I read this book for the first time in high school in 1999 when we were studying World History. I re-read it in 2010 and it is still one of my favorite books of all time. It's very historical and beautifully written. Overall it is incredibly brilliant.
I love ancient history, specifically Greece, so this book was a dream for me. The book is set in Athens, Greece during the time of the Peloponnesian Wars and follows the life of Alexias, a young Greek boy. We are able to experience Alexias' life, love and loss. Alexias has a relationship with his best friend Lysis. There is implied homosexuality but that was accepted in ancient Greece. Alexias also has a wife and family. Alexias studies with Socrates and Plato.
What I enjoyed the most about this book is that while it is full of historical fact and accuracy the focus is more about culture and society and philosophy then it is about the facts of war. As the readers we are able to experience the life of an ancient Athenian citizen during a time of great upheaval and it's absolutely wonderful. Mary Renault is an amazing author, her story is incredible and she succeeds at bringing ancient history to life.