Nobody’s Princess: Helen of Troy is a spoiled brat

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Nobody’s Princess is the story of Helen of Troy as a young woman. Because the world knows who she is as an adult, but there is no record of her childhood, Esther Freisner presents us with a determined, independent woman who wants to learn how to fight like her older brothers and go on adventures and see the world.

The story kind of meanders along following Helen’s realization that she is beautiful and her decision that she wants to be more than just a pretty face. She learns how to fight with a sword and bow and arrow, and later to ride a horse.

My biggest problem with Nobody’s Princess is that Helen isn’t very interesting. She’s in a position of privilege but wants freedom to make choices that are typically not given to females. However, her quest for freedom never seems to reach out very far beyond her own personal interests. In much of the book she comes across as a spoiled brat.

I normally enjoy historical fiction, but Helen seems like a modern female put in a historical setting. I never felt like she really inhabited the world around her, perhaps because there were never serious consequences for breaking societal norms. Friesner’s Helen may have been more typical of a Classical Spartan woman, but she is a jarring presence in a Bronze Age Greece.

While young girls may enjoy this story of a feisty Helen, I felt bored the entire time. The book came to an end, but not a resolution, and even with the open ending and obvious sequel in the offing, I will not be picking up the next volume in the series.

Princesses of Myth — (2007-2014) These are duologies about historical princesses. Publisher: Readers who love strong girl-centric adventures are eating up Esther Friesner’s Princesses of Myth books, finding the mash-up of historical fiction and fantasy adventure irresistible!

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RUTH ARNELL (on FanLit's staff January 2009 — August 2013) earned a Ph.D. in political science and is a college professor in Idaho. From a young age she has maxed out her library card the way some people do credit cards. Ruth started reading fantasy with A Wrinkle in Time and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe — books that still occupy an honored spot on her bookshelf today. Ruth and her husband have a young son, but their house is actually presided over by a flame-point Siamese who answers, sometimes, to the name of Griffon.

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