Thursday, January 12, 2023

Heroes by Stephen Fry

Stephen Fry has got one of those honey-gold voices I just want to distill and pour directly into my brain. If ever there is one human being on this planet who is so overwhelmingly talented and absolutely fabulous, and who deserves every honour accorded to him, it's this man. And the audiobook for Heroes further underpins my opinion about Stephen Fry.

Anyone who's worth their salt in terms of languages and literature should have at least a passing familiarity with the Greek myths. I had a module at university that focused primarily on the mythology, so I was treading familiar territory when I gave Heroes a whirl. And while a bewildering array of gods and goddesses, nymphs and monsters feature prominently in this hefty tome, it's the heroes who are, ahem, well, the heroes of this book. Well, duh.

From Jason and Perseus, to Atalanta and Hercules, we follow a bunch of ancient Greek luminaries on their quests for golden fleeces, the slaying of terrible monsters, and a quest for power and glory. Fry delivers the tales of derring-do, wonder, and tragedy all with his singular wit and fantastic sense for the dramatic. If you've ever encountered anyone who's complained that reading the primary sources is dull, the rather put them onto Fry. You'll thank me later, and if anything, this might yet inspire folks to dip into the original texts.

The old Greek myths have it all – epic quests, tragedies, dramatic love affairs, adventures, horror. In fact, I'd hazard to say, that modern fantasy fiction owes a vast debt to these great classics. And it's been a special treat to have them brought to life by the author himself. I could probably carry on heaping praise on this book until the cows come home to roost, and I'm most certainly going to pick up the rest of the titles in this series that Fry has been working on.

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