Review: 30 Second Mythology

Review: 30 Second Mythology30-Second Mythology by Robert E. Segal
Released by Ivy Books on 6 January 2014
Genres: Non-Fiction
Pages: 160
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 9781782400967
Source: Received

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What did Hercules do to deserve his twelve labors? How did Narcissus find the love of his life? And why did Odysseus take ten years to travel 500 miles? You might recall such epic events, but do you know them well enough to brighten up dinner party discussions with tales of gods and monsters?

30-Second Mythology sets out the most significant details and unravels the underlying meaning of the greatest classical myths. Revealing the origins of the gods, heroes, and monsters of ancient Greece and Rome, the book outlines the key aspects of their stories for the general reader in half a minute, using nothing more than two pages, 300 words, and one picture. Featuring detailed biographies of the seven greatest poets and playwrights of the ancient world, 30-Second Mythology explains the enduring influence of ancient myth in the blink of a Cyclops' eye.

30 Second Mythology is exactly what it says, a book where you can learn about Greek and Roman mythology in under thirty seconds (per page/paragraph of course, you won’t get through the entire book in thirty seconds). I got a similar book last year for Christmas, 30 Second J.R.R. Tolkien, and though I liked it, I wouldn’t say it was the best biography I read about the author. Same with 30 Second Mythology.

What I liked:

Everything was divided neatly. There was a section where they talked about how the whole mythology thing happened in the first place, the ‘Creation’. Then there was a section about the Olympians; Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, etc. A section about their enemies, the monsters, like Medusa, the Minotaur and Polyphemus. There was also a part about how the world looked like, with Olympus, the Underworld, Tartarus, and so forth. A part about the heroes; Hercules, Odysseus; and a part about the ‘tragic figures’, like Oedipus, Jason, Icarus.

I liked reading about everything, but I did find the little pieces – one page per subject –  a bit too short. Of course, a book like this is not the best way of learning more about mythology, but hey, I couldn’t help it. I love mythology and I would love to read every book about it (it would probably take me years and years though). My favourite parts was reading about how everyone cheated on everyone. I think almost every God and Goddess had children with either mortals, other Gods (than the ones they were married to) and even other creatures.

What I didn’t like:

Like I said before, the passages per subject were in my opinion too short. They could have easily explained it a bit more, like in the Tolkien book, and added only small pictures. Now, there was one page where you could read about the subject, and one page filled with a large picture (of a painting, a statue, etc). That was a bit of a shame.

And also my biggest dislike about this book, is that it’s only about Greek and Roman mythology. Since I’ve watched Thor, I have been a huge fan of the Norse Mythology, and I would just love to read a book like this completely about that. Unfortunately, Norse Mythology is not as popular as Greek or Roman is, but I just hope that some day people will realise that it is awesome!


I liked 30 Second Mythology. It’s a good way of learning about the most important parts of Greek and Roman mythology. Of course, it’s not the best book to be learning about the Mythologies, but it gives you a good insight of what it’s like. If you want to learn more about mythologies, and you don’t know where to start (or you don’t feel like reading a big book about it), I’d suggest you pick up 30 Second Mythology!