Mary Renault - The Persian Boy - Little, Brown Book Group

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    • ISBN:9781405526210
    • Publication date:07 Aug 2014
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The Persian Boy

A Novel of Alexander the Great: A Virago Modern Classic

By Mary Renault

  • Paperback
  • £8.99

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.

'Renault's masterpiece. One of the greatest historical novels ever written' SARAH WATERS

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.

The Persian Boy traces the last years of Alexander's life through the eyes of his lover, Bagoas. Abducted and gelded as a boy, Bagoas is sold as a courtesan to King Darius of Persia, but finds freedom with Alexander the Great after the Macedon army conquers his homeland. Their relationship sustains Alexander as he weathers assassination plots, the demands of two foreign wives, a sometimes mutinous army, and his own ferocious temper. After Alexander's mysterious death, we are left wondering if this Persian boy understood the great warrior and his ambitions better than anyone.

'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

'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

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  • ISBN: 9781844089581
  • Publication date: 07 Aug 2014
  • Page count: 496
  • Imprint: Virago
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
Virago

The Mask of Apollo

Mary Renault
Authors:
Mary Renault

'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 MILLERCombining the scholarship of a historian with the imagination of a novelist, Mary Renault brings the ancient Greek stage thrillingly to life.Set in fourth-century B.C. Greece, The Mask of Apollo is narrated by Nikeratos, a tragic actor who takes with him on all his travels a gold mask of Apollo, a relic of the theatre's golden age, which is now past. At first his mascot, the mask gradually becomes his conscience, and he refers to it his gravest decisions, when he finds himself at the centre of a political crisis in which the philosopher Plato is also involved. Much of the action is set in Syracuse, where Plato's friend Dion is trying to persuade the young tyrant Dionysios the Younger to accept the rule of law. Through Nikeratos' eyes, the reader watches as the clash between the two unleashes all the pent-up violence in the city.'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 'There's much to wonder at in the way she fills in the large dark spaces where we know next to nothing about the times she describes . . . an important and wonderful writer . . . she set a course into serious-minded, psychologically intense historical fiction that today seems more important than ever' - Sam Jordison, Guardian

Virago

The Praise Singer

Mary Renault
Authors:
Mary Renault

'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 MILLERMary 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 MANTELIn the story of the great lyric poet Simonides, Mary Renault brings alive a time in Greece when tyrants kept an unsteady rule and poetry, music, and royal patronage combined to produce a flowering of the arts. Born into a stern farming family on the island of Keos, Simonides escapes his harsh childhood through a lucky apprenticeship with a renowned Ionian singer. As they travel through 5th century B.C. Greece, Simonides learns not only how to play the kithara and compose poetry, but also how to navigate the shifting alliances surrounding his rich patrons. He is witness to the Persian invasion of Ionia, to the decadent reign of the Samian pirate king Polykrates, and to the fall of the Pisistratids in the Athenian court. Along the way, he encounters artists, statesmen, athletes, thinkers, and lovers, including the likes of Pythagoras and Aischylos. Using the singer's unique perspective, Renault combines her vibrant imagination and her formidable knowledge of history to establish a sweeping, resilient vision of a golden century.'There's much to say about her interweaving of myth and history and, just as interestingly, there's much to wonder at in the way she fills in the large dark spaces where we know next to nothing about the times she describes . . . an important and wonderful writer . . . she set a course into serious-minded, psychologically intense historical fiction that today seems more important than ever' - Sam Jordison, Guardian

Virago

The Last of the Wine

Mary Renault
Authors:
Mary Renault

'All my sense of the ancient world - its values, its style, the scent of its wars and passions - comes from Mary Renault. Her Theseus novels are perhaps the most exciting of her Greek fictions, and The Last of the Wine the most moving. 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'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 MILLERCombining the scholarship of a historian with the imagination of a novelist, Mary Renault masterfully brings the ancient world to life in this page-turning drama of the Peloponnesian War.Alexias, a young Athenian of good family, comes of age during the last phases of the Peloponnesian War. The adult world he enters is one in which the power and influence of his class have been undermined by the forces of war. Alexias finds himself drawn to the controversial teachings of Socrates, following him even though it at times endangers both his own life and his family's place in society. Among the great teacher's followers Alexias meets Lysis, and the two youths become inseparable - together they wrestle in the palaestra, journey to the Olympic Games, and fight in the wars against Sparta. As their relationship develops against the background of famine, siege and civil conflict, Mary Renault expertly conveys the intricacies of classical Greek culture.'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'The most vivid and convincing reconstruction of ancient Greek life that I have ever seen' Sunday Times

