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Epic Continent:
Adventures in the Great Stories of Europe
By Nicholas Jubber

A Review By Phaidra Robinson

'We can meet our predecessors, and glimpse the world through their eyes. Epic gives us this possibility, it time-travels us, with a vividness that nothing else – not archaeology, not genetic evidence, not philosophical tracts or scientific treatises – can match. It places us there, and gives us scale.' - Epic Continent: Adventures in the Great Stories of Europe by Nicholas Jubber

I have always been fascinated by travel, as well as literature, which is what drew me to this fascinating book. It chronicles Nicholas Jubber’s journey across Europe as he explores the history behind some of the continent’s greatest stories. These included: The Odyssey, The Song of Nibelungen, Song of Roland, Kosovo Cycle, Beowulf and Saga of Burnt Njal. Jubber weaves elegantly through these stories while he describes his travels across Europe from Greece to Iceland, stopping off in Germany, France, Serbia and his home in England on the way.

I found that Jubber gave a good account of the stories, ensuring he included the modern view of the texts and how they effect politics today despite being classical stories. He also includes feminist interpretations of some of the stories and how these themes can be adapted to suit a modern audience. He beautifully describes his travels, allowing the reader to be sucked into his view, imagining his journey like one of the epics he describes. He is sometimes painfully honest about his feelings and emotions during the journey, especially when talking with refugees of war who have come to Europe for safety, which allows for the plot to focus on Jubber as not only the intrepid hero but also the narrator of his own story.

My only criticism of this wonderfully imaginative and fascinating book is that at times it does feel like Jubber has flown too close to the sun. He sometimes seems to struggle to balance between his own travels and the adventures he wants to connect to through these stories which comes across as confused. If there had been fewer stories he covered it would have been perfect.

Overall, this is a fascinating and entertaining read for anyone who enjoys classic retellings and wants to experience Europe through the eyes of someone who is obviously passionate about storytelling.

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