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Funeral Games

(Alexander the Great #3)

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  2,615 ratings  ·  156 reviews
As Funeral Games opens, Alexander the Great lies dying. Around his body gather the generals, the provincial satraps and the royal wives, already competing for the prizes of power and land. Only Bagoas, the Persian boy mourning in the shadows, wants nothing. Tracing the events of the fifteen years following Alexander's death, Funeral Games sees his mighty empire disintegrat ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published November 6th 2003 by Arrow (first published 1981)
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Parzival To call this book a part of a series is a little misleading, yes they are all taking place in and around the life of Alexander but this is not a conti…moreTo call this book a part of a series is a little misleading, yes they are all taking place in and around the life of Alexander but this is not a continuation of the previous book and the previous book was not a continuation of the first book. They all seem to have a different 'voice', Fire from Heaven was a first person narrative of Alexander's youth, The Persian Boy is about Alexander's friend/concubine/slave, and the last is a third person narrative about the troubles after Alexander died. That being said the first two books are very good, and should be read, though because of the differences in style and substance the order should not really matter.(less)

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Robert Dunbar
Dec 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviews
“I foresee great contests at my funeral games.”

Isn’t it funny how Mary Renault ultimately became a sort of historical personage in her own right? Well, not really funny, of course, but more sort of inevitable. After all, who's in her class? These days? Did you read that “historical” novel about Anne Boleyn that was on all the best-seller lists a couple of years ago? Apparently, poor Anne really did commit adultery with all those men (and boys) who were tortured into confessing. Plus, she practic
Crystal Starr Light
Jul 01, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Crystal Starr Light by: Iset
Bullet Review:

I REALLY REALLY liked the first half and that would have been 5 stars. But then we started doing the time warp and I felt I was really an anthology of various people who knew Alexander instead of a cohesive novel. Still some good characters, but huge leaps in time skipping numerous events. But the end was worst; large jump in time, summarizing events.

Full Review:

Alexander the Great is dead (this is not a spoiler), and the various men and even women who knew him (or of him) desperat

I didn’t expect to be doing this, but I’m actually marking Funeral Games down from the first two books in Mary Renault’s trilogy; Fire From Heaven and The Persian Boy. The difference? Renault jumps about a lot in time here. Of course her previous novels did this too – all of them were selective in their scenes, not comprehensive – but this time round Renault covers a much wider span of time, the events of thirty-seven years in total, a wider range than the first two books combined. And historica
May 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
This was honestly one of the most catastrophic books ever. I don't mean it was bad, just that everything in it was awful. It's the final chapter of a trilogy that no one ever writes, the part, after the hero has died, where everything goes to absolute shit and everything he worked for and stood for disintegrates.

(I loved the afterward where Renault points out that she actually left out a ton of the murders.) The only one I noticed was Kleopatra's though because her storyline just stopped after
Jul 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
George RR Martin famously called Maurice Druon's Rois maudits series "the ORIGINAL Game of Thrones." He could easily have been describing Funeral Games instead, which depicts the struggle for power in the years following Alexander's death.

Funeral Games is certainly bloody, as characters are stabbed, strangled, poisoned, and - in one memorable scene - trampled by a herd of elephants. Throughout the book, Renault shows us that the center simply cannot hold; without Alexander's charisma ("He could
V.E. Ulett
Mar 30, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Alexander the Great trilogy was my first reading of Renault. She does so much with so few words. She's now my second favorite HF author - along side Patrick O'Brian.
Whereas The Persian Boy made me want to linger, this one made me want to get through it quickly because I knew everything would go to hell in a handbasket in a major way. Like Anna says in her review, it's that third book few authors would have the gumption to write. From the intimate, loving dignity of Bagoas' voice, it switches to a brisker tone; a chronicle, still beautifully written but also much more matter-of-fact, of how after the golden hero's death, his legacy falls rapidly and perhaps ...more
Mar 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Renault has done something really incredible with her beloved source material. Each entry into this series is spectacularly different. While I very much enjoyed it, the first, Fire from Heaven, was written in such a way that I am sure will deter anyone from reading further into the series. Subsequent entries into this series are much improved and, while the former always builds on the latter, each feels like it could be read and savoured independently.

