Nobody's Prize by Esther Friesner

Determined to become a beauty, raised to be a queen, young Helen of Sparta refuses to be left behind when her older brothers enlist in the quest for the Golden Fleece—why should boys get to have all the fun? Accompanied by her friend, the ex-slave Milo, and disguised as a boy herself, Helen sets out to join the crew of heroes aboard the fabled ship the Argo.

Helen soon faces all sorts of danger and intrigue. She must use her wits to avoid her brothers' detection, even as a devastatingly handsome boy catches her eyes and brash, boisterous Herakles (Hercules) falls in love with her boy-self. In pursuit of the Fleece, Helen faces warrior women, deadly prophecies, and a terrifying, murderous princess. Not to mention the start of her period....

With her beauty blossoming, Helen's journey takes her beyond the mythology of the Golden Fleece, across the seas of the ancient world to Athens, where her very future as Queen of Sparta is threatened. 

The sequel to the amazing Nobody's Princess does not disappoint. It's adventurous, mythical proportions are greatly balanced and Oh Gods, what a magnificent plot! Helen of Troy (before she was the face that launched a thousand ships) returns as the heroic and fearless girl which everyone's rooting for.

I found this book to have more action than the first, so therefore it's more exciting. We get introduced to several famous Greek Mythical characters, including Herakles, Jason, Medea and even Orpheus. Esther Friesner takes on the myth of the Golden Fleece and turns it into a fantastic story, with humor, danger and adventure. However, this book does include some homosexuality as Helen is dressed as a boy it brings the attention of some of the other crew mates. But whatevs. Amazing book by any standards.

I found that many people argue that the first book was better than this one. I on the other disagree. I find this one more interesting, but maybe that's because I like the story of Jason and the Golden Fleece much better than some other stories. I really found Medea as a character quite sly and cunning as she's made out to be, as well as murderous, crazy and obsessive. Friesner portrays characters as they should seem, the proud heroes, the soft spoken musician and a murderous princess, what a cast of characters! Seems like it should be made into a movie.

And when Helen leaves the Argo, I was thinking, "wait a can it be over? why are there so many pages still left over?" and I found that her and Milo's journey hadn't ended. Helen and Milo end up in Athens and then Helen is taken hostage by Theseus and forced to marry him (which thank the gods, she doesn't). Milo (spoiler) is then "killed" and when that happened I was like, "WHAT? How could they do that?" but then I thought it was a rather short time for the author to write about his "death", so I knew he'd come back! I thought though that Helen would be with Milo, but nope, not the ending that was meant to be. The thing about this book is that, if you've read your Greek Myths right, you know what's gonna happen by the end. Medea gets left behind on an island when Jason "takes" her back to Athens (is it?) and Helen marries (doesn't say in the book though) King Menelaus who she meets at the end of the book. Predictable, but still worth the read, absolutely.

It's rather sad how this series ends, I was hoping for maybe more on the Trojan War etc., but Esther Friesner left it at a good stopping point. I just finished reading Sphinx's Princess another fabulous series by Esther Friesner, looking at the life of Nefertiti, and the review should be coming up soon!

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