Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Nobody's Prize

Title: Nobody’s Prize
Category: Historical
Grades: 8-12
Author: Esther Friesner
Publisher: Random House
Date: 2008
Pages: 306

Disguised as a boy, Helen, and her faithful servant Milo sneak aboard the Argo to sail with Jason and his men in search of the Golden Fleece.  As the crew sets sail on their adventure, Helen has her hands full with adventures of her own: avoiding discovery by her brothers and the crew, flirting with Herakles’s weapons bearer, and keeping up with her tasks for Iolaus, who knows who she really is.  After the onset of womanhood leads to her discovery, she takes on the role of Atalanta, the warrior woman instead, and unwillingly ends up in a struggle with Medea for Jason’s affections.

Friesner weaves together several historical ideas and myths in this sequel to Nobody’s Princess.  Readers familiar with or interested in Greek mythology will particularly appreciate the “historical” explanation of the Golden Fleece, along with the insight into Medea’s younger years.  Helen continues to be a joy, a vibrant young woman easy to like and be in sympathy with as a reader.  However, readers expecting a tale leading Helen to Troy and the eventual infamous conflict will be disappointed.  While Friesner accomplishes many good things, the tale ends rather abruptly and wanders somewhat without clear purpose, particularly once Helen has left the Argo. A decent read, but not Friesner’s best work.


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