Wednesday 20 February 2019

Heroes by Stephen Fry

Long-time readers will be well aware of my interest in Greek myths, especially that of Jason and the Argonauts. So, when Stephen Fry released his new book, Heroes, which retells all of the major Hero myths, I just had to take a look.

I’ll be honest, I didn’t really expect to like it. Even before I bought it, I had judged it as a ‘celebrity cash-in’. This was unfair, and having now read it, I think it is also completely untrue.

The book is a very simple, clear, and adult retelling of all of the well-known Hero myths of Ancient Greece. For the most part, Fry has sifted through the various sources and constructed the best narrative he could find. In a few places the text comes across as irreverent, but then, the myths themselves are often irreverent. There are also a few instances of Fry’s silly humour, but not so many that they dominate the book. The book also contains a good number of footnotes, which Fry uses to discuss points of academia, to mention other sources or other versions of the tale, and occasionally to make a joke or offer a bit of commentary.

Having read it from cover-to-cover, I am left with a sense of real ‘honesty’. I think Stephen Fry wrote these tales down exactly as he would have told them over the dinner table, including any asides, quips, and comments he would have made.

I didn’t expect to like it, but now I have put the acetate on it, and added it to my permanent library. I will be going back and picking up Fry’s previous work Mythos that serves as the first volume in the series, and will be keeping my eyes open for a hinted, third book which will cover the Trojan War and the journey of Odysseus.


  1. Thanks, for putting this on my radar.

  2. I just picked up the Bill Moyers and Joseph Campbell "Power of Myth" series on DVD so am looking forward to watching that again. It's nice to have people still respect the heritage of stories and myths.

  3. Great review. Interestingly, everything you said about Heroes is what I felt about Mythos.