Mary Renault is probably one of the finest crafters of prose on this planet. Her writing reminds me very much of Ursula LeGuin. The King Must Die is a meticulously researched and astoundingly accurate historical telling of the Theseus myth using real world history and realistic extrapolations. It is brilliantly told and exquisitely written. The story is put together so beautifully that there are few, if any cracks.
I just didn’t love it.
I’ve been trying to put my finger on what I didn’t like about it ever since I realized I didn’t care for it.
I think it just isn’t my thing. I was excited to read a story about a Greek mythological figure, one told form a historical standpoint — trying to provide realistic bases for the legends that arose around the character. Mary Renault did all of those things and with fantastic style but it was somehow less than I imagined. I had to drag myself through the pages and what appeared to be a short book took me far too long to get through.
I don’t have any real criticism of this book. I suspect if you start reading it you will know rather quickly whether or not you are going to like it.