Treasured myths and legends from around the world

recommended by Jodie Bond

These five books are by no means a definitive guide to world mythology. They are, however, a sample of some of its lasting greats. By definition, myths and legends are our greatest stories. We have told them for hundreds or thousands of years and will continue to tell them for generations to come. We tell them because they excite, divert and teach us something about ourselves. They are stories which have influenced culture and literature for generations, helping us to look back at the past and find magic in the present.

  • 1


    Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes, 75th Anniversary Illustrated Edition
    by Edith Hamilton & Jim Tierney

    Greek myths are among the best known in all the world. To celebrate the 75th anniversary of Edith Hamilton's classic telling of these stories, this beautiful edition has come to publication. This is much more than a book: it is a work of art. Stunning illustrations give life to Greece's heroes and gods as Hamilton writes the tales with beautiful simplicity.

  • 2


    The Mabinogion (Oxford World's Classics)
    by Sioned Davies

    I would be a poor Welsh woman if I failed to note the Mabinogion on my list. The earliest prose stories of the literature of Britain. These stories were compiled in Middle Welsh in the 12th–13th centuries from earlier oral traditions. This recent translation by Sioned Davies is beautifully told with spacial care taken to preserve the rhythm of language. Read it out loud for a treat. For those who don't speak the language, Davies also provides insightful notations to the meaning of Welsh names and traditions.

  • 3


    Le Morte d'Arthur: King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table (Leather-bound Classics)
    by Thomas Malory & Stephanie Lynn Budin PhD

    Perhaps I am showing a little too much favour for home country by including another title from the Britain, but it would be a crime not to include King Arthur, surely the world's best known monarch. Malory interpreted existing French and British stories about these figures and added original material of his own, enriching the breadth of tales available to us today. Valiant knights, monsters, magic and anachronistic ideals of romance - eat your heart out!

  • 4


    Norse Mythology
    by Neil Gaiman

    This book is such a pleasure to read. Strands of ancient sorties wind through all of Gaiman's fiction, showing his clear passion for mythology. This collection is true to the original tales.Galvanised by Gaiman's prose, Thor, Loki, Odin and Freya are irresistible forces for modern readers and the crackling, brilliant writing demands to be read aloud around an open fire on a freezing, starlit night.

  • 5


    The Epic of Gilgamesh
    by Anonymous & N. K. Sandars

    Miraculously preserved on clay tablets dating back as much as four thousand years, the poem of Gilgamesh, king of Uruk, is the world's oldest epic, predating Homer by many centuries. The story tells of Gilgamesh's adventures with the wild man Enkidu, and of his arduous journey to the ends of the earth in quest of the Babylonian Noah and the secret of immortality. Alongside its themes of family, friendship and the duties of kings, The Epic of Gilgamesh is, above all, about mankind's eternal struggle with the fear of death.

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