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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.

Funeral Games by Mary Renault

Funeral Games  - Mary Renault

Rating: 4/5

Summary: 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 the power struggle.

Review: During the first two novels in the Alexander the Great series, Renault inspired awe as she led the readers through Alexander’s extraordinary life, watching the pieces fall together (through missteps, treachery, and pain as well as joy, loyalty, and love), as the dreams of an empire come together. In turn, this novel takes what he had built and smashes it to pieces through folly, hubris, greed, ignorance, feuds, and idiocy. It became increasingly painful to watch Alexander’s empire fall apart page after page. Not to fault Renault, she paints a beautifully heartbreaking picture, but it became almost emotionally unbearable to get through the last 100 pages.

Additionally, there are too many characters and I just couldn’t help but not be able to emotionally connect with many of them. Due to their appearances in the first two novels of the series, Bagoas and Ptolemy held my interest and continued emotional investment (although they only occupied a small fraction of the story). Aside from them, I was only able to connect with Eurydike, who was written brilliantly; which also surprised me since Renault seems to lack many interesting and realistically written female characters in her novels, usually the women characters aren’t painted in a positive light (although that also seems to reflect ancient Greek attitudes regarding women). And yet I felt for Eurydike as she, still in her teens, struggled to become a warrior Queen in a time that saw her as a silly girl.

Yet, the memory of Alexander haunts those left behind, as if taunting them in their failure. Renault ends the novel perfectly (won’t spoil it) tying it back to Alexander and leaving me in tears (again).

Overall, I couldn’t connect as well with this novel like I have with her other works, this may have been due to how many characters had to have been introduced or maybe because they were destroying Alexander’s empire which I have come to love. However, it is a brilliant political thriller that paints the struggle for Alexander’s power by individuals without even half the charisma, tactical genius, or vision. It’s like a train wreck that you just can’t take your eyes off.