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Stephen Fry's Great Mythology #2

Heroes: The Greek Myths Reimagined

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In this sequel to the bestselling Mythos, legendary author and actor Stephen Fry moves from the exploits of the Olympian gods to the deeds of mortal heroes.

Perseus. Jason. Atalanta. Theseus. Heracles. Rediscover the thrills, grandeur, and unabashed fun of the Greek myths. Whether recounting a tender love affair or a heroic triumph, Fry deftly finds resonance with our own modern minds and hearts.

Illustrated throughout with classical art inspired by the myths, this gorgeous volume invites you to explore a captivating world with a brilliant storyteller as your guide.

• Each adventure is infused with Fry's distinctive voice and writing style.
• Connoisseurs of the Greek myths will appreciate this fresh-yet-reverential interpretation, while newcomers will feel welcome.
• Retellings brim with humor and emotion.

"Mostly Chiron saw in the child, and the young man he became, boundless courage, athleticism, intelligence, and ambition. He saw too lots of words beginning with 'self,' which gave him pause. Self-belief, self-possession, self-righteousness, self-confidence, self-love. Perhaps these characteristics are as necessary to a hero as courage."

In Heroes, Fry draws out the humor and pathos in both tender love affairs and heroic battles, and reveals each myth's relevance for our own time.

• A collector's edition filled with classical art inspired by the myths and a luxe, foil-stamped jacket
• Perfect gift for mythology and history buffs, lovers of ancient Greece, art aficionados, and devoted fans of Stephen Fry

540 pages, Kindle Edition

First published November 1, 2018

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About the author

Stephen Fry

226 books10k followers
Stephen John Fry is an English comedian, writer, actor, humourist, novelist, poet, columnist, filmmaker, television personality and technophile. As one half of the Fry and Laurie double act with his comedy partner, Hugh Laurie, he has appeared in A Bit of Fry and Laurie and Jeeves and Wooster. He is also famous for his roles in Blackadder and Wilde, and as the host of QI. In addition to writing for stage, screen, television and radio he has contributed columns and articles for numerous newspapers and magazines, and has also written four successful novels and a series of memoirs.

See also Mrs. Stephen Fry as a pseudonym of the author.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 3,373 reviews
Profile Image for Nataliya.
782 reviews12.5k followers
January 23, 2023
This was incredibly entertaining.

Stephen Fry is such a great narrator, and apparently a pretty great author as well. The voice with the perfect accent and tone and inflections, the wit, the easily accessible conversational style and the excellent ability to common-sense those weird Ancient Greek heroes and gods into normal regular odd people — all that worked perfectly.

“Who dared break into your chamber? Tell me his name and I shall have him gelded, tortured, and strangled with his own intestines.”
“Father, I believe it was the King of Heaven himself who came to me.”
“You are telling me—will someone please shut that baby up!—that it was Zeus?”
“Father, I cannot lie; it was.”
“A likely story. It was the brother of one of these damned maidservants of yours, wasn’t it?”
“No, father, it was as I said. Zeus.”
“If that brat doesn’t stop screaming I’ll smother him with this cushion.”
“He’s just hungry,” said Danaë, putting Perseus to her breast.

I wasn’t tempted by this book at all (I read children’s versions of Greek myths once upon a time, and all I remembered is the inexplicable weirdness of ancient Greeks, so I was good with leaving it at that), but a friend of mine was enjoying it, and apparently I have zero willpower to resist the “Oooh, shiny!” impulse, and library had audio, and Stephen Fry is awesome, and suddenly before I knew I was hooked. I started listening on my commute from work, and I actually drove in the slower lane so that I’d have more time with Fry’s wry narration. (Then I said screw it and just spent 2 days listening to it and playing Crash Bandicoot, and it was awesome).

These stories as told by Fry are accessible and funny, and highlighting the strangeness of those myths. Because did I mention that Ancient Greeks were a weird bunch, at least in their stories? Bestiality (have those heroes and gods and horny Ancient Greek ladies ever come across a supposedly handsome animal they didn’t want to mate with????), incest (determining some familial relationships and family trees could give you a major migraine for days), patricide/infanticide/everyone-else-cide, constant rapes, and - of course - Zeus fathering children via golden showers. Not to mention Heracles being “far from the brightest pixel on the screen” in his red mist of muscular rage — Heracles, “the offspring of a divine heteropaternal superfecundation”, whose endless labors took up a big chunk of the book; poor Oedipus and his mother — whose “Oedipal complex” that annoying Freud guy totally used to cover up his own weirdness; and Bellerophon and his strange relationship with his winged horse/brother (oh, Greek gods, you are so odd) Pegasus.

And apparently it’s full of excellent footnotes — apparently, because in his audio narration he pretty seamlessly integrates them into the story, and I was barely able to tell they were footnotes until I looked at my ebook version.

There are many many MANY Greek names, but don’t worry — as long as you keep track of every hero’s name — Perseus and Medusa, Heracles, Bellerophon and Pegasus, Orpheus, Atalanta, Oedipus, Jason and Medea, Theseus and the Minotaur — you’ll be totally fine.

And I’m coming to the conclusion that Stephen Fry may start rivaling Wil Wheaton as my favorite narrator.

(And no, I didn’t quite realize for a while that this was the second book in the series, but it was not detrimental to my enjoyment at all).

4.5/5 stars.


Also posted on my blog.
Profile Image for Tharindu Dissanayake.
288 reviews557 followers
December 9, 2021
"Who says I'm an idiot?"

I've been waiting for a while now to resume Stephen Fry's Mythology series. Mythos - the first book - had been a ton a fun, and this one's no different.

