Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Fire From Heaven” as Want to Read:
Fire From Heaven
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

Fire From Heaven (Alexander the Great #1)

4.07 of 5 stars 4.07  ·  rating details  ·  3,398 ratings  ·  225 reviews
In Fire From Heaven Mary Renault tells the story of the young Alexander the Great from birth to the age of 20 when he succeeded his murdered father, King Philip of Macedon.

Born in the middle of the 4th century BC, Alexander grew up in King Philip's great palace at Pella. His strength of character, his beauty, his bravery from an early age, are clear to everyone. Torn betwe
Hardcover, 410 pages
Published December 31st 1970 by Longman Publishing Group (first published 1969)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Fire From Heaven, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Fire From Heaven

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Alexander the Great lived only thirty-two years (356 - 323 BC), but in that time he attained a stature unequaled in ancient history. Celebrated as one of the greatest generals of the ancient world, he expanded his kingdom of Macedon into a vast empire, throughout Greece and extending as far as Egypt and the Himalayas. Alexander was a legend in the minds of the Romans who came afterwards, nearly a mythical hero. Suetonius reports that the Emperor Augustus, who lived 300 years later, had Alexander ...more
There’s nothing quite like being able to visit another world, whether the new vistas be ones separated from us by time, space, or psychology and that is one of the great joys of reading, isn’t it? I’ve noted how historical fiction, like sci-fi or fantasy, takes this to an extreme by depositing us in a world for which our frames of reference are at best theoretical and we are uniquely at the mercy of the author for our ability to understand and appreciate what is going on around us. We need, on t ...more
Crystal Starr Light
Bullet Review:

OMG I FINISHED IT!! After reading for nearly a quarter of a year, it's done!!

This book was a very slow read for me. I'm not hugely familiar with Alexander the Great beyond the basics, and this certainly isn't your basic story. People who are familiar with Alexander and the ins and outs of his life (and the war time exploits of his father) will LOVE this.

Writing style was also VERY difficult to adjust to. Everything is EXTREMELY subtle and layered - not your average Philipa Gregory

Where to begin in reviewing such a classic of historical fiction? I’ve read Mary Renault before – The King Must Die and The Bull From the Sea; engrossing tales based on the legend of the Greek hero Theseus but grounded in a more historical, plausible world by Renault – but this was my first time reading Renault’s magnum opus. Fire From Heaven is the first book in a trilogy about Alexander the Great, and covers the conqueror’s life from childhood through to the moment he became king at the age of
rating: 5/5

Alexander the Great is known as the man who conquered the biggest empire of the ancient world, his battle strategies are still being studied in military schools today, some 2300 years after his death. But what made the man who he was? Renault’s first book of the Alexander trilogy follows him from about the age of three until his father’s murder, his life as told from the eyes of his family, friends, lovers, tutors, enemies, fellow soldiers and others who shaped his life.

Renault uses
twelvejan [Alexandria]
A book is deserving of 5 stars if it's able to spark such intense curiosity about a particular history and country in me. And that is exactly what Fire from Heaven did.

Man's immortality is not to live forever; for that wish is born of fear. Each moment free from fear makes a man immortal.

Fire from Heaven is about the childhood and youth of Alexander the Great. No doubt, Mary Renault has done such an extensive and comprehensive research on the subject matter. She touched on key events such as h
Jan 07, 2009 LeAnn rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Historical fiction buffs
Recommended to LeAnn by: Howard Beale
Mary Renault did a good job of bringing ancient Macedonia and Alexander the Great's world to life. I found Alexander a bit opaque, however, and many times her use of personal pronouns was hard to decipher (i.e., I couldn't tell who the pronouns referred back to). I also found the explanation of the ancient Greek/Macedonian viewpoint of erotic love and friendship a bit unclear. Renault has Alexander enter into a homosexual relationship with his best friend Hephaestion, who is pretty straightforwa ...more
Nev Percy
Aug 15, 2012 Nev Percy rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who can handle references from Classical Antiquity that aren't all spelled out
Mary Renault's telling of the Theseus story, 'The King Must Die' was one of the favourite books of my teen years -- one of the first grown-up books I read as an adolescent, and re-read several times.

I was delighted on finally returning to her to find 'Fire from Heaven', the start of the Alexander story (which some appear to call "her Alexandriad"), compelling, mostly beautifully written, and a masterwork of Classics.

It's very economically written, which means it's repeatedly very rich on detail
Alright...I had this at 4 stars last night when I finished it, but the more I think about it, I have no reason not to give it 5, so I changed it. I don't want to be stingy for no good reason.

Basically, I loved everything about this book except how long it took me to read it, which is not the book's fault, it's my own.

