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62 of 63 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars rethinking her long-held image as merely a beautiful woman and a passive prize of the Trojan War
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...
Published on June 1, 2007 by Teen Reads

versus
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, but Ending was a Letdown
I really enjoyed the first part of this book. It drew me in quickly and was very interesting. I was worried that as an adult, I wouldn't appreciate this book as much since it's written for young teens, but that ended up not being an issue. It doesn't read like a teen novel typically does. It was really interesting to imagine Helen as a real person and as someone who was...
Published on October 8, 2011 by Amber Lynn


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62 of 63 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars rethinking her long-held image as merely a beautiful woman and a passive prize of the Trojan War, June 1, 2007
By 
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. Soon she is using her new skills (combined with her strong heritage and her intrinsic tenacity) to reshape her world as she sees fit, regardless of what her society might say. Her strong personality continues to grow and take shape right up to the abrupt ending. But stay tuned, since the sequel, NOBODY'S PRIZE, is due to be published in 2008.

In her extensive author's note, Friesner reveals how much of her novel is based on preexisting sources. The answer? Not much, since Helen is rarely mentioned in literature outside of THE ILIAD and a handful of other apocryphal tales, and virtually nothing is known of her early life. This gives Friesner a nearly-blank slate in which to set her tale. That being said, however, the author does ground her story in ancient history, introducing actual customs, details of daily life and political struggles into her narrative.

Helen's story is so compelling that readers will find themselves rethinking her long-held image as merely a beautiful woman and a passive prize of the Trojan War. Instead, in Friesner's exhilarating, thought-provoking retelling, Helen proves that beauty is far more than just skin deep.

--- Reviewed by Norah Piehl
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "This is my kind of Helen!"--Tamora Pierce. That pretty much sums it up for me!!, December 15, 2007
A Kid's Review
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
4.0 out of 5 stars Nobody's Princess, March 30, 2008
This review is from: Nobody's Princess (Princesses of Myth) (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
4.0 out of 5 stars Who might Helen have been?, May 12, 2008
This review is from: Nobody's Princess (Princesses of Myth) (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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars And Another Book Read Reviews, August 1, 2009
This review is from: Nobody's Princess (Princesses of Myth) (Paperback)
Helen is the beautiful princess of Sparta, yet even as a young girl she never acts like your typical princess. While Aphrodite is her favorite goddess, she questions the authenticity of the gods. She would much rather learn the art of the sword with her older brothers than learn how to sew with her twin sister Clytemnestra. Instead of day dreaming about marriage, Helen's mind wanders to dreams of being a hero and fighting till the death. She understands that one day she is to be the Queen of Sparta, but has no interest in it at the present. Finally Helen gets the opportunity to go on a journey, not your typical heroic journey but a journey none the less. She and her brothers are to accompany Clytemnestra to Mykenae for her betrothal to Prince Tantalus. After the wedding feasts she is expected to go home, but then word comes that her mother's sister's kingdom, Calydon, is suffering from a menacing wild boar running around the kingdom. Her brothers know they must go help and Helen convinces them to take her with them - after all she hasn't seen her Aunt in a long while. While in Calydon Helen meets Atalanta, a girl determined to be a hero just like her. The only difference is Atalanta has a lot more experience and everyone knows of her dream of heroism, unlike Helen's whom no one except her brothers and mother know about. After a wild visit in Calydon, Helen's adventures take her to Delphi where she meets the Pythia who prophesizes about the future. What will her future behold? Will she go back to Sparta, or will she be able to realize her dreams?

