The Alexander Trilogy

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Name: The Alexander Trilogy
Creator: Mary Renault
Date(s): 1969-1981
Medium: print novels
Country of Origin: South Africa
External Links:
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The Alexander Trilogy consists of three books written by Mary Renault (Fire from Heaven, 1969; The Persian Boy, 1972; Funeral Games, 1981) which focus on the life and death of Alexander III of Macedon, better known as Alexander the Great.

Fire from Heaven is the first book in the trilogy. It focuses on Alexander’s early years. It starts when he is a small child and ends when he assumes the throne of Macedon on the death of his father Philip II. This book is told from a variety of viewpoints besides Alexander's, and introduces Hephaistion, his lifelong friend, in a relationship central to the novel.

The Persian Boy is the middle book in the trilogy. It is narrated by Bagoas, the Persian boy of the title, and eunuch at King Darius of Persia's court, who becomes Alexander's trusted servant and beloved after King Darius is slain. Alexander's campaigns in Persia and beyond are viewed through Bagoas' eyes. This book ends with Alexander’s death.

Funeral Games is the final book in the trilogy. Alexander actually appears only briefly at the beginning, on his death bed. The book's focus lies instead on the struggle for power that follows his death. Once again, a variety of viewpoints is used. The story follows the fates of a number of characters who were significant in the earlier two novels (such as Perdikkas and Ptolemy, two of Alexander’s generals); and some new characters are introduced (such as Eurydike).

Book Discussion

The maryrenaultfics LiveJournal community has held chapter-by-chapter discussions of two of the Alexander Trilogy novels. Within the fanbase there is some friendly rivalry between those fans who prefer Bagoas, and those who prefer Hephaistion, though many fans enjoy both characters, and this has been evident in the discussions of both books.

  • The Persian Boy: A chapter-by-chapter discussion of this novel started in August 2007[1], but the discussion petered out by Chapter 11 [2]. Discussion was resumed in September 2008[3], and the book was concluded.[4] For more details, see the The Persian Boy article.
  • Fire from Heaven: Chapter-by-chapter discussion of this novel started in April 2010[5], sparked after fans learned the novel had been short-listed for the Lost Man Booker Prize[6]. The novel did not win the prize; but discussion continued until July 2010, when the participants reached the end of the book. This discussion also did not attract wide participation but nonetheless was enjoyed by a small but dedicated group of fans who posted long contributions.[7]

One minor by-product of the book discussions has been greater awareness of minor inconsistencies in Renault's descriptions of Alexander the Great (red and/or gold hair; blue and/or grey eyes), which has also been subject for speculation in ITOWverse.

In Their Own Words

In 2008 maryrenaultfics began a project which involved 'interviews' of characters from Renault’s novels. Extensive interviews were conducted with characters from the Alexander Trilogy.

For more details please see the article about the ITOWverse.

Fan Fiction

Much of the fan fiction which has developed from Renault's books has focused on the relationships between Alexander, Hephaistion and Bagoas, in various combinations. The potential for jealousy between Bagoas and Hephaistion has been explored, as well as the romantic relationships between Alexander and these two most notable male partners. Like much other fan fiction, stories based on the Alexander Trilogy often fill in missing scenes; occasionally they provide back-story. In addition, the fact that there is a significant gap in time between the end of the first book and the start of the second has allowed some fan fiction writers to try to fill in the gap by writing about events in Alexander’s early Persian campaigns.


Not all fan fiction activity is easily categorised as belonging to one book or another. For this reason, both the maryrenaultfics community and Archive of Our Own decided to combine in one archive all fan fiction based on any of the three books.

Notable Stories

Where the timeline for the story is clear that has been indicated in brackets.

Alexander’s Childhood

Alexander and Hephaistion

Alexander and Bagoas

Hephaistion and Bagoas

Filling in Gaps

Other Characters



Alternative History

  • "Red Wine and Honey"[41] by Indranni
    In his old age, patriarch and monarch, Alexander remembers his youth with Hephaistion as he supervises the construction of their joint tomb.

Alternative Universes

  • the Hephty Mynton series by fawatson is an SF parody of The Persian Boy starring Sgt. Hephty Mynton (Hephaistion) with the Star Federation army occupying an planet of catmen:


Some fanart inspired by the Alexander Trilogy has been posted to the Mary Renault communities on Livejournal.


None of Renault's books has been made into a movie. It is true that Oliver Stone has claimed he was inspired by Renault's novels for his film about Alexander, and fans have noticed resemblances between Stone's film and Renault's books.[9][10][11] Nevertheless, it is not true to Renault canon. For this reason the maryrenaultfics community has chosen to define posts which focus on Oliver Stone's film about Alexander the Great as not considered appropriate, to ensure that the community remains focused on Renault-based fan activities, rather than being diverted from its central purpose.