Synopses & Reviews
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.
Exploring this fabled time and place, Annabel Lyon tells her story in the earthy, frank, and perceptive voice of Aristotle himself. With sensual and muscular prose, she explores how Aristotle's genius touched the boy who would conquer the known world. And she reveals how we still live with the ghosts of both men.
From the Hardcover edition.
The bond between teacher and student occupies the center of Canadian Lyon's debut novel covering the three years during which Aristotle tutored the young Alexander the Great before Alexander's accession to the throne of Macedonia. The philosopher narrates recounting his arrival in the court of Philip of Macedon Aristotle's upbringing and his bond with the ruling family. The teenaged Alexander is headstrong and arrogant but also insecure and vulnerable. "Every student is both a challenge and a laurel leaf" Aristotle says in an early disputatious meeting. "I haven't seen anything in you that tells me you're extraordinary in any way." Alexander matures as he absorbs Aristotle's core principles. "You must look for the mean between extremes the point of balance" Aristotle advises the future military genius. Lyon depicts Aristotle's desire to instill a sense of virtue in his royal pupil in clear often earthy language and brings 4th century Greece to startling life. Lyon richly imagines Aristotle's stint as Macedon's royal academician who gave Alexander the intellectual tools to not only rule but to civilize. (Sept.) " Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved."
A startlingly original first novel by “this generations answer to Alice Munro” (The Vancouver Sun
)—a bold reimagining of one of historys most intriguing relationships: between legendary philosopher Aristotle and his most famous pupil, the young Alexander the Great.
342 BC: Aristotle is reluctant to set aside his own ambitions in order to tutor Alexander, the rebellious son of his boyhood friend Philip of Macedon. But the philosopher soon comes to realize that teaching this charming, surprising, sometimes horrifying teenager—heir to the Macedonian throne, forced onto the battlefield before his time—is a necessity amid the ever more sinister intrigues of Philips court.
Told in the brilliantly rendered voice of Aristotle—keenly intelligent, often darkly funny—The Golden Mean brings ancient Greece to vivid life via the story of this remarkable friendship between two towering figures, innovator and conqueror, whose views of the world still resonate today.
About the Author
Annabel Lyons story collection, Oxygen, and book of novellas, The Best Thing for You, were published in Canada to wide acclaim. The Golden Mean, her first novel, is a Canadian best seller and is being published in six languages. It won the Rogers Writers Trust Fiction Prize and was nominated for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, the Governor Generals Award for Fiction, and the Commonwealth Writers Prize. Lyon lives in British Columbia with her husband and two children.