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Full Text Review(s)
* "This newly published reference set is a feast for both the eyes and the inquisitive mind. It is an incredible collection of information about the deities, places, symbols, and anything else one can imagine related to the study of world mythology. The books are organized alphabetically, and each entry contains lush photographic reproductions of art and pictures of artifacts related to the text. The pictures alone are a treasure of historical art and archaeology. The text material includes in-depth information about various personages of ancient mythology, places of geographical importance, and general information about ancient cultures. Forces of nature, astronomical bodies such as the Moon, and anything occurring in nature that would have impacted the ancients' desire to know "Why?" is included. Maps abound throughout the text as do sidebars of factoids packed with interesting tidbits of etiological information. The last volume is a very complete collection of indices featuring major pantheons of ancient cultures with brief explanations of major gods as well as genealogy trees, a glossary, bibliographies of resources, and indices organized by different subjects as well as a comprehensive index. As a retired librarian, the toughest decision I will have to make regarding this absolutely divine (no pun intended) set of books is whether to donate them to the library where I do volunteer work or keep them around for my own pleasure! Highly Recommended." *STARRED REVIEW*
Library Media Connection, October 2005
"In this latest addition to the substantial reference literature on mythology, more than 300 alphabetically arranged entries cover deities and mythology beings from around the world, although over half of the articles feature Greek and Roman entities. Ten of the 11 volumes focus on mythological characters and themes. Signed entries range from one to eight pages, summarizing the mythological story, contextualizing its importance, and providing the main sources of information. Frequent sidebar information supplements the main text, such as a description of Cheiron accompanying the entry on Achilles. Briefly captioned color art reproductions and photographs festoon nearly every page. Cross-references to related articles end most of the entries.
Twenty–eight entries focus on people and cultures; while largely dealing with Western classical civilizations, they do include Asian, Oceanic, and American regions. (It should be noted that Africa is confined to sub-Saharan areas; a separate article deals with Egypt, but the rest of North Africa is ignored.) These articles (usually eight pages in length) cover traditional and modern religions and beliefs and list the major deities for the regions. Thirty-eight articles focus on groups (e.g., Devils, Priests and priestesses) or themes (e.g., Animals, Dualism, Rites of passage). Usually the treatment is cross-cultural, with a clear effort to address non-European cultures.
Each volume has its own index, and volume 11 contains a cumulative index as well as six other brief thematic indexes, a list of major pantheons by major cultural region, a few deity family trees, and a glossary. Two bibliographies, one for general readers and another for younger readers, are arranged by region and suggest further reading. The titles that are listed tend to be general interest works rather than definitive scholarly volumes.
Resources from other publishers, such as ABC-CLIO's World Mythology series, cover non-Western mythologies in greater depth. Still, this set should attract readers because of its high visual content, manageable amount of information per entry, and cross-cultural thematic articles. Recommended for high-school and public libraries."
Booklist, April 2005
"This set is a beauty. The layout, line drawings, maps, and classic sculpture, reliefs, and paintings top other reference works on deities for clarity and art history, and at an affordable price for most libraries. The writing is factual without sounding pedantic, such as the summations of Aztec codices and Hammurabi's reign. Sidebars like "The Gaia Hypothesis" tie the study of mythology to current knowledge and expose readers to applications they may not have considered, such as Gaia and ecology or predictions of apocalypse. Organization is alphabetic with pagination extending through all volumes. A pronunciation guide in the H-base system aids vocabulary development. Separate pantheons for 12 ancient cultures simplify the study of an unfamiliar deity system (e.g., explaining the role of incest in Egyptian lore). The 10-page glossary covers most essential terms, but omits anthropomorphism, and essential concept. Resources include a guide to electronic texts and search engines. A separate list of sources for younger readers aids teachers and librarians in recommending or selecting quality works. Specific and general indexing is superb. Weakening the text are the failure to indicate the titan and olympian strains of Greek gods on p. 1451 and the indexing of "the Pythia" under "mythological beings." Editors were lax on establishing appropriate glossary standards for young and inexperienced readers (e.g., the use of "ideogram," "dualism," and "divination" to explain "hieroglyphs," "Zorastrianism," and "extispicy"). More serious is the editor's omission of recovered goddess lore to women's history. Despite these flaws, this set is a must for school and public libraries of all sizes."
American Reference Books Annual, 2005