Dylan Rostek's Reviews > The King Must Die

The King Must Die by Mary Renault
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's review
Sep 30, 2010

really liked it
Read from September 14 to 23, 2010

I'm very reluctant to give anything five stars and while this one doesn't quite get there I thought about it....

The King Must Die is a retelling of the Greek myths about Theseus (most famous for slaying the Minotaur of Crete) but it tells it with the idea of what if it was real. It asks what if the monsters of the myths weren't monsters at all but other events that could happen that through time and telling were twisted into the myths we know today. With that question in mind Mary Renault weaves an amazing tail that gives you a realistic view of the son of Poseidon and an intriguing glimpse into what Greek life and culture was like in the ancient world. How they lived, worshiped, believed and loved are all touched upon. Never enough to pull you out of the story itself but enough to ground the story and period, explain their motives and ideas and truly make you feel transported.

The only difficulty I had with this book at first was the writing style. I'm not sure how to explain it. It is formal but not in the Shakespearean way I believe a lot of us have come to think of period pieces, this is, after all, ancient Greece not middle age Britain. The language is simpler in some aspects and yet not in others where words are used that have fallen out of use in our modern times. What I can say about it though is while it presents somewhat of a learning curve to get used to it once you do it is simply another tool that is used to firmly set you within that time period and in hind sight I wouldn't have wanted it written in any other way. It lends a voice to Theseus and to Ancient Greece that would have been dearly missed had she written with a more modern tongue.

I strongly suggest this book, I don't imagine it's for everyone but I think most serious readers will enjoy it. If you love historical fiction and/or mythology you should definitely enjoy it. I did.

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message 2: by Lisa (new) - added it

Lisa I really enjoyed your review...but who are you not to give 5 stars :P Reading your review really makes me want to read this book. It was just enough detail to make me interested, while not giving too much away.

Dylan Rostek I'm not against giving 5 stars, I just have to really be blown away. Not to mention if I do give something 5 stars and then later read something much better I have no where higher to go.

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