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“Mary Renault is a shining light to both historical novelists and their readers. She does not pretend the past is like the present, or that the people of ancient Greece were just like us. She shows us their strangeness; discerning, sure-footed, challenging our values, piquing our curiosity, she leads us through an alien landscape that moves and delights us.”—Hilary Mantel
The Persian Boy
centers on the most tempestuous years of Alexander the Great’s life, as seen through the eyes of his lover and most faithful attendant, Bagoas.
When Bagoas is very young, his father is murdered and he is sold as a slave to King Darius of Persia. Then, when Alexander conquers the land, he is given Bagoas as a gift, and the boy is besotted. This passion comes at a time when much is at stake—Alexander has two wives, conflicts are ablaze, and plots on the Macedon king’s life abound. The result is a riveting account of a great conqueror’s years of triumph and, ultimately, heartbreak.
The Persian Boy
is the second volume of the Novels of Alexander the Great trilogy, which also includes Fire from Heaven and Funeral Games.
This ebook features an illustrated biography of Mary Renault including rare images of the author.
Published: Open Road Media an imprint of Open Road Integrated Media on
ISBN: 9781480432376
List price: $14.99
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A good novel about a Persian slave boy who is picked up by, and adventures with, Alexander the Great. I was happy to recognize several incidents and characters within - it's very well researched.

I'm not one usually to tolerate love stories and romances and intrigues, but this seemed more palatable. Give it a shot if you like either history or romance, and don't mind homosexuality. If you are none of these, pass it over.more
Mary Renault continues the story of Alexander the Great (the first book was Fire From Heaven) in The Persian Boy. When we catch up with Alexander it has been six years. He is now 26 years old. His prowess as a conqueror cannot be questioned, as it was covered in Fire From Heaven, so Renault chooses to explore Alexander's sensual side as he forges a relationship with slave-boy Bagoas. As a eunuch Bagoas is used to being a plaything for royalty. His beauty is beyond compare and when Alexander is presented with Bagoas as a peace offering he cannot refuse. Despite once serving Alexander's Persian enemy Bagoas decides to be loyal to Alexander and make Alexander love him. What follows is the classic struggle of Persian versus Macedonian cultures as Bagoas assumes the narrative.more
A beautiful slave boy Bagoas is originally from a well to do family in ancient Persia and witnesses his father's brutal murder, along with his mother's subsequent suicide. As he is only 10 years old, he doesn't know what happened to his sisters as he was gathered up by the Captain of the assassins, to be sold into slavery. His life becomes hell for the next 5 years as the man that purchases him rents him out to uncouth clients. Eventually he end up as a sexual plaything to Darius, king of Persia. Things are better for awhile, but then Alexander the Great comes into the story when Darius is assassinated by his own men, and Bagoas is used as a pawn by one of the assassins as a gift to Alexander in order to obtain his own pardon. Bagoas falls deeply in love with Alexander who is protrayed as kind and fair to those in his care. After some patience and conniving, Bagoas finally gets close to Alexander and they become lovers. Bagoas is many things, young, dramatic, impatient, wise beyond his years because of the life he was thrown into, but ultimately lovable. I re-read this book every couple of years at least.more
The Persian boy, Bagoas, is well born, but his father is betrayed and murdered, Bagoas should have been killed too, but possessing remarkable beauty his father's murderers consider him worth too much. Bagoas is gelded and sold into slavery, but with such beauty it is not long before he comes to the attention of Darius the king, and is then serving in Darius' bed chamber. In the meantime Alexander's unstoppable advance finally catches up with Darius and his army. With Darius defeated Bagoas finds himself being offered to Alexander, and so the seeds are sown for what will become a life ling love affair.Bagoas narrates the events leading to his service to Alexander, and the relatively few years he accompanies Alexander on his continuing campaigns, through numerous triumphs interspersed with periods of hardship. The love the to men enjoy is unquestioned, and Bagoas puts the care of his new king above everything else. Bagoas only bug is the presence of Hephaistion, Alexander's life long friend and other lover; fortunately, despite his jealousy, Bagoas has the intelligence not to interfere with this relationship. Bagoas relates his account from his mature years when living happily in Egypt, but he tell's only up to Alexander's death.The Persian Boy is an extremely well written a beautiful love story, a story of devotion and loyalty, a moving and very affecting account - a remarkable read. While a work of fiction, it is founded in fact, and Mary Renault is well informed in matters of ancient history, and she supplies a brief but informative Author's Note which adds to our understanding.more
Amazing book by one of my favorite authorsmore
