Review: Heroes, Stephen Fry

Rating: 5 out of 5

Most of us probably have some idea of various Greek gods and also their heroes — after all, who has not heard of Herakles or Odysseus? There are other names which could be thrown into this mix, but the point I am trying to make is that Greek mythology has permeated much of Western culture and civilisation to a very great degree. Therefore, it could be said that one should be a bit careful about which author’s take on these myths they should read — having experienced ‘Mythos‘ some time ago, I was keen to take up ‘Heroes’ as soon as I could — and I was not disappointed.

It should probably not come as a surprise to anyone but there will be distinct decisions Mr Fry has taken in this book regarding the myths which will no be to everyone’s liking. The old myths themselves were not portraying a world of teddy bears and endless joy, but rather in most cases human arrogance and people’s typical wish to escape their fate. The intrepid reader can guess how often this will succeed…

After this warning, I will also note that Mr Fry has not held back in the gory or explicit detail (at least compared to a children’s rendition of the very same stories) — nor in the caustic humour which at least some of the characters are gifted with (a passage where Oedipus manages to not understand what exactly a “sphinx” is probably my favourite). Another touch I thoroughly enjoyed was giving the (typically villainous) kings of the various polis a Scottish twang in the audiobook version.

If you feel out of touch with the ancient myths, this would definitely be a very accessible method to refamiliarise that old acquaintance…

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