Fire From Heaven


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Get A Copy. Paperback , pages. Published June 11th by Vintage first published June More Details Original Title. Alexander the Great 1. Alexander the Great. Other Editions Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about Fire from Heaven , please sign up.

Fire from Heaven

How accurate is this book? Is it for people who want to learn history or who want to have fun? Tom Meyer In general, Renault's fiction is regarded as historically accurate, and rightly so to my mind. This series is no exception in terms of how well she's …more In general, Renault's fiction is regarded as historically accurate, and rightly so to my mind.

This series is no exception in terms of how well she's researched her subject and brought it to life, but her interpretation of Alexander is controversial and has been harshly criticized. To be clear, Alexander is one of the few people in history you could make a plausible case for that being so -- and there's real evidence that both he and those who knew him at least considered the idea -- but it's very odd for a modern author to embrace it as Renault has done.

So, again, you're getting a vivid, historically-accurate, and highly-controversial take on one of history's biggest characters. And if you can't tell, I think it's fantastic. Is it necessary to start this series since the first book? Tom Meyer I wouldn't say it's necessary to start with Fire From Heaven -- after all, it's a historical novel -- but I would highly recommend it. The series …more I wouldn't say it's necessary to start with Fire From Heaven -- after all, it's a historical novel -- but I would highly recommend it.

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The series works very well as a whole and the highly specific narrative voice of the second book doesn't make sense without the first or the third. See all 3 questions about Fire from Heaven…. Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing Rating details. More filters. Sort order. I can tell you, I have seen, they are the very blood of his body, all those men who he knows would run after him through fire.

If ever the day comes when they will follow him no longer, it will be the same with him as with some great hetaira when they lovers leave her door and she puts away her mirror. He will begin to die. He is the heir to the throne of Macedonia, but an uneasy heir. His father, Philip II, and his mother, Olympias, are constantly sparring for his soul.

His father, busy with campaigns and running an empire, cannot devote as much time to influencing his son as his mother can. I actually found myself feeling sorry for Philip because, though he tries to make connections with his son, any progress he makes is quickly undone by one errant word or intercession by Olympias. There is one scene where Alexander has given a girl named Gorgo some violets because he likes her, only to have his impressions of her dashed almost immediately.

In the patch of light, the girl Gorgo faced towards him, wriggling and squirming in the arms of a man who stood behind him, one dark square hairy hand squeezing her groin and the other her breast. Breathless soft giggles stirred her throat. The dress slid off her shoulder under the working hand; a couple of dead violets fell out on the flagstones.

Philip II To his father, it is just a dalliance with an available young woman, which, frankly, in his position any woman is available to him.

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His power is immense and complete. In this time period, homosexuality is accepted as natural and not treated as an abomination, like it has been in more recent centuries. A man still has a responsibility to produce offspring, so even if he favors men, he has to occasionally use his imagination, blow the lamps out as it were, and impregnate a female. Alexander prefers the company of his best friend Hephaistion. This relationship will have a huge impact on his level of success and also be the catalyst for the end of his reign, but then that is a story for later in this trilogy.

Hephaistion Alexander will be the philosopher king, and Aristotle puts in a few appearances in this novel. His influence will be felt more later in the story. I enjoyed this one scene involving his pupils and the things they would bring him from their explorations. They would set up their nets in the coverts, and get their buck or their hare. Under the trees the smells were dank and mossy; on the open slopes, spicy with crushed herbs. At sunup there would be smells of wood-smoke and roasted meat, horse-sweat on leather, dog-smells as the hounds came coaxing up for scraps.

But if the quarry was rare or strange, they would go fasting home and save it for dissection. Aristotle had learned this skill from his father; it was the Asklepiad heritage. Even insects, they found, he did not disdain. The great philosophers, the great leaders of history, are never satisfied with what they know. They are always driven by their own burning curiosity to know more.


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  • Aristotle instills that desire for knowledge in Alexander, and that characteristic makes him a better leader and a man more willing to embrace the differences that he encounters in other cultures, rather than rejecting those differences as non-Macedonian. Mary Renault does a wonderful job exploring the relationships between all of the characters.

    She introduces names, events, and regions with ease. The maps on the back of the boards of the book really helped me keep orientated as Philip and Alexander both campaigned to keep the peace. Her scholarship is superb. Much of what we know about Alexander was written long after his death, but the relationships between Philip, Olympias, and Alexander are well documented. Renault fills in the gaps and brings these characters and their turmoils to life. View all 30 comments.

    First part of Alexander The Great Trilogy. Beautifully written and very well reaserched.

    We can derive knowlegde on Alexander from Plutarch mostly but Mary Renault mentions some other authors either. Fire from Heaven follows Alexander from his infancy to the day when after his father death he becomes a king. She evokes image of a boy constantly weaving between possessive love of Olympias, his mother and rough treatment from his father, king Philip. We see Alexander tutored by Aristotle, we witness him killing his first man at the age of twelve.

    We get to know his friends and allies and like him we start to recognise all that string-pulling and behind the scene machinations. We can see the role of a woman in ancient world, and not very uplifting image it is indeed. On pages of the novel history just brings to life. Under her pen protagonists seem to come alive, are flesh and blood, both in beauty and ugliness, sublime and mundane aspects. The author explores philosophical, social and military themes as nature of love as well. She gives a lot of space to friendship between Alexander and Hephaistion modeling it on the image of Achilles and Patroclus and creates beautiful portrait of devotion, deep understanding and long -lasting affection.

    Theory that Alexander had male lovers has still almost the same number of supporters as opponents. And Mary Renault pursues that thread with great care and subtlety. She rather implies than states nature of their attachment. At the stair-foot Hephaistion was waiting. He happened to be there, as he happened to have a ball handy if Alexander wanted a game, or water if he was thirsty; not by calculation, but in a constant awareness by which no smallest trifle was missed.

    Most facts evoked here were known to me already but I liked the way Renault wove this tale, how she bridged the gaps where no sources remained and how she conjured image of the boy who in the future was to conquer half of the ancient world. View all 34 comments. Nov 19, Spencer Orey rated it it was amazing Shelves: ancient-greece-rome.

    This is a masterpiece of historical fiction, weaving together a lot of subtle threads and viewpoints.

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    I felt like i got to know this version of Alexander very personally, and I could feel some of his powerful, earned charisma. I appreciated the careful attention to his sexuality, dealing with Alexander's relationships and his own feelings about sex while at the same time balancing all of that with respect to the historical time period and what sexual and gender roles were possible at the time. T This is a masterpiece of historical fiction, weaving together a lot of subtle threads and viewpoints. That must have been so hard to pull off, even in Fantastic job.

    Renault is more direct here than in the Thesus books in her treatment of the ancient Greek patriarchy and the violence against women. Still, I could see how readers wanted more from that and how we ended up with great feminist retellings of Greek myths. Alexander's parents come off as real complicated pieces of work, pulling him in different directions with their machinations.

    There's a lot implied that Alexander's ambition is kind of a byproduct of getting messed up by these two charismatic monster parents, though even that is balanced by Alexander's own relationship to the Gods, especially his fascination with the tasks of Herakles. I thought there'd be more attention to his time with Aristotle, but I didn't exactly want more pedantic lessons.

    The last fourth or so of the book lost some steam for me as it moved away from the momentum of conquering and sunk into the dense politics before Alexander's ascension to the throne, but the book never lost me.


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    • I mostly had to slow down and accept that there were too many people, places, and moving parts to keep track of.

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