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The Golden Mean

3.48  ·  Rating Details ·  2,587 Ratings  ·  335 Reviews
A startlingly original first novel by “this generation’s answer to Alice Munro” (The Vancouver Sun)—a bold reimagining of one of history’s most intriguing relationships: between legendary philosopher Aristotle and his most famous pupil, the young Alexander the Great.

342 BC: Aristotle is reluctant to set aside his own ambitions in order to tutor Alexander, the rebellious so
ebook, 288 pages
Published September 7th 2010 by Vintage (first published 2009)
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Jan 28, 2011 Nathan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have read entirely too many ponderous and self-aware books lately, books written to please the author first and the reader second, books whose construction is as much the point of writing the book as its contents. I only realised that when I read "Golden Mean", because it is not such a book. It's like the first time you have a really good steak and realise that all the others, those artistic meat arrangements, were too focused on visual taste and not enough on gustatory taste. "Golden Mean" wa ...more
Richard Derus
Rating: 3.75* of five

The Publisher Says: On the orders of his boyhood friend, now King Philip of Macedon, Aristotle postpones his dreams of succeeding Plato as leader of the Academy in Athens and reluctantly arrives in the Macedonian capital of Pella to tutor the king’s adolescent sons. An early illness has left one son with the intellect of a child; the other is destined for greatness but struggles between a keen mind that craves instruction and the pressures of a society that demands his prowe
Ben Babcock
Let me summarize this book for you.

Aristotle: Join me, Alexander. Feel the power of the Dark Side.

Alexander: Never!

Aristotle: Alexander, I AM YOUR FATHER.

Alexander: No!

Aristotle: Look within your heart, Alexander, which is actually a heart, and is not merely the shadow of an ideal heart, because how the hell did Plato think that would work anyway? You know it to be true.

Alexander: Noooooooo!

Aristotle: *chops off Alexander's hand with a light-sabre*

—wait, no, sorry, that’s Star Wars. Let’s try th
Lorina Stephens
While Annabel Lyon’s much-acclaimed novel The Golden Mean, has been received well by critics, I’m afraid it fell short for this reader.

The novel deals with Aristotle’s life during his tutelage of Alexander, who would become The Great. Lyon attempts to paint a picture of Aristotle’s own struggle to find balance between depression and joy, passion and reason, and in doing so employs a considerable wealth of research into the historical characters.

However, research into the historical milieu is lac
Nov 24, 2016 Lata rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: canlit, auth-f, 2016-read
2.5 stars.

I bought this book many years ago, then stuck it on a shelf and forgot it. Every now and again, I would look at it on the shelf, then choose something else to read. Jo Walton got me to pick this book up and finally read it. No, I don't know Jo Walton, but I finished reading her Thessaly series, and those books reminded me I had this.

So, preamble out of the way, what did I think of this?....The blurbs on the cover made me think I was holding the work of THE Canadian novelist, comparing
May 09, 2011 Roberta rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
A chronicle of Aristotle's seven years as Alexander of Macedonis's tutor. The wild and warlike world of Macedon was not one Aristotle appreciated, even though he grew up there. He was more at home with the philosophers and debaters in Athens, although even there he kept his distance. When the opportunity presented, he couldn't pass up the chance to teach the young Alexander and ended up in the court at Macedonia.

What struck me the most about the story is how similar Aristotle and Alexander were.
Aug 09, 2011 Brett rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well, after trying to decide whether or not I wanted to read this book, I finally took the plunge after a bookstore owner highly recommended it. I had feared that the book - which tells of the relationship between Aristotle and Alexander (soon to be the Great) from Aristotle's point of view - might be dry and academic. That certainly was not the case. In very contemporary, muscular (there really isn't another word for it) prose, Annabel Lyon gives us a fascinating fictionalization of Alexander's ...more
Jun 09, 2010 Lilian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Golden Mean by Annabel Lyon is terrific. I'll start with that and recommend that you go out and buy it.

This is a novel about Aristotle before he became Aristotle. He isn't a young man when the book begins. He is 37 years old and is inspecting his wife's vulva and vagina out of intellectual curiosity. His curiosity is great and he covets knowledge of all things.

The story follows his experiences for the next 7 years or so, while he is the tutor of Alexander the Great before he became the Gre
Aug 13, 2012 Graham rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I just finished reading The Golden Mean by Annabel Lyon, an historical novel about Aristotle torturing a young Alexander the Great. My overall impression was simply that it was a trite retelling of the same story. The dialogue at least is natural and believable, as much as anyone can suppose. It is strangely vulgar for no apparent effect. The characters curse awkwardly much like I would imagine the author to do: just to show that it can be done. In fact I would argue that among the characters in ...more
Aug 26, 2015 Julia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoy reading historical fiction. It is hard not to learn something new from a certain period in history, and this novel was no different.

Aristotle, the Greek philosopher is the narrator of this story. It is from his perspective that we learn about his time, about 7 years, as the tutor of Alexander (soon to be The Great) and son of King Philip of Macedon.

