Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Review: World Mythology in Bite-Sized Chunks


World Mythology in Bite-Sized Chunks
Rating: 5/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy 
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher, Michael O'Mara Books!

A masterful introduction to world mythology, shedding light on the impact it has had on cultures past and present and untangling the complex web of deities, monsters and myths. From the signs of the zodiac to literature and art, the influence of world mythology can still be seen in everyday life. With a stunning array of fascinating tales, World Mythology in Bite-sized Chunks gets to grips with the ancient stories of Aboriginal, Sumerian, Egyptian, Mesoamerican, Maori, Greek, Roman, Indian, Norse and Japanese cultures, encompassing legends from the most diverse societies and the most ancient cultures from across the globe. Learn about why Odin, the Father of the Gods in Norse mythology, was so keen to lose an eye, the importance of the Osiris myth of Ancient Egypt, and much more besides. Entertaining, authoritative and incisive, this is an enlightening journey into the fascinating world of mythology.

I am completely obsessed with mythology and eager to learn as much as I can about it, but sometimes reading a huge book with pages of very tiny writing is a bit off putting no matter how interesting you find the subject matter! This book is most definitely the best way to do it! You learn all of the important bits of information in a paragraph or so! Not to mention that it had all the bits I'm most interested in, like the author knew which bits of mythology people would be most interested in, from the well known to the slightly lesser known! 

Each section for each country tells you where the stories came from/where they are rooted, as well as more about the people of the time the stories, and more about the time in general! So you get way more information than just the mythology, you get a context to it, and some of the meaning behind the stories is explained in with the mythology itself. It really helps you to understand the people and their legends, as well as pointing out links between similar stories in different cultures, which I thought was a nice touch as some of them where very similar! 

There's some illustrations to break up the text, showing you the Mayan calendar and tablets and so on, which added a nice visual aspect to it so you could fully picture what was being described in the book accurately. 

The book is very easy to read, and it's laid out nicely, with a country, information on the people, and then different sections for different parts of the mythology, all comprised of a paragraph or two. Each section concisely gives you the story and manages to evoke a feel and mental image to go with it, each has all you need to know about the fascinating mythology mentioned. It was genuinely interesting to see how different cultures had similar gods, but different stories. Some of the stories actually could make sense and you kinda wished was the real story, others where a little bit silly! 

The narrative was entertaining, the author isn't afraid to make a witty remark to give the text a more fun feel and keep it interesting! He also doesn't pull any punches, and tells it like it is! Now I've said my thoughts on the book in general, but I thought I'd give you a bit more information on each section! 

Australian Mythology
This section is Aboriginal, and mostly creation stories, as well as having information on the Maori Gods! There's even a handy chart! I've never really known much about Aboriginal mythology let alone Maori, so I found all of this information fantastic! 

Sumerian
The mythology in this section has been pieced together from fragments of text, and had some very interesting information on their tablets, as well as Gods! 

Egyptian
To be honest, there's not much I don't know about Egyptian mythology and what I do know about it was present in this book...along with some of the few bits I had no idea about! The creation story for example. Yes I'm surprised I haven't come across it before either. There's a family tree of the Gods which was a nice touch, and it was brilliant to see it all laid out. I really didn't know Egyptians thought writing down bad things may bring them to life, that was an interesting little tidbit and explained a lot about some things. I enjoyed reading the authors narrative on Set and Osiris's spat, followed swiftly by round two with Horus subbing in for Osiris. 

Chinese
Another area of mythology I know a fair bit about, but not as much as I would like! There's lots of fables in here, there's a bit about dragons (I love dragons okay!), we learn more about the Chinese New Year! I knew some of the information about it but not all, and certainly not much about what each Zodiac sign means! 

American Indian
I've picked up bits of American Indian mythology here and there, but there was plenty in this section I didn't know as well as some cutting and validated remarks from the author. I found the significance of circles particularly interesting, as well as their creation story! As well as The Sun Dance...considering a festival stole that title! I liked the brief section on it in modern culture, the author really doesn't pull  his punches here! 

South and Central America
Another source of fascination for me, this section is divided in to Mayans, Aztecs and Inca's and pretty much had the sum of what I knew, plus a couple of other bits, the World Tree and all of the Gods in more detail, sacrifices, and the creation story. 

Greek
And we come to the other section that, alongside Ancient Egypt, I know the most about! This was the biggest section of the book, and there's nothing left untold! The Gods and Goddesses....thank GOD there was a family tree, because even I get confused sometimes! I knew next to nothing about the Muses, so it was nice to see them get a mention. I didn't know all of Hercules's Twelve Labours either, or if I did, I didn't know much detail! There's also plenty on various monsters and heroes and so on. If you loved the Disney movie as much as I did, or reading any other book with greek mythology in it, you might recognise some things, although this is the proper version, not the Disney kid friendly version.

Roman
I never quite realised how much the Romans had pinched from the Greeks, not going to lie! I enjoyed learning about the Romans, because I often get things muddled with them, and I've realised there's two creation stories...which is probably why! As well as the pinching of Greek Gods and Goddesses. This had a lot that I didn't know!

Norse
Norse mythology is a recent fascination to me, courtesy of ya know...Thor...and Magnus Chase. Magnus Chase had a lot of information about it, and sparked my interest and this section told me everything I need to know! We have another handy family tree, and tonnes of information on the Gods and Goddesses, and ya know....the end of the world! 

As you can see, each section has much the same, gods, goddesses, creation stories and so on, but it's all laid out in an appealing and easy to read format, you'll see some things you know, have other things expanded on, and learn new things. For such a small book there is so much information crammed in here, without the need for tiny type! 


3 comments:

  1. What a great review! You've made me want to buy this now :D

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  2. This isn't being released in the US until September but I'm totally going to be keeping an eye out for it. I find mythology really interesting but so many books about mythology are really difficult to read. But this definitely seems like it presents it in a way that's easier to understand and read through which makes me happy! Thanks for the review!!

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  3. Btw Australian = Aborigines; New Zealand = Maori. Not at all the same people or culture(s).

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