Nobody's Prize (Princesses of Myth Series)

Nobody's Prize (Princesses of Myth Series)

4.3 180
by Esther Friesner

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In this rousing sequel to Nobody’s Princess, young Helen of Sparta is not about to be left behind when her older brothers head off to join the quest for the Golden Fleece. Accompanied by her friend Milo, and disguised as a boy herself, Helen sets out to join the crew of heroes aboard the massive ship known as The Argo.

Helen quickly faces all sorts of

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In this rousing sequel to Nobody’s Princess, young Helen of Sparta is not about to be left behind when her older brothers head off to join the quest for the Golden Fleece. Accompanied by her friend Milo, and disguised as a boy herself, Helen sets out to join the crew of heroes aboard the massive ship known as The Argo.

Helen quickly faces all sorts of danger. There are battles to be fought, as well as an encounter with a terrifying murderous princess. With her beauty blossoming, Helen’s journey takes her beyond the mythology of the Golden Fleece to Athens, where her very future as Queen of Sparta is threatened.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Monserrat Urena
This novel is the sequel to Nobody's Princess. It finds the young Helen of Sparta following her older brothers on the quest for the Golden Fleece. They do not know she is tagging along; she and her friend Milo are in disguise. Together, they begin an amazing quest filled with danger and unexpected experiences. A novel with a cross-dressing, future Helen of Troy? It sounds interesting, right? At points in this sequel, I was pulled into the idea of an adventure. But the feeling never came to fruition. Despite this, I cannot say that I entirely disliked the text. Unfortuately, I cannot say that I liked it either. While it was in my hands, the book was interesting enough. The slightest distraction, however, and I would forget it. Still, if you are interested in reading a modern interpretation of a figure in Greek mythology, this might be an option. If you are interested in reading a text with a strong-willed heroine, this might be an option. If you do choose to read this book, be warned: There will be times when your previous understanding of Helen of Troy will clash with the heroine in this book. Reviewer: Monserrat Urena
AGERANGE: Ages 11 to 18.

The future Helen of Troy continues her adolescent adventures in this sequel to Nobody's Princess (Random House, 2007/VOYA October 2007). Helen is eager to follow her older brothers as they join Jason in his quest for the Golden Fleece, but of course, young women are not invited on that particular journey. Helen, however, has some experience in posing as a boy, which she puts to practical use in her plans, accompanied by her friend, the ex-slave Milo. Helen's intelligence and daring help to conceal her true identity as she tangles with the men of Greek myths, such as Herakles and Argus. She even falls in love, but ironically the subject of her desire turns out to be more interested in boys. Her true gender is revealed in a scene that will surely rival any true stories about the onset of menstruation. The book ends before Helen's most famous exploits, promising readers further volumes to anticipate. Friesner is an accomplished writer who is able to interweave a contemporary feel for these ancient characters with pieces of history and mythology. She can also be funny, as readers can virtually feel Helen rolling her eyes during the course of her narration. It is possible for readers to begin with this book for there are surprisingly few references to incidents in the earlier installment. But it is surely best enjoyed as part of a series, and libraries with the first book will want to make sure fans get their second helping. Reviewer: Diane Colson
April 2008 (Vol. 31, No. 1)

AGERANGE: Ages 12 to 18.

The princess is Helen. It’s the Bronze Age, and Helen is having another adventure before she has to settle down and get married. She decides to disguise herself as a boy and get on the Argo and sail with Jason (of the Golden Fleece quest). With her is the devoted servant/friend Milo, who tries to save her from whatever peril she faces. Milo cares about Helen a great deal. Helen’s brothers are also on the Argo, sailing with Jason, but they don’t know for some time that Helen is on board too. As the narcissistic Jason sails on, trying to increase his heroic standing, several unfortunate romances ensue. For instance, Hercules (yes, that Hercules) sees Helen’s boy self and gets a crush on her/him. At the end of this series of adventures, reunited with her family as Helen’s twin sister Clytemnestra is now a queen, married to Agamemnon, Helen looks at herself in a mirror and realizes she is growing up, and that she is a woman too. The man lurking in the scene, presenting the mirror, is Prince Menelaus. If you know your Homer, you’ll know where Helen’s fate lies. Friesner has a Ph.D. from Yale University, and she clearly is gifted at weaving myth, history, and adventure into an exciting YA novel. Reviewer: Claire Rosser
March 2008 (Vol. 42, No.2)

