Inside the Walls of Troy

( 17 )

Overview

Two women, one war.
Helen, at age twelve, is not prepared to deal with her famous beauty: to have the face that will launch a thousand ships, kill fifty thousand men, and cause the fall of the world's greatest city. But when she is kidnapped by Theseus of Athens, she begins her journey into womanhood and finds passion strong enough to start the Trojan War.
Cassandra has the gift, or curse, to predict the future. When she forsees the ruin of her...

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Overview

Two women, one war.
Helen, at age twelve, is not prepared to deal with her famous beauty: to have the face that will launch a thousand ships, kill fifty thousand men, and cause the fall of the world's greatest city. But when she is kidnapped by Theseus of Athens, she begins her journey into womanhood and finds passion strong enough to start the Trojan War.
Cassandra has the gift, or curse, to predict the future. When she forsees the ruin of her family and city that Helen's arrival in Troy will cause, she is outraged. Yet she cannot help being drawn to Helen.
As the war rages around them, Helen, the woman who started the conflict, and Cassandra, the one who foresaw it, develop a deep friendship. And through their eyes we see the Trojan War in a fascinating new way.

The events surrounding the famous battle between the Greeks and the Trojans are told from the points of view of two women, the beautiful Helen and the prophetic Cassandra.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Booklist These ancient stories are made as fresh and vivid as any modern tale by the electrifying characters and sensual details.
KLIATT
This 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.
—Jessica Swaim
Children's Literature - Gisela Jernigan
At the beginning of this two-part novel, twelve-year-old Helen of Sparta is already famous for her great beauty, but she would rather ride her horse or play knucklebones with her cousin, Penelope, than fulfill her destiny as the most beautiful woman in the world. Told in the first person, we first identify with Helen as she becomes the unwilling cause of the Trojan War. In part two, we identify with the Trojan princess, Cassandra, who foresees the tragedy that Helen will bring Troy but is won over by Helen's charm and innocence and becomes her friend during the long, terrible years of the Trojan War. The author convincingly retells the myths from a feminist perspective. An epilogue provides historical information on the period and events.
VOYA - Margaret Miles
McLaren uses the points of view of two of the pivotal female characters, Helen and Cassandra, to present the Trojan War from a somewhat different perspective. Helen, who tells the story until she sails away toward Troy, is a cheerful, sunny young girl who never really considers herself a beauty until the legendary hero Theseus kidnaps her for ransom and teaches her to look at herself differently. Even then, she's satisfied with a traditional and unemotional arranged marriage to Menelaus-until Prince Paris of Troy comes to visit. Cassandra, who continues the story, has been troubled for years by visions of future disaster, but has learned in the face of her family's disbelief to keep these premonitions, like her dream of the disaster Helen will bring to Troy, to herself. When Helen finally arrives, however, Cassandra finds herself sometimes unwillingly drawn to her, attracted by both Helen's appealing personality and her position as another outsider in the women's circle. Cassandra's perception of the powerlessness of women in her society, and the other women's refusal to understand this, troubles her as much as her visions. As the war escalates and the women watch death after death from their vantage point on the city walls, the feelings of powerlessness can only increase, until at the end of the war the only victory Cassandra can achieve for her younger sisters and Helen is to see that they survive as the Greeks sack the city. McLaren's novel offers an accessible introduction to the story of the Trojan war, with the added interest of the female perspective. Another distinctive feature of the novel which lends a very modern sensibility is the characters' attitude towards the gods-neither Helen nor Cassandra are really sure they believe most of the stories of divine intervention that they hear, and Paris clearly exploits such tales to his own self-serving advantage. As a result, the book's mood is predominantly historical rather than mythological, in contract to the dark and overt magic present in H. M. Hoover's The Dawn Palace (Dutton, 1988) or the fairy-tale atmosphere of Doris Orgel's The Princess and the God (Orchard, 1996). Helen, rather than the more obviously dramatic Cassandra, is the character who comes across the most strongly. McLaren succeeds particularly well in conveying the "innocence [and] capacity for joy" which she describes in her Author's Epilogue as part of her conception of Helen's appeal. This Epilogue is another of the book's strengths, briefly but clearly discussing the variant stories in different classical sources and explaining the novelist's reasons for choosing some options or interpretations over others. Inside the Walls of Troy provides a good next step for readers who have become intrigued by a basic retelling of the Iliad; older YAs who enjoy this novel may want to continue with Marion Zimmer Bradley's The Firebrand (Simon & Schuster), which uses Cassandra's story to examine the conflict between male- and female-dominated religious traditions in the Greek world. VOYA Codes: 4Q 2P M J S (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses, For the YA with a special interest in the subject, Middle School-defined as grades 6 to 8, Junior High-defined as grades 7 to 9 and Senior High-defined as grades 10 to 12).
School Library Journal
Gr 8-10What was it like to be the beauteous Helen of Troy, or to be Cassandra, the unappreciated visionary? This novel tries to offer some answers. It begins in the mind of 12-year-old Helen, abducted (but chastely treated) by Theseus, sought after by a dozen contentious suitors, married lovelessly to Menelaus, and finallythe only act in which she has not been completely passiveenthralled by passion in the form of Paris. If Helen, the victim of her own beauty and rank, is not exactly a heroine, Paris is far from a hero. He, too, is passive, blaming his actions on the will of the gods (particularly, Aphrodite), and is fonder of love and his own looks than he is of battle. Fortunately, almost two thirds of the novel is given to Cassandra. Her description of Helen as "bone sweet" does not, however, conform to the Helen we have met in Part I. Of course many readers will know the outcome of the story, but the accounts of battles, negotiations and stratagems, seen from within Troy, still manage to be suspenseful, and the ending is particularly deft. The writing is competent but not especially vivid and too often predictable; there is some clumsy exposition. Little differentiates the voice of Cassandra from the voice of Helen: both are misfits in their world, but their speech and thoughts lack individual identity. Nevertheless, the novel is carefully structured, there are some interesting historical details, and the idea of a woman's-eye view of The Iliad would seem timely. If this novel manages to introduce even a few more readers to the world of the ancient Greeks, it will be worth its shelf space.Patricia (Dooley) Lothrop Green, St. George's School, Newport, RI
Kirkus Reviews
A retelling of the Trojan War from the point of view of Helen and Cassandra never catches fire in this first novel.

