The Bull From The Sea

Amazon ASIN: 
Part Number:

This is the sequel to 'The King Must Die' and is an excellent account of the later life of the Greek Hero Theseus. My only criticism is that there was no indication on the book that this was part 2 of a series, so I read it before 'the King Must Die'. It stood up well on it's own but needed the first story to give a better understanding of Theseus's motives.

The book begins after his triumphant return from Crete where he killed the 'Minotaur'. Coming home, he finds himself and his bull dancers have become foreign to their own people and the return is difficult for all of them. He also finds that he is now King and so can fulfill his dream of uniting Greece.
The book is dominated by his love for his 'wife' Hippolyta' but is later followed by personal tragedy and all that he has built begins to fall apart.

Mary Renault has taken the stories and stripped out the myth, and reworked them into a plausible history which is just as, if not more fascinating for having had the magic and myth removed. Theseus is neither a large or particularly strong man, so he makes his way through the story reliant on his wit and powers of leadership. He invented scientific wrestling as a means to overcome men stronger than he. He is a very sympathetic character with a strong sense of loyalty and justice and his experience in the bull rings make him sympathetic to the plight of slaves and and a good King. This book is a revelation even to those already familiar with the history of Theseus.

Although the Gods don't walk among the people, the people are nevertheless devout and the question of how to please an entire pantheon of Gods and to mitigate potential snubs is an interesting problem. Theseus is also moved from bitter experience to replace the old and bloody matriarchal belief systems with the newer and slightly less bloody patriarchal systems. This provides an interesting sub plot to an already fast paced adventure.