"It began, like many Greek stories, with some cattle rustling."

Fry's awesome narrative requires little to no introduction: It's hilarious, entertaining, and even educational. With Heroes, he descends from Mount Olympus to bring some stories about a set of well-known heroes from Greek Mythology, including Heracles, Theseus, and Perseus. Greek Heroes might not be as funny as the Greek Gods, but the adventurous nature of their stories more than made up for it.

"Those who most understand their own limitations have the fewest."

Also, this second book felt more organized than Mythos. Instead of a series of small, independent chapters, each hero has a series of chapters covering all the highlight from each of their journeys. This added a much needed continuity compared to Mythos, and made the reading experience better in my opinion. Aside from that change, you'll find everything you loved about Mythos remain same here.

"I'll go and set up my own oracle."
Profile Image for Sean Barrs .
1,119 reviews44.8k followers
January 17, 2019
Let me start off by saying that I really enjoyed Mythos, but the second instalment is bitterly disappointing.

Greek mythology is full of so many strange stories and strange people. It’s so rich and wonderful and I really do love reading about it, but it needs detail. Stephen Fry has attempted to make Ancient Greek heroes accessible to readers unfamiliar with them, though all the stories are very, very, brief and it’s their downfall.

Hercales, Perseus and Jason are perhaps the best known of the heroes Fry writes about. And he takes a very broad approach, summarising huge stories into just a few pages. The tragedy of Medea by Euripides is condensed into just four pages of prose. Let me say that again, four pages. This is one of the greatest of the ancient Greek plays, and Fry does not do it justice. It’s like a brief interlude in the Jason section. Simply put, he has taken on too many stories and only briefly touches on each one. His writing reads like a humorous Wikipedia article that summarises great events into just a few words.

This approached worked fine in Mythos because Fry was talking about abstract ideas such as Gods and the creation of them, no real detail could ever be given. Here though we are talking about very real people with very real stories told in a very limited way. The book suffers tremendously as a result. It doesn’t work at all for me. I also found the humour hard to engage with here, possibly because Fry applied his wit to humans rather than gods. I don’t know, it just didn’t quite have the same flair. There’s something dangerous and transgressive about a writer mocking the gods, and when he mocks humans in the same way it feels a little vanilla.

My main criticism of this work is that it doesn’t feel whole. It doesn’t feel like a consistent narrative. It’s the sort of book you dip in and out of, as you read about a character and move onto the next. Mythos didn’t have this affect, it felt like it built on itself as it established some of the core systems behind the gods. These characters aren’t connected. They’re not supposed to be, but at times it felt like I was reading different sections from different books. The idea of Heroes and heroics only connects them loosely, as some are more heroic than others and some are even villainous, at least in part.

A few housekeeping points, the formatting and organising of this book was much better than its predecessor. We have a detailed glossary and we actually have a much-needed contents page. Mythos was missing both. I had no idea what I was reading when I went into it. Was it fiction? Was it re-telling of myth? Was it nonfiction? Here things are much clearer, and that’s kind of important when you go to buy a book.

Overall, I think this book will only be of use to people who know very little about Greek Mythology and want a summary of some of its greatest heroes. If you’ve read these stories before across ancient Greek works, don’t waste your time here.

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Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 5 books4,100 followers
February 20, 2019
I shall judge this book purely upon whether I was entertained. And I'm happy to announce that I was. :)

Fry's wit and erudition come together nicely to make one of the most accessible accounting of a large handful of Greek Heroes I've had the pleasure to read. Perhaps better than Hamilton, definitely better than Bullfinch, but perhaps not quite as bright as Ovid, these are, however, punctuated with Fry's charmingly dry wit and panache.

And isn't that why we love Fry? Oh, and the tellings of these Heroes are quite vivid, uncomplicated, and evocative.

Is everyone accounted for? Hmmm... not quite. But the biggest and brightest names are. Want all of the trials of Hercules, or shall I say Heracles? Check. Perseus? Bellerophon? Theseus? Orpheus? Even Dedalus? Check!

It was like having a movie in my mind. :) No overcomplication. Just fun. :)
Profile Image for Mark  Porton.
417 reviews367 followers
January 10, 2021
Heroes by Stephen Fry is a book I had to listen to. Fry’s narration is wonderful - perfect pronunciation, timbre, pace, drama for effect, and of course, he's bloody funny. I really recommend listening to this if you can – it is terrific.

For some months now I have been wriggling my way through the fascinating world of Greek Mythology and I have finally come to the realisation these stories are Nursery Rhymes for Grown-ups. Having read and watched a few of these tales, I know how they end, I always know what the heroes and villains will do, but I just want to hear it again and again and each time I hear/watch a story – it's always slightly different. More often than not there’s a different spin, or a slightly divergent theme. Even though these stories were created many, many years ago they are still very much alive.

Listening to these myths makes me feel like a kid again. Isn’t that a magic thing?

Fry takes us through stories of a small handful of heroes, but the number of other names he throws at the reader is massive. I think it’s important not to try and remember all of these characters. To try and do so would spoil the fun, you will get the ‘gist’ of the story by just reading through them – and in time, you’ll remember more than you think you have. My memory is really crappy – and I did it!!

Heracles is one of my favourites. Fry says, “Heracles wasn’t the brightest pixel on the screen”, but you can not help but love this bundle of rippling muscle as he steadily works his way through his “12 labours”. I guffawed out loud when Fry said Heracles “ sometimes supped from the male trough or at times feasted at the Female buffet - Bahahaha – I love that, what a brilliant way to describe this hero’s sexual proclivities. In fact, the Amazon Queen Hippolyte, took a real fancy to Heracles (who wouldn’t?) and donated her belt to him, which was no ordinary accessory – this waist belt fit snugly around his biceps. The beautiful Queen eventually plucked up the courage to ask Heracles if she could check to see if his massive dimensions were proportionate in other parts of his body. Love it!!!!

