The King Must Die

Mary Renault

Illustrated by Geoff Grandfield

Introduced by Robin Lane Fox

Renault’s acclaimed novel, published in series with The Alexander Trilogy and introduced by the classical historian Robin Lane Fox.

‘One of the truly fine historical novels of modern times. Not since Robert Graves’s I, Claudius has there been such an exciting living image of the ancient world’
  1. New York Times

As a child Theseus suffers taunts when he claims his father is Poseidon, the fearsome, earth-shaking god of the sea. At 17 he discovers the truth: he is the son of Aegeus, King of Athens, and his sole heir. Determined to fulfil his destiny, Theseus undertakes the perilous journey to his father’s palace, fighting off bloodthirsty bandits and finding himself crowned king in the Earthling town of Eleusis – a title that comes with a grisly price. Finally reaching Athens, he finds the people in thrall to King Minos of Crete and the terrible monster he feeds with human tributes. It is Theseus, aided by an enamoured Princess Ariadne, who will slay the Minotaur and set the people free …

Published in series with The Alexander Trilogy and The Bull From the Sea.

Production Details

Quarter-bound in buckram with Modigliani paper sides printed with a design by the artist

Set in Haarlemmer

384 pages

Frontispiece and 7 colour illustrations

Blocked slipcase

9½” x 6¼”

A King’s Fall

As we met each other’s eyes, I thought, ‘He has stood where I stand now, and the man he fought with is bones under the rock.’ And then I thought, ‘He has not consented to his death’

Mary Renault’s spellbinding novel combines historical research and mythology to form an unforgettable portrait of the legendary founder-hero. A huge success on publication in 1958, it has given us our strongest images of Theseus and the labyrinthine Palace of Knossos, whose ruins can still be seen on Crete today.

About Mary Renault

Mary Renault was born Eileen Mary Challans in London in 1905. Having trained as a nurse in the mid 1930s she completed her first novel, Purposes of Love, in 1939. Five further contemporary novels followed before she turned her writing focus towards the ancient world. In 1948 she emigrated to South Africa with her lifelong companion, Julie Mullard, and commenced her historical novels of Hellenic life with an account of two male lovers during the Peloponnesian War, The Last of the Wine (1956), which she followed with two books on Theseus, The King Must Die (1958) and The Bull from the Sea (1962). Alongside her biography of Alexander the Great in 1975, her Alexander Trilogy stands as her eminent achievement, the first book of which was nominated for the Lost Man Booker Prize in 2010. She died in Cape Town in 1983.

About Robin Lane Fox

Robin Lane Fox has been Fellow and Tutor in Ancient History at New College, University of Oxford, from 1977 to 2012 and University Reader in Ancient History from 1990. His books and articles include major works on Alexander the Great and on the relation between the pagan and early Christian religions of the Roman Empire. He has taught Greek and Latin literature, Greek and Roman history, and early Islamic history, in which he held an Oxford Research Fellowship. The Folio Society has published three of his works: Alexander the Great (1997), Pagans and Christians (2010) and The Classical World (2013).

About Geoff Grandfield

Geoff Grandfield studied Illustration at Maidstone College of Art and the Royal College of Art in London. Since graduating from the RCA with an MA he has won many awards as an illustrator and has combined his practice with teaching, leading the BA Illustration course at Middlesex University before his current post as Course Director of BA (Hons) Illustration and Animation at Kingston University in London. He has illustrated a number of books for The Folio Society, including Mary Renault’s Alexander and Theseus novels.