Funeral Games
synopsis from the book jacket

Since her first novel of Greece, The Last of the Wine, appeared in 1956, Mary Renault has held a special place among readers of books on the ancient world and historical fiction in general. Here she not only rounds out her series of books on Alexander the Great but crowns her career with a stunning performance.

In the sweltering midsummer heat of the palace at Babylon, Alexander the Great, master of half the known world, lies dying. His only heirs are his unborn child and his simpleton half-brother. His beloved friend Hephaistion, to whom he could have bequeathed his authority, has died a few months before him. Weakened by grief and wounds, but defying death to the last, he sinks into coma without having named his successor.

When Homer's heroes fell, their fellow warriors held funeral games, racing and wresting for rich prizes to honor the dead. Now Alexander's generals, no longer united by his magnetic presence, begin their struggle for the glittering prize of his vast dominions. Perdikkas, his first officer, power-hungry and inflexible … Antipatros, the aged Regent of Macedon, loyal but grown dangerously oppressive … His son Kassandros, eaten with envy of Alexander's glory … Generous Ptolemy, the dead man's bastard half-brother … Antigonos One-Eye and his flamboyant son.

Women too compete: Roxane, mother of the unborn Alexander IV, ready to take any life that threatens his accession … Kleopatra, Alexander's sister … his mother, the formidable Olympias … and a girl unknown to all of them, but of the royal line, and resolved to be victor at any cost.

Asia, Egypt, and Greece are the arena. New contestants enter the games. A silent onlooker is Bagoas, the Persian boy, who wants no prize, except the chance to serve his dead lover's memory.

Funeral Games