The wonderfully proportioned Herecles - tackling Cerberus

Fry introduces, or reacquaints us with other heroes like Bellerophon, Orpheus and Jason.

In fact, the author’s description of Jason’s vessel, the Argo, I found to be breathtaking. I was mesmerised by his description of this magnificent boat as Jason and his Argonauts embarked on their journey. Fry said this - “ Jason cried out to Tiphys to raise the anchor stone and let slip the mooring ropes, the Argo plunged a little as if ducking to wet her beak, then came upright and surged serenely forward, the surf streaming from the painted figurehead on her prow. Never had such a ship been seen, not a roll, not a yaw, and not a creak from her timbers – so stable and so sturdy, so swift, straight, trim and true. Text just doesn't do a description like that justice - you need to hear from the man himself.

The legendary Argo, such a magnificent vessel

This was such an enjoyable experience.

5 Herculean Stars
Profile Image for Kitty G Books.
1,563 reviews2,937 followers
November 8, 2018
My second Stephen Fry mythology book in as many days (I just read Mythos and loved that) and once again it gets 5*s leading me to think maybe I should try some of Fry's other books out. I don't want to say too much more about this other than that it continues where the first book Mythos leaves off and we move from looking at the Gods themselves to looking at the Heroes and Demi-gods and offspring of Gods who are still remembered today.
Stories such as the minataur, Hercules and more. These are all tales you may think you know, but the way Fry tells them is succinct and funny and I highly recommend his audio narration too. A brilliant little non-fiction (with a whole lot of myth and legend thrown in) and I gave it 5*s.
Profile Image for Теодор Панов.
Author 4 books143 followers
July 26, 2021
„Герои“ (продължението на „Митове“ на Стивън Фрай) ни връща обратно в антична Гърция, представяйки ни приключенията и подвизите на осем герои – Персей, Херакъл, Белерофонт, Орфей, Язон, Аталанта, Едип и Тезей. Осмината смъртни герои в книгата преминават наистина през забележителни приключения, извършват славни подвизи, достигат до непокорени върхове и накрая почти винаги завършват печално.

Лично аз прочетох с най-голям интерес историите на Персей и Тезей. Язон и търсенето на Златното руно също ми хареса много.

Макар книгата да може да се чете самостоятелно, на много места има препратки към „Митове“, така че е по-добре тя да се прочете първо или поне да ви бъде под ръка за припомняне на историите на боговете. Има препратки и към Троянската война (която точно тази седмица излезе като трета книга от Stephen Fry's Great Mythology Series – дано да я видим скоро време в превод) и също и към подвизите на Одисей, които по всяка вероятност ще бъдат описани в една четвърта част.

На няколко места Стивън Фрай е упоменал и България (стр. 277), Черно море и Дунав. 😊

Хуморът също присъства, макар да ми се стори малко по-малко в сравнение с „Митове“, но пък за сметка на това в „Герои“ беше някак по-ярко изразен.

И по модела на ревюто ми на „Митове“ и тук ще посоча десетте истории в книгата, които успяха да ми се откроят най-силно.

1. Тезей (стр. 415-507)
2. Целият цикъл за Персей (стр. 27-72)
3. Оракулът проговаря (Едип) (стр. 379)
4. Да живее царят (Едип) (стр. 393)
5. Язон (стр. 239-348)
6. Сънят на Хера (стр. 23)
7. Надбягването (Аталанта) (стр. 372)
8. Крилатият (Белерофонт) (стр. 189)
9. Златните ябълки на Хесперидите (Херакъл) (стр. 142)
10. Орфей в ада (стр. 227)
Profile Image for Gabrielle.
1,016 reviews1,184 followers
December 22, 2021
Following his first book on Greek mythology “Mythos” (https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...), Stephen Fry continue to explore the classical tales of ancient Greece with “Heroes”, which explores the stories around such famous characters as Heracles, Jason, Theseus, Orpheus, Atalanta and Oedipus.

Just like the first volume of this series, Fry’s wonderful voice, obvious erudition and charming wit make this book not only a breeze to read, but a delight as well. He doesn’t try to reinvent anything, he is simply delivering the classic stories of the Golden Fleece, the love of Orpheus and Eurydice and so on, in a traditional but very accessible format – that’s a lot less intimidating than sitting down with a big pile of works by Homer and Herodotus.

I grew up on these stories, and I was so happy to revisit them! There are so many, and it’s easy to get them all confused: Fry is aware of this, and he does his best to keep things simple, despite knowing fully well that those family trees and timelines will get confusing sooner or later. I found his footnotes very helpful, but the detailed appendix is also very handy to keep all these characters straight.

This volume suffers from only one thing: it is a bit skimpy on details. All the stories detailed here, from Heracles’ labor to how Theseus defeated the Minotaur could have been fleshed out more generously. This wasn’t something I felt with “Mythos” or with “Troy” (https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... I suppose that considering Fry’s intent, to make those stories accessible, it still woks, but my nerdy heart would have loved a full book dedicated to each hero, in order to do their stories a bit more justice.

I just learned that a fourth book, about the Odyssey, will be out next year and I can’t wait! Highly recommended for Greek mythology newbies, or fans of Mr. Fry.
Profile Image for Trish.
2,016 reviews3,436 followers
February 20, 2019

No, I can not deny it, I can never resist Stephen Fry. So much so that, once again, I have the print copy

as well as the audiobook since it is narrated by the author himself. I read them in parallel to enjoy Stephen Fry’s voice as much as the visual design of the print copy with the great artwork and photographs.