Virago

The Bull from the Sea

Mary Renault
Authors:
Mary Renault
Virago

The King Must Die

Mary Renault
Authors:
Mary Renault

This brilliant retelling of the story of Theseus, the king of Athens, brings Greek mythology vividly to life and remains 'one of the truly fine historical novels of modern times' (The New York Times)Theseus is the grandson of the King of Troizen, but his paternity is shrouded in mystery - can he really be the son of the god Poseidon? When he discovers his father's sword beneath a rock, his mother must reveal his true identity: Theseus is the son of Aegeus, King of Athens, and is his only heir. So begins Theseus's perilous journey to his father's palace to claim his birthright, escaping bandits and ritual king sacrifice in Eleusis, to slaying the Minotaur in Crete. Renault reimagines the Theseus myth, creating an original, exciting story.'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, bestselling author of Circe)'Mary Renault is a shining light to both historical novelists and their readers' (Hilary Mantel, bestselling author of Wolf Hall)

Virago

The Friendly Young Ladies

Mary Renault
Authors:
Mary Renault

Elsie, sheltered and naive, is seventeen and unhappy. Stifled by life with her bickering parents in a bleak Cornish village, she falls in love with the first presentable young man she meets - Peter, an ambitious London doctor. On his advice she runs away from home and goes to live with her sister Leonora, who escaped eight years earlier. But there are surprises in store for conventional Elsie as her sister has a rather bohemian lifestyle: not only does Leo live in a houseboat on the Thames where she writes Westerns for a living, she shares her boat - and her bed - with Helen. When Peter pays a visit, turning his attention from one 'friendly young lady' to the next, he disturbs the calm for each of them - with results unforeseen by all . . .Mary Renault wrote this delightfully provocative novel in 1943 partly in answer to the despair characteristic of Radclyffe Hall's The Well of Loneliness. The result is this witty and stylish social comedy.

Virago

Kind Are Her Answers

Mary Renault
Authors:
Mary Renault

Kit Anderson is married to Janet, a beautiful but narcissistic woman who seems more shallow to him as time goes by. Their relationship has become strained and cold. Immersing himself in his work as a doctor, Anderson takes consolation in his career. Then, one night he is called out to a dying patient, and meets Christie, who is taking care of her aunt. Warm and vivacious, Christie stands in stark contrast to Janet, providing the passion and intimacy that has been missing from his life.How long can their affair be kept secret and does Kit want what is best for Christie, or only for himself? In this assured, vivid novel, Mary Renault showcases the talents that would make her one of the twentieth century's most beloved novelists.

Virago

North Face

Mary Renault
Authors:
Mary Renault

On holiday in the North Devon countryside, Neil Langton looks back on the wreckage of his past. He has come to believe that all happiness is behind him; the wounds from his former marriage - in which his wife cheated on him and his young daughter died - are still raw. While rock-climbing, he meets Ellen, a young woman whom he saves from a mountainside accident. Ellen, too, is looking to escape her painful past, struggling to deal with her feelings for the man she loved - a pilot who died in service. Set in postwar Britain, and filled with a memorable cast of characters, North Face is a love story rich in atmosphere and tension.

Virago

Funeral Games

Mary Renault
Authors:
Mary Renault

'The Alexander Trilogy contains some of Renault's finest writing. Lyrical, wise, compelling: the novels are a wonderful imaginative feat' SARAH WATERSIn the final 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.Alexander the Great died at the age of thirty-three, leaving behind an empire that stretched from Greece and Egypt to India. 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.'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'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' Antonia Senior, The Times

Virago

Fire from Heaven

Mary Renault
Authors:
Mary Renault

'The Alexander Trilogy contains some of Renault's finest writing. Lyrical, wise, compelling: the novels are a wonderful imaginative feat' SARAH WATERS'The Alexandriad is one of the twentieth century's most unexpectedly original works of art' GORE VIDALIn the first 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.Alexander's beauty, strength and defiance were apparent from birth, but his boyhood honed those gifts into the makings of a king. His mother, Olympias, and his father, King Philip of Macedon, fought each other for their son's loyalty, teaching Alexander politics and vengeance from the cradle. His love for the youth Hephaistion taught him trust, while Aristotle's tutoring provoked his mind and Homer's Iliad fuelled his aspirations. Killing his first man in battle at the age of twelve, he became regent at sixteen and commander of Macedon's cavalry at eighteen, so that by the time his father was murdered, Alexander's skills had grown to match his fiery ambition.Shortlisted for the 1970 Lost Booker Prize'This is not just a novel: it's also the best imagining we are ever likely to have of a man who tore up history. The language may seem a bit florid at first - a little too "historical novel" - but set all snobbery aside: this is wonderful, scholarly, top-flight stuff' - Emily Wilson, Guardian'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' - Antonia Senior, The Times

Virago

Purposes of Love

Mary Renault
Authors:
Mary Renault

Vivian, a student nurse, chose her profession as a challenge, both to her spirit and to her permanently exhausted body; Mic immerses himself in his work at the hospital to ward off the emotional wounds of an unhappy childhood. Through Jan, Viv's beloved older brother, they meet, and their friendship turns into a secret romance. Secret because, if discovered, it would cost them their jobs.Despite the discipline and rigid hierarchy imposed by the hospital, their passion takes root, but between them hangs the tantalising and enigmatic shadow of Jan.

