquests. The whole book is written from the perspective of his eunuch Bagoas. Renault has ignored the historical debate regarding this individual's existence and has instead made him a window into the soul of a magnificant man. The story is an emotional roller coaster, we along with Bagoas fall in love with Alexander. We watch him achieve victory after victory and fall into the depths of despair at his failures.
Renault has made Alexander accessable to all. Those with no knowledge of ancient history will access Alexander as easily as scholars. The events of Alexnder's life are made vividly real to all. We mourn with Alexander when his life long companion Hephaestion dies. We cheer when he wins, worry when falters and mourn when he dies.
This is Mary Renault's best and most moving novel. The triliogy is fantastic but this is the most powerful and moving of the stories.
A must for everyone.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Romantic view of Alexander's last years 25 May 2006
By Roman Clodia TOP 100 REVIEWER
Renault's Alexander is one of the most complex and haunting fictional characters, and this book (the 2nd 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 romaticised and stops just short of tipping over into Mills & Boon territory, 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. Not that I'm claiming that this is great history - it's not and isn't supposed to be. But it is great fiction.
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44 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a living image 8 Oct 2002
The second volume in her Alexander trilogy, Mary Renault's historical novel *The Persian Boy* must surely be ranked as one of her finest books. Many of the reviews which greeted its original (delayed) publication, reflecting the mores of the time, were openly and unambiguously hostile. As may be expected, this disapproval by and large centred on what by any objective measure must be considered the very discreet treatment of a possible physical relationship between Alexander of Macedon and the young eunuch presumed in the sources to be his *eromenos*, the Persian Bagoas. Interestingly, given the gaps in the historical record concerning this individual, even recent students of Alexander's life and career have adopted a predominantly pejorative attitude towards Bagoas. Whatever the truth about him, it seems that Alexander's Persian boy continues to cause unease among those whom, as Mary Renault would put it, such thoughts disturb. The non-judgmental among us, however, may rightly view *The Persian Boy* as one of Renault's most accomplished works and, within the parameters of her own interest, surely also a statement of personal significance to the author. Its cyclical structure, thematic resonances, beautifully observed psychological tensions and human dilemmas, unfold in what Dylan Thomas called a `colour of saying' which is at times the match of anything she wrote.
As other reviewers have noted, the book is not without its flaws, both artistic and historical, and Mary Renault herself was fully aware of these. But because *The Persian Boy* is not simply an historical novel but a safe place of generous beauty created by an author of not inconsiderable courage-and this in the teeth of contemporary distaste for such themes-other critical standards should also be applied.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb 8 Dec 2011
By Camila
I got it after a friend recommendation and I think it's my duty to do the same, spread the word... it's a very sad, cruel but also marvelous story. Don't miss it... Bogoas voice should be listened.
I recommend it, and I can't give less than 5 stars
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best historical novels ever? 20 Sep 2008
By Oudeis
What really amazed here is not the scholarship or the good writing, they are always there with Mary Renault, but the way she imagines not one ancient culture but two -the Macedonians observed by the persian boy. Dazzling.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Personal, touching and emotive 18 July 2008
By Ems
A fantastic read. Renault vividly charts the later years of Alexander's life and his many achievements, adding a personal angle (and in many ways making the story more believable and touching) by telling it all through the eyes of Bagoas, a Persian Eunuch.

I found this book both Historically educational and enjoyable. Accessible to everybody and well worth a read!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best of the three 5 Jun 2007
By Reader
The selection for the main character is brilliant. The reader feels very close to the events and the magic of Alexander can be felt through the pages. Despite the other parts of the trilogy not being as good as this masterpiece, together a brilliant trilogy is created.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars The heart of the trilogy
The Persian Boy follows on from Fire From Heaven and takes us to the heart of Alexander’s life story; his travels and conquests of the Persian empire as Macedonian king. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Isis
5.0 out of 5 stars Old school.
I bought this as a "Good condition" second hand book from America. i am slightly amazed at how fast it arrived.

It was is fair to good condition. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Combat Wombat
2.0 out of 5 stars Not for me.
I did not finish this book which is not like me. I did not enjoy the style of writing. There was a lot happening but not much description
Published 9 months ago by Mrs. Fiona Mitchell
5.0 out of 5 stars Lyrical, beautiful
Our group likes this author because she writes well and empathetically. Maybe also because she was educated in this city and also because her book The Charioteer is set here. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Mr. D. P. Jay
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Read
Second book in the Alexander trilogy, totally engrossing and the characters just sieze the reader and pull them into the story. Look forward to reading it again.
Published 11 months ago by Richard
5.0 out of 5 stars Unparalleled
Mary Renault has an uncanny way with the ancient world, both in her reconstructions of myths and in her depictions of historical figures. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Samuel Romilly
3.0 out of 5 stars A different perspective
I felt this sequel to "Fire from Heaven" lacked some of the urgency and coherence of the first book, but it is, none the less, a fascinating literary excercise. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Peasant
5.0 out of 5 stars The best of the Trilogy
I'm assuming if you're considering this, you have read 'Fire From Heaven', so I won't describe the Trilogy in detail. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Guy
5.0 out of 5 stars An authentic recreation of the ancient world...
Mary Renault historical novels have achieved enduring recognition as a highly probably portrait of events in the ancient world. Read more
Published 18 months ago by John P. Jones III
5.0 out of 5 stars A remarkable read
The Persian boy, Bagoas, is well born, but his father is betrayed and murdered, Bagoas should have been killed too, but possessing remarkable beauty his father's murderers consider... Read more
Published on 14 July 2011 by Benjamin
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