Book review: Heroes by Stephen Fry

The author actually did a bit of a fireside chat about the sequel to Mythos a few months ago, where I picked up a free copy (cheers Stephen!). I left it on the bookshelf for a while because I’d just finished Mythos, and I thought launching straight into another Fry epic based around ancient Greek mythology might be a bit much.

If you liked the first one then there’s really no reason you won’t like this one. I find Greek legends enthralling, and when you marry them with Stephen’s wry wit, then it’s bound to be another winner. Everything I said about the first book, pretty much applies here. The difference is that Mythos focussed mainly on the Greek gods (Zeus, his wife/sister, his various children by other gods/mortals …); this one is more about the playthings of the gods: men.  Fry pretty much covers all the well-known ones (Theseus, Orpheus) and a few from the ‘B’ team (Oedipus; Jason, as in ‘Jason and the Argonauts). After  the first hundred pages or so, you realise that the heroes all seem to share the same life:

  1. Born, not realising their father is a god
  2. A childhood of hardships to overcome.
  3. A misfortune leading to a quest.
  4. Victory and a few years living off the back of it.
  5. Random punishment, poverty, infirmity and death.

You’d think that this would get a bit tedious, but it doesn’t, but I think the author had to work hard in one or two places to liven things up a bit. 

Whether you’re a fan of Greek mythology or not, the Fry touch turns these ancient tales into modern short stories.  Heroes is a worthy sequel to the excellent Mythos, but I’d probably give yourself a gap of at least two books before starting on it.

Eight out of ten.

Join in…