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99 of 103 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating characterizations of Aristotle and Alexander
Knowing little about early Greece, I approached this novel with trepidation, thinking it would be a boring, dry venture in historical fiction. Nothing could be further from the truth! I became totally enraptured by this quick paced novel, and by Lyon's superb characterizations of some great historical luminaries; specifically Aristotle and his young student, Alexander...
Published on Oct. 24 2009 by Amy

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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Distracted by some language
When dealing with some issues, the author attributes Aristotle with some vulgar modern language and this threw me each and everytime. My issue was not with the activities or thoughts, but with Aristotle's use of language. While appropriate to some of the characters with less intelectual capacity or education, it seems to me that crude language would not be the first...
Published on Nov. 1 2010 by Li'l Buck


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99 of 103 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating characterizations of Aristotle and Alexander, Oct. 24 2009
By 
Amy (Mississauga, ON Canada) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Golden Mean (Hardcover)
Knowing little about early Greece, I approached this novel with trepidation, thinking it would be a boring, dry venture in historical fiction. Nothing could be further from the truth! I became totally enraptured by this quick paced novel, and by Lyon's superb characterizations of some great historical luminaries; specifically Aristotle and his young student, Alexander. The novel is about so much more than the molding of young Alexander into his destined "Greatness" - it is about the strained relationships between Alexander and his father, Philip of Macedon, and, even as a child, Alexander's bloodthristy penchant for violence that Aristotle tries, with some success, to temper with a methodical, calm, and intelligent approach during their lessons. Is Alexander a product of Philip's powerful and aggressive reign, or is Aristotle's restrained and analytical presence the stronger influence on Alexander as he becomes a young man? These are the questions I became consumed by as I devoured this exceptionally well written novel. Highly recommended. [Amy MacDougall]
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars exquisite: highly recommended, Jan. 8 2010
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This review is from: The Golden Mean (Hardcover)
From time to time I stumble into something that I wish I'd had the wit and intellect to write myself. I loved The Golden mean. It took me a while to realise that Annabel Lyon cunningly used shifts between present tense and past tense to elucidate between present action and flashbacks. That being said, the slowness was mine, not hers.

I was dazzled by the seamless combination of research and imagination. As a medical person I was impressed by the author's use of historical medicine and the easy way it was tossed into the story-line from time to time; and the misconceptions of physiology in those days before our modern scientific methods became accepted and universal. Throughout this novel I loved the ease of language with which the author created the character's authentic voice, the effortless intellect, and the very wise foundation of Aristotle's observations on the world.

Alexander unfolded in subtle bounds, emerging only as a secondary character. He was not fully rounded; we learned about him only as much as Aristotle saw of him. This only added to the realism of the voice.

In effect, a totally believable fiction that opened for me a new and fascinating view of ancient historical fact. The best novels are those which leave you with greater understanding.
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22 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book worthy of the praise heaped on it, Dec 4 2009
By 
J. Tobin Garrett (Vancouver, BC) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Golden Mean (Hardcover)
The book I have has a quote from The Gazette across the top that says: "Historical fiction at its finest." Well, I've never really read historical fiction before, and so am not sure what "at its finest" really means, but what I do know is that The Golden Mean is writing at its finest. After being nominated for three major Canadian literary awards, winning one, and being the talk of the town for months, I wasn't sure if the book would be able to live up to the hype that had been created for it. I was pleased though, with Lyon's delicate use of language, her subtle humour, and her ability to keep things hidden slightly, letting you peek only a little bit at what was hidden beneath. It's this kind of gentle writing, the kind that doesn't bash you over the head with Theme and Metaphor and Irony and Symbolism, that makes for writing at its finest.

I read the book almost in one day, starting it at night, reading through the following day, and then finishing it the morning after that. The book is filled with fascinating characters with complicated names (thank god for the character index in the front) and even more complicated issues and problems. Aristotle is written with such grace and beauty and hilarity, the same way she handles all her other characters in this book. There are no simple problems here, which is fitting for a novel about one of the greatest thinkers.

This book is a fascinating look at the life of Aristotle and Alexander, two people I have heard much about but still didn't know too well (apart from one philosophy class I took in university). But, honestly, it's just a fascinating book all around. Even if you don't fancy yourself a reader of historical fiction, as I don't, you will undoubtedly enjoy this novel, which is filled with sex, dirty words, moral conundrums, male love, war, treachery, and the search to find the golden mean between all the extremes.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Imaginative, intellectual, convincing, Dec 1 2009
By 
Rodge (Ontario, Canada) - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Golden Mean (Hardcover)
I'm no expert on Aristotle or Ancient Greece. About the most I can say is that I've read Plutarch's "Life of Alexander" which Lyon cites as one of her sources. However, in my non-expert opinion, this is a very fine and imaginative treatment of Aristotle's time in Macedonia tutoring Alexander. The relationships are convincing and Lyon manages to raise a few pertinent questions in the process of her story - such as, what is the best way to conquer and explore the world - through intellect and thought, or through war? Alexander and Aristotle spar throughout the book - there is mutual recognition of the other and a unique mentor/student rivalry.

