Set in ancient Greece circa 342 BC, The Golden Mean is the story of Aristotle’s time with the young Alexander (soon to be Great). The great philosopher takes the position of the young prince’s tutor as well as his disabled brother and forges an odd friendship in a time of war.

Leave your modern morality at the door to avoid being offended. Obviously lifestyles were very different back then and there’s plenty of sexual references and coarse language that would be the norm for warriors of the time. Think Spartacus Blood and Sand in literary form (only Greek not Roman). As far as I can tell, the historical aspects are well researched and there’s only a few occasions where the speech comes across as a bit modern.

The cover blurb would have us think that Alexander was a sadistic and unlikable child but I found some of the moments between him and Aristotle almost tender. I would have preferred more insight into the young mind of Alexander but the story revolves much more around Aristotle, although it skims over his depression. He explains he suffers from black bile which from description sounds like manic depression but I rarely felt it through the storytelling. The prose came across as a bit impersonal so I think it would appeal more to the reader with a historical interest.

It’s interesting reading some of Aristotle’s ideas with a modern perspective. He was eerily close on some areas of biology but others were so far off they are nearly laughable. For info, Ox Head is the translation of Becephelous, Alexander’s famous horse. Considering that other names aren’t translated I don’t know why this was, especially as it’s not flattering nor recognisable.

The Golden Mean is written by Annabel Lyon and is available in paperback by Atlantic Books. Thanks to newbooks magazine for providing a copy for review.