Bullfinch's Mythology: Including the complete texts of The Age of Fable, The Age of Chivalry, Legends of Charlemagne by Thomas Bulfinch
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
If anyone thinks this is a completely comprehensive look at the mythos of the Greeks, the Norse, the Celtic, the Arthurian, the Crusades, or the Middle Ages, then you're part-way correct. It is pretty comprehensive. At least by my eye. But it's more comprehensive for the Greeks, the Arthurian legends, and the time of Charlemagne than anything else.
In fact, other than the quick and dirty tellings of the the Greek gods and heroes, with christian sensibilities intact and morals gently glossing over the good stuff, the rest of the book is pretty much knights, knights, knights, knights, knights, knights, and a few more knights for good measure.
Do you like chivalry? MUST LOVE CHIVALRY.
Don't get me wrong, I've read my fair share of all the Arthurian stuff and I can't find fault with what I've read here. It matches what I've read in Mallory and other sources. The Crusades, though, well I only knew a couple of tales so this was pretty interesting, assuming that I didn't get bored out of my skull by all the grand head-bashings and the fighting of the Saracens or their own allies. Honestly, I read all of this knight stuff because I've already read a lot of this knight stuff and so I can fill out what I already know, but reading this is like taking a crash course in learning yet more about a sub-genre that I never really *cared* for to begin with, except in how it informed and influenced all the greats that I *did* care for.
You know, like seeing how GRRM cribbed this or how Tolkien cribbed that.
Still. I did read all the volumes of The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire Volume I, so it *is* very interesting to see the crusades from the bright and shiny PoV all turned into myth instead of the grand mistake that we all know and ... um... is love too ironic a term? Will people get that I'm being completely sarcastic? Ahem. Maybe.
Still, when it came down to the parts that I was most interested in, such as the Greeks and the Norse and the Celtic, I was rather disappointed that they didn't get so much embellishment and detailed time in the page. I'll probably have to go somewhere else for the Nordic and the Celtic stuff, because it just felt like it was kinda... fast. Glossed. Big Bullet Points. They certainly didn't get much love in comparison to all the knight-shit. I mean... the grand romantic chivalry that all the men and women still swoon to.
This was a huge book, btw. Did you know that the Glossary was almost a few hundred pages? Yup. Impressive, right? Total disclosure: I skipped that. If I want to later look up a name, I'll hit up wikipedia.
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