The Bull from the Sea (1962): Mary Renault


Published four years after The King Must Die, this book picks up the thread of Theseus’ story once again. Having brought down the ancient Cretan house of Minos, he comes home to Athens flushed with glory, accompanied by his loyal team of bull-leapers, the Cranes. But the joy fades quickly: Theseus is greeted by news of his father’s premature death; and, for all the Cranes, the Athens they return to seems smaller and more provincial than the city they left.

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The King Must Die (1958): Mary Renault


Although I’m only posting about it now, I finished The King Must Die before embarking on Gates of Fire. My planned project this year is a reread of Mary Renault’s classical history novels, which had such a huge impact on me as an impressionable teenager. Two books stood out particularly strongly in my memory: The King Must Die and Fire From Heaven, and I was delighted to hear that Heloise was also keen to read the former. Our very informal joint reading was punctuated by excited whittering about myths (from me) and fascinating comments about narrative patterns and the question of consent in sacrifice (from her). I’m pleased to report that I’ve infected her with my Renault enthusiasm and in fact she’s already finished the sequel, The Bull From The Sea.

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