Fire from Heaven
First edition, 1969
|Cover artist||Karl Leabo|
|Series||Alexander the Great|
|Media type||Print (Hardback and Paperback)|
|Followed by||The Persian Boy|
Fire from Heaven is a 1969 historical novel by Mary Renault about the childhood and youth of Alexander the Great. It reportedly was a major inspiration for the Oliver Stone film Alexander. The book was nominated for the “Lost Man Booker Prize” of 1970, "a contest delayed by 40 years because a reshuffling of the fledgeling competition’s rules", but lost out to Troubles by J. G. Farrell.
The novel, whose memorable opening line is "The child was wakened by the knotting of the snake's coils about his waist," portrays Alexander's complicated relationship with his father, Philip of Macedon, and his mother Olympias; his early courage and ambition, shown in his taming of the horse Bucephalus; his education under the philosopher Aristotle, whose later opposition to Alexander is foreshadowed; and his devotion to his lifelong companion Hephaistion, depicted as both a lover and an intimate friend. The novel contains a controversial portrait of the Athenian orator Demosthenes, portraying him as arrogant, cowardly and vindictive. The novel ends with the assassination of Philip, with Alexander, his heir, poised to begin his career of conquests.
Literary significance and criticism
The novel has been criticized as an overly romanticized and sanitized portrait of Alexander. It was followed by two sequels, The Persian Boy (1972), dealing with Alexander's conquest of the Persian Empire, and Funeral Games (1981), depicting the consequences of his death.
- Hoyle, Ben (26 March 2010). "Author waits to hear if she has won lost Booker prize 40 years on". The Times (London).
- "'Lost Booker' for Irish writer JG Farrell". The Belfast Telegraph (Independent News and Media). 20 May 2010. Retrieved 20 May 2010.
- Reames, Dr. Jeanne. "Beyond Renault: Alexander the Great in Fiction: Mary Renault". Retrieved 2007-01-16.[dead link]
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