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Fire from Heaven (Alexander the Great #1)

4.04  ·  Rating Details  ·  4,278 Ratings  ·  288 Reviews
Alexander the Great died at the age of thirty-three, leaving behind an empire that stretched from Greece and Egypt to India and a new cosmopolitan model for western civilisation. In this stunning work of historical fiction, Mary Renault vividly imagines the world of this charismatic leader whose driver and ambition created a legend.

Fire from Heaven tells the story of Alexa
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Paperback, 375 pages
Published June 11th 2002 by Vintage (first published 1969)
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299th out of 5,760 books — 22,133 voters
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Sarah (Presto agitato)
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
Terry
Aug 22, 2014 Terry rated it really liked it
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
Ahmad Sharabiani
Fire from Heaven (Alexander the Great #1), Mary Renault
عنوان: اخگر پردیس - سرگذشت واقعی اسکندر از کودکی تا پادشاهی؛ ماری رنولت؛ مترجم: سهیل سمی؛ تهران، ققنوس، 1382، شابک: 9643114554؛ موضوع: داستانهای نویسندگان انگلیسی قرن 20 م
کتاب نخست از سه گانه (تریلوژی) سرگذشت اسکندر
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
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Iset
Oct 07, 2014 Iset rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone

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
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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
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Mason
Jun 17, 2016 Mason rated it it was ok
Shelves: lgbtqa
This was just so meh for me....

I didn't love it, didn't hate it, and I know for certain I didn't retain anything from it.

Just forgettable really.
Alicja
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
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Rachel
Oct 30, 2012 Rachel rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Rachel by: Christin
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
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LeAnn
Jan 07, 2009 LeAnn rated it really liked it
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
Jim
Aug 18, 2015 Jim rated it really liked it
Fire from Heaven is the first volume of a trilogy on the life of Alexander the Great by Mary Renault. Like all of her historical novels, this one was a joy to read. It is also a remarkable act of reconstruction, considering that nothing was written about Alexander by any of his contemporaries -- at least anything that has come down to us.

The story of the emperor's early years is presented as a struggle between Philip and his wife Olympias, who have grown to hate each other. In many ways, the tw
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Ariana Fae
Mary Renault draws you into Ancient Greece showing us its rich history and Alexander’s world. I enjoyed how she depicted the characters and Alexander’s relationships with each of them: how he is torn between his parents-wanting to please them both, to his friendship and love with Hephaistion.

Renault did a great job of showing us how the characters felt and thought throughout the book. The pacing does suffer in the book with the author switching from different characters’, especially the minor c
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Nev Percy
Aug 15, 2012 Nev Percy rated it it was amazing  ·  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
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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
Loederkoningin
Buddy read with Diana. Stalled at page 80.
Tocotin
I have a weird feeling towards Mary Renault. I’d rather not support her, because she’s horribly misogynistic, but on the other hand she’s a queer woman and her misogyny might not be entirely her fault; I can understand that she might have been conflicted. And then there’s the sheer entertaining value of her books. They’re interesting, they’re well-written, and they’re full of passion. Can’t resist that.

The Persian Boy (which is not without its flaws) is one of my favorite books. Fire from Heaven
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mixal
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
Sophie
Apr 28, 2010 Sophie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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Chelsea
May 02, 2011 Chelsea rated it liked it
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
Sue
Jan 07, 2013 Sue rated it it was amazing
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
Ben Kane
Jun 17, 2016 Ben Kane rated it it was amazing
I'd been told by many people, for years, that Renault was/is the queen of historical fiction. Quite how she passed me by in my youth, when I hoovered up every historical fiction book I could find, I don't know. Anyway. I've read this book now, and it's a masterpiece. I don't think I've ever read such a vivid evocation of ancient times - and Christian Cameron takes some beating. This is a book that I will re-read, which in my time poor, books rich life, is saying something. 9/10 books get read an ...more
Luke
Feb 06, 2014 Luke rated it liked it
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
Jul 05, 2015 Jen Medos rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bookclub
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.
Vaidya
Nov 14, 2014 Vaidya rated it really liked it
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
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Seth Reeves
Jun 02, 2014 Seth Reeves rated it liked it
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
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Holly Lindquist
Ahem...
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.

Two words: SIGMUND FREUD.
On a billboard, approximately 900 feet tall, on a mountaintop, glowing with the brilliance of a thousand suns. Avert your eyes, lest you b
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effie
Jun 13, 2015 effie rated it really liked it
tl;dr version: Muddled in places and not as good as Persian Boy, but still wonderful work by wonderful 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 not only is ready to throw down the historical knowledge upside down and backwards, she is an engaging, evocative, author.
The only reason this took me so long to read even cheating and skipp
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Pat Anderson
Aug 05, 2012 Pat Anderson rated it it was ok
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
Aug 12, 2012 Patricia Bracewell rated it really liked it
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
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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
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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
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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)

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