Fire From Heaven Author:Mary Renault Born in the middle of fourth century B.C., Alexander grew up in King Phillip's great palace at Pella. His strength of character, his beauty, his bravery from an early age, are wonderfully conveyed. If some of the incidents are necessarily conjectural, it is difficult to doubt their essential truth, so wholly convincing are they in every detail. ... more »Torn between admiration, hatred and love for his father, wary of the jealous devouring affection of his mother, Queen Olympias, Alexander soon exerts his independence. His early Spartan training, his precocious incursions into diplomacy, his first experience of war, his mastery of the horse Bouqephalos, his schooling under the tutorship of Aristotle-everything shows his natural ascendancy over his companions, and the unquestioning trust and love in which they told him. Through the difficulties and dangers of his youth, whether in his relationship with his parents or on the battlefield, he has on his side his friend Hephaistion; the development of their affection, indeed of their love, which was to last until the end of their lives, is shown with a depth of understanding that is the more moving for its restraint.
The military and political events of these years, the aims and ambitions of the warring states, the impact on the times of such figures as Aristotle and Demosthenes, the scenes of court and peasant life, the archaic, almost Homeric traditions of Macedon-all have a natural place in this novel and are seen with a richness of detail that would seem almost to be physically apprehended. But, above all, the novel portrays in its shining central character the boyhood and early years of a man-intensely complex, at once human and godlike-who will inevitably one day conquer the world.« less