Customer Reviews


27 Reviews
5 star:
 (6)
4 star:
 (6)
3 star:
 (2)
2 star:
 (8)
1 star:
 (5)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


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

versus
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


‹ Previous | 1 2 3 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

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]
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars exquisite: highly recommended, Jan. 8 2010
By 
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


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 1000 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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars `You make the world larger for yourself by conquering it, but you always lose something in the process.', Nov. 21 2010
This review is from: The Golden Mean (Hardcover)
The philosopher Aristotle was engaged by King Philip II of Macedon in 343 BCE as tutor for his 13 year old son Alexander. This novel, written from Aristotle's first person perspective, tells the imagined story of the relationship between him and his most famous student: the boy who went on to transform the world as Alexander the Great.

Ms Lyon has crafted an interesting and enjoyable novel around the lives of some key historical figures (Aristotle, Plato, Philip and Alexander) and done so in a way that integrates the broad sweep of history with the very human foibles that each possesses. As depicted, Aristotle is a fascinating character: a blend of contradictions who is both curious about the world around him and caught within the conventions of the times in which he lived. On the pages of this novel, Aristotle comes to life.

Alexander is still being shaped: his training for leadership and war is tempered (in part) by Aristotle's training in philosophy and the arts. The aim is to find a balance, or the Golden Mean, between the two extremes of deficiency and excess. The objective is to prepare Alexander to succeed Philip, and while Aristotle views Alexander as `a violent, snotty boy' at the beginning, he comes to love and respect him by the end of the novel.

I enjoyed this novel because of its perspective of Alexander. I found the depiction of Aristotle fascinating. While he doesn't seem terribly pleasant person, he is believable and I could imagine him teaching, challenging and shaping Alexander. For me, one of the most interesting characters was Philip of Macedon, and I would like to read more about him.

`Never be afraid to enter an agreement you can't immediately see your way out of.'

Jennifer Cameron-Smith
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars intimate glimpse into Aristotle's thoughts and experiences, Aug. 11 2010
By 
Mary Simmons "simmonsmry" (Wroxeter, Ontario Canada) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Golden Mean (Hardcover)
Told in the voice of Aristotle during the time when he became tutor to the Macedonian prince who would become Alexander the Great, The Golden Mean gives readers an intimate glimpse into the well-respected philosopher's thoughts and experiences. This historical figure, considered to have one of the greatest minds in history, comes off as an ordinary, unsure human being, with flaws, doubts and a tendency towards depression.

Canadian literary author Annabel Lyon takes some dramatic license with the historical events, figures and circumstances; however, she succeeds in capturing the era and going deeper into the lives of these people who have shaped the history of the modern world. Rather than concentrating on the philosophical writings of Aristotle or the epic battles of Alexander the Great, this novel explores their everyday lives, taking us into Aristotle's household, where we get to meet his wife, his children, and his servants. We are also treated to flashbacks in which the great thinker remembers his childhood when he accompanied his physician father to the homes of his patients.

The Golden Mean is at times erotic, violent and disturbing, in a refreshing way that brings the characters to life rather than depicting them weakly through the historical lens of all they accomplished. The language is curt and somewhat analytical, not tending towards poetic or beautifully descriptive passages. This seems appropriate as the narrator is a man who sometimes thinks without seeing and observes without immersing himself in his subjects. He is apart from the world rather than deeply ensconced in it. As a scientist and analyst, he is somewhat detached from that which he studies. His emotions, while often being close to the surface, are bewildering and troubling to him. He views them as an illness, a bothersome aspect of his makeup that he wishes to avoid and correct. While enlightened in many aspects of the world, he is rather naive in others. Since Lyon chose to write the novel from Aristotle's viewpoint, all of the other characters are depicted through him and it is interesting to speculate on the accuracy of his judgements. There are times when Lyon hints that Aristotle's views are arbitrary and mistaken, cleverly written in such a way that the character is not aware of them, although astute readers will make their own conclusions.

The title refers to Aristotle's philosophy that goodness comes from a general point between two extremes, and much of the book falls into this category. Lyon suggests that Aristotle attempted to live his life in this manner and also expected it of those around him. Extreme behaviour is considered unpleasant and unnecessary, and yet it is in the extremes that true emotions and depths of feeling are experienced. By attempting to avoid the extremes, they become all the more obvious and inevitable. An intelligent and carefully written novel, I would recommend The Golden Mean and look forward to future works by Annabel Lyon.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars The Golden Mean, Sept. 1 2010
This review is from: The Golden Mean (Paperback)
A great book, very readable, with a new look at an interesting historical past. The first person narrative by Aristotle brings it to life. Alexander as a young man comes across very well,likeable throughout his earlier years,and predominantly admirable as he grows into the wartime figure we have read so much about. His relationship with Aristotle is entertaining as well as philosphical. The many background figures are a little out of reach and make one want to know them better.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 2 3 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

The Golden Mean
The Golden Mean by Annabel Lyon (Hardcover - Aug. 11 2009)
CDN$ 32.95 CDN$ 20.65
Usually ships in 3 to 4 weeks
Add to cart Add to wishlist
Only search this product's reviews