I found this novel very readable and well written, but not enough to my taste to be terribly engaging. It's something like a view of Alexander during this part of his life from the personal viewpoint of someone close to him. While with plenty enough (as far as I know/assume?) author-created material to be considered fiction, there isn't really a growing narrative in either plot or character development. There's a good bit of description of things that have been happening lately or musings of the main character without a lot of extended scenes (with actions and dialogue) written out.As far as the relationship in the story, it isn't quite what I'd call a romance. Once the main character meets Alexander, he becomes dedicated to him, falls in love with him, has his love returned, and endeavors to keep that love. The main character does little but wait for Alexander and report to us what has been happening in Alexander's life lately. While I can't fault the character himself for this (this way of life probably truly being the best option open to him) it doesn't make for the kind of story I was hoping for.I remember thinking something similar (that the story was not exactly what I was looking for but still well done for what it was) about the first book I read by this author, The Charioteer. On the other hand, I apparently still enjoyed The Charioteer considerably despite this. Unfortunately it's been too long for me to remember the novel well anymore and to say whether this difference in my reception of this other novel now is a difference between the novels or a change in my tastes over the years.Either way, while the main character here seems human and well developed, it is still more a story about Alexander and the adoration/devotion he inspires (and perhaps a little on the selfishness or immaturity of young love) than either a romance or even a story of the personal struggles of the main character. I may have only gotten 2/3 of the way through it, but my stopping was less being bored or fed up with the book than simply me figuring I may as well find something to read more suited to me.more
Well told imagining of the life of a Persian eunuch that served, serviced and loved first the Persian king and then Alexander and saw the unfolding of near Eastern history.more
A good historical work, that is rightly a classic. The issues, some of which are highly sensitive, are dealt with sympathetically and the story is a faithful reproduction of the life of Alexander the Great. Nevertheless, I personally found the focus on Alexander from a human perspective, whilst skirting over the battles and strategy (an area that would not be known by the protagonist, Bagoas) was a little tiresome.more
Mary Renault's books will always be my view of Alexander the Great.more
It's "David the King" meets "Memoirs of a Geisha" to be really simplistic. Well, sort of. It's all told from the pov of Alexander the Great's Persian love slave. The begining is quite creepy and disturbing, but it gets better. The narrator is a Eunuch, I imagine that's a hard perspective to write from. It may be easier for a female author, maybe. Renault does a great job of explaining the difference in philosophy and culture between Asians and Europeans, which will turn out to be vital if you ever want to discuss religion or history seriously. Bagoas is thrown into a life which is not that different from the lives of women in the same period. He can't be a soldier, he's not thought of as a grown man, he's not even expected to be able to defend himself. He has to fear sexual assult from people who assume he's just up for grabs. He's property. And yet he still has the same sexist views of women that the men around him do. Go figure. He's trapped between the genders, in a time when that wasn't acceptable. I would reccomend this book to guys who need to understand the historical perspective of a woman though, "this is how you'd feel if someone treated you that way". For a book with so much sex in it, about a literal whore, there's hardly any actual sex described. I'm not sure how I feel about that. It's very common of books like this to be sketchy about the details of gay sex, especially if the author is a woman (maybe her editor told her "you need to tone that down" or maybe it's a generational thing, I don't know). This is slash by someone with no erotica writing experience. It's not supposed to be sexy, I'd assume, maybe the author didn't even realize people would want the smut. But it's just all so *vague*. When Bagoas says it "hurts him", I didn't at first understand that the author meant he wasn't able to have an orgasm because of what was done to him (in both a physical and psychological sense). It shouldn't be that vague. He does come off as a little obsessive. But I realized that there are reasons for this. He is, first of all, a teenager in love and we all know that means obsession (but does it have to mean psychosis?). But he's never been loved *back* before, at least since he lost his parents. The mere idea of someone treating him like a human being with feelings could easily convince him to be a little clingy. Obsessing over Alexander is also his job-he is responsible for taking care of and anticipating Alexander's needs and he has been trained not to want anything but his master's happiness. Until he was given to Alexander, his life depended on that and it actually still did, no matter how gentle and egalitarian Alexander seemed. I don't think a modern person, especially not a Western one, could really identify with being in such a situation. Still, yeah, he's a bit obsessive and sometimes I got the impression of an incredibly damaged person trying to excuse the behavior of someone they're forced to be dependent on.Who is that on the cover? It doesn't match the description of either Bagoas or Alexander.more
A classic gay themed love story of the highest quality! This would be a great first gay novel! Mary Renualt has given me such comfort and hope as a gay man over the years, as a consequence of reading this and others of her books.more
Read all 13 reviews

Reviews

A good novel about a Persian slave boy who is picked up by, and adventures with, Alexander the Great. I was happy to recognize several incidents and characters within - it's very well researched.