While the series is subtitled with "a novel
Oct 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017
It was surprising to me how good this book was.

I'm quite a fan of Alexander as a character, so I thought his absence would be noticed. In fact, his presence was vivid throughout the book, with every single character reminiscing, mourning, or fuming. Everyone had their WWAD moment, and only Ptolemy seemed to approach it correctly. (Speaking of whom, I never thought I'd grow to love someone who founded a ridiculous dynasty of sibling-fuckers this much <3)

I desperately want to see this trilogy don
Feb 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Though The Persian Boy let me down a bit, I was nevertheless compelled to forge on, not yet ready to let Renault’s voice out of my ear or say goodbye to the machinations of the ancient world. I’m glad I did. Funeral Games does not quite achieve the relentless psychological intimacy of Fire From Heaven, but it does tease out a few satisfying, character-driven threads from a time of utter chaos.

Alexander dies in the book’s opening pages (only a man like Alexander can die twice, as he also died at
rating: 4/5

The world wasn’t ready for Alexander the Great’s death; he left behind an empty throne without a worthy successor. Yet many tried… and this is the setting of this third book in Renault’s trilogy. Alexander’s generals formed factions and alliances for various territories or seeking regency, new Macedonians with royal blood hoped to fill his shoes, armies and brothers/fathers divided over loyalties fighting against each other while Alexander’s still unborn children were used as pawns in
Oct 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
While The Persian Boy stopped at the point where Alexander was dying, this book takes off from there. It's a rollicking ride covering the 47 years after Alexander's death, the infighting, intrigues, conspiracies to get the Macedonian throne.

After the first quarter of the book, characters keep dropping dead like flies, killed by rivals through various means or in battlefields. All that is left at the end is just Ptolemy who wisely chooses the Satrapy of Egypt, fortifies it well, and stays away fr
Nov 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
A compelling account of the battle for power following the death of Alexander the Great. This is the first Mary Renault I have read and it took me a while to follow the pace of her often stilted writing. Sometimes it read like a translation. Very few of the characters were more than one dimensional but I suppose this is because the story covers such a long period and so there was little time to develop them. Mostly, they didn't live long enough anyway! Despite all this, it's a good read and was ...more
Edmund Marlowe
Oct 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Excellent Epilogue

This last of Renault's trilogy about Alexander the Great opens with his dying in Babylon. At first, it follows the ensuing and highly dramatic struggle for power in detail, then it takes gradually greater jumps in time until the end, when an elderly Ptolemy finishes his history of Alexander thirty-seven years later. It is a dramatic story, dark and violent compared to her other novels, in keeping with the real historical intrigues it relates.

Though not the sort of sequel that h
Michael Flick
Jul 11, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
My, what an ending!

Honestly, this might be the craziest final part of a trilogy that I've ever read!

Why I liked this book (spoilers):
The plot and action was fantastic! The non-stop action and plotting kept me thoroughly entertained. Due mainly to Alexander not clearly naming an heir or planning who would succeed him if he ever died, this book clearly portrays the collapse of what he'd managed to establish. That is, with no clear successor, almost everyone is vying for the throne. Almost everyone
Carla Bull
Jul 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I am so pumped right now, I feel like I could scale a building. This series was absolutely stunning, it has given me LIFE. I finished this book at about 2am and I have been buzzing ever since.

When I started out with Fire from Heaven, my knowledge of Alexander was pretty non-existent. Horse, hair, conquest. Three books down the line, (and a little reading around the subject because I have no chilllllll) and I've realised several things:

I've realised that Mary Renault's version of Alexander is a
Seth Reeves
Jun 09, 2014 rated it liked it
The final book in Mary Renault's novelization of the life and death of Alexander the Great did give me what I longed for in the second book, the point of view of more of the characters. It also kept going with her somewhat stilted, overwrought writing style.

