Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Nobody's Princess - Esther Friesner

Summary: 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. Unlike her prissy sister, Clytemnestra, she takes no pleasure in weaving and embroidery. And despite what her mother says, she's not even close to being interested in getting married. Instead, she wants to do combat training with her older brothers, go on heroic adventures, and be free to do what she wants and find out who she is.

Not one to count on the gods--or her looks--to take care of her, Helen sets out to get what she wants with determination and an attitude. And while it's the attitude that makes Helen a few enemies (such as the self-proclaimed "son of Poseidon," Theseus), it's also what intrigues, charms, and amuses those who become her friends, from the huntress Atalanta, to the young priestess who is the Oracle of Delphi. (summary from book - image from

My review: I’ve been interested in mythology since I was a young girl. It started with a star lab in the 8th grade where we learned about the origins of the constellations. I was fascinated by all the stories. My interest continued up until a college mythology course when one of my professors starting describing Chaos as the great gaping vagina from which the universe was born. I have to admit that mythology rather lost something for me that day. I couldn’t get the image from my mind. And now, neither will you. Sorry about that.

I thought, perhaps, that this book would renew my interest in the subject so I started reading. At 296 pages, Nobody’s Princess is a fairly easy read about the famous Helen of Troy—before she became the famous Helen of Troy. I don’t know if I could describe it as historical fiction since it has its roots in both Greek history and Greek mythology. There are several mythological characters and historical incidents mixed in, and though I can’t be absolutely certain, it seemed like the book was well researched or, at the very least, written by someone extremely familiar with mythology. Freisner obviously didn’t feel bound to completely mimic the classics and deviated from the standard tale quite enough to make things new and interesting…at first.

I enjoyed the first half of the book, where a young Helen, heir to the throne of Sparta, decides who she wants to become and works hard to achieve her goals. It reminded me a great deal of Tamora Peirce’s Song of the Lioness Series (a childhood, adolescent, and adult favorite of mine). However, toward the end things began to get a little stale. I wish I could say that I really liked this book, but in the end it was just okay. While it had some interesting run-ins with famous Greek heroes and heroines, it didn’t maintain the same level of intensity throughout the book that would entitle it to a higher rating.

My rating: 3 Stars. An okay read. On the plus side, it was entirely suitable for the young adult genre with absolutely no sex or swearing.

Sum it up: A “prequel” to the Helen of Troy saga. I might check the sequel (Nobody's Prize) out from the library, but I won’t be rushing out to buy it any time soon.


Sweet Em said...

As soon as you mentioned mythology I thought of that professor (it was a class taken via TV - so I as a lucky roommate got to participate in the discussion of various deity and their "members"...)

MindySue said...

That's the one! I swear, he was TOTALLY obsessed. I'm so glad we can share that lovely memory together! Good times ;)

zel said...

I LOVE Greek Mythology. So glad I came across this, I'll be checking this book out soon!


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