School Library Journal

Gr 6-9- In this sequel to Nobody's Princess (Random, 2007), the future Helen of Troy and her friend, the former slave Milo, join Prince Jason and the Argonauts on the quest to gain the Golden Fleece. Helen, disguised as a boy, is faced with trying to keep her identity secret from her brothers, who have also joined the quest. Her true gender is revealed when she gets her first period, so she claims to be the warrior Atalanta, a figure from the first book. When the crew of the Argo reaches Colchis, Helen meets Princess Medea, presented as a sinister and scheming figure. As Helen travels back to Sparta, she is captured by Theseus of Athens, who wants to marry her, and she needs to use both her strength and her wits to escape. Readers familiar with legends about Jason and Helen will enjoy finding familiar adventures and themes, while readers new to these myths will appreciate Friesner's detailed vision of ancient Greece. Characters are given depth and flaws, such as Jason's self-centeredness and Herakles's stretching the truth. Details about food and customs of the time are woven into the story. Helen's determination to choose her own future will resonate with modern teens, who will also appreciate her resourcefulness and determination to help those who help her. A solid choice for fans of Rick Riordan's "Percy Jackson and the Olympians" books (Hyperion/Miramax).-Beth L. Meister, Pleasant View Elementary School, Franklin, WI

Kirkus Reviews
Continuing the saga begun in Nobody's Princess (2007), a fictional Helen (of Homeric fame) goes on the quest for the Golden Fleece with Jason and the Argonauts, disguised initially as a weapons carrier. When her gender is discovered, she pretends instead to be Atalanta, the famous huntress. Events proceed as in the myth (the Isle of Lemnos, the Harpies, Medea, etc.), though this version is purposefully mundane. As in the first book, Helen is a spunky tomboy who just wants to be herself, a thoroughly modern character borne of the reading public's current fascination with Greek mythology and the Princess Diaries phenomenon. The story lacks narrative tension or character development, as Friesner simply overlays this conceit upon set events which seem to unfold as if preordained, never taking the reader anywhere beyond this rather limited expose of certain Greek myths. This is certainly not the last in the series, which will have its fans. Anyone needing another strong-female-character-with-a-sword series will enjoy it, but it is only mildly accomplished and strongly forgettable. (Fiction. 11-14)

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Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Princesses of Myth Series
Product dimensions:
5.80(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.30(d)
840L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

Nobody's Prize

By Esther Friesner Random House Books for Young Readers Copyright © 2008 Esther Friesner
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780375975318

I stood in the bow of the little fishing boat and gazed at the glittering city high on the bluff ahead. Even so late in the day, with the sun setting and the early summer light fading from the sky, I could see how tall the palace walls stood. I marveled at how many buildings clustered at their feet. Only the richest cities were so crowded with houses and shops and temples.

Iolkos! I thought happily. It must be Iolkos. After so many days’ sail from Delphi, the gods grant it’s no place else. My heart beat faster as I scanned the harbor that lay in the shadow of the citadel, seeking one special ship among all the rest. Where was it? Where was the vessel that would carry me off to adventure? Was it that one, with the almond-shaped eye painted in red just above the prow? Or that one, with a swarm of men busily at work, taking down its blue-bordered sail? Where was my ship, the ship Prince Jason was going to sail to the farthest shores of the Unfriendly Sea, the ship of heroes who would dare anything to fulfill the quest for the Golden Fleece? Where was the Argo?

“There she stands, lads, Iolkos!” the fisherman called out to Milo and me from his place at the steering oar, confirming my hopes. “And less than a day’s sail away.” He winked at me when he said“lads,” and I grinned back. Though I wore a boy’s tunic and my skin was deeply tanned from our voyage, I was no more a lad than that man’s daughter.

