Bull-dancing at Knossos

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A beautiful new edition of Mary Renault’s classic novel, The King Must Die, the story of Theseus in Knossos, has just been published by The Folio Society. The book includes eight exquisite illustrations and cover design by Geoff Grandfield. Grandfield’s dominant black and terracotta palette references Cretan frescos and black-figure Greek pottery, which were, in their turn, inspirations for Renault’s own creativity. Renault surely features in most people’s roll call of significant historical novelists. Her Alexandrian trilogy fired my own imagination as a teenager. Renault’s vivid, sensuous depiction of Hellenic life drew on Arthur Evans’ excavations at Knossos. My review of the book has just been published in the February issue of Historical Novels Review.

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