Book Review – Heroes by Stephen Fry

books, reviews

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I’ve had the audiobook version of this book in my Audible library for quite a while but never felt like listening to it. I don’t find it easy to listen to myths when I’m working because I tend to lose track of who everyone is. Those Greeks had such similar names so I always worry that I’d get lost. It’s also much longer than my usual audiobooks, so it wouldn’t be something I could finish over the course of one day. Meaning I’d had to rely on my memory to remember what I’d just listened to. In my constant attempt to decrease my TBR, I decided it was time to listen to it. Over the last week, I’ve listened to it in between reading a physical book. I definitely think this was the best way to do it. That way I can take a break whenever things get a bit too weird or rapey. Although, thankfully, there isn’t as much in the follow-up to Mythos.

The first book in Stephen Fry’s series about Greek mythology was an enjoyable look at the great Olympians. It was a digestible and entertaining way to retell these stories for a modern audience. The second book in the series places the spotlight on the heroes and their many quests. Once again, these tales are all repackaged for a modern audience and include a few pop culture references for comparison. The book is split into 8 sections with each one tackling a different hero. With so many people to get through, some of the stories are condensed quite a lot and some of the secondary characters are not given the time you might want. However, I think he does a really good of getting the main points across. After all, this is a book about the heroes themselves. You get a pretty good picture of them all in an entertaining and educational way.

The titular heroes of this book are Perseus, Heracles, Bellerophon, Orpheus, Jason, Atalanta, Oedipus, and Theseus. Each section is then split into the different tales associated with these figures. As such, I think Heroes has a better format than the previous book, which tended to be a bit more haphazard. It also made the audiobook more digestible as it was easier to keep track and find a good place to stop. It also allowed the stories to develop naturally without much need for recapping or context. There was a definite flow to this book, which is helped by the fast pace. It’s such an easy book to read and one that keeps you wanting more. Something that isn’t always easy with books like this.

What makes Heroes so engaging and entertaining is Stephen Fry’s narration style. He brings his usual charm and wit to the proceedings. It’s what makes it so easy to get through and brings even more character to the tales. Fry uses a range of different accents to differentiate between characters, which has the added benefit of making them seem more familiar. Plus, he’s got a wide range of pretty decent accents and it’s always a joy to hear them rolled out. It certainly helps to keep track of who everyone is because it can get quite tricky. To be fair, Fry is aware of this and is keen to remind us that we don’t need to keep track of everything. However, he does a pretty decent job of summing everything up.

As mentioned previously, a lot of the stories are pretty condensed and it can get disappointing. I know the point of the book is to make these tales accessible but I do think some of the chapters are a bit short on details. I wonder how it would have worked out with fewer heroes in this book. Maybe they could have been split between two volumes? However, that’s only because I’m greedy and just wanted more. As it goes, the book does a very good job of conveying these myths and making them easy to follow. It was an utter joy to listen to the audiobook and I can’t wait to continue with the series.

8 thoughts on “Book Review – Heroes by Stephen Fry

    1. They aren’t specifically written for a YA audience but they would be appropriate. Certainly the tone of voice and approach to the myths. There are references to rape and violence but nothing explicit.

      Liked by 1 person

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