I can’t offer enough apologies for my complete and total absence from the blogosphere for so long! I have little excuse, other than being a student leaves me plenty of time for reading but very little time to write about it! So let me begin by getting caught up on some LONG overdue matters of business.
First, a HUGE thank you goes out to Jeane, a friend of mine over at DogEar Diary that was kind enough to (a very, very long time ago I may add, and my dearest apologies for taking so long to recognize it!) award me the Lovely Blog Award, an award I’m not sure I deserve, considering my often frequent absences! This is an award that needs to be passed on to 15 people, which I gladly do now!
1.) A Striped Armchair
2.) Book Haven
3.) Musings from the Sofa
4.) Naked Without Books
5.) So Many Books, So Little Time
6.) Stuck in a Book
7.) Things Mean A Lot
8.) A Fondness for Reading
9.) A Guy’s Moleskin Notebook
10.) Bending Bookshelf
11.) Book Nut
12.) Books on the Brain
13.) Citizen Reader
14.) Eloise by the Book Piles
15.) Sophisticated Dorkiness
All of these bloggers have never steered me wrong in my search for great books and what is perhaps even more amazing is that they always manage to steer me in a way I would have never expected, always with wonderfully delightful results.
Alright, now that that little matter of business is all wrapped up, I’m absolutely DYING to talk about Mary Renault’s Fire From Heaven, which I recently dived in to on the recommendation of my Yalie friend Jesi Egan. The book is the first in Renault’s Alexander trilogy, and as the first volume, focuses on the life of Alexander the Great up until his 20’s.
The novel is absolutely AMAZINGLY written, and I’m not even half way done withthe first volume and already I’m dreading the end of the entire trilogy. I can see what my friend Jesi was talking about when she said that this is the book that makes you fall in love with Alexander. And not in that ‘we love him because he was part of history’ way but love as in an overwhelming attachment to what happens to him. And even though Renault makes it fairly clear from the get-go that she’s part of the whole ‘Alexander liked boys’ philosophy, he is still possibly one of the most attractive literary creations of the actual man that I’ve ever read.
I think part of my love for this book stems from a childhood fascination with everything Greek, and in that light it doesn’t disappoint. The book speaks of Alexander’s witch-mother Olympias, who is described as being absolutely beautiful, but complete terrifying in that beauty. She is constant defiance of her husband, King Phillip II of Macedon, who is also described as an almost tyrranical leader, and the two seem to be waging almost silent but constant war over how to raise Alexander. Even with this tension in the background, the book outlies the many ways in which Alexander becomes known as the King of Asia, and one of the greatest Greek kings. He kills his first man in hand-on-hand combat at age 12, years before even his father had, and he is placed under the tutelage of Aristotle in his early teens, which is when he also forms a solid friendship with Hephaistion, the young son of an underlord, who participates in Alexander’s education with him.
This is as far as I’ve gotten in the book, and it’s heartbreaking – the passages where Hephaistion describes his budding (non-friendly) love for Alexander, with the knowledge that taking a bed-boy may be common practice, but love between men seldom was, are enough to bring you to tears. Perhaps the greatest accomplishment of the book, however, is that it immediately takes you to ancient Greece, envelops you in the world that existed there. It doesn’t necessarily matter that my Greek political/military history is pretty much non-existent, or that the names are pretty much totally confusing (a problem I also, funnily enough, had with Tolstoy), it speaks to the power of the book that I am able to open its pages and forget that I’m riding a smelly old bus to campus to take a test I haven’t studied for – I become a member of Philip’s court, watching this beautiful, strong, headstrong and talented boy grow up in to what will be (with the beauty of hindsight) an absolutely legendary military leader! I can’t say enough for the book – literally, I’m out of time at the work computer – but please, please, PLEASE read it. You won’t regret it! Happy reading, and I’ll see you all again soon – promise!