Ultimately, Lyon's imagination gets us into Aristotle's mind in a way I found convincing. Aristotle isn't the most charming of protagonists, but in Lyon's hands he comes across very much as a human being.

Lyon does cheat the historical record in at least one significant way. She puts Aristotle in a medic's tent on the scene of a battle with the Athenians - a place Aristotle very likely wasn't. Part of writing good historical fiction is choosing the right moment to depart from the record, without violating the spirit of the venture. The battle scene is one of the most fascinating and compelling moments in the book, and of course gruesome.

This isn't a fast-paced novel, although it isn't slow either. Coming in under 300 pages, though, it doesn't have time to become tedious.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Distracted by some language, Nov. 1 2010
This review is from: The Golden Mean (Paperback)
When dealing with some issues, the author attributes Aristotle with some vulgar modern language and this threw me each and everytime. My issue was not with the activities or thoughts, but with Aristotle's use of language. While appropriate to some of the characters with less intelectual capacity or education, it seems to me that crude language would not be the first choice of a man who is reknowned for his knowledge. It was a distraction that took away from an otherwise great read.
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2.0 out of 5 stars slight, May 31 2013
By 
A. writer (Saskatchewan, Canada) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Golden Mean (Hardcover)
... It is a puzzle to me how this "slight" novel had been so well received; it seemed, almost, a historical romance ..
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars History as novel, Jan. 3 2010
By 
Louise M. Robert "L.Robert "solitaire"" (Ontario, Canada) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Golden Mean (Hardcover)
Carefully researched and exquisitely written. The author does not shy away from the ugly but does not linger. The preciseness of the telling details recreates Ancient Greece and made me search for my historical maps. Meditative in places that count.
A truly enjoyable experience and one to recommend.
Not quite Marguerite Yourcenar but awfully close.

As a historian I cannot fault this novel; as a lover of literature I cannot fault this historical acount.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A real let down., Feb. 8 2010
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This review is from: The Golden Mean (Hardcover)
I was very excited to read this book but while I was reading it I just wanted it to end. Not because of how good it was but because it was so boring. I was looking forward to learning about Aristotle and Alexanders relationship but I felt that it only touched lightly on that subject. I was disappointed that I spent $21.00 on this book. I don't even know what else to say.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, Feb. 7 2010
By 
Natalie Boychuk "natalie" (Vancouver area, British Columbia Canada) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Golden Mean (Hardcover)
What a disappointing read! Had I borrowed the book from the library I probably would not have continued reading it after the first 50 pages. I agree with another reviewer who stated that the most interesting part was when the very young Aristotle accompanied his physician father. I honestly don't know how this "novel" got so much critical acclaim! Much of time, I felt I was reading a graphic novel without the pictures! Annabel would benefit from having a much more critical editor. If the book didn't have some of the sex scenes, it might appeal to young readers as it is written in a style of historical fiction books for older children. I came away from reading the novel without any more insight into the character of Aristotle than before. If you don't know anything about the time of Alexander and Aristotle you might enjoy this rather domestic story of two icons.
Sorry - Annabel - I really was looking forward to the read.
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10 of 14 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A Golden Disappointment, May 17 2010
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This review is from: The Golden Mean (Hardcover)
This novel was a great disappointment and not because it couldn't live up to all the hype. Even if it had no award nominations this book falls flat. The minimalistic prose made the story disjointed and prevented any flow. I kept having to stop and backtrack to figure out who or what the author was referring to, or what time frame it was (which was another problem, too much jumping around in time with no clear reason or warning). I was hoping to gain insight into at least Aristotle's character but no and we don't even get a good idea of what the Golden Mean is. At first I thought the author was trying to make the reader identify with Aristotle by making us feel bi-polar with all her vague descriptions and scattered chronology. But there were no sections that illustrated moments of utter clarity to play against.
It was a frustrating read but I persevered hoping it would redeem itself in the end. It didn't. I would have rated it 0 stars but that wasn't an option.
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The Golden Mean
The Golden Mean by Annabel Lyon (Hardcover - Aug. 11 2009)
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