“The lesson of Phaeton did not stop humankind from reaching even higher, however. No lesson, no matter how grim, ever seems to deter us.”
There are two things that perpetually hold my interest, the musings of a certain Mr Stephen Fry and tales of Ancient Greek mythology. It is perhaps no great surprise then that when this book was announced I pounced gleefully on a copy. Well as surely as one can pounce on a copy of a book ordered online; in any case I was keen as mustard to crack that spine.
As you may well imagine, I had heightened expectations going in, and these were somewhat perplexed by the prose. It is all together something different to what I imagined it might be. Fear not, it remains a great read, and yet a strange genre bending telling of mythology. Verging between a non-fiction exploration and a fireside chat, peppered with entertaining anecdotes that relate to the world today. Come to think of it, I guess that is his signature style. I thought perhaps this might be more of an engrossing selection of tales a la Neil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology. It is not, and yet it is still a delight.
Once expectations were metered and I fell into the rhythm of this weighty tome, I began to appreciate it more. It is reminiscent of a good episode of QI, where facts and stories combine for a pithy or witty comment and that ultimately spells entertainment.
An easy read, I feel this would make for a great audio book, or perhaps an engrossing nightly read to someone in hospital, Scheherazade style, to keep you looking to the next instalment. The sordid goings-on of those crazy Mount Olympians retain their appeal, much like Narcissus’ reflection and the overall feel is engaging and charming, as The Guardian’s reviewer would no doubt concur.
5 out of 5 times, old tales invigorated and yet, unfortunately all too brief.