Monday, October 6, 2008

Nobody's Prize by Esther Friesner

Main Character: Helen, Princess of Sparta
Location: Ancient Greece
Time period: Bronze Age
Genre: YA Fiction, Greek Mythology
Sequel to: Nobody's Princess

This book picks up right where Nobody's Princess left off. Helen, disguised as a boy, and Miles, the slave boy she freed and befriended, are trying to find a way to join the Argonauts and their quest for the Golden Fleece. They stowaway on the ship but it's impossible to stay hidden forever. They are helped by Iolaus, who claims them as his weapons carriers, and Hylas, who is Herakles' weapons carrier. When her own body betrays her female identity, her brothers help her by identifying her as Atalanta. Helen does have a moment where she wonders what Atalanta will think when she hears the stories, which put me in mind of The Misadventures of Maude March.

Esther Friesner continues to offer a differing view of the familiar myths, with the truth behind the legends rather mundane and the heroes braggarts and louts. Can't admit you were defeated by a tribe of women? Say that they were really winged harpies. The clashing rocks? A tribe that rolls boulders down on passing ships. Jason is a bully. Medea is insane (possibly caused by the emotional abuse her father heaps on her.) There is a hint of things to come when Agamemnon and Menelaus appears near the end.

Helen continues to be feistier than usually portrayed, though she is beginning to grow into her role as princess and future queen. She sees that her actions have conseqences and often it is others who get hurt. It would be interesting to see Helen's further adventures.

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