September 10, 2005

“Believe, Father, that you begot a man.”

Posted in books tagged , at 6:39 pm by placeinthestars

So I finished reading Mary Renault’s The Last of the Wine last night and… well, I really wanted to love it, but I’m kind of just indifferent about it.

rambling with spoilers

April 4, 2005

trying to say what’s wrong

Posted in books tagged , , at 11:33 am by placeinthestars

I spent the afternoon reading Funeral Games and really wish I hadn’t. First off, it’s back to the third person omniscient narration, which I don’t think is handled well, and there are too damn many stories she’s trying to tell, so they all kind of get short shrift. I felt terrible for Arridaios and Eurydike, for Sisygambis, Stateira and Drypetis, and for young Alexander, and warm and fuzzy toward Ptolemy, and irritated with Perdiccas. The rest of them – Antipater, Seleucus, Antigonus, Craterus – weren’t around long enough (or at all, in some cases) for me to care one way or another. And of course I already despised Olympias, Roxane and Cassander, so… I will say I liked Eumenes here, which I wasn’t prepared for. *g* Mostly, though, I wanted to take a shower when I was done reading, because they were (mostly) supposed to be on the same side, and they turned on each other like rabid dogs.

I also read A Choice of Destinies by Melissa Scott. It’s an alternate history which has Alexander turning west instead of going into India, and again, the third person omniscient is not deftly handled. And there’s a lot of “this happened and then that happened and this other thing happened, so now we can get to the scene I really want to write” which is fine for 2K words of fanfiction that wants to get to the sex, but somewhat less acceptable in a 300 page novel. Otoh, Hephaistion is FABulous *fangirls*, and again, Ptolemy shines. And the Alexander/Hephaistion was deftly handled, I thought (though there wasn’t enough. I’m a shipper, though, so there’s never enough for me. *g*) I’d have liked her to go more into the slight changes (the Philipification, as it were) in Alexander’s method of ruling, which are mentioned, but never explained. Everyone else was mostly two dimensional (dude, the Romans were just guys with similiar names ending in -ius, and I could barely tell them apart except for the one who didn’t want to ally with the Macedonians), which is kind of a shame, because the conceit is brilliant, and the little interludes from the future, showing how this could have changed *everything*, are really intriguing (I’d have liked a little more on that, as well). You can check out a longer, more thorough review here.

If you are, like me, hungry for more fictional Alexander *cough*DD*cough*, it was way better than Ashes of Empire (or, you know, the twenty or so pages I read of that before I had to put it down before I did violence to someone), which had the godawful writing, though I personally liked Lord of the Two Lands better, but that could be my fondness for Egypt and the sieges of Tyre and Gaza talking, and also my preference for the rotating third person limited narration, rather than the rather choppy third person omniscient. You can get it secondhand from Amazon for about $5, as I don’t think it’s in print anymore.

***

March 24, 2005

Is it not passing brave to be a King and ride in triumph through Persepolis?

Posted in books tagged , , , , , at 2:14 pm by placeinthestars

So since I read Fire from Heaven and The Persian Boy over New Year’s, I’ve been on a whole Alexander the Great kick, in case you haven’t noticed.

Aside from Lord of the Two Lands, which I enjoyed when I first read it, and again upon rereading it recently, I haven’t found any good published fiction on the subject (or any that really goes into the parts I’m most interested in, which would mainly be the Alexander/Hephaistion relationship, including the hot mansex), and while there is a tiny amount of good fanfiction, I’ve found the fannish communities here on LJ rather terrifying.

So I turned to non-fiction, of which there is an abundance.

I want to preface this by saying that 1. obviously, I’m not a historian, I don’t play one on television, I have vague recollections of learning some of this in high school social studies a long long time ago, but that’s it. and 2. I’m obviously a fan of the fictional Alexander, but I also get irritated at the attempts to judge someone who lived 2300 years ago by our current/modern standards of behavior and morality rather than trying to understand what was done in the context of the society in which he lived. Which isn’t to say that Alexander didn’t do some awful and horrifying things, that he wasn’t a murderer and a conqueror and all sorts of things that we recognize as being Not of the Good in this day and age (as well as his own), ’cause he did. But he also wasn’t a genocidal maniac, a Stalin or a Hitler. If I can make that distinction, I expect trained historians to be able to. Some of the things that seem obvious to me seem to be either ignored or too easily dismissed by people who want to only see the bad. And maybe I just want to see the good, but I’m not getting paid to write books about it, so it doesn’t matter. But even some of the people who only seem to see the good irritate me, because it looks like they’re turning off their critical faculties on certain issues, and that just is not what I’m looking for in my non-fiction.

Read the rest of this entry »

January 9, 2005

greater than the whole of the past

Posted in books tagged , , at 1:14 pm by placeinthestars

L. is coming over in a bit and we’re gonna try to marathon through LotR (which means, I’m thinking, FotR, a handful of scenes from TTT, and then the RotK EE, which neither of us has watched yet. I don’t think I could take sitting through TTT again, to be honest. It’s my least favorite of the films, even with all the Theoden and Eowyn action).

I have put down The Persian Boy because Alexander and Hephaistion are fighting and I know that means Hephaistion is going to die soon, and wah. I am so sad (by which I mean pathetic, for being all ‘wah’ over Hephaistion, who’s been dead nearly 2500 years; otoh, I was also ‘wah’ when Josh and Biff came back to Jerusalem in Lamb, so…). Instead I’ve been rereading Lord of the Two Lands, which is Alexander-in-Egypt and the original characters are fun and well, Egypt, which is why I originally bought the book.

***

January 3, 2005

this is where we used to live

Posted in books tagged , at 11:06 pm by placeinthestars

Just finished reading Fire from Heaven this morning (spent most of last night curled up with it instead of being online).

While I find Renault’s style a bit… tedious overdone, I’m anxious to get home tomorrow because I have The Persian Boy sitting on my end table, waiting to be read. Is there a lot of Hephaistion in it? I’ve always been a fan of Hephaistion, in the other stories of Alexander I’ve read (much as I immediately latched onto Patroclus in the Iliad. [Well, Patroclus and Hector, because mmm…Hector… ahem.] I think it’s a function of my sidekick love, and also, of course, the whole best friends become lovers thing), and would like more of him.

Anyway, I kind of really really loved Fire from Heaven and Alexander and Hephaistion’s relationship. ♥

***