Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Nobody's Princess, Esther Friesner

Nobody's Princess (Nobody's Princess, #1)
When I was four years old, my father, King Tynadareus of Sparta, dedicated a shrine to his favorite goddess, Aphrodite. 

Nobody's Princess was an interesting MG/YA book. I don't normally think of Helen as a sympathetic character, but in this one, she is. "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." Nobody's Princess is set when Helen is a child, before the war of Troy is fought over her. 

I've always thought that Helen was a rather selfish character. She thoughtlessly runs away with Paris, and a brutal war is fought over her. But this book offered a new perspective, telling of her childhood. And in Nobody's Princess, I enjoyed Helen. She's determined, and she wants to be more than just a figurehead. She wants to be able to fend for herself. From her brothers' teacher, she learns basic sword-fighting, and then later, from the huntress Atalanta, she learns horseback riding. It seemed a bit unrealistic that horseback riding would be so difficult for Helen. But perhaps ancient Greek saddles don't have stirrups, which would make it really hard to ride. My favorite character was definitely Atalanta; I admired her so much. 

The writing in Nobody's Princess isn't super sophisticated or anything (far from it), but this is a really entertaining book, recommended to me by my cousin. I finally got around to it, and was not disappointed. I will say though that the book is written in a really modern style, so it's not at all realistic. And I still think that Helen is somewhat of a selfish person. Later on, she is really selfish. Of course, there are many different theories there; did Paris abduct her? What really happened? Just doing a tiny bit of research, one can see that there are all sorts of different versions of Helen's story. Nobody's Princess is more of a book that you would read for fun, and the portrayal of Helen probably wasn't right at all. But...

Regardless, Nobody's Princess was an entertaining (if not accurate) read. I would recommend it. 

Read Nobody's Princess:
  • if you like books based upon Greek mythology
  • if you like fantasy 
296 pages. 
Very Good! I would recommend this book!

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