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3.6 out of 5 stars
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3.6 out of 5 stars
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on 26 July 2012
Hard to know how to pitch a review against a book that was free, over 150 years old, and analysing matters and beliefs that went centuries earlier.

It's beautifully written, the author has clearly endeavoured to craft his words and sentences with care, beyond just getting the message over. At times you wonder why you are wading through pages of nonsensical primitive stuff, some of it potentially quite offensive in our era, but it is clear the author is carefully trying to document what is being said without prejudice. Occasionally he sums up and it becomes clear where he stands on these beliefs and myths ... usually sceptical or agnostic. The chapter on divination (divining rods) is an interesting discourse in the ongoing battle between fraud and hard-to-understand science, and impressive in that little seems to have changed all this time on.

It's hard going at times, the first chapter is heavy on the antisemitism (although I'm not sure that's the author's viewpoint), other chapters push other buttons, and will surely find one or two to catch most people. Another review made a comment about being overloaded with facts, he seems to enter some sort of blitz towards the end of some of the chapters, the carefully crafted prose gives way to a heavy bombardment of references to cultures, tribes, ideas and beliefs as he tracks back through ancient history. This is a discourse through anecdotes more than myths ... he's starting with the stuff people say to each other to make a point and then drilling through to the english story, the european origins and eventually back through the rest, usually to some sort of sanskrit text in India. So where we start with carefully described connections and analogies to demonstrate how there is a connection between one groups myth and another, we kind of end up with a list of ten more we are expected to accept.

Having said that, it's incredible to find that stories we grew up with, like William Tell, Bedd Gellert, the lost sleepers, Venus's brothel in a mountain are shared across so many cultures (with the names and place changed). The author tends to assume if he can find an early similar story then that's an origin ... of course, usually he's probably right, but he doesn't dicuss the posibility that they could have been dreamt up independently or through some other shared inspiration.

I've paid proper money to read inferior books by contemporary authors, so whilst I'd normally say maybe 3 and a half or 4 stars .. I'll give him the 5, I really enjoyed this read.
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on 15 February 2011
This book gave a fascinating account of medieval myths from the point of view of a Victorian Anglican clergyman.
Baring Gould exhibits considerable historical research; he endeavours, mainly successfully, to distinguish fact from legend.
His most interesting chapter is that on the Sangreal, which provides a fascinating comparison with recent publications on the subject, such as "The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail" by Baigent, Leigh and Lincoln.

Gould's other topics are equally well researched an provide interesting and informative reading.

It is a very useful book for anyone wanting to know the mythical and cultural background of medieval man.
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on 10 June 2012
This is an interesting book, but it does get a little tedious at times. The reprint of the myths gives a specific Anglican interpretation of those stories. As it is free to download for the kindle it is definitely worth looking at
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on 25 September 2013
Entertaining at times, although I suspect that some of the material is already widely known. Probably okay as an introduction to the topic.
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on 3 October 2013
Informative and well written. Enjoyed the read while on holiday. I intend to read more from this author in the future.
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on 30 May 2013
Love this kind of book and enjoyed reading it, can take a while to understand some things that are happening like.
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on 5 January 2004
This volume contains accounts of various mythds of the Middle Ages, as the title suggests, including the Seven Sleepers of Ephesus, the Wandering Jew, Prester John and others. Whilst I found the work a little pedantic, and it occsionally told me more than I wished to know as a casual reader, it is a marvellous introduction to some of those myths you've sort of heard of but have not familiarised yourself with.
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on 25 August 2013
Another tired old horror dredged up. Best left where it was. Outdated, boorish, everything history books shouldn't have been but were.
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