This book can, in some ways, be regarded as the sequel to Mythos .
Instead of telling us about the creation myths, the gods and goddesses and their mingling with humans, the demigods and heroes undertaking quests and adventures take the stage in this one.
Most notably, Perseus, Herakles (Hercules), Orpheus, Theseus, Jason, Atalanta, Oedipus and a few others (more minor ones) in between.

Thus, Fry tells the story of incredible human feats, of torturous labors, of gods’ punishments - usually for crimes the humans didn’t even commit solely because gods didn’t punish gods but still needed to let their anger out on someone.
We see the Hydra, Cerberus, Minotaur, Pegasus and many other well-known mythical creatures and learn about their family trees as well as about the lineage of the afore-mentioned heroes.

What struck me so much was Fry’s connection to modern feats. We don’t need to believe that Poseidon or Zeus existed and were indeed deities that sneakily forced themselves upon women (oh yes, that is still a theme because the Greeks couldn’t get enough of that - here, we not only had an astonishing array of animals Zeus turned into but even golden rain!) but it is possible that there were men and some women who were utterly strong, both physically and mentally, and who thus were capable of extraordinary feats like star athletes or members of the armed forces nowadays.
What happened to some of them, the pain they had to endure (only half the time self-inflicted or deserved) was indeed horrible and tragic. Character upon character had to go through crises, often holding him- or herself quite well through their strength and/or wit.

What Fry never ever does is interpret the myths. Instead, he wants the readers to do that on their own, to get them to think and fill in the blanks with their own opinions derived from personal experience as myths invite exactly that kind of speculation. There are no single meanings or answers after all. Fate, necessity, cause and blame are the fabric of these stories as they are endlessly represented themes in our own lives. Human motifs and drives, as topical as ever.

As in the first book, Fry understands not to bore the reader or club you to death with names. Naturally, the names are still in this book, but Fry has a way of combining different versions of the myths to the most probable one and to tell the thus resulting story in an engaging way that gives any reader a nice idea of what’s going on even if you can’t keep track of who was whose uncle (considering all the incest and double-parentage, that is rather difficult at any rate). And my gods, does this man have a way with words. *swoons*
Moreover, he always ties the myths back into modern language, showcasing the incredible influence especially the Greek myths have had and still have in our daily lives; be it in literature, art, TV / the cinema, the sciences or even modern-day language.
Remarkable amongst such modern connections was the story of Chris Benoit as a real-life example of what Herakles did.

Last but not least, I need to state that upon reading the afterword I was dancing around the house ecstatically because Fry mentioned that he had planned a Mythos trilogy for the stage (and they later became the books), which means we’re getting another volume, that one being about the Trojan War and its aftermath - just like I had hoped fervently. YESSSS!!!

Profile Image for Dennis.
658 reviews276 followers
February 23, 2023
Told with great charm and wit, and in a very accessible, modern, conversational style, Stephen Fry tackles the Greek Myths again.

After focusing on the gods in Mythos, he now turns his attention to the mortal heroes. The stories of Perseus, Heracles and his twelve labours, Bellerophon and Pegasus, Orpheus being an idiot, Jason and the Argonauts, Atalanta (not the football club but the only female hero in this book), Oedipus and some hilarious (and tragic) misunderstandings, Theseus.

The book is essentially a short story collection with some connections showing up between the stories. Just like the last time around, I had trouble remembering all the names and relationships. Truth be told, though, this time I didn't try particularly hard. And I think, ultimately, this approach was beneficial to my enjoyment of the book. Frankly, I had a great time.

Not all of the stories were equally good, of course. In the Jason chapters Fry lost me rather early with a barrage of names and backstories. And the labours of Theseus were not really that exciting after all. Other than that, though, it was immense fun. Part of that is surely down to Fry's engaging narrative voice. But there's also a huge amount of underlying ridiculousness in these stories that makes them rather delightful to follow. Never mind that most of them are simply grand adventures.

I'm still not sure if these books are particularly recommendable for people that don't have a lot of previous knowledge of Greek mythology and are committed to "fix" this. Fry acknowledges several times that it's not always easy to remember all of the names and promises that the important ones will stick. But when later on a couple of times he wrote something like "you may remember that..." or "as we saw earlier...", I was mostly drawing a blank. So, it obviously didn't work that way for me. Ultimately, I don't mind. It was just too much fun anyway.

Buddy read with Susy, Cathy and Nataliya.
Profile Image for Sara.
1,122 reviews365 followers
January 2, 2019
When I was a child my favourite movie was Clash of the Titans - the 1981 film with Maggie Smith as Athena and Laurence Olivier as Zeus. Medusa was, and is, the scariest monster I have ever seen on TV and I regularly had to leave my light on when I went to sleep because I thought she was going to come and slither up the stairs and turn me to stone.

Anyway, from a young age I’ve had a healthy obsession with Greek Mythology and I’ve read many, many books on the subject. My favourite story still to this day has always been Perseus and his hunt for Medusa, so I was overjoyed to see that Fry was continuing his jaunt into the Greek myths after Mythos with an account of the golden age of the Heroes. They’re all here - the labours of Heracles, Theseus and the Minotaur and Oedipus among others (including my beloved Perseus), and they’re retold in the easy accessible way Fry has with words. I’ve read these stories so many times, but Fry genuinely manages to make them less convoluted and confusing (which is so easy to do with these tales when there is no single original source and the family trees are a little large and rather incestuous), while still managing to entertain and make me laugh.