What a wonderful book! Don't you just love the cover? Esther Friesner did an amazing job combining myth, history, and fiction into one awesome book. Helen is such strong character and knows what she wants. She won't be put down just because she is a girl, which is a characteristic that is phenomenal. Reading about Helen made me realize no matter who we are we can achieve what ever we want as long as we are persistent and believe in ourselves. I have always been a sucker for Greek mythology. Nobody's Princess not only takes the story of Helen, but also ties in tidbits from other myths like Jason and the Argonauts. I liked how these little tidbits were folded in and became part of the story. All in all this was a great book and would recommend it to any girl, or guy, but especially girls because of the feministic message.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful book!, January 27, 2008
By 
DawnFire "Kittycat" (Some Clan or other!) - See all my reviews
This is a really great book, whether or not you like ancient greece. It's the story of young helen of troy and sparta, the face that launched a thousand ships, the most beautiful woman in the world...
But this is before all that. Here you see her grow up until she is 14, where we are left hanging until the next book...
The writing is clear and vivid; it is easy to follow Helen in your mind's eye and see clearly how ancient greece must have been in the eyes of one girl...
A wonderful book. I can hardly wait to read the sequel. 10/10 stars!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, but Ending was a Letdown, October 8, 2011
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I really enjoyed the first part of this book. It drew me in quickly and was very interesting. I was worried that as an adult, I wouldn't appreciate this book as much since it's written for young teens, but that ended up not being an issue. It doesn't read like a teen novel typically does. It was really interesting to imagine Helen as a real person and as someone who was more than just a pretty face.

However, as the novel went on, I felt my interest waning. During her travels, I kept looking forward to when she would go back home because the story was so wonderful and rich while she was in Sparta, but the majority of the book is set in other locations where it just loses something. The ending was so remarkably anti-climatic that I was initially in complete disbelief that it was the end of the book. Granted, there is a sequel, but the first book didn't even end in such a way that I even care about reading the sequel.

Throughout the book, I kept thinking about what the circumstances would be for this Helen to end up married to Menelaus and run away (or be kidnapped) by Paris to start the Trojan War. Unfortunately, it seems clear from the description of the sequel that we will never find those answers, which is a big disappointment to me. I understand the author wanted to tell the story "before" the story that everyone knows, but this ended up feeling like a story about some random girl because I can't seem to match up the Helen from this story with the Helen she supposedly would become. If the author had taken the next step and continued Helen's journey, this would be a much different review.

All in all though, this seems like a great book for young teens. If you happen to be an adult that was drawn in because of the topic though, don't expect to be blown away.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Needs a 'twist' to make Helen stand out from other princesses, May 13, 2011
This review is from: Nobody's Princess (Princesses of Myth) (Paperback)
A conjectured story of the girl who became Helen of Troy, young Helen is beautiful and a princess. Finding out she is destined to become queen of Sparta does not make her haughty, she merely continues in a modern-day sense to exert her independence in things that are frowned on for girls: sword fighting, horseback riding, hunting and dressing as a boy to get out of the spindle, weaving room and on to things that boys do, like being an arms bearer. The author writes down to readers but it's a fair read for those who like historical fiction with Greek myths. Billed as a young adult novel, its issues are not savvy enough to appeal to that audience. The beginning is slow, and Helen trudges through her ages five through ten with an acknowledgement that does not befit a child. The tone of the character neither changes nor matures.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A short and sweet review, March 19, 2010
This review is from: Nobody's Princess (Princesses of Myth) (Paperback)
I grabbed this book and decided to read it based on the cover and after reading the first page.

This is the kind of book where even if you stop reading it for a couple weeks and start again, you'll still remember what's going on. It's level of difficulty would be almost medium. The wide range of characters made the book interesting and fun to read. I think that it would be a good book to do a book report on if you're in middle school (6th-8th grade) but it may be a little to simple for high school+.

I like greek mythology but even if you don't it won't ruin the book for you. There enough mythology to make it interesting but it's not crammed into the book so it's overflowing with it...It's spaced out so it doesn't get annoying or tough to read.

To me, this book is a little forgetable after you finish reading it but I enjoyed it at the time. I recommend you go out and get this book to read :)
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best ever!!!!!!!!!!!, November 22, 2007
A Kid's Review
Exelent book. This book made me want to read the seacond one even before it got out.Really, really great book! I definitly recomend this book to everyone!
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Nobody's Princess (Princesses of Myth)
Nobody's Princess (Princesses of Myth) by Esther M. Friesner (Paperback - March 25, 2008)
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