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Fire from Heaven Paperback – June 11, 2002


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; 2 Reprint edition (June 11, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375726829
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375726828
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.2 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (98 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #149,741 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

?Written with her usual vigor and imagination...Mary Renault has a great talent.??The New York Times Book Review

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 fueled 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.

About the Author

Mary Renault was born in London and educated at Oxford. She then trained for three years as a nurse, and wrote her first published novel, Promise of Love. Her next three novels were written while serving in WWII. After the war, she settled in South Africa and traveled considerably in Africa and Greece. It was at this time that she began writing her brilliant historical reconstructions of ancient Greece, including The King Must Die, The Last of the Wine, and The Persian Boy. She died in Cape Town in 1983.

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Customer Reviews

She gets really into her writing and sometimes things get really lost.
sjk82
In "The Fire From Heaven," Ms. Renault breathes life into the rather obscured beginnings of Alexander the Great.
propertius
The book explores how Alexander developed his independence of character and action from both of his parents.
Donald Mitchell

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

103 of 106 people found the following review helpful By Kris Dotto on December 13, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Mary Renault's Alexandriad begins with "Fire From Heaven," a novel that encompasses the childhood and youth of Alexander the Great, King of Macedon and Persia. Alexander's character has fascinated historians and novelists from the time of his conquest to the present day. Currently, a movie is in the works that is said to owe much to Ms. Renault's work.
Mary Renault's love of ancient Greek culture was displayed in her previous novels, "The Last Of The Wine" and the Theseus duology, "The King Must Die" and "The Bull From The Sea." Her admiration for Alexander is also on display. Most authors of historical fiction are fond of their subjects, but the reader can tell Renault adored her chosen hero and found in him an ideal that may have been more imagined than real.
Still, Renault's work is superb. She was a master of language and craft, and her novel touches the key points of the Alexander legend without turning them into precious showpieces. (I particularly enjoyed the depiction of the taming of Boukephalos, with various characters facing different outcomes of the horse's purchase). She shines when depicting characters, and offers a fascinating interpretation of the relationship between Alexander, his father King Philip II of Macedon, and his mother, Queen Olympias.
History tells us Philip and Olympias were at war with each other until Philip was assassinated, which Olympias probably had a hand in. The war included their son, who is shown as an intelligent, preternaturally observant child who absorbs his mother's hurts and grievances well before he's old enough to understand them.
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45 of 47 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 5, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This book is fantastic, and I'd recommend it to anyone who likes historical fiction, or has studied ancient history or classics. Actually I'd recommend it to anyone who loves a stirring read, but if you belong to either of those groups I know you'd love it. I'm a post graduate classics student, and I love this book (the whole trilogy actually) because it brings Alexander's whole world to life in a way nothing else can. Fire from Heaven tells the story of the boy, adolescent, and young man who would go on to become Alexander the Great, ending just at the death of his father, when he becomes king and leaves that earlier life behind. Ms Renault captures perfectly the unique influences and stresses that shape him into the adult he becomes, and she succeeds in making him a human and sympathetic character. She does the same for most of the other characters too, creating a cast of real people, all with genuine feelings, inescapably trapped by who they are: Alexander's warring parents for example, united only in their love of him, but failing totally to understand that their mutual hatred, and the way they use their son against each other, is driving him mad. Or Alexander's friends - some genuine, some attracted only by the wealth and position thet the future king might provide. I read this book for the first time when I was 12, and I've reread it countless times in the decade since. It never fails to transport me to another place and another time - one that could be harsh and unkind, but is nonetheless so very alive that I would love to have seen it.
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42 of 44 people found the following review helpful By JLind555 on May 17, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Mary Renault was one of the most successful historical novelists of the 20th Century and her Alexander novels were her masterpiece. "Fire From Heaven" is the first of the trilogy that includes "The Persian Boy" and "Funeral Games", and tells us the story of Alexander the Great, one of the most fascinating and complex characters in all history, from early childhood to the age of twenty, when he succeeded his father as king of Macedon. Renault brings us into Alexander's world and presents us to him in all his multifaceted personality: his all-consuming ambition, his sensitivity, his insatiable drive for excellence, and his love-hate relationship with his father (hate inexorably, and inevitably, won out) which was so influential in shaping his character and the course of his life. Renault also brings us into the lives of Alexander's family, especially his mother Olympias, one of the most ruthless and devious characters in ancient history; totally wrapped up in her son and willing to stop at nothing to protect his interests. Olympias might have eaten Alexander alive if it hadn't been for the influence of his friend and lover Hephaistion of whom she was wildly jealous; and Renault narrates the growing affection and love between the two boys as a natural development in their lives. Homosexuality and bisexuality were normal in the ancient world (Julius Caesar himself was described by his contemporaries as "every woman's man and every man's woman") and Renault doesn't flinch at it, and neither should anyone who reads this book.Read more ›
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