Legends of the Stars
by Patrick Moore
Reviewed by I.E.Lester

Two millennia ago the Greeks looked at the heavens and saw patterns in the stars. These patterns became the heroes and monsters, gods and mortals of their legends. In this book veteran astronomer Sir Patrick Moore details 
the myths of the ancient Greeks, the tales of Orion the Hunter, Perseus and the Gorgon Medusa, Winged Horses, jealousy amongst the gods, dragons, lions and bears, Jason and the Argonaut, and so on.

But once each of the tales is complete he discusses, although briefly, the constellations named after the characters from these myths, and the stars that make them up.

The tales in this book are timeless. They still enchant us two thousand years after they were originally written. These names are instantly familiar to us. But in reading this book you might realise just how little you know of the actual tales (unless of course Hollywood has got some details right in one of their movies).

"Legends of the Stars" has one major downside. When you consider just how much is contained in the pages it does feel a little rushed. It tells eight epic and complex mythic tales in 180 pages. This is a tall order in itself 
but add in the astronomy detail, the star maps and details of the main stars of the described constellations, and you really do feel you wanting more, and in some instances the stories actually become a little difficult 
to read. You do get too many Greek names in quick succession at times, and it can become confusing.

But for that one fault this is a delightful book. I've been fascinated with stars and planets most of my life, and I've read many of the Greek myths. But despite my familiarity with the subject matter this book was still very entertaining and totally absorbing. I read it in just two sessions. I just didn't want to put it down.

This book was first released in 1964 and has now been given a new life by The History Press. It doesn't feel that old though. Patrick Moore has a straightforward, non-frilly, writing style. That might not be for everyone.

If you want highly decorative prose, there are many other books of Greek mythology out there - as well as many fantasy-fictionalised versions of these stories. Moore doesn't flowery things up; he doesn't wrap you in 
comfortable blanket of storytelling. He just gets on and tells you the facts (or, in this case, the myths). And there's definitely a place for informative books like this on my shelf.


Book Details

Patrick Moore
Legends of the Stars
The History Press
Original Release 1964, re-issue 2009
ISBN: 978-0-7524-4902-9
185 pages

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