Big news! LibraryThing is now free to all! Read the blog post and discuss the change on Talk.
This site uses cookies to deliver our services, improve performance, for analytics, and (if not signed in) for advertising. By using LibraryThing you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your use of the site and services is subject to these policies and terms.
Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

The King Must Die by Mary Renault

The King Must Die (1958)

by Mary Renault

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Theseus Myth (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,179474,929 (4)137
New York Times Bestseller: This retelling of the Greek myth of Theseus, king of Athens, is "one of the truly fine historical novels of modern times" (The New York Times).   In myth, Theseus was the slayer of the child-devouring Minotaur in Crete. What the founder-hero might have been in real life is another question, brilliantly explored in The King Must Die. Drawing on modern 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. This ebook features an illustrated biography of Mary Renault including rare images of the author.… (more)
  1. 40
    Black Ships by Jo Graham (_Zoe_)
    _Zoe_: Both take a legendary/mythological story and bring it to life in a plausible historical world.
  2. 20
    The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller (wrmjr66)
  3. 20
    Song of Troy by Colleen McCullough (_Zoe_)
  4. 31
    The Odyssey by Homer (alalba)
  5. 10
    The Mark of the Horse Lord by Rosemary Sutcliff (gwernin)
    gwernin: A view of sacred kingship among the Celts.
  6. 00
    The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (sturlington)
    sturlington: The tributes of the bull dancers are similar to the tributes to the Hunger Games and Collins has said she was inspired by the Theseus myth.
  7. 00
    Goddess of Yesterday by Caroline B. Cooney (cmbohn)
    cmbohn: Another look at ancient culture and their relationship with the gods.
  8. 12
    The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley (krasiviye.slova)
    krasiviye.slova: Similar decline and fall of the matriarchy theme, with different spins.
  9. 02
    Memoirs of Hadrian by Marguerite Yourcenar (Waysider)

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 137 mentions

English (47)  Spanish (1)  All languages (48)
Showing 1-5 of 47 (next | show all)
historical, Greece ( )
  librarygoodman | Jan 12, 2020 |
This was a formative book in my childhood- if you count Junior High as Childhood. How wonderful to have protagonists who are young. How wonderful to read about people who accept that the gods are real and have them respond when addressed. Was this the earliest of the historical fictions I read? I don't know, but I've never stopped. And also read every other Mary Renault book. ( )
  Tchipakkan | Dec 26, 2019 |
A man is at his youngest when he thinks he is a man, not yet realizing that his actions must show it.

Theseus grows up as the youngest in the royal House of Troizen, but as much as he loves his mother, he is from an early age interested in the identify of his father that is very much a mystery. He thinks, and hopes, that he is a son of Poseidon, but when he is sixteen years of age; his mother explains that in order to learn his father's identity and take on the role as his heir, he must remove a stone by himself to reveal the items hidden underneath.

The knowledge about his father's identity is so much more than just a father, it is the start of an adventure that in time will become one of the most beloved and praised myths in all the Greek world. This is the story of Theseus, the bull-dancer.

I'll admit. I'm extremely torn when it comes to Renault. Her writing is poetic and she truly manages to capture not just the story but the overall setting. I often forget not only that it's not a "non-fiction" myth but also that I'm not actually in ancient Greece. That being said, it's hard to enjoy the characters... or at least her protagonists. Theseus is interesting but he's ridiculously prideful and quite... awful.

So, while it's a fun read regarding the myths of Theseus and the ancient world itself... it's hard to enjoy it as much as I'd want to. It's good knowledge, and was very nice to read while playing Assassin's Creed: Odyssey, in the way of archaeology and getting into the mindset of pre-historical Greece but man, it's hard to enjoy as a story. It's hard to care for a man who literally can't handle a society where women are in charge and rants about how oppressed the men are (to be fair, it's not equal, but considering Athenian women barely had any social status or worth on their own.... it's hard to compare).... and decided to take it into his own hands to make sure men are the rulers and women are well, nothing.

It's good and it's not so good. But in my experience, that is usually the way it is with ancient Greek history and myths. In that way, Renault's work is a masterpiece that truly makes you forget it's written in 1955, or during historical time at all. ( )
1 vote autisticluke | Nov 14, 2019 |
A retelling of the tale of Theseus - killing the Minotaur, Ariadne's thread, etc. Renault is a great storyteller! This book just flowed - I couldn't put it down! It's a real swashbuckler, sword fights and beautiful damsels, but it didn't get ridiculous. Anybody's guess whether Renault's version is getting close to whatever historical foundation the story might have. It made for a good book, anyway! ( )
2 vote kukulaj | Sep 5, 2019 |
This was an interesting take on the story of Theseus and the Minotaur. It makes the story almost plausible. ( )
  RobertaLea | Mar 3, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 47 (next | show all)
Renault comes up with many ingenious and plausible solutions to the riddles posed by trying to place the legends into a historical context.

You’ll find excitement and beauty, philosophy and action, danger and fulfillment — all the very best qualities of a myth retold.
added by elenchus | editEmerald City Book Review (Mar 15, 2017)
added by Shortride | editThe New York Times, William du Bois (pay site) (Jul 14, 1958)
A novel to be read with pleasure and great excitement.

» Add other authors (8 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Renault, Maryprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bianciardi, LucianoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
DESMONTS, AntonioTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dyer, KrisNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Goldberg, CarinCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hughes, BettanyIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mirlas, LeónTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rush, JohnCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rychlíková, OlgaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Scarpi, N. O.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
Oh, Mother! I was born to die soon;
but Olympian Zeus the Thunderer
owes me some honor for it.

--Achilles, in the Iliad
First words
The Citadel of Troizen, where the Palace stands, was built by giants before anyone remembers.
But it is death for men to spy on women's mysteries.
They were so stupid that they thought women conceived by their own magic, without help of men. No wonder a woman seemed so full of power to them! If she told a man no, who but he would be the loser? She by her art could conceive from the winds and streams, she owed him nothing.
We have taken the bull by the horns; we have leaped for you and not run away; we always gave you a show.
It is grief to a man to look on mysteries he does not understand.
"Moira?" he said. "The finished shape of our fate, the line drawn round it. It is the task the gods allot us, and the share of glory they allow; the limits we must not pass; and our appointed end. Moira is all these."
Last words
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Original language
Canonical DDC/MDS

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (1)

No library descriptions found.

Book description
Easy read.  Provides an interesting look into the world of Greek Myths.
Haiku summary

Quick Links

Popular covers


Average: (4)
1 1
1.5 1
2 14
2.5 5
3 71
3.5 28
4 159
4.5 18
5 116

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


About | Contact | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 146,477,854 books! | Top bar: Always visible