THE PERSIAN BOY by Mary Renault


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Mrs. Renault, to all serious intent but commercial purposes, continues the fortunes of Alexander the Great (begun in Fire From Heaven, 1969) as seen through the eyes of Borgias, the young eunuch who became his lover and attendant. Borgias' own story is told in the startling early chapters -- his father's atrocity death, castration, tutelage in the ""art"" of love making, and his series of masters including King Darius of Persia. Then Alexander arrives and Borgias is presented as a gift by a fleeing Persian. Ah, Alexander! ""My body echoed like a harp-string after a note..."" Hephaistion, once and still lover of the Great's youth, ""had made a boy of him. With me,"" vows Borgias, ""he shah be a man."" As Alexander's forces push on conquering the Baktrians, the Sogdians, the Thracians, the Indians and others, there are mutinous episodes, quarrels in the field and at the table, a bizarre marriage to a barbarian princess, and finally a triumphant one, literally and figuratively, between Persians and Macedonians. Throughout Borgias has a discreet influence in some matters, but his narrative is mainly a con tremulo account of his supplying the needs of Alexander who won't take care of himself. And it is Borgias who at the close sees him off to the Isles of the Blessed. Alexander here is propelled by giant passions, but is generous, honorable and love-starved. Incidental cruelties are an expected by-product. Mrs. Renault again shows her ability to provide a lustier version of fabled history, but whether the reader will care to view the scene from under Borgias' downcast eye lashes is another matter -- however colorful the spectacle.

Pub Date: Nov. 15th, 1972
ISBN: 0394751019
Publisher: Pantheon