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Nobody's Princess (Princesses of Myth) Paperback – March 25, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

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
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


“This is my kind of Helen!”–Tamora Pierce

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Series: Princesses of Myth
  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers; Reprint edition (March 25, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375875298
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375875298
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 0.7 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (61 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #94,082 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Probably all most of us know about the ancient figure of Helen of Troy is the famous quote about "the face that launched a thousand ships." In NOBODY'S PRINCESS, Esther Friesner, a prolific and well-respected fantasy writer, fearlessly takes on the formidable task of turning Helen into a flesh-and-blood girl, with her own hopes, dreams and ambitions.

In Friesner's take on ancient tales, Helen is a Bronze Age princess of the brave, warlike Spartan people. Destined to be queen (the Spartan succession was matrilineal) and told from an early age that her beauty far outshines that of her sister Clytemnestra, Helen is convinced that there must be more to life than spinning wool, weaving cloth and accepting the hand of a worthy suitor in marriage. In fact, even as a child, Helen exhibits the kind of fierce independence, stubbornness and bravery that will serve her well as queen.

As a young girl, Helen decides three things:

"Even if I was pretty, it wasn't going to be enough to bring me the life I wanted: one where I was free to make choices that mattered, one where people listened to what I had to say.

Aphrodite had the beauty; Zeus had the thunderbolts. Everyone loved Aphrodite, but everyone listened to Zeus.

I'd never get my hands on a thunderbolt, so if I wanted to be free, I'd better find a way to get my hands on the next best thing: a sword."

Through the rest of Friesner's novel, Helen sets out to accomplish these goals. From teaching herself to run as swiftly as a rabbit to obtaining secret sword lessons to receiving hunting training from her mother, Helen is determined to be no ordinary princess.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on December 15, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This is my favorite book! It is well written exciting and funny. I like how the author shows Helen as more then just a pretty face. In this book Helen learns to fight, and ride. She isn't just going to sit around all the time a let everyone else have a the action. No, she is going to go out there and do it for herself! This is a great story for girls of all ages! I would say 12 to adult will like this book!!
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Chelsie Lacny on March 30, 2008
Format: Paperback
This book starts out with Helen as a child, and it's obvious from the very beginning that she's a very questioning girl. She doesn't like her role as princess. As she gets older, what she wants is to be strong. She wants to hunt and train with her brothers, and she never wants to get married. Helen only wants to be a strong queen, instead of sitting inside and acting like a lady.

I really think that Helen is a witty, strong, and manipulative main character. Throughout the book, she is always trying to find ways to get through her dilemas to get what she wants, and more often than not she succeeds. I also think that many readers can relate to her, and she's complex, which I love.

That being said, I still don't think this book was what it could have been. The idea was good, but the whole book fell somewhat short of my expectations. I expected there to be a bit more to it. I know there's going to be a sequel very soon, but I still expected the end to have some sort of closure. The book in it's entirety just seemed kind of dull. I couldn't even tell if there was some sort of specific plotline. Nobody's Princess wasn't bad, by all means, but the writing seemed flat and nothing really jumped out at me to keep reading. Nevertheless, I still plan on reading Nobody's Prize when it comes out.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Anidori-Isilee on May 12, 2008
Format: Paperback
Helen of Sparta, more commonly called Helen of Troy, who possessed the face that launched a thousand ships. But who might she have been before her abduction started the ten year Trojan War? Esther Friesner attempts to find out.

Summarizing this book is pretty much useless since it doesn't really have much of a plot. That's not to say it's boring because it isn't. I really enjoyed it. But it's just one series of adventures after another and seems to be setting up for the sequel, Nobody's Prize, which releases later this month.

This book is about Helen. It's driven by her character and what her character does. Mainly, the action is centered around Helen's determination to be who she is, a girl who hates spinning and loves adventure, nearly impossible in a world where women spin and the men scorn huntresses and female warriors as something unnatural. Helen's not unnatural, though; she's just got attitude.

And she does. Sass and spunk and smarts all rolled into a gangly girl who certainly wouldn't believe you if you told her she'd grow up to be the most beautiful woman in the world and responsible for the start of a war.

If Helen were any less lively, this book would only be so-so. Yes, for the most part, I liked the writing and the descriptions and Helen's escapades were highly amusing. But the other characters...either seemed flat, stereotypical, or were in two chapters and then disappeared for the rest of the book. Yes, this book is a good look at life in Ancient Ancient Greece (as Friesner points out in the afterword, Helen lived during the Bronze Age, almost 2500 years ago, whereas the Greek philosophers and all that stuff were a thousand years after Helen's lifetime), but that's not the draw of this novel. Helen is.
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