None of the richness to the stories is lost, and you can tell that Fry has a genuine passion and knowledge of the subject (the footnotes alone denote a higher level of understanding than most), while giving sources to further reading if one wishes. The conversational tone really lends itself well to these stories, and you can almost image Fry standing in front of you (or sat round a hearth) reciting them. Its been wonderful to dip back into this vast history and I sincerely hope that Fry continues to cover the rise and fall of Troy in another edition to the series (it’s hinted at) to complete this ‘set’ of Greek myths and tales.
Profile Image for Margarita Garova.
450 reviews177 followers
October 14, 2021
"Герои" не остстъпва по увлекателност на "Митове", макар че "Митове" ми допадна една идея повече. И тук силна черта на разказвача е безпределната яснота и простота на изложението, което е особено полезно като се има предвид броя и имената на героите, чудовищата, владетелите, простосмъртните и олимпийците. Почти зад всяка история се крие архетип, по-дълбок символ, обяснение на поведенчески феномен (ако пренебрегнеш значението на любовта, Афродита ще ти отмъсти - т.е. не те чака нищо добро на другите поприща). Забавно, свежо, приятно и изчистено от излишъци. Отново препоръчвам в аудио прочит.
Profile Image for William Gwynne.
376 reviews1,706 followers
July 29, 2022
I now have a YouTube channel that I run with my brother, called 'The Brothers Gwynne'. Check it out - The Brothers Gwynne

“No labour was more Heraclean than the labour of being Heracles.”

So, the second of Stephen Fry's Mythological Greek retellings. Mythos, the first of the series, was great to read physically, but I decided to listen to this second instalment in an audiobook format, as Stephen Fry narrates it himself. And in my opinion it was the best route to take.

As Greek Mythology can have the tendency of being slightly repetitive, I found the tail end of Mythos to be a bit dry, but still really enjoyed it. In contrast, Heroes is entertaining from beginning to end, and listening to it makes all the difference, in my opinion. Fry brings his usual energy and enlivens his witty prose in a way that is so, so entertaining, with his subtle vocal inflections adding so much more humour, whilst also cleverly highlighting the important parts of each story.

“Few heroes die peacefully in their beds after long lives filled with happiness.”

As Heroes is essentially a group of loosely linked short stories, the emotional attachment is not as great as many may want. But, considering the little page time we spend with the individual characters, Fry did a great job of investing me in the majority. A few were a bit repetitive of earlier tales, but on the whole there were many impactful moments that effectively portrayed the tragic nature to the majority of Greek tales.

Whilst Fry is a very funny person, he is also incredibly insightful. As well as informing the reader in an entertaining way about the stories of the Greek heroes that he talks about, he also provides another level to the reading experience. He adds his own subjective opinions on what is important in the story, what it signifies, and also how these could relate to our modern day culture and how we live our lives. This allowed further understanding regarding Ancient Greek culture, and introduced an aspect to the tale which is about why is is important to revisit mythological tales in the 21st century.

“Remember, cautioned the centaur. Modesty. Observance of the gods. In a fight do not do what you want to do, but what you judge you're enemy least wants you to. You cannot control others if you cannot control yourself. Those who most understand their own limitations have the fewest.”

In particular, the final chapter was wonderful. It was actually magical. I was just blown away by Fry's description of why he loves these myths, and their importance to him, and why they should be key to our lives. It was amazing, and really summarised everything that Fry can bring to his story.

4.25/5 STARS
January 20, 2022

“Myth can be a kind of human algebra which makes it easier to manipulate truths about ourselves. Symbols and rituals are not toys and games to be dispensed with on our arrival at adulthood, they are tools we will always need. They complement our scientific impulse; they do not stand in opposition to it.”

In Heroes: The Greek Myths Reimagined, Stephen Fry’s retelling of the timeless tales of the “heroes", we learn about the origins, quests, triumphs and legacies of Perseus, Heracles, Bellerophon, Orpheus, Jason, Oedipus and Atalanta. The stories of Atalanta, the only female among the heroes and that of Bellephoron were completely new for me and I enjoyed them thoroughly. The Labors of Heracles and the story of Jason and the Argonauts were my personal favorites. I particularly enjoyed getting to know more about the mythical creatures the heroes go up against. Stephen Fry’s characteristic humor and wit render this an informative, entertaining and engaging read.

I read the US Hardcover version and I have to say it is a beautiful edition featuring stunning classical artwork inspired by these stories. The author draws from multiple sources and does not fail to mention the different versions of the same story (if and when applicable). Contemporary references inspired by the myths make for interesting reading, as does the author’s distinctive style of storytelling, without digressing too much from the main stories. Though many of these characters and their stories were briefly mentioned in Mythos, in Heroes the author goes into much more detail. The glossary of the characters at the end of the book was very useful for reference because with so many characters and their complicated lineage, it does get a bit confusing in parts.

As I had done while reading Mythos, I paired my reading with the audiobook (narrated by the author himself) which is simply brilliant. The audio experience is immersive and I felt transported to the world of the Greek gods and heroes. Even if you’re not a fan of audiobooks, I would recommend giving Stephen Fry’s narration of his Greek mythology series a try. While I would rate Heroes (the book) a 4 out of 5 ( I’ll admit that I enjoyed Mythos a bit more), the audio version is a solid 5-star experience.
Profile Image for Jen - The Tolkien Gal.
458 reviews4,463 followers
July 22, 2019
Bless my soul, Herc was on a roll!

Image result for herc was on a roll meme

And then along came Zeus! He hurled his thunderbolt! *wink wink*

Image result for greek mythology memes

Stephen Fry turned Greek tragedy into a goldmine of rich storytelling and a treasury of possible memes. Full, comprehensive review to come.

