She is beautiful, she is a princess, and Aphrodite is her favorite goddess, but something in Helen of Sparta just itches for more out of life. Not one to count on the gods—or her looks—to take care of her, Helen sets out to get what she wants with steely determination and a sassy attitude. That same attitude makes Helen a few enemies—such as the self-proclaimed “son of Zeus” Theseus—but it also intrigues, charms, and amuses those who become her friends, from the famed huntress Atalanta to the young priestess who is the Oracle of Delphi.
In Nobody’s Princess, author Esther Friesner deftly weaves together history and myth as she takes a new look at the girl who will become Helen of Troy. The resulting story offers up adventure, humor, and a fresh and engaging heroine you cannot help but root for.
Helen of Sparta is a feisty, beautiful young princess who is doted upon by her family, even though her determination to be independent and hunt and fight like her brothers creates various awkward, even dangerous situations for everyone. Using the mythical character of Helen of Troy as inspiration, Friesner focuses on Helen’s youth, before she became “the face that launched a thousand ships.” In an epilogue, Friesner discusses the historical facts and classical texts that she drew from to imagine Helen’s childhood. The resulting novel is a fascinating portrait of a spoiled child who uses her wily ways and privileges to learn how to use a sword, track and kill game, ride a horse, and bargain for a slave’s freedom. Along the way, Friesner skillfully exposes larger issues of women’s rights, human bondage, and individual destiny. It’s a rollicking good story all the way to the abrupt conclusion, which will leave readers crying out for a sequel.
- Frances Bradburn
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