Books: The Untidy Legacy of Alexander

FUNERAL GAMES by Mary Renault; Pantheon; 335 pages; $14.50

Mary Renault, born Mary Challans 76 years ago in London, is regarded as one of the world's leading historical novelists. From Cape Town, South Africa, where she has lived since 1948, Renault looks back to antiquity where history, legend and myth rocked in the same cradle. The King Must Die, her most widely known book, is also her best, because it leaves the reader with the illusion of having attended the birth of Western consciousness. Theseus was the narrator, and civilization was only a gleam...

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