- Audio Download
- Listening Length: 9 hours and 14 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Unabridged
- Publisher: Recorded Books
- Audible.co.uk Release Date: 22 Jun. 2010
- Language: English
- ASIN: B003TONP38
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank:
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The Golden Mean Audiobook – Unabridged
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Top customer reviews
The story is told through the voice of Aristotle who returns to Macedonia and falls into the role of Alexander's tutor, and is as much about the growth of the middle-aged philosopher as it is about the coming of age of his famous pupil.
Lyon's prose is flowing, fluent and elegant, unobtrusive without glaring stretches of literary ornamentality, and thus keeps the book human and intimate despite the grand themes with which it engages. There are some beautiful vignettes -- the first time Aristotle's wife sees snow, Alexander in the bath-tub eating apples and honey -- and the intensity of the story is allowed to develop at its own pace, feeling unforced and organic.
Above all, I'm always very wary of historical novels which are defensive of the morals of the past - here Lyon is, rightly, unapologetic of Greek attitudes to slavery, warfare, homoeroticism etc. and the book is all the better for the lack of any kind of PC overlay.
So overall this is a beautifully written and well articulated book that gets under the skin of one version of Alexander, keeping him both true to the sources but also immediately human and accessible. Well done Ms Lyon - I loved this!
Told in the PoV of Aristotle, this is the story of his relationship with young Alexander of Macedonia, whose mentor he was for years. Though Macedonian by birth, Aristotle is Greek by choice and is quite turned off at first by the 'barbarism' of his friend King Philip's court. But he and his wife make a life there, as he becomes friends with members of the royal household (and an aging actor), especially as he learns to accept and love both Alexander, whose warlike and conflicted nature is a source of constant concern and whom he tries to teach to be a better man, and his brother Arrhidaeus, whom Aristotle teaches how to live.
All initial concerns about reading a book whose main character is a philosopher flow out of the window after the first couple of pages - there's nothing ancient-like or boring about this book. It's written in present tense (my favourite way of reading historical fiction since "Wolf Hall") and though it does have a sense of time and place, it could have taken place yesterday - everything's so vivid and matter-of-fact.
Ms Lyon has crafted an interesting and enjoyable novel around the lives of some key historical figures (Aristotle, Plato, Philip and Alexander) and done so in a way that integrates the broad sweep of history with the very human foibles that each possesses. As depicted, Aristotle is a fascinating character: a blend of contradictions who is both curious about the world around him and caught within the conventions of the times in which he lived. On the pages of this novel, Aristotle comes to life.
Alexander is still being shaped: his training for leadership and war is tempered (in part) by Aristotle's training in philosophy and the arts. The aim is to find a balance, or the Golden Mean, between the two extremes of deficiency and excess. The objective is to prepare Alexander to succeed Philip, and while Aristotle views Alexander as `a violent, snotty boy' at the beginning, he comes to love and respect him by the end of the novel.
I enjoyed this novel because of its perspective of Alexander. I found the depiction of Aristotle fascinating. While he doesn't seem terribly pleasant person, he is believable and I could imagine him teaching, challenging and shaping Alexander. For me, one of the most interesting characters was Philip of Macedon, and I would like to read more about him.
`Never be afraid to enter an agreement you can't immediately see your way out of.'