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markarayner

Dilettante

A cursory and curious listing of books and literatrivia. 

Brilliant storytelling and writing

The King Must Die - Mary Renault

This wonderful text came to me via a circuitous route. I was listening to Brian Fagan's fascinating course on Human Prehistory, and while he was discussing Minoan civilization, mentioned Renault's book. 

 

It is a retelling of the Theseus myth, which explains all the fantastical elements of the story via plausible devices. So, while Theseus may believe he's talking to Poseidon, in fact, he's probably just sensitive to earthquakes. I won't get into details, lest I spoil the story.

 

Many of the most colourful ideas are based on archeology and history: The bull-dancers, which were discovered in paintings on Crete. The underlying motif king sacrifice. Earth (mother) worship, versus sky (father) worship. These are all things that she weaves into the tale. It's wonderful worldbuilding.

 

I was also impressed by her writing. Theseus is the narrator, and she gives him an archaic-sounding voice that resonates with the alienness of this ancient world, but is still readable.