Genre: Historical Fantasy
Size: 336 pages
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
Release Date: March 25, 2008
Stand Alone or Series: 1st in Princesses of Myth
Rating: 3/5 stars
The premise of this story sounded wonderful. A strong Spartan princess who wants more than just to be a princess, she wants adventure and will buck traditions to get it. I was excited to read this book. Unfortunately the book wasn’t as astounding as I had hoped; the writing is simplistic, the characters two-dimensional and it just wasn’t the exciting book I had hoped for.
Helen is the beautiful and oldest daughter of the Spartan king. She will be Queen when her father passes away. Helen begins to wonder why everyone calls her beautiful and what that means for her position in life. She finally decides that she wants more than the life of a beautiful Queen, she wants adventure. Helen tags along after her brothers in a series of adventures in an effort to discover what she truly wants and how she can make it happen.
This book was a quick read. The premise is spot on with something I would like, but it just didn’t work for me. I loved the idea of Helen’s character but Helen was never filled out well enough to make her seem real. Helen is a brat a lot of the time and many times doesn’t think through her actions and how they will affect those around her; the result is that Helen is a beauty that is short on brains and wisdom (the opposite of what I think she is meant to be portrayed as). I really had trouble finding anything to admire in Helen’s character and this made it hard for me to engage in the story.
The side characters are similar in that they are very stereotypical and two dimensional. The plot goes at a pretty good pace but it is predictable and never really seems to have a purpose. This was a book more about a young girl wandering through her life than a book with any purpose to it. Many of the things that happen with Helen seem very historically improbable and that was a bit annoying too.
The writing style was okay but simple. I approached this as a young adult book but it was written at a much younger level. All the descriptions are there but they aren’t written in a way that really grabs the readers imagination and draws them into the scene. There is no love interest for Helen and there are no people that really help Helen to figure out who she is or what her purpose is.
The ending to the book is non-conclusive and open and doesn’t really resolve anything. Basically everything about this book was mediocre. It is a generic story about a young girl who wants to be more than a princess. As such, this book might appeal to younger girls (middle grade or even younger) and it does send a good message about trying to be who you want to be. There are better stories out there though about similar subjects.
Overall an okay story. Not really offensive and technically well-written, but not incredibly engaging. It is an easy read and seems intended for a younger female audience (middle grade or younger). If you want a more engaging book about a girl trying to break the constraints of being a princess check out Princess Ben instead. I am sure there are oodles of books out there about this subject that are more engaging, such as those by Tamora Pierce. I won’t be reading any more of Friesner’s books in the future.