I read The Persian Boy first (even though it's the second in the series) so I had already grown fond of many of the characters. In this book, my fondness changed to love, adoration
This is my second copy of this book. I bought another one years ago, tried to read it, found I couldn't get into it and sold it. This time, I started reading it and could barely put it down. Go figure.

Since Fire from Heaven is the first volume of Mary Renault's trilogy about the life of Alexander the Great, it's not very surprising that this book is about Alexander's childhood and youth. Like I said, I found it a very compelling read, but not so much because of the plot, but because I didn't wan
Matt Brady
What really stood out to me here was the full immersive experience the novel conveys. Ancient Greece and Macedonia are fully realised here as vibrant, detailed, interesting places with complicated histories, dark pasts and spooky gods. Alexander himself, who is, of course, the main character, threatens to be a little too perfect at times, but Renault manages to keep him on just the right side of that line. Some characters, such as Phillip or Hephaistion, are fantastically drawn while others, suc ...more
The book has really impressive beginning - I was really captivated by the description of Macedonia and Greek society. I am also glad that Alexander was not portrayed as stereotypically gay, I have to say I was a bit afraid of that. I liked the complicated relationship with his mother. I was really looking forward to his interaction with Aristotle where I was a bit disappointed since the interaction was relatively brief. I have to say that the initial charm was fading out through the book. Colorf ...more
The novel is absolutely AMAZINGLY written, and I’m not even half way done withthe first volume and already I’m dreading the end of the entire trilogy. I can see what my friend Jesi was talking about when she said that this is the book that makes you fall in love with Alexander. And not in that ‘we love him because he was part of history’ way but love as in an overwhelming attachment to what happens to him. And even though Renault makes it fairly clear from the get-go that she’s part of the whole ...more
Wonderful book. Am completely in love with Alexander of Macedon but like his mythical hero Achilles he is doomed to die young. His adult years are spent fighting and capturing Egypt,Turkey, present day Middle East, Central Asia, Pakistan even parts of India. This book covers his youth and early adulthood to his accession at age 20. Well researched, the book focuses on his relationships and what he learns from his parents - the lessons on statehood and military tactics from his father and wild di ...more
I rate this book at three stars because I didn't think it properly captured Alexander's arete. I felt like the author focused entirely too much on Alexander's homosexual romance with his lifelong friend and confidant Hephaistion (which is entirely speculation as the author admits in the afterword). too much attention was given to that as well as other things that to me are more or less irrelevant, if not totally unworthy of note in such a short novel. BUT, the author did do well at exposing Alex ...more
Jen Medos
This was hands down the worst book I've ever read. So confusing! The author doesn't seem to know the English language. Was there no editor on this project?! I would like a refund and the time I spent on this crappy read back please.
What can I say? It was a labour of love, at the end of which I had no idea how much it was worth. But then, how early is too early to judge a book? Some turn up long after you think you've forgotten them.

I loved the play of history within history. Alexander & Hephaistion, modeling themselves after Achilles and Patroklos. Alexander and Lysimachos, after Achilles and Phoenix. The conscious modelling of Alexander into what he wanted to become, how he wanted to be known. And sadly, following rig
Seth Reeves
Don't read the Author's Note at the end. Spoiler Alerts had not been invented yet

As someone with only a passing knowledge of the life and times of Alexander the Great, he lived in Greece a few hundred years before Christ and conquered lands from Egypt to Afghanistan, I was happy to discover this trilogy of novels covering the subject. The author Mary Renault is not the best writer I've ever had the pleasure to read and I found myself having to read several passages multiple times, not because I
tl;dr version: Muddled in places and not as good as Persian Boy, but still brilliant work by brilliant lady historian. Also, Hephaestion.

Looooooooved this book. Minus the first eighth (which was historically interesting but narratively not so much), I ate this thing up in one six-hour sitting. Mary Renault (MY IDOLLLL) not only knows her shit upside down and backwards, she is an engaging, evocative, kick-ass wonderful author.
The only reason this took me so long to read even cheating and skippi
Pat Anderson
This was the first of Renault's Alexander trilogy and, to my mind, the weakest. Not really having a lot to go on about this period Renault attempts to reconstruct the early life of Alexander. Unfortunately, in her quest to completely whitewash Alexander, the other characters come across as extremely shallow. Olympias is like the wicked queen in a fairy tale, while Philip appears as a drunken oaf. Philip actually built up Macedon from a primitive backwater to a power that held sway over the whole ...more
Patricia Bracewell
It's clear that Mary Renault fell in love with Alexander as she was writing this novel. He comes across as all that is good, especially in his relationship with his father - protective of the king at the same time that he is angry with him, disagrees with him, sees and judges his faults.

