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review: “nobody’s princess” June 22, 2009

Posted by Katie in reviews.
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Nobody’s Princess by Esther Friesner.
Random House // Paperback // 336 pages.
Reviewed from purchased copy.

Everyone knows the story of Helen of Troy. But no one knows the story of Helen of Sparta, the girl who becomes the face that launched a thousand ships. Friesner draws from classic texts and historical events to weave a tale about the childhood of Helen and her family. Helen is the heir to the throne of Sparta, but she wants to be anything but a princess. She longs to join her brothers and learn to fight. When her wish comes true, Helen packs up with her brothers and set out for an adventure of her own.

This book came highly recommended to me from a few friends and several other YA authors. I’m not a big historical fiction reader, but I’m trying my best to read in genres that I’m not as familiar with this year. I was pleasantly surprised by this book! I really enjoyed the family aspects of the book and parts of it definitely had echoes of Tamora Pierce novels for me.

I thought Helen was spunky and a great narrator. I don’t think I would have stuck around for the entire story if we had had a different narrator. Helen’s determination to change her position really brought me into the story and kept me there. Other characters, however, wound up falling flat for me. I didn’t care about anyone other than Helen and Milo, the servant boy that Helen rescues.

The Greek aspects of the story also were a great draw to me. (Especially after finishing the Percy Jackson series, I was glad to hear about some of my favorite Greek gods and goddesses!) I would pass this book along to readers of Tamora Pierce’s Tortall books gladly, but I won’t find many readers of this book in my library.

SWAN catalog
Esther Friesner




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