I'm not one usually to tolerate love stories and romances and intrigues, but this seemed more palatable. Give it a shot if you like either history or romance, and don't mind homosexuality. If you are none of these, pass it over.more
Mary Renault continues the story of Alexander the Great (the first book was Fire From Heaven) in The Persian Boy. When we catch up with Alexander it has been six years. He is now 26 years old. His prowess as a conqueror cannot be questioned, as it was covered in Fire From Heaven, so Renault chooses to explore Alexander's sensual side as he forges a relationship with slave-boy Bagoas. As a eunuch Bagoas is used to being a plaything for royalty. His beauty is beyond compare and when Alexander is presented with Bagoas as a peace offering he cannot refuse. Despite once serving Alexander's Persian enemy Bagoas decides to be loyal to Alexander and make Alexander love him. What follows is the classic struggle of Persian versus Macedonian cultures as Bagoas assumes the narrative.more
A beautiful slave boy Bagoas is originally from a well to do family in ancient Persia and witnesses his father's brutal murder, along with his mother's subsequent suicide. As he is only 10 years old, he doesn't know what happened to his sisters as he was gathered up by the Captain of the assassins, to be sold into slavery. His life becomes hell for the next 5 years as the man that purchases him rents him out to uncouth clients. Eventually he end up as a sexual plaything to Darius, king of Persia. Things are better for awhile, but then Alexander the Great comes into the story when Darius is assassinated by his own men, and Bagoas is used as a pawn by one of the assassins as a gift to Alexander in order to obtain his own pardon. Bagoas falls deeply in love with Alexander who is protrayed as kind and fair to those in his care. After some patience and conniving, Bagoas finally gets close to Alexander and they become lovers. Bagoas is many things, young, dramatic, impatient, wise beyond his years because of the life he was thrown into, but ultimately lovable. I re-read this book every couple of years at least.more
The Persian boy, Bagoas, is well born, but his father is betrayed and murdered, Bagoas should have been killed too, but possessing remarkable beauty his father's murderers consider him worth too much. Bagoas is gelded and sold into slavery, but with such beauty it is not long before he comes to the attention of Darius the king, and is then serving in Darius' bed chamber. In the meantime Alexander's unstoppable advance finally catches up with Darius and his army. With Darius defeated Bagoas finds himself being offered to Alexander, and so the seeds are sown for what will become a life ling love affair.Bagoas narrates the events leading to his service to Alexander, and the relatively few years he accompanies Alexander on his continuing campaigns, through numerous triumphs interspersed with periods of hardship. The love the to men enjoy is unquestioned, and Bagoas puts the care of his new king above everything else. Bagoas only bug is the presence of Hephaistion, Alexander's life long friend and other lover; fortunately, despite his jealousy, Bagoas has the intelligence not to interfere with this relationship. Bagoas relates his account from his mature years when living happily in Egypt, but he tell's only up to Alexander's death.The Persian Boy is an extremely well written a beautiful love story, a story of devotion and loyalty, a moving and very affecting account - a remarkable read. While a work of fiction, it is founded in fact, and Mary Renault is well informed in matters of ancient history, and she supplies a brief but informative Author's Note which adds to our understanding.more
Amazing book by one of my favorite authorsmore
I found this novel very readable and well written, but not enough to my taste to be terribly engaging. It's something like a view of Alexander during this part of his life from the personal viewpoint of someone close to him. While with plenty enough (as far as I know/assume?) author-created material to be considered fiction, there isn't really a growing narrative in either plot or character development. There's a good bit of description of things that have been happening lately or musings of the main character without a lot of extended scenes (with actions and dialogue) written out.As far as the relationship in the story, it isn't quite what I'd call a romance. Once the main character meets Alexander, he becomes dedicated to him, falls in love with him, has his love returned, and endeavors to keep that love. The main character does little but wait for Alexander and report to us what has been happening in Alexander's life lately. While I can't fault the character himself for this (this way of life probably truly being the best option open to him) it doesn't make for the kind of story I was hoping for.I remember thinking something similar (that the story was