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Funeral games : a novel by Mary Renault
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Funeral games : a novel (original 1981; edition 1981)

by Mary Renault

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1,0431416,608 (3.84)37
“Renault’s best historical novel yet.... Every detail has solid historical testimony to support it.”–New York Review of Books 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.… (more)
Member:ItaliaWatkins
Title:Funeral games : a novel
Authors:Mary Renault
Info:Toronto : General Paperbacks, 1982, c1981.
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Funeral Games by Mary Renault (1981)

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» See also 37 mentions

English (11)  French (1)  German (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (14)
Showing 1-5 of 11 (next | show all)
Alexander's death sparks rivalries for power over his empire.
  ritaer | Mar 16, 2022 |
The first two novels in Renault's Alexander trilogy, Fire from Heaven and The Persian Boy, were outstanding. Funeral Games, however, lacks the strong narrative voice or central character of the first two; not only does Alexander die early in the novel, but the point of view shifts throughout the novel, following various characters as they scheme to hold onto as much as they can of Alexander's empire. Characters are introduced or brought back onstage from the previous books, grasp for power, and are murdered, but the restrictions of historical events make this more of a sequence of events than a coherent plot. It's not a bad book, but not a great one. ( )
  lorax | Jan 19, 2016 |
Self-consciously valedictory. Renault completists should keep an eye out for a cameo appearance, near the end of the book, by Alexias, the hero of her first historical novel, The Last of the Wine.
  sonofcarc | Jan 26, 2014 |
This book, the final volume in Mary Renault's Alexander the Great trilogy, covers the events right after Alexander's death. Without Alexander's powerful personality to provide unity and focus, his astonishing empire is quickly deteriorating into a mess of intrigue and entropy.
Funeral Games kind of suffers from the same problem. Without a strongly-rendered main character to provide focus and cohesion it just doesn't have the same enthralling quality as the first 2 books. As a novel with an ensemble cast, it isn't bad, and you get a decent picture of the historical happenings that the fictional story is built on... but it just seems a bit superfluous. ( )
2 vote saturnloft | Sep 14, 2013 |
My introduction to Mary Renault was The King Must Die, the first of two novels about Theseus--it was actually assigned reading in high school. What impressed me so much there was how she took a figure out of myth and grounded him historically. After that I quickly gobbled up all of Renault's works of historical fiction set in Ancient Greece. The two novels about Theseus and the trilogy centered on Alexander the Great are undoubtedly her most famous of those eight novels.

The first book of that trilogy Fire from Heaven, is about the young Alexander of Macedon before his famous conquests, ending with his inheriting the Kingdom of Macedon. I was fascinated by the portrait drawn of him and his family--and his teacher--Aristotle. It also draws vivid portraits of his "Companions" who helped him conquer much of the civilized world surrounding the Mediterranean and divide it between them after his death. The second book, The Persian Boy, is Alexander seen through the eyes of one of his lovers, Bagoas, the "Persian Boy" of the title and covers the period of this conquest, and is every bit as remarkable. I thought Funeral Games a bit of a disappointment after those first two, but it missed a lot with Alexander's absence, dealing with the aftermath of his death.

The first two of the trilogy were books that cemented my love of historical fiction and fascination with Ancient Greece. If I have any criticism of those first two books, it's that Renault's Alexander is too much the paragon. You get the feeling Renault was more than in love with her Alexander. But that wasn't a criticism that occurred to me while I was reading them--given how fully I was under Renault's spell. But there's just no character central here that has anything near Alexander's appeal. I do get that's rather the point. Without Alexander, the center cannot hold. It may be that this suffered from reading the books of the trilogy one after another. As with the death of Caesar in McCullough's book, it's just so much of a wrench after what had gone before. Of Renault's works of historical fiction, the first two books are among my favorites, but the last of the trilogy is my least favorite of any of them. Still worth the read. ( )
  LisaMaria_C | Aug 26, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 11 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (13 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Renault, Maryprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Holland, TomIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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I foresee great contests at my funeral games.

Reported deathbed words of Alexander the Great
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The ziggurat of Bel-Marduk had been half-ruinous for a century and a half, ever since Xerxes had humbled the gods of rebellious Babylon.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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“Renault’s best historical novel yet.... Every detail has solid historical testimony to support it.”–New York Review of Books 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.

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