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Myths and Legends
an Illustrated Guide To Their Origins and Meanings

By Lee Fancy

I am a sucker for a good fantasy movie and love digging deeper online for history on them; look at what's coming soon to a theater near you and you will see that the genre is big business. Naturally I was thrilled when I came across a book called Myths and Legends  an Illustrated Guide To Their Origins and Meanings.

All these movies and books have in common is that their narratives, themes, and characters address and provide answers to eternal questions: where do we come from, how do we live, what do we believe in?  This fascinating book explores the major myths and legends across the world, from Classical mythology to Eastern beliefs, and from American legends to African folk tales. The stories are retold in compelling detail, while key aspects of myths are considered: their meaning, purpose, and power, the main characters and their importance to modern culture. 

Special illustrations and photographs combine with informative text, family trees, and a focus on themes such as creation, death, and the afterlife.  Myths and Legends is no encyclopedia, but this a visually stunning masterpiece with so many vibrant paintings (sometimes covering two pages), photos of artifacts, pretty illustrations and a wonderful gold and black colour scheme. 

Though a third of the book focuses on European culture, there is enough on other parts of the world to give you a starting point to work from if you are interested in branching out further. The myths range from Beowulf to Oedipus to Shiva to the myths of the Navajo, the Maori, the Maya, the Taino (the first settlers of the Caribbean) and so many more.

Myths and Legends by Philip Wilkinson provides a full and captivating reference guide to the worlds of mythical beings, mortal heroes, and immortal gods. Published by DK ( and it can be purchased for $28.00 at, Chapters or online through