Customer Reviews for

The King Must Die

Average Rating 4
( 26 )
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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 22, 2005

    The King Left Me Disappointed

    I¿m a big reader of fiction and love classical Greek and Roman history so I figured this story would be right up my alley. I¿d also heard about Mary Renault¿s writing prowess but to be honest, I wasn¿t impressed. It wasn¿t historical inaccuracies that bothered me. With Theseus, you¿re more in the realm of mythology than history and mythology is just another name for fiction. I was bothered more that the story wasn¿t true to itself or to what Theseus was meant to represent. In all likelihood, the man Theseus never existed. His name derives from the Greek word for state or institution. He is a founding hero of the Greek tradition, similar to Heracles or Perseus. He was meant to personify all of the noble attributes of an Athenian: fairness, courage, intelligence and resourcefulness. Firmly ingrained in the Theseus I read about from Plutarch is a deep sense of responsibility which Renault¿s Theseus doesn¿t have. When Theseus chose to travel the Isthmus Road rather than take the safe boat to Athens, it was because he was disgusted that a bunch of brutal ruffians could keep decent people from traveling freely and safely. Renault¿s Theseus makes the trip to save face when someone challenges him. Plutarch¿s Theseus was a reformer whose first interest was always his people. Renault¿s Theseus forgets his kingly responsibilities as soon as the next adventure comes along. I even had to question Renault¿s choices. At times is seems she attempts a realistic interpretation of the legend the Minotaur is a guy in a bull mask and all of the nasty characters Theseus meets on the Isthmus Road are really just common bandits. But she also implies a supernatural relationship between Theseus and Poseidon. Theseus is able to predict an earthquake and he keeps getting into battles where all those around him are torn to bits while he escapes without a scratch. This turns Theseus into nothing more than an adventure hero like Conan the Barbarian. Theseus is invulnerable and always gets the girl. This may be okay for some people but I had loftier hopes for this story. I read a lot of history and know the price paid in blood for victory. I know how quickly a reckless adventurer dies and can¿t reconcile that image with the founder of Athens. I can¿t say the story was a complete disappointment. It moved quickly and I never lost interest. The best part for me was the lurid description of the Cretans. It has motivated me to read more about Minoan culture. Renault¿s writing style is engaging enough that I might give her another chance and read The Last of the Wine.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 29, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    boring and skippy

    this book was so confusing to read. it continually skipped around from Theseus' childhood to adolescence. the characters came and went to quickly for me to figure out what they were all about. as far as greek mythology goes, some dieties i have never heard of, and sound a bit made up to me. the end was very disappointing and anti-climatic

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 28, 2001

    Not so bad

    I was assigned to read this book last year. Everyone who read it agreed that it was the worst books ever. I did not think it was so bad. It is slow and boring at many parts but it's not unbearable, so read on. It's nice to have a passion for mythology if you read this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 23, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 14, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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