Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Book Reviews: The King Must Die & The Bull from the Sea

So this year, five years after finishing my Bachelors degree, I was feeling a little nostalgic for my favourite elective courses at Athabasca University, Ancient Greece, and Rome and Early Christianity I and II. Yup, we're talking Classics, and for me, a guy who majored in communication studies, I was just surprised to see how often a little knowledge of early Western Civilization would pay off in courses on Communications Theory, History, and specific communications mediums (Radio, TV, The Internet, etc.).

So I decided to take a look around for some great historical fiction to read taking place during the era and found this website: Historicalnovels.info which literally has a page entitled "The 36 Best Historical Novels for a Survey of Ancient Greek History" by David Maclaine.

The first two novels on the list were both by an English author I had never heard of, Mary Renault, and focused on a retelling of the life of Theseus (Greek Mythological Hero, sent to Crete, put in a labyrinth, fought the Minotaur), The King Must Die (1958) and The Bull From the Sea (1962).

These two books, told directly from Theseus' perspective, were incredibly immersive and painted a pretty clear picture of Bronze Age Greece. The look at the cultures displayed was fascinating, seeing the story-behind-the-legend was enlightening, and although I'll be the first to admit that historical fiction is not a fair replacement for history, it can give a flavour and context to what otherwise can come across as a series of dates, events, and names.

The first of the two books was a little better than the second, but to be fair Theseus does most of his best stuff early on, and then a lot of terrible things happen so the second book had to work within that constraint.

A fascinating beginning to the a list of books I'm looking forward to reading over the next few years.

Well worth checking out!

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