Two boys, one heroic bond, and the molding of Greece’s greatest son.
Before he became known as Alexander the Great, he was Alexandros, the teenage son of the king of Makedon. Rather than living a life of luxury, as prince he has to be better and learn faster than his peers, tackling problems without any help. One such problem involves his increasingly complicated feelings for his new companion, Hephaistion.
When Alexandros and Hephaistion go to study under the philosopher Aristoteles, their evolving relationship becomes even harder to navigate. Strength, competition, and status define one’s fate in their world—a world that seems to have little room for the tenderness growing between them.
Alexandros is expected to command, not to crave the warmth of friendship with an equal. In a kingdom where his shrewd mother and sister are deemed inferior for their sex, and his love for Hephaistion could be seen as submission to an older boy, Alexandros longs to be a human being when everyone but Hephaistion just wants him to be a king.
Set in ancient Macedonia (here called Makedonia), this slow-moving work does much to illuminate history but falls short as a romance. The warrior prince who will one day be known to the world as Alexander the Great is still only Alexandros, son of the king and a page in his father's service. Most of the book focuses on his early teen years and the friendship that develops between him and a fellow page, Hephaistion, as they study and fight together. Though Reames's background as a historian shows through, readers expecting a romantic novel will be disappointed. The book is nearly over before one of the boys admits feelings of longing for the other, and there's neither the sizzle of a slow burn nor the heat of a passionate romance. This well-told, if unexpected, coming-of-age story is best suited to those who don't mind having only a drop of love in the bucket of personal narrative.
Can’t resist the charm ofAlexandros
Enjoyable for an Alexander/Hephaestion fangirl for all my familiarity with the Renault trilogy. The exquisite depiction of adolescent mentality makes the slow build to their love look real and convincing. Well-researched details of Macedonian daily life. Interesting characterization of Aleko’s mother and sisters. Not perfect in terms of rhythm of the narrative but these technical flaws are rare. Recommend!