The Loss of a Great Leader

Funeral Games - Mary Renault

Bullet Review:

I REALLY REALLY liked the first half and that would have been 5 stars. But then we started doing the time warp and I felt I was really an anthology of various people who knew Alexander instead of a cohesive novel. Still some good characters, but huge leaps in time skipping numerous events. But the end was worst; large jump in time, summarizing events.

Full Review:

Alexander the Great is dead (this is not a spoiler), and the various men and even women who knew him (or of him) desperately claw to get on top of the pile and to rule over the massive Empire Alexander carved.

At it's most basic, that's exactly what this story is, though there is far more going on that this one sentence cannot get into.

I'm sitting here, thinking, and I don't even know how I would begin to do what Renault did. What happened after Alexander died, the chaos, the power-seeking - there's a LOT of STUFF that happens, many people clawing to get to the top. So many people, all with different motivations and hopes for the kingdom, whether it be unification or just a small place to call his or her own.

I loved the first half. LOVED. Slowly, I'd been "getting" Renault and her craft as I've read through her Alexander the Great trilogy, and it was the first half of this book that everything clicked. I loved the characters, the way the story flowed - everything.

The problem happened as soon as we did the year jump. In previous books, time does pass, but it's nothing quite as jarring as seeing the big block letters "320 B.C." on the top of the page. I think, in order to show as much chaos and all the different peoples' intricate plans, Renault felt she had to do the Time Warp. And I don't know if it quite succeeded. When you jump a year, there are things that happen - such a Ptolemy moving to Egypt and taking over governorship there. This is something that is a given; the audience never sees it. And it feels weird that I should just accept it happened, when normally, this would be one more piece in the puzzle. (In fact, I think Ptolemy in general gets the shaft because we hardly see him at all in the book.)

We have quite the build-up to talking about Antipatros' reign - and then fast forward to the end and boom, yet time for another power struggle! What about the politics in that year of his reign? You cannot tell me that life was hunky-dory while he was ruling, that Eurydike and Roxane and Kassandros had just thrown their hands up and accepted his rule.

These are just a couple of the instances where I felt that I was only getting a small, small snippet of the most "exciting" portions of post-Alexander life. In many ways, it felt more like an anthology, a collection of short stories than a full-length cohesive novel.

And really, the disconnectedness is what makes me rate this lower. There's still a mighty good story - I loved Eurydike, even if she was incredibly stupid at times - but it feels like excerpts of a story instead of a full blown one.

Coming to the end of this book, I felt kinda sad. I've been Buddy Reading this trilogy with my friend for over a year now, and it's sad to leave the fascinating and exotic world of Alexander behind. I have really grown to appreciate Renault and her way with words and history. To people who think all history is boring, lemme just say: If you find it boring, you are reading the wrong author! Because history is absolutely FASCINATING in the hands of a competent author.