The theme and thesis of this volume is to illustrate the science background or mysteries that gave rise to various myths and legends from pre history to modern times. Kaplan starts very strongly, but I found the second half of this book to be slightly weaker and less interesting than the first. This could be because I have read Paul Barber’s book on Vampires and death, a book that Kaplan draws on, but I honestly thought the alien chapter was really unnecessary.
What are fascinating are the conditions that Kaplan makes between Hercules’ famous lion and actual animals that existed. The connection between fossils and tar pits with strange creatures like Medusa and the chimera is one such point. It is dealing with the ancient legends as well as those about dragons that are the book’s selling points.
Disclaimer: ARC courtesy Netgalley and Osprey publishing. Also the book is illustrated but the ARC did not include all the illustrations. What illustrations there were great, but since not all were present I won’t be mentioning the illustrations in the review below.
My favorite Charlemagne stories are, without a doubt, the Italian Romances that feature the woman paladin Bradamante. There is also an adult level of humor in these translations.
This volume in Osprey’s excellent series of Myths and Legends does mention the Italian Romances, yet does not include the R rated bits, making it an excellent introduction to the legends and history of Charlemagne and his knights.
I picked this up because of the illustration by Bauer on the cover.
Lindow’s book is a survey of trolls and their place in Scandinavian folklore and literature. It is not in depth, but it is worth reading. What makes the book interesting is the discussion of the idea of trolls and where the idea came from. Lindow suggests that the word was used to denote the other – including Inuit tribes that the Scandinavians came into connect with. This is a particularly interesting idea that seems to have legs, and I wish that Lindow had spent more time on it. I’ve read a fair amount of Scandinavian folklore so know the idea of a Lap or a Finn being a witch. Lindow does draw connections between these groups and trolls as well, but like with the Inuit section, I wish there had been more meat on those bones.