Fire From Heaven by Mary Renault
Fire from Heaven by Mary Renault
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
When I started this book I was sixteen or seventeen, had checked it out from our high school library, and read it with interest because I was already enamored of the Greeks and armies marching here and there, the conquest of Persia; it was a cousin to fantasy, which I was also reading at the time. The early life of Alexander was engaging and clear; I was enjoying Mary Renault’s prose, which I could recognize as better writing than I was used to in my science fiction favorites. Then came the entry into the book of Hephaistion and his love of Alexander, when they were schoolboys being tutored by Aristotle. I was absolutely struck dumb by the fact that two boys were in a book in love with each other. I had never read anything like that and had figured out that my own feelings were supposed to be hidden and not shared with anybody. The story was transporting even without the addition of this element, but the fact that I could identify with the book so closely made an impression that was thrilling. I have read the book several times over the years, not nearly as many times as I read its sequel, The Persian Boy. Renault is an extraordinary writer who found in this material something that touched the best writer she could be. Of all the historical writers I’ve read, I love her best.