by Stephen Fry

Published by Penguin Books

I HAD high expectations of this book as it’s a collection of Greek myths, a subject I’ve been fascinated by and boring my friends about for years. It’s always great to find someone with a similar adoration and a far better way of talking about it.

Stephen Fry’s writing style and humour could convert anyone. The format begins with the first myths around the creation of the world and various natural things which live there. All of these are characterised in a vibrant and funny way that really brings the ideas based on them to life. Once the basics are introduced it goes on to explore many different myths and the links between them, which makes for a cohesive experience.

What I’ve found previously in reading about this subject is that it can be difficult to find the right balance between education and entertainment, but this is done flawlessly in Mythos.

It provides the reader with all of the fundamentals of learning about core ancient Greek beliefs while managing to bring to life the exciting tales of tragedy, love and adventure. The author works hard to make sure that not a single moment of reading feels tedious or boring.

Mythos has the gripping nature that one would hope for from a modern blockbuster, with heroes, monsters and morals in a format that those previously unaware of these stories may not expect. I would love for other young people to read this, if only to learn just how different it is from school books, while retaining its educational value.

Part of what can put people off learning about beliefs of ancient Greece are the many confusing names and places brought into the stories, especially with the complicated family relations of the gods themselves. This problem is solved with a family tree of the most recurring characters and their various marriages and children coming from those (or in the case of Zeus, affairs).

There’s also a helpful map annotated with the places mentioned, an index at the end and subheadings for all of the individual myths told. All of this makes it the most comprehensive guide to such a vast subject that I’ve yet seen. Anyone can understand this, whether you grew up with Greek myths as bedtime stories or are looking to develop a new interest.

Mythos is filled also with a sharp and delightful sense of humour, Stephen Fry’s many witticisms making it an even more enjoyable read.

Overall I would recommend it for so many reasons: it’s educational and traces many of the roots of modern languages; it’s entertaining, with its brilliant world brought closer to the reader with each tale spun; and because at last the people in my life can finally understand what I’m always talking about.