The story is all about the few years following Alexander's death. You immediately are given to understand that the only person around who could at once expand and maintain so vast and diverse an empire was gone and there was not a single per
Saimi Korhonen
Feb 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ancient-greece
Funeral Games was a wonderful finale for a wonderful trilogy!

I really enjoyed the earlier books and luckily Funeral Games didn't disappoint me. Just like the two previous books in this trilogy, Funeral Games was an atmospheric and intense read full of political schemings, war and well-written characters. This book follows the events that took place after Alexander the Great's rather surprising early death. We get to follow multiple characters - some who were already introduced in the earlier bo
Ben Kane
Oct 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
How right the people who advised me to read Mary Renault were. I started with Fire from Heaven, and was blown away by the precise, yet almost musical prose. Laden with historical detail, the book evoked 4th century BC Greece as I could never have imagined. Thanks to the titling on my kindle, I mistakenly read this volume next. No matter - I knew much of the history already, and have now moved on to The Persian Boy.

Back to this book. This is historical fiction at its finest. It simply doesn't get
Claudia Camacho
Aug 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-precious
Masterful! I enjoyed this book from begining to end. Again, this is an accurate and beautifully constructed historical account of the succession wars that followed Alexander the Great's unexpected death, but most importantly, it is an honest depiction of human nature: Renault has the sensitivity to capture the essence of all her characters to show them at their best and at their worst without making a caricature out of any of them.

This novel is so rich in every single aspect that I want to read
Mar 10, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: historical
I wish the author had added more information at the end about what was historically stated, and what she had to fill in, but this was a fascinating look at how Alexander's empire disintegrated after his death. Deeply depressing, though. The historical equivalent of Hamlet - easier to list the survivors.
Dec 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
It's not my favourite of hers. She needs to cover an awful lot of ground and tie up endless threads. But it is still Mary Renault and it is still amazing. Where is the historical fiction of this time and level these days? Dorothy Dunnett, Mary Renault, and Cecelia Holland -- who else writes like them?
Jan 26, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This last book was better than I thought it'd be. I wondered, how good could it be if Alexander isn't even in it?? This is basically the story of how, post-death, various characters bid for power. My favorite being Eurydike, of course. And even though Alexander has died, you still feel his presence in this book, god-like and unmatched.
Brenda Clough
Apr 06, 2017 rated it liked it
For completists and fans of the period, but less good than the first two.
Apr 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
A great trilogy but such a sad and murderous ending.

The ending made me cry.
Andrea (Catsos Person) is a Compulsive eBook Hoarder
NTS: I own "The Alexander Trilogy," all 3 of the books of this series bound as one eBook.
Jul 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kelly Miess
Feb 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Though this may be my least favorite of the three books of Renault’s Alexander the Great trilogy, it was still fascinating and well worth reading. I am sad to leave this ancient world, beautiful and flawed, different and not, from our own.

This book picks up and concludes the story of Alexander where the second book, The Persian Boy, ended - with the great king’s death. Here we learn of his last days from afar, a political perspective much different than the intimate death scenes of The Persian
Reading In The Dark
This book was over too soon! I love Mary Renault’s rendition of the ancient world, and her occasional elevations into lyrical, beautiful prose.

Some of the events in this, the third novel in her Alexander the Great trilogy, were grotesque and unpleasant to say the least. But I trust her research and accuracy. I was swept up in hopes and dreams for characters, thrilled to their triumphs, and then found myself disappointed and horrified when things didn’t turn out as I’d expected. For a novel of an
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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

Other books in the series

Alexander the Great (3 books)
  • Fire from Heaven (Alexander the Great, #1)
  • The Persian Boy (Alexander the Great, #2)

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