Profile Image for Bren fall in love with the sea..
1,596 reviews287 followers
May 30, 2022
Is there anything more exciting, more adventurious, more thrilling than Greek Mythology? especially Greek Mythology by this delightful author?

Not much I'd say.

Review to follow soon.
Profile Image for Joanna Chu (The ChuseyReader).
160 reviews218 followers
January 4, 2023
~ Pick this up if you enjoy/don’t mind the following ~

🔱 Greek mythology retelling

📚 Short stories (Perseus, Heracles, Bellerophon, Orpheus, Jason, Atalanta, Oedipus and Theseus.)

🗊 Lots of information and names

~ What I Enjoyed ~

I tend to rate non fiction differently. It’s more about whether I learn or get something out of it which I certainly did!

I came into this with near zero knowledge of Greek mythology. I’ve heard of some names and played some Hercules games as a kid but that’s about it 🤣 so this was a good introduction to the major characters and their backstories.
I learnt a lot! I didn’t know some of these stories, especially how tragic or messed up some were! My innocent and childhood view of Heracules is forever ruined haha.

I enjoyed the following stories: Heracules/Hercules, Bellerophon, Atalanta and Orpheus. They either had a hint of romance or it felt a bit more like a fiction book where I could immerse a little more.

I liked the footnotes as it added some more context, or it was just fun to read Stephen Fry’s comments.

~ What I didn’t enjoy ~

At times this would list off the events very quickly or I would feel information overload! For example Jason’s story had too many buddies along for the ride for me to remember!
But understandable since this is a non fiction/retelling and going into every detail would make this book infinitely long!

Profile Image for Elena Toncheva.
438 reviews75 followers
January 13, 2023
Страшно готина (да, готина!), интересна и образователна книга. Абсолютен фаворит! Мислех си че „Митове” ще ми хареса повече, но „Герои” направо ме отвя… Чете /слуша / се на един дъх!

Стивън Фрай гордо се нарежда сред любимите ми автори със своя неповторим остроумно-хумористичен стил на писане, този фин подход на изграждане и описване герои си и този приятен и увлекателен начин, по който смила и обрисува по-късно сухата и неприятна част от гръцките митове и легенди. Дълго изречение стана, но каквото такова.

Книгата си заслужава прочита. Отделете ѝ време. Няма да съжалявате!

Готова съм за „Троя”!
Profile Image for Ash.
127 reviews135 followers
November 5, 2020
Thank you to NetGalley and Chronicle Books for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Heroes is a follow-up to Stephen Fry’s original book of Greek mythology, Mythos, which I haven’t read but now plan to. Whereas Mythos focuses on the titans and gods of Greek mythology, Heroes focuses on the mortal heroes (as the name suggests). It includes sections on Perseus, Heracles, Bellerophon, Orpheus, Jason, Atalanta, Oedipus, and Theseus.

I love Greek mythology, and I love Stephen Fry, so this was the perfect combination. Fry’s writing style was pretty much exactly what I expected, the perfect blend of information and humor. He stayed true to the original stories while still providing a fresh take on each of them with his more modern perspective. It makes for a very accessible but well-researched guide to the mortal heroes of Greek mythology.

Because he has to fit the stories of eight heroes into one book, Fry doesn’t go into a lot of detail in each one. I actually preferred this; I have a hard time getting through nonfiction because of the lack of a story, but the fast pacing of Heroes kept me reading. My favorite stories were those of Heracles and Jason, partially because they were the longest and most complex, which gave me time to get more invested.

Because it covers so much ground in just a few hundred pages, Heroes leaves out some details, so I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone looking for a comprehensive guide to the heroes of Greek mythology. Instead, I’d recommend it to those of you who, like me, are interested in Greek mythology but intimidated by the classical or academic sources. It was an enjoyable read and it convinced me to add Mythos to my “to read” list.

It also seems to me like Fry might add a third book to this series, one that covers the Trojan War and the events of the Iliad and the Odyssey, and if he does, I’ll read that one too.
Profile Image for Kerri.
988 reviews368 followers
May 3, 2020
A wonderful follow up to Mythos, which became an immediate favourite of mine. I was certain to get this book given how much I enjoyed it predecessor, but I was thrilled to see the cover featured an image of Pegasus! While I have many favourite figures of Greek Mythology, I think Pegasus is the one I love most. So, even before I opened the book, it was off to an excellent start.

Here Stephen Fry documents the heroic adventures of the following Greek heroes: Perseus, Heracles, Bellerophon, Orpheus, Jason, Atalanta, Oedipus and Theseus. There is an extremely helpful list of characters at the back of the book that features: Olympian Gods, Primordial Beings, Monsters and Mortals. I flipped back to it quite often to be sure I was clear on who everyone was.

Once again Stephen Fry's extensive knowledge and enthusiasm for his subject make for joyful reading. The exploits of our various heroes are full of life and humour here. Clearly presented, easy to follow (or as easy as stories that are so frequently convoluted, with shaky timelines can be) and fun to read, I found 'Heroes' just as good as 'Mythos'.

While I don't exactly have a favourite hero, preferring the gods, goddesses and various monsters and creatures that our heroes encounter, I have always had a soft spot for Heracles. He's shockingly aggressive, and commits many unwarranted murders that I would typically find inexcusable, but he does ultimately have a good heart. He's not clever, but he certainly isn't as stupid as his Disney version implies either! He faces overwhelming obstacles continually, through his entire life, and battles on, ultimately winning me over. Stephen Fry sums it up well I think in a quote that I will include, but mark as a spoiler, in case you want to read his thoughts after having read his version of Heracles story.

