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Towers of Books Come Tumbling Down!

I love all kinds of books! For all my friends, I am known on GR as Alicja. I don't stick with a genre, that's boring. Instead you'll get reviews from the most random assortment of fiction and non-fiction works. It's probably due to my interests being as eclectic as my book tastes.


I'm a girlfriend-loving bisexual, science fiction geek, PC gamer, historical fiction devourer, hiker, atheist, history buff, opera lover, vegetarian, kayaker, metal and hard rock concert goer, science nerd, politics debater, world traveler, M/M romance fan, and I have the ability to transform from an adult-like hard-working professional into a screaming fangirl in five seconds flat.

The Mask of Apollo by Mary Renault

The Mask of Apollo - Mary Renault

Rating: 5.5/5 (It was that brilliant!)


Summary: Nikeratos (Niko), a 4th century B.C. Greek tragic actor finds himself in a middle of a political drama involving among others the famous Plato and Dion. He carries with him a mask of Apollo, an old relic from the past as he travels performing (and carrying secret messages for political leaders).


Review: I was in awe reading this novel. In short, this is an (ancient Greek) political thriller. It is probably my new favorite from Mary Renault (although I always get excited when I pick up one of her books); I just couldn’t put in down. For days I carried it with me everywhere, reading every free moment I could find.


Niko is such a wonderful fictional character; through his eyes we see city-states, ideas of democracy vs. tyranny, politicians, philosophers, and culture clash. Niko is born into a theatrical family, acting the only vocation he knows; it is his life. But being an actor in ancient Greece gave him the ability to freely travel between cities, bringing him straight into a the middle of a political drama which he never wanted to be a part (he never claimed to know anything about politics which is great for us because we get everything explained). He meets amazingly drawn historical figures such as Plato, Dion, Dionysios (elder and son) as they play for power and rule.


Filled with philosophical and political ideas (Plato’s) and a continuous questioning, this novel is a heavy read. I think I may need to read Plato’s Symposium and then re-read this one to have an even better understanding of the depth of issues brought to the reader. Also, there is a slight tie in with the Alexander the Great trilogy that is really amazing, putting the happenings of this novel within an even greater historical context.


Renault’s beautiful style of writing is present throughout; she seamlessly weaves descriptions of the ancient world with personal interactions/relationships. Her characters are real, complex, and compelling. They also give insight and deeper cultural understanding of ancient Greece and the vast differences between the city states. Among all this, she brings the ancient theatre to life and a perspective on acting that is unique.