Mythos | Stephen Fry | a review

Mythos: The Greek Myths Retold by Stephen Fry

I’m always a bit skeptical when new Greek mythology books are released as they are all too often factual exploratory analyses of the myths, breaking down the meaning or impact rather than actually telling me (or retelling!) the actual stories. And so it was with no small sense of trepidation that I began Mythos. I am so glad I did as it proved to be exactly what I’ve been searching for.

What makes this retelling of Greek myths different from all the others that I have collected over the years is the coherent chronology that Fry has achieved. By placing all the stories in context and in a clear timeline, the personalities and actions of the gods suddenly make sense to me. I’d often struggled to remember the order of the gods and the difference between the Titans and the Olympians etc… let alone who was who’s father/brother/sister but I found Mythos wonderfully easy to follow and I regularly lost myself in the immersive prose. I particularly enjoyed the way Fry wove interesting snippets (such as word origins and planet names, among other things) effortlessly into the myths without jarring me out of the narrative. Everything flowed naturally and meant that I learned a lot in an unpatronising and fun way. He doesn’t attempt to analyse the myths or the god’s actions, he simply brings them to life, in all their brutal, vengeful and opulent glory. It’s a great way to keep the myths alive and exciting for a new generation. This is definitely a book I will reread regularly as it is an extremely enjoyable reading experience all round.

The only reason that I cannot use this as my definitive Greek mythology collection is because it is missing some key stories/heroes that I was looking forward to learning more about (Icarus, Theseus, Jason, Heracles, The Iliad, The Oddessey etc..). However Fry does explain at the end that had he included *all* the stories, the book would be so large it would be impossible to pick up. Which I totally understand, but I shall keep my fingers crossed for a part 2…

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