From the start I was hooked, in a way: beautifully, intricately written, researched, and imagined, so at every turn I felt in the hands of a writer of the very top class. I knew she would be taking me on a deliberate, duff—note—free journey. But I was hooked only ‘in a way’: hers was a style I could not cope with in termtime: a few pages, even paragraphs, snatched in the minutes before sleep were not enough to maintain the storyline in my weak head; and this was made harder by Renault’s frequent tactic of withholding pieces of the jigsaw until later — you’re not supposed to know what’s going on for a page or two.
But that was my problem, not the book’s. Once the holidays kicked in I away, loving every moment, from the young boy Alexander’s running to his mother with the snake at the start, ‘meeting’ characters from the wider Greek world like Aristotle and Demosthenes, and the wonderful set—piece of the Battle of Chaeronea, to the slow build towards Philip’s assassination. [But I still couldn’t remember his assassin’s grievance- but that’s not unusual for me.]
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