6.5/10 – The Legendary Adventures of Alexander the Great is a short novel within the Penguin Epics collection. Essentially these are shortish texts about some of the finest figures in history or mythology and other titles in the series include tales about Aeneas, Beowulf and King Arthur amongst others. The full text that this book cuts and summarises to a more streamlined affair is the double in size ‘The Great Alexander Romance’ which has been translated possibly thousands of times and is the prime text for Alexanders’ adventures throughout Eurasia and Africa. The whole known world was at his untimely demise, under his control. The source material for this story was complete some point after his death in 323 BC and the third century AD.
“The king who has fled Egypt, no longer an old man but a young one, and will subject our enemies the Persians to us”.
Alexander was the son (or at least figure of a son) of Greek King and Wizard, Nectanebo, Philip II of Macedon, the God Ammon and Queen Olympias. He developed into arguably the greatest King that the world has ever seen and some stated he was the second coming of Heracles. He was very intelligent and loyal with a sense of honour. In fact, he was only brutal in war, to those who stood against him or shunned his chivalry. This tale is about how Alexander grows up to fulfill his destiny, that at an early age is being whispered by the Gods and then about him not resting until he has defeated his mortal enemy, Darius – The King of Persia.
The story flows much like you may be used to in a historical Epic. It is not as well written and poetic as say The Iliad or Metamorphoses however; this may be down to the numerous translations. Sometimes, if the story or source material it is regarding are so strong then the presentation doesn’t always affect my enjoyment. After about eighty pages, the tale goes a bit off track in my opinion, not in a negative way but an unusual one. After Darius has been killed and his killers crucified, it then follows in first-person through letters, Alexanders’ later travels to the end of the world where he meets all sorts of strange creatures and beings. “There were also a group of people in the wood, called Phytoi, who were 36 feet tall”.
Stories like those of monarchs’ such as Alexander, Genghis Khan and Edward I – will never ever be equaled. They conquered then ruled nations and lived exceptionally colourful lives with no Facebook and no Twitter. I loved reading this little tale. Some of the events left me in awe and although, like King Arthur, this has fallen into the realm of myth as much as anything, if only a quarter of this is true then you have to agree that he was the greatest King, had perfect judgement and had the God’s of both Greece and Egypt on his side. Recommended.