A select dictionary of divine or semidivine warriors, victims, oafs, pranksters, bureaucrats, elementals, and prima donnas.
Being alphabetically ordered from “Amaterasu” to “Zeus,” the 75 entries offer only piecemeal overall pictures of some of the world’s major pantheons. A system of not-very-distinctive icons and culturally stylized borders makes a stab at helping to differentiate one from the next; the table of contents is rearranged at the end to identify major figures by type and tradition, but there is no proper index to names and topics mentioned within the articles. Briggs keeps the tone light by slipping in quips (“If you remember one thing about Loki, remember this: Loki is a jerk”) and poop references. He also acknowledges but tones down the sex, rape, incest, and widespread mayhem that pervade these ancient tales. He enhances his brief retellings of creation and other myths with inset descriptions of major sources for them, and he offers general observations about how gods and entire pantheons evolve or fade over time. Although figures from such living traditions as Shinto, Hinduism, and Indigenous cultures around the world appear, notably missing are any from the Abrahamic traditions, upholding a cosmological double standard. In Briggs’ many neat, simply drawn cartoons, characters’ faces are drawn with little differentiation in physical features, but he’s careful about details of iconography and culture, and he also uses a reasonably broad palette of browns (and, for certain Hindu entities, blues) throughout for skin tones.
Better suited for browsing than reference or research but fairly broad in both scope and humor. (Mythology. 10-13)