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Nobody's Princess by Esther Friesner
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Nobody's Princess (2007)

by Esther Friesner

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7183713,105 (3.7)39
  1. 30
    Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce (Caramellunacy)
    Caramellunacy: Both are stories about a headstrong young woman determined to learn to fight like the boys. Nobody's Princess is an imagining of Helen of Troy's life as a teenager (more tenacity and brains, less vapid beauty) steeped in Greek mythology. Alanna is the first in a fantasy series about a young woman who disguises herself as a boy so that she can be trained as a knight. Both are great girl power reads.… (more)
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» See also 39 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 35 (next | show all)
I really liked a short story by Friesner, "Thunderbolt," and she's apparently expanded that story into this series. Looking forward to reading it!
  wealhtheowwylfing | Feb 29, 2016 |
This is great! ( )
  katieloucks | Feb 26, 2016 |
An historical novel about Helen of Sparta (before she grew up and became Helen of Troy)? Sounded compelling to me! Especially because Sparta is such a fascinating, complex and often-problematic culture.

Unfortunately, I got the impression from this book that it was written as a generic Western-princess-fairytale, the publisher thought it was too bland, and encouraged the author to put a Grecian gloss over the thing. It's still generic and bland - and at no point does it feel like it takes place in Sparta.

Helen is a spoiled brat who reads like a modern pre-teen. She spends most of the book whining.

Helen's big thing is that she wants to train with her brothers, doing physical exercise instead of sitting in the house spinning and weaving with her mother and sisters. Later, she meets an oh-so-unusual horsewoman and has to sneak around to learn to ride, secretly.

Here's in thing: in Sparta, spinning and weaving was done ONLY BY SLAVES. No upper-class Spartan woman did that sort of work, let alone a "princess." And - could we POSSIBLY call the garments worn by Spartan women 'chitons' not 'dresses'? Speaking of clothing, Spartan women frequently did not wear clothing - when they were doing the strenuous exercise and physical training that ALL young Spartans, male and female, participated in. A young Spartan woman would have had a time of it getting OUT of having to exercise, not getting TO exercise. Not only that, but upper-class Spartan women frequently rode horses, bred horses, and owned horses.

OK, I don't mind having preconceptions challenged by a novel. Perhaps the past wasn't like our concepts about it. Open my horizons. Challenge me. But - nothing about this book's setting felt 'Spartan' - or even 'foreign' at all. It was more Ren-Faire Medieval than anything. I have no problem at all with stories that show young women struggling against the sexist expectations of their society.

The problem here, though, is that this ISN'T a Spartan society. It's Our society, with a pseudo-Medieval, pseudo-Greek gloss on it.
The end result was that I felt that this book ends up being the opposite of empowering, because by showing a culture far removed from our own being sexist in so exactly the same ways as our own, instead of showing that sexist stereotypes can be overcome and defeated, it actually reinforces the message that these ideas about women are universal throughout the world and history and therefore are likely true.

Don't get me wrong - I don't demand that every book have an 'empowering' message. But I felt like this one meant to, and it backfired.The reason I like to read historical novels is to feel like I have been transported into another culture, another way of living, another way of seeing the world. Based on those criteria, this book was a complete failure.

It went to the top of my to-read list because I saw the sequel at the discount store, and I was wondering if I should buy it. The answer is "no."
( )
  AltheaAnn | Feb 9, 2016 |
ÛÏNobody‰Ûªs Princess‰Û is a fast paced story about the young Helen of Troy. If I could, I would rate it 3.5 stars. I enjoyed the fact that Helen was a strong, resourceful and independent protagonist despite being a princess and heir to the throne of Sparta. No needle work for her - instead she learns to fight with a spear, hunt deer and boar, and ride a horse. Historical fiction is one of my favourite genre and, while the characters never really developed, this book is still an entertaining read. Will hunt down the sequel. ( )
  HeatherLINC | Jan 23, 2016 |
I liked it for the most part. It was a little easy to read, but it is billed as a teen book and the fact that I don't have as much time as I would like makes me not mind as much. It was interesting to see Esther Friesner's interpretation of Helen as a character and her portrayal of her as a young girl. I liked this portrayal of Helen and thought she was a believable strong female character. ( )
  izzycubs932 | Jul 24, 2015 |
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This book is dedicated to the memory of Elissa Nicole Sullivan. Through her life, she gave an eternal gift of love, Through her art, an enduring legacy of beauty.
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Prologue: When I was four years old, my father, King Tyndareus of Sparta, dedicated a shrine to his favorite goddess, Aphrodite.
Part I, Chapter 1 (A Sacrifice to Artemis): I grew up with the gods all around me.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0375875298, Paperback)

She is beautiful, she is a princess, and Aphrodite is her favorite goddess, but something in Helen of Sparta just itches for more out of life. Not one to count on the gods—or her looks—to take care of her, Helen sets out to get what she wants with steely determination and a sassy attitude. That same attitude makes Helen a few enemies—such as the self-proclaimed "son of Zeus" Theseus—but it also intrigues, charms, and amuses those who become her friends, from the famed huntress Atalanta to the young priestess who is the Oracle of Delphi.

In Nobody's Princess, author Esther Friesner deftly weaves together history and myth as she takes a new look at the girl who will become Helen of Troy. The resulting story offers up adventure, humor, and a fresh and engaging heroine you cannot help but root for.


From the Hardcover edition.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:21 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Determined to fend for herself in a world where only men have real freedom, headstrong Helen, who will be called queen of Sparta and Helen of Troy one day, learns to fight, hunt, and ride horses while disguised as a boy, and goes on an adventure throughout the Mediterranean world.… (more)

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