The King Must Die

by Mary Renault

The Greek legend of Theseus is full of fantastic episodes, most famously the slaying of a murderous half-man, half-bull monster hidden at the center of a labyrinth. But in The King Must Die, Mary Renault weaves a psychologically and historically credible tale informed by archaeological research. Her Theseus becomes a bull-dancer in the Cretan Palace of Knossos, and the monstrous Minotaur a mask-wearing mortal as dangerous as any creature of myth.

Renault's Theseus is a reckless, lusty adventurer with a philosophical turn of mind. Beginning with the opening lines, the novel knits together the ancient Greek belief in the reality of myth and legend with their boastful yet practical approach to life: "The Citadel of Troizen, where the Palace stands, was built by giants before anyone remembers. But the Palace was built by my great-grandfather." 1958, 332 pages.

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