The unabridged audio version of the Odyssey (Penguin) opens with a brief interlude of eerie music, followed by the voice of Gandalf announcing: “The Odyssey, translated by Robert Fagles, read by Ian McKellan,” and with that, one is caught up in an epic of storytelling. Most readers are familiar with the story of Odysseus’s ten-year return from the Trojan war; along with the Iliad it is a key part of the western canon, but almost all of us have known the story from a print version. Originally, though, the Odyssey was an oral epic, declaimed by trained Greek bards around campfires and in banquet halls: the harrowing adventures of Odysseus—his battles with gods and monsters, his tireless quest for home—were stitched together anew from memory each time it was told. The audio version allows modern readers to experience the story much as its first audiences did: hearing a professional performer read it aloud. This recording was initially released on cassette by Penguin in 1996, the same year that Robert Fagles’s translation of the Odyssey was published (and received excellent reviews). The full thirteen hours of narration on this eleven-disk CD reissue can easily be converted to MP3 format, allowing one to stride along the streets with Odysseus’s heroic deeds ringing in one’s ears. It is stirring stuff, and McKellan recounts the often bloody events of this tale with obvious relish (the blinding of the Cyclops is a particularly vivid episode). Although he had not yet been cast as Gandalf when this project began, one can be forgiven for comparing the two performances: as McKellan tells the story of the Odyssey, one can almost imagine Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings being experienced as an epic of similar magnitude and durability centuries from now.