There are flaws in this novel - one is the writing style - a certain reluctance to come straight out and say something; she likes to be mysterious, to a fault, I think. Another is an assumption that her readers
Sara Giacalone
Now I understand why Dorothy Dunnett is so often compared to Mary Renault...

I originally read this novel many years ago and I admit much of its history and subtleties were lost on me (hence my original 3-star rating). Upon rereading, I absolutely loved this book (although I read it rather slowly, partly to savor its nuances). I love how Ms. Renault doesn't tell the reader everything, she expects her readers to be intelligent and either understand the history and backstory, or to look up informat
Deborah Ideiosepius
This was a brilliantly descriptive fictionalised version of Alexander the great's childhood and teen years, his early battles right up to the point his father dies.

As the author tells us, there was not a lot of information about Alexander's early years so what there was she used (to great effect) but a lot was fiction. It is very well written convincing fiction, the narrative takes you to the era very enjoyably.

I would thoroughly recommend it to people who like historical writing and I will try
The boyhood of Alexander the Great, ending with his accession to the Macedonian throne after his father's murder. Renault as always creates characters whose lives and personalities will stay with the reader long after the novel. Her depictions of Philip and Aristotle are fascinating, and the love story of Alexander and Hephaistion is as lovely as anything you'll find anywhere.
Mary Renault ama la figura storica di Alessandro Magno, e questo romanzo ne è l'ulteriora prova. Uno sguardo romanzato, ma anche sostenuto da ampie ricerche, sulla prima metà della vita del Macedone: dalla nascita alla formazione, dai primi incarichi alla morte del padre.
Purtroppo mai tradotto in italiano, Fires from Heaven è un libro splendido.
First in a (fictional) trilogy on the life of Alexander the Great (the other two are The Persian Boy and Funeral Games).

Superb read! I loved just about everything about this series and all three books would have got five stars if it weren't for two annoyances:

1. No map. Unforgivable! The books cover campaigns from Macedonia, Greece, Turkey, Iran, Syria, Egypt and India and no bleedin' map for me to follow the action. Unbelievable oversight.

2. No list of main characters (though the 3rd book myste
This is a magnificent book. It's a fictional recounting of the early life of Alexander the Great. It is highly historically accurate, meticulously research and well written.

This is a classic of historic fiction.
I felt the book started a tad bit slow while recounting Alexander's childhood, but that could just be due to my impatient excitement to get to the good stuff haha. His teenage/young adult years certainly didn't disappoint in the drama department. I really enjoyed all the royal intrigue and machinations; it was almost like a soap opera.

Something I found a bit odd about this book was that when a physically intimate (sexual) act occurred between a male and female character, the act was described wi
Holly Lindquist
So this book starts with Alexander as a young boy, in bed, playing with his pet snake. (Nudge, nudge, wink, wink.) Then his snake slithers away. He trundles off on his little toddler feet to search for it and wanders into his mother's room. (He really loves his mother. This is VERY important!) And then he sees his father naked.

On a billboard, approximately 900 feet tall, on a mountaintop, glowing with the brilliance of a thousand suns. Avert your eyes, lest you b
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
  • God of War
  • Matelots (Raised By Wolves, #2)
  • As Meat Loves Salt
  • The Phoenix
  • Alexander the Great
  • The Virtues of War: A Novel of Alexander the Great
  • The God in Flight
  • Standish
  • An Arrow's Flight
  • Queens' Play (The Lymond Chronicles, #2)
  • Captain's Surrender
  • Whistling in the Dark
  • Achilles
  • The Boy I Love (The Boy I Love Trilogy, #1)
  • Skybound
  • The Catch Trap
  • The Back Passage (Mitch Mitchell Mystery, #1)
  • The Song of Troy
Mary Renault was an English writer best known for her historical novels set in Ancient Greece. In addition to vivid fictional portrayals of Theseus, Socrates, Plato and Alexander the Great, she wrote a non-fiction biography of Alexander.

Her historical novels are all set in ancient Greece. They include a pair of novels about the mythological hero Theseus and a trilogy about the career of Alexander
More about Mary Renault...

Other Books in the Series

Alexander the Great (3 books)
  • The Persian Boy (Alexander the Great, #2)
  • Funeral Games (Alexander the Great, #3)
The Persian Boy (Alexander the Great, #2) The King Must Die (Theseus, #1) The Last of the Wine The Charioteer The Bull from the Sea (Theseus, #2)

Share This Book

“True friends share everything, except the past before they met.” 55 likes
“One might have supposed that the true act of love was to lie together and talk.” 20 likes
More quotes…