Profile Image for Lena K..
62 reviews132 followers
March 22, 2019
It's about time we've met the Greek heroes and their foes!
Perseus, Theseus, Heracles, Jason and many more.

This installment was as entertaining as the first one, Mythos. But it felt like Fry crammed in too much information in one book. For example, Heracles' labours were described so shortly, and I would've liked a more detailed account. Also, there was a LOT of name dropping, which Fry even acknowledged, saying that "the important names will stick".

It's another great book for mythology lovers or those who are looking to get into it. This will be a good start, after reading Fry's Mythos, of course.
Profile Image for Magdalena.
141 reviews82 followers
October 18, 2020
Pure pleasure и приключение от първоизточника на най-популярните литературни сюжети.
Profile Image for Simon.
192 reviews7 followers
November 2, 2018
Ancient Myths from a Modern Legend!

This is an audiobook that I simply can't recommend enough. One of British entertainment's legends in Stephen Fry dusts off these ancient tales and breathes a contemporary form of life and colour into them in his own unique style. It's a mixture of description, a little conjecture and of course the lion's share being taken by these grand old tales themselves. They take front and center stage and while Fry cleverly interweaves background and information it never feels like anything other than being told an engaging story. Of course being Stephen we also get charming nuggets of etymology thrown into the mix as well.

Using a fairly informal, almost irreverent approach, for example he pronounces the names of people and places as comes most easily to him, Fry brings these stories to life like few others ever could. The Gods, heroes and of course villains are given an often-missed humanity and character that is both charming and humorous.

In fairness, although clearly a lot of personal research went into these re-tellings it's neither a comprehensive collection, more of a Greatest Hits if you will, nor is it a hugely scholarly work. However, if like me you mainly have a passing knowledge of the Greek Myths or you want to dip your toe into them for the first time this is a fabulous place to start.

My favourite has always been Jason and his Argonauts ever since watching Don Chaffey's 1963 film as a boy. Even with this one though, the one that I'm most familiar with I learned more about the back story and how the plot developed and has been toyed with than I ever have before. Then, right at the end Stephen describes "Mythos" as a trilogy which I wasn't aware of so hopefully to match his shows there will be one more of these which will cover the Trojan war and its aftermath. I can't wait!

So, if you want to spend some time listening to a modern legend breathing life into ancient myths, this is very much the right series!
Profile Image for Jin.
689 reviews127 followers
October 17, 2020
Ich habe schon als Kind die Antike und die römischen/griechischen Sagen mit ihren Helden und Heldinnen geliebt. Dieses Buch war genau nach meinem Geschmack und erzählt auf fantastische und spannende Weise die Abenteuer und Leben der Helden.

Ich bin froh, dass der Autor nicht nur die bekannten Helden wieder aufgreift oder die altbekannten Heldentaten nacherzählt. Sehr amüsant und lustig werden die Heldentaten aufgezählt, ganz nüchtern ohne die Taten zu urteilen. Als ich das Buch angefangen habe, hatte ich Kommentare vom Autor erwartet, aber wenn man sein Nachwort liest, versteht man, warum er die Geschichten so erzählt hat. Insbesondere haben mir die Geschichten um Herakles und Atalante gefallen.
Die Götter, mystischen Geschöpfe und Helden waren in keinster Weise perfekt. Alle hatten Ihre Makel und Schwächen. Je stärker ein Talent ausgeprägt war, so hatte ich das Gefühl, dass dessen Makel ebenfalls gravierend war, wie die Kehrseite einer Münze. Ich könnte hier ein Roman schreiben, da ich diese Geschichten um Götter und deren Helden total fasziniert.

Carl Jung wertet Mythen als Produkt unseres "kollektiven Unbewussten". Joseph Campbell drückte es anders aus und nannte sie "öffentliche Träume".

Im Großen und Ganzen war es ein ganz tolles Leseerlebnis und ich musste öfters schmunzeln, so charmant wie das Ganze erzählt wurde. Wer in Sagen der Antike interessiert ist, sollte das Buch auf jeden Fall lesen!

** Dieses Buch wurde mir über NetGalley als E-Book zur Verfügung gestellt **
Profile Image for Nikola Jankovic.
559 reviews111 followers
February 24, 2021
Mythos: The Greek Myths Retold sam slušao, pa je i čitao, uzeo posle ozbiljno mitološko štivo, Grejvsove The Greek Myths... Kaže mi ćerka da je čudno da ozbiljan čovek odjednom postane religiozan, a uz to "ne veruje u glavnog boga, nego u grčke". Heroji nisu izašli kod nas u prevodu, ali i ovde je Audible izdanje baš zabavno. Ideš ulicom, ljudi te gledaju ispod oka što se smeješ, ali šta da im radim.

Ono što je u Mythosu uradio sa bogovima, Fraj ovde radi sa herojima. U prvom planu ih je osmoro: Persej, Herakle, Jazon, Belerofon, Orfej, Atalanta, Edip i Tezej. Ne može se o njihovim avanturama reći nešto posebno novo, moraju se skratiti te priče, ali nije ovo previše pojednostavljeno. Imamo opis svakog Herakleovog i Tezejevog dela, a i nakon čitanja Cara Edipa, interesantno je kako je Fraj to prepričao. Bajke za decu i tinejdžere možda, ali i za "let's be honest, pretend grown ups, like us".

Humor ovde funkcioniše na tri nivoa. Fraj zna da proširi mitove komičnim ulošcima, a dijalozi su posebno simpatični. Ima deo gde prepričava kako Herakle i Atlas ubeđuju jedan drugog "pridrži mi samo malo ovo nebo, odmah se vraćam". Drugo, Fraj jeste glumac, ali je i talentovan pisac, tako da zna da napiše zabavne igre rečima. I na kraju, u audio knjizi dobijaš i njegovu naraciju. Ne znam da li bih je poredio sa Pajtonovcima, ali su mi padali na pamet.