The story is told in the first person, in Helen's voice in part one, Cassandra's in part two. All the familiar names are present: the strutting, moody Achilles; steady Odysseus; winsome Penelope; and Paris, whose promise from Aphrodite starts it all. McLaren portrays Helen as "bone sweet"—as lovable as she is beautiful—and Cassandra as tormented physically and emotionally by her visions of the future. Nearly all the action takes place offstage or in exposition, and the relationships among all the women, which are at the heart of the tale, are not fully realized or complete. Readers will be more engaged by these powerful Greek myths in Paul Fleischman's Dateline: Troy

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780689873973
  • Publisher: Simon Pulse
  • Publication date: 8/31/2004
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 208
  • Sales rank: 164,898
  • Age range: 12 - 17 Years
  • Lexile: 900L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 4.19 (w) x 7.00 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 17 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 17 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 19, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    such a big mistake!

    The story was boring and exciting at first until I read a paragrasph cassanadra was having a picnic with helen and her cousin achilles was on top of the hill passionatley looking at her cousin.This author has the
    audacity to be an author on ancient greece and doesnt know that achilles had no eyes for any other women but briseis.This such a big mistake!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 11, 2008

    I was bored so I cheated and read the epolouge!

    I thought this book was alright. But it wasnt that exciting.It didnt grab me like other books. Its basically about Helen of Troy and Cassandra telling their own storys. But it was just alright. I just hope her other books are better than the one I just read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 14, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Pretty Good

    I had to read this for summer reading. It was a pretty good book. The characters were fantastic! And even though it was realistic fiction, it didn't seem like a boring retelling of the Troy story. It offered a different outlook on what really happened during the destruction of Troy. I got really attached to the people, but sometimes the plot was a little confusing. It also didn't leave me thinking about how it related to me. But overall, it was still really well written, and a good summer reading book!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 28, 2007

    Trojan War, Remarkable!

    I don't know how to explain this book! It is just so interesting and wonderful! Helen, the most beautiful woman who ever walked the earth and Cassandra the one who sees the future are very realistic! And let's not forget about Achilles and Hector and Paris! I love this book and I wish you keep writing more about the Trojan War Clemence McLaren!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 15, 2006

    Inside the Walls of Troy

    This book was amazing. If you are interested in the captivating story of Troy, you would love this book. It gives a different perspective than most fiction books telling of Troy's down fall. It gives a woman's perspective. First, Helen gives her story of her kidnapping by the great hero Theseus, of all her perspective suiutors and eventually getting taken to Troy. As Helen arrives in Troy, the story is told from Cassandra's, a princess of Troy, point of view. With her ability to foretell some of the future and her inside look on all of Troy's troubles, I found this book VERY hard to put down.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 30, 2004

    Beautifully Written

    This is one of the most beautifully written books that I had ever read in my life. It should be named as a classic! A sweet book to be enjoyed by young and old.(Not too young though). But it is quite sad, but, that's the way the story goes.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 24, 2004

    Inside the Walls of Troy

    I loved this book! i thought it had a really interesting side to it. I liked that Helen was normal...ish. In other books she is either horrible or way to perfect. It was a great book

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 21, 2002

    I love this book

    I loved this book. Since i have always wondered what the woman thought, this book was great. I especially loved it when The Trojan prince hector was written about. I couldn't stand it when he died.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 25, 2001

    great book

    inside the walls of troy is one of my favorite books! it helped me start writing books for myself!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 11, 2001

    Awesome Book!!!

    This amazing book tells perfectly the tale of the epic Trojan War. Usually books about The Trojan War are about the men but this story is from two fasinating womans point of veiws. This book grabs you right away when in the very first chapter Helen Of Troy is captured. Read this book!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 10, 2000

    Outstanding history

    When I sat down to read this book at6:00 PM i did not stop reading till 12:00AM I love history this book was outstanding.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 30, 2000

    I will never forget this book

    I love this book. You get a very interesting view. It has a lot to do with the Iliad.

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    Posted May 30, 2009

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    Posted January 10, 2009

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    Posted January 13, 2009

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    Posted October 17, 2009

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    Posted February 24, 2009

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