Book review

Mythos: The Greek Myths Retold

by Stephen Fry

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Oh Mr. Fry, how I love thee, let me count the ways! Sadly, in the end, this book failed to be one of the ways in which that love could find its expression.

The first third was the setup: a recap of the family tree of the early gods, immortals, Titans, and other supernatural beings. This inevitably has a bit of a tendency to be an old-testament-style recitation of “X begat Y who begat Z”, perhaps spiced up a little as it is more mythic to “X slept with his sister and begat Y who then appeared as a goldfish in a dream with her uncle and thus begat Z”.

The remainder was a retelling of a number of the core stories from the resulting myths. Many I vaguely knew, although they often had surprising endings that I didn’t know (e.g. King Midas and his golden touch). Each one was just, I think, too insubstantial, told only in skeleton form, without much colour – albeit with Stephen Fry’s characteristic twist of humour. Other stories I didn’t know, but just didn’t feel improved by the knowing of.

So Mr Fry saved this as a two star book, and it makes the “it was OK” pile. I’d read more of his fiction any day, just not sure about this one…