Monday 8 April 2019

Book Review: Mythos by Stephen Fry

I grew up on myths and legends from around the world: Greek, Roman, Norse mythology, stories of Father Ananse, Baba Yaga and many others.  I have always had a weakness for a good story and anything myth and legend related still captures my attention. This being the case, this book was an easy choice for me.

I hadn’t been aware of Stephen Fry’s comments about Islam when I bought the book, or perhaps they had crossed my radar but been buried in amongst all the other criticism of Islam and Muslims that appears across various media.  I understand that his criticism is as an atheist in general and in favour of free speech, but it did feel as if Islam got singled out a little.  Perhaps the author in his anger at the way gay people are treated by some people of faith, forgot how vulnerable Muslims in a non-Muslim country, in what can feel like a hostile environment, can feel and sometimes be.

If I had been more aware of the authors comments, I probably would not have bought the book. That aside, I did enjoy it.  The book starts at the beginning with the early Greek creation myths and then works its way through the various stories to just before the great age of heroes.  The format of the book is a series of short stories telling us how the various characters in the cast of Greek mythology appeared. The stories are laced with dark humour, cynicism and alternative versions.  The author explains how the names in the myths are the foundation for modern words and how much we owe to Greek mythology for modern English.

The book could probably be easily compared to the recent Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman, a book I had an absolute blast with, and which left me both shocked and looking for more. But where that book is more engrossed in the story telling, this one takes segues all over the place with asides and explanations.

A fun, interesting and entertaining read.

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