Tuesday, October 30

Book Review: The Golden Mean

Title: The Golden Mean

Author: Annabel Lyon

Pages: 284

Summary: On the orders of his boyhood friend, now King Philip of Macedon, Aristotle postpones his dreams of succeeding Plato as leader of the Academy in Athens and reluctantly arrives in the Macedonian capital of Pella to tutor the king’s adolescent sons. An early illness has left one son with the intellect of a child; the other is destined for greatness but struggles between a keen mind that craves instruction and the pressures of a society that demands his prowess as a soldier. 

Initially Aristotle hopes for a short stay in what he considers the brutal backwater of his childhood. But, as a man of relentless curiosity and reason, Aristotle warms to the challenge of instructing his young charges, particularly Alexander, in whom he recognizes a kindred spirit, an engaged, questioning mind coupled with a unique sense of position and destiny. 

Aristotle struggles to match his ideas against the warrior culture that is Alexander’s birthright. He feels that teaching this startling, charming, sometimes horrifying boy is a desperate necessity. And that what the boy – thrown before his time onto his father’s battlefields – needs most is to learn the golden mean, that elusive balance between extremes that Aristotle hopes will mitigate the boy’s will to conquer.

Aristotle struggles to inspire balance in Alexander, and he finds he must also play a cat-and-mouse game of power and influence with Philip in order to manage his own ambitions.  

As Alexander’s position as Philip’s heir strengthens and his victories on the battlefield mount, Aristotle’s attempts to instruct him are honoured, but increasingly unheeded. And despite several troubling incidents on the field of battle, Alexander remains steadfast in his desire to further the reach of his empire to all known and unknown corners of the world, rendering the intellectual pursuits Aristotle offers increasingly irrelevant.

My Rating: 3/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: Needless to say, I didn't like this book much at all.  The writing didn't add anything to the book, it didn't keep me interested. The amount of profanity in the book ruined the natural flow of the story. It wasn't that necessary to begin with, but this book seemed to use it in excess.

I didn't like the characterization, I found them to be flat, and didn't develop much during the book, particularly,  Aristotle. Overall it was a very frustrating read for me. So much, that I've found it hard to write a full review for the book.

To sum it up, this was not my book, and I doubt I'll read the next book, Sweet Girl, which I had planned to read as part of my reading of the Giller long list for 2012.

Would I recommend it to read: I don't think I would

What to read next: Sweet Girl

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