The King Must Die
Mary Renault, Bettany Hughes
In myth, Theseus was the slayer of the child-devouring Minotaur of Crete. What the hero might have been in real life is another question, brilliantly explored in THE KING MUST DIE. Drawing on scholarship and archaeological findings at Knossos, Mary Renault’s Theseus is an utterly lifelike figure – a king of immense charisma, whose boundless strivings flow from strength and weakness-but also one steered by implacable prophecy.
The story follows Theseus’s adventures from Troizen to Eleusis, where the death in the book’s title is to take place, and from Athens to Crete, where he learns to jump bulls and is named king of the victims. Richly imbued with the spirit of its time, this is a page-turner as well as a daring act of imagination. Renault’s story of Theseus continues with the sequel The Bull from the Sea.
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 * Renault did for Ancient Greece what Hilary Mantel did for the Tudors -- Quentin Letts * The Week *
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