not exactly what I was looking for but still well done for what it was) about the first book I read by this author, The Charioteer. On the other hand, I apparently still enjoyed The Charioteer considerably despite this. Unfortunately it's been too long for me to remember the novel well anymore and to say whether this difference in my reception of this other novel now is a difference between the novels or a change in my tastes over the years.Either way, while the main character here seems human and well developed, it is still more a story about Alexander and the adoration/devotion he inspires (and perhaps a little on the selfishness or immaturity of young love) than either a romance or even a story of the personal struggles of the main character. I may have only gotten 2/3 of the way through it, but my stopping was less being bored or fed up with the book than simply me figuring I may as well find something to read more suited to me.more
Well told imagining of the life of a Persian eunuch that served, serviced and loved first the Persian king and then Alexander and saw the unfolding of near Eastern history.more
A good historical work, that is rightly a classic. The issues, some of which are highly sensitive, are dealt with sympathetically and the story is a faithful reproduction of the life of Alexander the Great. Nevertheless, I personally found the focus on Alexander from a human perspective, whilst skirting over the battles and strategy (an area that would not be known by the protagonist, Bagoas) was a little tiresome.more
Mary Renault's books will always be my view of Alexander the Great.more
It's "David the King" meets "Memoirs of a Geisha" to be really simplistic. Well, sort of. It's all told from the pov of Alexander the Great's Persian love slave. The begining is quite creepy and disturbing, but it gets better. The narrator is a Eunuch, I imagine that's a hard perspective to write from. It may be easier for a female author, maybe. Renault does a great job of explaining the difference in philosophy and culture between Asians and Europeans, which will turn out to be vital if you ever want to discuss religion or history seriously. Bagoas is thrown into a life which is not that different from the lives of women in the same period. He can't be a soldier, he's not thought of as a grown man, he's not even expected to be able to defend himself. He has to fear sexual assult from people who assume he's just up for grabs. He's property. And yet he still has the same sexist views of women that the men around him do. Go figure. He's trapped between the genders, in a time when that wasn't acceptable. I would reccomend this book to guys who need to understand the historical perspective of a woman though, "this is how you'd feel if someone treated you that way". For a book with so much sex in it, about a literal whore, there's hardly any actual sex described. I'm not sure how I feel about that. It's very common of books like this to be sketchy about the details of gay sex, especially if the author is a woman (maybe her editor told her "you need to tone that down" or maybe it's a generational thing, I don't know). This is slash by someone with no erotica writing experience. It's not supposed to be sexy, I'd assume, maybe the author didn't even realize people would want the smut. But it's just all so *vague*. When Bagoas says it "hurts him", I didn't at first understand that the author meant he wasn't able to have an orgasm because of what was done to him (in both a physical and psychological sense). It shouldn't be that vague. He does come off as a little obsessive. But I realized that there are reasons for this. He is, first of all, a teenager in love and we all know that means obsession (but does it have to mean psychosis?). But he's never been loved *back* before, at least since he lost his parents. The mere idea of someone treating him like a human being with feelings could easily convince him to be a little clingy. Obsessing over Alexander is also his job-he is responsible for taking care of and anticipating Alexander's needs and he has been trained not to want anything but his master's happiness. Until he was given to Alexander, his life depended on that and it actually still did, no matter how gentle and egalitarian Alexander seemed. I don't think a modern person, especially not a Western one, could really identify with being in such a situation. Still, yeah, he's a bit obsessive and sometimes I got the impression of an incredibly damaged person trying to excuse the behavior of someone they're forced to be dependent on.Who is that on the cover? It doesn't match the description of either Bagoas or Alexander.more
A classic gay themed love story of the highest quality! This would be a great first gay novel! Mary Renualt has given me such comfort and hope as a gay man over the years, as a consequence of reading this and others of her books.more
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