The King Must Die
full title · The King Must Die
author · Mary Renault
type of work · Novel
genre · Historical narrative
language · English
time and place written · Written in South Africa, before 1958
date of first publication · 1958
publisher · Pantheon Books
narrator · Theseus, at the end of his life
climax · An earthquake destroys Knossos Palace.
protagonist · Theseus
antagonist · Asterion
setting (time) · The novel is set in ancient Greece, likely around 1450 B.C. It covers roughly the first twenty years of Theseus' life.
setting (place) · The novel covers many areas of ancient Greece, from Troizen to Eleusis to Athens to Crete.
point of view · The story is told from Theseus's point of view.
falling action · Theseus kills Asterion.
tense · Immediate past
foreshadowing · Although the novel is the story of his youth, and is told from his perspective at that time, at certain moments the older Theseus, makes reference to the impact that specific events were to have.
tone · The tone is one of passionate nostalgia, describing the events of youth from world-weary old age.
themes · Leadership; belief; justice; honor
motifs · Deities; rituals;
symbols · Gods as nature; moira as fate
Readers' Notes allow users to add their own analysis and insights to our SparkNotes—and to discuss those ideas with one another. Have a novel take or think we left something out? Add a Readers' Note!