Aristotle is hoping to succeed the great Plato as leader of the Academy in Athens when King Philip asks (commands) him to tutor his er
Sep 11, 2009 Mary rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Annabel Lyon's The Golden Mean is an audacious novel about Aristotle's tutoring of the hot-blooded young warrior Alexander the Great in the years before he becomes king of Macedon at age twenty. Aristotle's quirky, scientific view of life unfolds in language that is startlingly contemporary, both in the sense of modern and of rooted in 4th century BC. Lyon's prose jumps with life, takes risks, defies gravity. We know we are in for a remarkable read when, early in the novel, we eavesdrop on Arist ...more
Rick (from Another Book Blog)
"I accept that the greatest happiness comes to those capable of the highest things ... That's where you and I walk away from the rest of the world. You and I can appreciate the glory of things. We walk to the very edge of things as everyone else knows and understands and experiences them, and then we walk the next step. We go places no one has ever been. That's who we are. That's who you've taught me to be." – Alexander, to Aristotle (pg. 275)

The Golden Mean is a graceful re-imagining of one of
Fascinating interpretation of Alexander the Great; this time from the viewpoint of the philosopher, Aristotle, his teacher, who narrates. This gave a different slant to their story, and I enjoyed hearing Aristotle's voice. The author's portrayals of both characters was unusual: Alexander the Great was presented as very intense, curious but fixated on a few range of interests, maybe not selfish exactly, but perhaps suffering from Asperger's and most certainly emotionally damaged by his overbearin ...more
Jan 31, 2012 Judy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: historical fiction readers

This was just great. A novel about Aristotle during his years as tutor of a teenaged Alexander the Great. Annabel Lyon is yet another wonderful Canadian author.

Finishing The Life of Greece by Will Durant just two weeks prior was the best preparation for a good deep reading experience. After all, these two characters loomed large in Greek history and had far reaching effects throughout the ancient Greek world.

Durant gave his signature balanced account of political, philosophical and social life i
Nov 11, 2012 Arielle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Try as I might, my words cannot do justice to this fantastic novel. Set in ancient Greece, The Golden Mean gives a fictional-historical account of the life of the philosopher Aristotle and his tutelage of the young Prince Alexander of Macedon (later, Alexander the Great). Out of all of the historical novels I have read, The Golden Mean is the best proof that historical novels can be just as engaging, alive and colourful as a novel with fictional characters and settings. Here, ancient Greece is n ...more
Sep 08, 2012 Marina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Told in the PoV of Aristotle, this is the story of his relationship with young Alexander of Macedonia, whose mentor he was for years. Though Macedonian by birth, Aristotle is Greek by choice and is quite turned off at first by the 'barbarism' of his friend King Phillip's court. But he and his wife make a life there, as he becomes friends with members of the royal household (and an aging actor), especially as he learns to accept and love both Alexander, whose warlike and conflicted nature is a so ...more
May 01, 2010 Aaron rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book is my exposure to historical fiction. I read Jack Whyte ‘The Arthurian Legend’ as a teenager, but its historical accuracy or inaccuracy is fuzzy, as is the general arc of the narrative beyond the first novel. What makes for good historical fiction? I read in the Globe and Mail that it is a genre that garners more accolades than science fiction. Evidence: Whereas Atwood’s Alias Grace won the Booker, Oryx and Crake did not. Pithily, history provides the frame, or the form, and then it is ...more
Courtney Johnston
'The Golden Mean' is an intimate book, as salty and as civet-scented as the men who people it. In it, Annabel Lyons reimagines the relationship between the philosopher Aristotle and his teenage pupil, the Macedonian prince Alexander, casting outwards and backwards to Aristotle's domestic life with his wife, children and later his servant-lover, his childhood, his apprenticeship of sorts to his physician father, his early years at Plato's Academy, his tenuous friendship with Philip the King. Ther ...more
Oct 03, 2010 Felice rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In my opinion the most famous teacher-student relationships are Aristotle and Alexander the Great and Annie Sullivan and Helen Keller. They had exceptional starting material but you have to give Ari and Annie a chunk of credit for helping to get two such powerful conquerors into the world. A+ for them.

The new novel The Golden Mean written by Annabel Lyon recreates the teacher student relationship of Aristotle and Alexander. The what happens of it all is already known. In 342 BC Aristotle reluct
Miz Moffatt
The Golden Mean offers a sensual, frank depiction of the ancient Greek philosopher, Aristotle, and his complex connections with the boy who would become Alexander the Great. As the novel opens, King Philip presses Aristotle into service as a teacher of the young princes of Macedon, forcing Aristotle to postpone his dreams of succeeding Plato as the leader of the Academy in Athens. One son, Arridaeus, possesses the intellect of a child in the aftermath of a serious illness; the other son, Alexand ...more
Louise Graham
The Golden Mean is the first novel by Annabel Lyon is a story set in 367BC. The story starts with Philip II at war with Persia the time has come for his young son Alexander (soon to turn into Alexander the Great) to take up his inheritance of blood and obedience to the sword.