Virago

Return to Night

Mary Renault
Authors:
Mary Renault
Virago

The Charioteer

Mary Renault
Authors:
Mary Renault

'The Charioteer remains compelling both as a snapshot of a particular - and particularly fascinating - cultural moment, and as a deeply romantic story of love fulfilled against the odds. It has all those qualities that make Mary Renault so memorable as a novelist: craft, subtlety, intelligence, and a terrific natural sympathy with the intricacies of honour and desire' SARAH WATERS'An explosive and courageous book' SIMON RUSSELL BEALEFirst published in 1953, The Charioteer is a tender, intelligent coming-of-age novel and a bold, unapologetic portrayal of homosexuality that stands with Gore Vidal's The City and the Pillar and James Baldwin's Giovanni's Room as a landmark work in gay literature.Injured at Dunkirk, Laurie Odell, a young corporal, is recovering at a rural veterans' hospital. There he meets Andrew, a conscientious objector serving as an orderly, and the men find solace in their covert friendship. Then Ralph Lanyon appears, a mentor from Laurie's schooldays. Through him, Laurie is drawn into a tight-knit circle of gay men for whom liaisons are fleeting and he is forced to choose between the ideals of a perfect friendship and the pleasures of experience.'Emotionally intelligent, beautifully written and deeply moving, it transcends categorisations' Telegraph

Alexander McCall Smith

Alexander McCall Smith is the author of over eighty books on a wide array of subjects, including the award-winning The No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency series. He is also the author of the Isabel Dalhousie novels and the world's longest-running serial novel, 44 Scotland Street. His books have been translated into forty-six languages. Alexander McCall Smith is Professor Emeritus of Medical Law at the University of Edinburgh and holds honorary doctorates from thirteen universities.

Alison Littlewood

Alison Littlewood is the author of A Cold Season, which was selected for the Richard and Judy Book Club, where it was described as "perfect reading for a dark winter's night". Her second novel, Path of Needles - a dark blend of fairy tales and crime fiction - was recently short-listed for a British Fantasy Award. Her third, The Unquiet House, is a ghost story set in the Yorkshire countryside.Alison's short stories have been picked for The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror and The Best Horror of the Year anthologies, as well as The Best British Fantasy 2013 and The Mammoth Book of Best British Crime 10. Other publication credits include the anthologies Zombie Apocalypse! Endgame, Resurrection Engines, Terror Tales of the Cotswolds, Where Are We Going? and Never Again. Alison recently won the Shirley Jackson Award for Short Fiction for her story 'The Dog's Home,' published in The Spectral Book of Horror Stories.

Alison Lucy

Alison Lucy is the author of several novels including How to be Famous and Summer of Secrets. Before becoming a full-time writer, Alison worked in the film industry for ten years, starting her career as an at ICM before becoming an agent at the Cassaratto Company representing writers and directors.Alison enjoys writing books and travelling the world. When not off gallivanting she lives in the Cotswolds with her husband and two children.

Bianca Zander

Bianca Zander is British-born but has lived in New Zealand for the past two decades. Her first novel, The Girl Below, was a finalist for the VCU Cabell First Novelist Award, and she is the recipient of the Creative New Zealand Louis Johnson New Writers' Bursary and the Grimshaw Sargeson Fellowship, recognizing her as one of New Zealand's eminent writers. She is a lecturer in creative writing at the Auckland University of Technology.

Cath Staincliffe

Cath Staincliffe is an award winning novelist, radio playwright and creator of ITV's hit series Blue Murder. Cath's books have been shortlisted for the CWA Best First Novel award. She was joint winner of the CWA Short Story Dagger in 2012. Letters To My Daughter's Killer was selected for the Specsavers Crime Thriller Book Club on ITV3 in 2014. Cath also writes the Scott & Bailey books based on the popular ITV series. She lives with her family in Manchester.

Catherynne M. Valente

Catherynne M. Valente is the New York Times bestselling author of over two dozen works of fiction and poetry, including Palimpsest, the Orphan's Tales series, Deathless and the crowdfunded phenomenon The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making. She is the winner of the Andre Norton, Tiptree, Mythopoeic, Rhysling, Lambda, Locus and Hugo awards. She has been a finalist for the Nebula and World Fantasy Awards. She lives on an island off the coast of Maine with a small but growing menagerie of beasts, some of which are human.

E. L. Doctorow

E. L. Doctorow's novels include Andrew's Brain, Homer and Langley, The March, City of God, Welcome to Hard Times, The Book of Daniel, Ragtime, Loon Lake, Lives of the Poets, World's Fair, Billy Bathgate and The Waterworks. Among his honours are the National Book Award, two National Book Critics Circle awards, the PEN/Faulkner Award, the Edith Wharton Citation for Fiction, the William Dean Howells Medal of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the presidentially conferred National Humanities Medal. He died in July 2015.