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KLIATTThis absorbing tale of lust, romance, greed, and betrayal stars Helen of Troy, the woman whose face launched a thousand ships. The story opens when the legendary beauty is a marriageable 12-year-old, with suitors already clamoring for her hand, and relates her subsequent kidnapping by Theseus of Athens, then her passionless arranged marriage to Menelaus, which results in the birth of a daughter. Six years later comes the destiny-changing moment when Helen meets Paris, her equal in both beauty and self-centeredness. Their inevitable romance leads to Helen of Sparta's defection to Troy and the subsequent war that cost both sides countless lives. Through it all, the woman who started the Trojan War emerges as such a sympathetic character that readers will forgive her indiscretions and cheer for her countrymen, even as they pity her spurned husband and abandoned daughter. Historically accurate elements abound, such as the building of the Trojan horse and Cassandra's gift of prophecy, but it is McLaren's fictional embellishments, such as the unlikely friendship between Helen and Cassandra, that enliven the tale. Subtle textual reminders help even the most reluctant reader discriminate between a potentially confusing cast of characters, making this a winner for middle schoolers and up. Just for fun as well as a classroom gem for students and teachers of Greek myth. KLIATT Codes: JSA*—Exceptional book, recommended for junior and senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 20??, Simon & Schuster, Pulse, 208p., . Ages 12 to adult.