Aristotle is his teacher and he soon realises that Alexander has a lot to learn before he can attend his father battlefields, this is the lesson of the golden mean.

This is a story with a huge amount of historical fact with
Hilary Green
This book deals with one of the most influential teacher/pupil relationships in history and it reconstructs it very vividly.My problem with it is that I found Aristotle, as portrayed here,hard to like. He clearly suffers from bi-polar syndrome, which is obviously not a reason to dislike him, but he also comes across to me as being semi-autistic. He has difficulty in making close relationships. He loves intensely for a short while but as soon as the relationship requires intimacy - physical or em ...more
Sep 18, 2010 Tori rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I wonder who recommended this book to me? why did I buy it? thank goodness it was at a discount, but still - what a waste of money. True, I only got 40 pages into the story. Maybe there was a lot of good stuff yet to come, but I had had enough.
I actually gave up on it after only about 20 pages, but thought I should at least read the reviews on Goodreads first. Many of the reviews were actually very good. So - I hunkered down and started it again. But - it just wasn't for me.

From what I read - L
Kyle Muntz
Oct 03, 2015 Kyle Muntz rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this a few years ago when I was doing "research" for a novel set in Greece, and I remember loving it--but going back, it's just as impressive. It's about Artistotle and the time he spent tutoring Alexender the Great. The prose is tough, muscular, and very modern in a way I appreciate; but this time around, I especially liked the moments of stark, complex characterization and the elaborate, subdued melancholy of Aristotle himself. Throughout the course of the novel we get a look at some th ...more
File this one under 'books that are as awesome as their awesome covers.' I loved this. I think Lyon is doing something that is, if not exactly radical, certainly unusual and unexpected in a historical novel about Aristotle and Alexander the Great. This is a very domestic novel, which is not to say that it is safe, quiet, or lacking in incident--rather the opposite--but simply that its domain is personalities, not politics. We see--albeit through Aristotle's eyes--the people who go unmentioned in ...more
Blair Conrad
Ultimately disappointing. Not because it's a bad book, but because it's billed as a fantastic book. I'm sure Ms. Lyons did a tremendous amount of research, but that doesn't affect the reader directly, so we have to judge what we read.
The book is good, but slightly uneven. There are sections in which we get insight into (Ms. Lyon's interpretation of) Aristotle's mind, and at first these are interesting. Likewise, nearly all of the lessons that Aristotle gives Alexander, but that's about it. The r
Aug 02, 2011 Jessica added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jessica by: the millions
Incredibly well-written. Through each small action, thought or discussion I felt like I got a real deep knowledge of the characters. It made me think about that time in history in a different way. Aristotle, even as our hero and narrator, is kind of disturbing, but there's an interesting tension for the reader because he doesn't think he's being awful (but the thousands of years that have passed put things in a different light for the reader). The book made me think about the "gay" relationships ...more
Robert Hill
I thought this book was good. It must have taken an enormous amount of time to research. The story of the novel is about the seven years Aristotle spends tutoring the sons of Phillip II of Macedonia. The eldest son being Alexander, later to become Alexander the Great. It has interesting descriptions of life in the fourth century BC. The interactions between the major characters are interesting. The novel also tells the story of some of Aristotle's childhood. The title is a reference to the philo ...more
Ulises Lima
Un libro interesante para contextualizar la vida de Alejandro, Aristóteles, Filipo II de Macedonia (y esposas...), las estrategias políticas entre los diferentes núcleos de poder de la antigua Grecia, Atenas, Pella, Vergina, y el papel de la religión, la filosofía y las costumbres en el devenir histórico de la antigüedad helénica.
Que decir del papel de la mujer que refleja el texto, tan denostado hasta nuestros días a pesar de simpatías y muestras de afecto.
El estilo, o la traducción, configuran
Feb 02, 2016 Nuska rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
Una novela histórica que da cuenta de la gran mentalidad de Aristóteles y las muchas inquietudes que la ocupaban, incluida la relación con sus mujeres y sus hijos, la escritura de sus libros más conocidos (Poética) y, por supuesto, la relación con su discípulo, Alejandro Magno. Me ha gustado la forma de tratar esta relación: el cariño, no siempre evidente ni palpable, entre maestro y discípulo y cómo el maestro contribuye a la grandeza del discípulo. Aunque, como buen maestro, siempre creerá que ...more
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Annabel Lyon was born in 1971. Her first book of fiction, the short story collection Oxygen (Porcupine's Quill, 2000), was published to wide acclaim, and was nominated for the Danuta Gleed and ReLit awards.

Her short fiction has appeared in numerous publications, including Toronto Life, The Journey Prize Anthology, and Write Turns: New Directions in Canadian Fiction. Lyon is also a frequent contri
More about Annabel Lyon...

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“You who understand what a human mind can be, how can you bear it? I don't have the hundredth part of your mind and there are days when I think I'll go mad. I can feel it. Or hear it. It's more like hearing something creeping along the walls, just behind my head, getting closer and closer. A big insect, maybe a scorpion. A dry skittering, that's what madness sounds like to me.” 1 likes
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