The fisherman knew my true name and rank—Helen, princess of Sparta, Lord Tyndareus’s heir, Queen Leda’s daughter—but I’d spent so much of our voyage from Delphi teaching him to call me “Glaucus,” the boy’s name I’d chosen for myself, that it came to his tongue naturally. He’d keep my secret. The real question was whether I could do the same. My brothers, Castor and Polydeuces, waited behind the walls of Iolkos, waited to sail with Prince Jason on his quest for the Golden Fleece. I intended to join them on that quest, but for that to happen they must not recognize me as their sister or my adventure would be over before it began.

I leaned as far forward from the prow as I could without toppling out into the waves. Sea spray was cool and salty on my lips. There was a fine breeze filling our sail, and the sky swirled with squawking gulls. Soon we’d land, and I’d put the next step of my plan into action.

I wasn’t the only one in a hurry. “Is it true?” Milo exclaimed eagerly, scrambling to stand beside me. “Are we there at last?” My friend was not the world’s happiest sailor.

“Soon enough,” the fisherman said. “Tomorrow morning.” He leaned against the steering oar and turned our boat’s nose toward the shore.

“ ‘Tomorrow’?” I echoed. “Why not today?”

The fisherman chuckled. “You know the answer to that.”

So I did. “Always keep the shore in sight,” I recited dutifully. While I’d spent our voyage from Delphi teaching the fisherman to call me by a boy’s name, he’d spent it teaching me the basics of sailing. “A strayed boat’s a doomed boat.”

“And—?” he prompted.

“And only owls and foxes can see in the dark,” I went on. “The wise sailor beaches his boat by dusk.”

“Good. Now come here and show me what else you’ve learned.” He stood to one side and patted the steering oar that guided our little vessel.

“You want me to beach us?” I could hardly believe it. I’d never expected such a privilege. My father could buy a dozen great ships with the oil from just one season’s olive harvest, but for the fisherman this lone little boat was his entire existence, his livelihood, his only way back home.

“Are you sure?” I asked.

“I know this shore. It’s friendly enough. Go on, steer us. I’ll mind the sail, but I’ll step in if I see you doing something wrong.”

I said a prayer to Poseidon as I took the steering oar with both hands and braced my bare feet against the boat’s sun-warmed hull. I leaned against the long wooden oar and felt the power of the waves pushing back against me. There wasn’t much resistance, just enough for me to feel the message of the sea: I am immortal, endless, stronger and wilder than a thousand bulls. If you think that you’ve tamed me because you’ve made me carry you where you want to go, you’re a fool. Respect me, or pay for your pride.

Yes, Lord Poseidon, I thought as I turned the boat toward shore. I hear. I know. I ask your blessing.

The god answered in his own way, by letting me beach the boat without much trouble. When I felt the bottom grate along the sand and pebbles, I took a deep breath of relief.

Milo was the first to leap from the boat. “I’ll make the fire!” he called out, racing away to gather bits of wood.

“Helpful, isn’t he?” the fisherman remarked as we dragged the boat a safe distance onto the beach.

“He’d volunteer to kill a dragon if it meant he’d have solid ground under his feet,” I replied.

After Milo got the fire started, we cooked some red mullet we’d caught and ate them along with the last of the bread and cheese we’d bartered for at a small village two days’ voyage south. I was convinced that I’d be too excited to eat or sleep that night. My mind rang with Iolkos! Iolkos! Iolkos! My body had other ideas. I gobbled up every bit of food in front of me and my eyes closed as soon as my head touched the ground.

That night, my dreams were strange and terrifying. I was back in the forests of Calydon, once more running with the hunt for the monstrous boar that was ravaging the land. The beast rushed out of the darkness the same way that he’d come when I’d helped the great huntress Atalanta meet his attack.

In my dream I stood alone.

From the Hardcover edition.


Excerpted from Nobody's Prize by Esther Friesner Copyright © 2008 by Esther Friesner. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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