Izašao je i treći deo ovog ciklusa (Troy). Ako je i Ilijadu uspeo da prepriča a da ne ispadne glupo... Onda svaka čast.

Profile Image for Tanya.
500 reviews271 followers
February 9, 2022
After learning about the exploits of the Primordial Beings and Olympian Gods in Mythos , we now follow their mortal offspring, the Great Greek Heroes.

"The heroes cleansed our world of chthonic terrors—earthborn monsters that endangered mankind and threatened to choke the rise of civilization. So long as dragons, giants, centaurs and mutant beasts infested the air, earth and seas we could never spread out with confidence and transform the wild world into a place of safety for humanity.
In time, even the benevolent minor deities would find themselves elbowed out by the burgeoning and newly confident human race. The nymphs, dryads, fauns, satyrs and sprites of the mountains, streams, meadows and oceans could not compete with our need and greed for land to quarry, farm and build upon. The rise of a spirit of rational enquiry and scientific understanding pushed the immortals further from us. The world was being reshaped as a home fit for mortal beings only."

This sequel had the potential to be the better book: The heroes' stories offer more narrative consistency, their myths can be presented as chronologically as the contradictory timelines of Greek mythology allows, and they are even almost self-contained. As such it should've been more straight-forward and less dense than Mythos, yet somehow, all the things that should've worked in the book's favor are to its detriment. This time we got a much-needed contents-page and several glossaries, but each story felt separate from the next, rather than a chapter of a whole, which made the volume feel episodic at best, disjointed at worst; a book to dip in and out of. While I enjoyed his tangents in the first volume, I thought that Fry went overboard with the footnotes here, often needlessly breaking the reading flow. The stories about the Titans and Gods told in the prequel were little more than primers for the uninitiated as well, but the superficiality of the heroes' stories told here was much more apparent.

I still think that it's a great introduction to the Age of Heroes and a worthy continuation of the series, but he tackled too many of the Great Greek Stories in too little space, ultimately not doing any of them the justice they deserve. The stories of Perseus, Heracles, Bellerophon, Orpheus, Jason, Atalanta, Oedipus, and Theseus are told, but he often barely scratched the surface; there was still a whole lot of dense name-dropping though, so he didn't quite manage to strike a good balance. His conversational, humorous narrative voice also often didn't work for me in this context: His witty remarks felt forced; they either didn't come through very well, or they fell flat because they're less suited to these tragic stories.

My review sounds harsher than I intended; I liked Heroes, but it didn't meet my expectations after the excellent prequel. I wish it had been more memorable; I was excited to learn more about these heroes, but I'm finding that what was new information for me simply didn't stick. I think much would've been improved if Fry had put more care into characterization over action, spending more time humanizing his heroes, and making them more relatable. I am still looking forward to the upcoming, final (?) book in the series though, which will cover the Trojan War—our Greatest Epic, which should work better as a rounded narrative, and I also suspect that it will lend itself to his dry humor better than these stories of mortals and demi-gods.


My other reviews of Stephen Fry's Great Mythology series:

01: Mythos · ★★★★
02: Heroes · ★★★
03: Troy · ★★★★
04: The Odyssey · tbr
Profile Image for Andrea.
933 reviews136 followers
January 3, 2022
To all the heroes we have never heard of.
Perhaps you are one of them.

Oh how I love this man. He could write anything and I would happily pay money for the privilege of soaking it all up, but the fact that he chose to write, in his unique way, about Greek mythology (a topic that has fascinated ever since my parents first took me to Crete and I got to walk around the "ruins" of Knossos before they became a roped-off tourist attraction) makes me ridiculously happy. Not surprisingly, the story of Asterion (the Minotaur of Knossos) and Theseus was one of my favorites, made even more enjoyable by the fact that probably my favorite character, Medea (who in this version is a delightfully evil, kick-ass witch) made a return to make mischief.
I loved the first installment, Mythos (which tells the story of the Gods and their interactions with early mankind), and this did not disappoint. Chronicling the lives of some of the most famous Greek heroes (Heracles, Theseus, Jason, to name only a few), this book brings the various existing stories about them to a satisfying collection of stories brought to life in a way only Fry can.

If you love to learn something new or simply love losing yourself in stories of heroes, quests, and adventures (sorry, couldn't resist), I cannot recommend this (or Mythos) highly enough!

I both read and listened to it (the audio is narrated by Stephen Fry himself, after all, and I couldn't possibly resist), and I can't say which I loved more. If you know him and have listened to anything read by him previously, you might hear his distinct voice anyway if you read this. All I can say is that both are absolutely brilliant!

Myth is ripe for interpretation and I hope you often find yourself putting the book down and speculating on what the Greeks meant (or thought they meant) … Myths are not crossword puzzles or allegories with single meanings and answers. Fate, necessity, cause and blame are endlessly mixed in these stories as they are in our lives. They were no more soluble to the Greeks than they are to us.
Profile Image for Tim.
147 reviews71 followers
May 8, 2023
Really fun book. I enjoyed it even more than Mythos, Fry's first book in the series.

This book focused on Greek stories of Heroes - like Heracles, Jason, and Theseus. There were a lot of memorable tales, told in Stephen Fry's unique manner.

The only caveat I'd give is that some of these stories were darker than I expected, and sometimes kind of.... well, gross.

Still, I'm looking forward to moving ahead with the third book in this series.
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