Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Ancient Girls Kicking Butt


Nobody's Prize Esther Friesner

Helen's back, and this time she's sailing with Jason and the Argonauts as they search for the fabled Golden Fleece. Not only does Helen have to hide herself from the brothers, but hiding her gender is becoming harder and harder as she has to start dealing with the joys of puberty.

I liked this one a smidge more than I like Nobody's Princess. I had hoped this one would cover Helen's life during the Trojan War but, alas, no. It's still a good adventure. I do wish Helen had been able to discover more about Medea and offer some more explanations to her erratice behavoir besides being crazy. I also like that, while, never explicitly discussed, hints in not-at-all subtle ways that some characters are homosexual. It would be weird (and inaccurate) to have an Ancient Greece without any gay characters.

Book Provided by... my local library

Sphinx's Princess Esther Friesner

Following in the same path as her Nobody's Princess and Nobody's Prize, Friesner this time looks at the early life of Nefertiti. Like Helen, Nefertiti is a strong female character. She cajoles a scribe to teach her how to read and write and comes to understand the horrors of slavery. But, when she is brought to the royal palace by her aunt, the queen, Nefertiti realizes that her strength is all she has to survive many court intrigues.

Nefertiti has a common problem of heroines of historical fiction in that she sounds and acts like a modern woman, but in a different time period. This may not be as large of a problem in this case because we know from history that Nefertiti was an uncommon woman. But, another one of my historical fiction pet peeves is there as well. Often, books about the early life of a famous person, the story starts when the narrator is very young, but the narrators observations of the world and voice don't change as the narrator ages. So, Nefertiti at age four sounds the same as Nefertiti at age fourteen and older. The ending was rather abrupt, so I was glad to see that there is a sequel, Sphinx's Queen coming next fall. All that said, while it might not be the greatest work of historical fiction, it was a very enjoyable read, with great intrigue and adventure and I did really like it. Fans of Friesner's stories about Helen of Troy shouldn't be disappointed by her take on Nefertiti.

Book Provided by... my local library

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1 comment:

C.B. James said...

These sound like a fun guilty pleasure sort of read. It is too bad that they decide Medea was crazy. She was anythig but crazy. That's the scary thing about her, well one of them. She lays out a very reasonable arguement for her actions. By the end of the most recent production I saw, I was having a hard time coming up with a reason for her not to do it.