Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Helen of Sparta by Amalia Carosella

Rating 3 out of 5
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing (April 1, 2015)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1477821384
ISBN-13: 978-1477821381

Long before she ran away with Paris to Troy, Helen of Sparta was haunted by nightmares of a burning city under siege. These dreams foretold impending war—a war that only Helen has the power to avert. To do so, she must defy her family and betray her betrothed by fleeing the palace in the dead of night. In need of protection, she finds shelter and comfort in the arms of Theseus, son of Poseidon. With Theseus at her side, she believes she can escape her destiny. But at every turn, new dangers—violence, betrayal, extortion, threat of war—thwart Helen’s plans and bar her path. Still, she refuses to bend to the will of the gods. A new take on an ancient myth, Helen of Sparta is the story of one woman determined to decide her own fate.

I enjoyed reading the Helen of Troy story from Helen's point of view. Historically it is told from a male point of view and makes Helen out to be a femme fatal or a simpering idiot. This book sets out to make her a more realistic character and more then just an object of men's affections.

Which is hard to do when all the stories regarding Helen tell pretty much that story, that she is beautiful and men went crazy over her to posses her. While she does spend a decent part of the book dealing with male advances and hiding, the author has done a good job at making Helen a real person/demi god.

I admit to not being a huge fan of Helen's story nor do I really know much about it beyond the whole "Helen was kidnapped and an epic war was fought- oh there was a wooden pony too" thing. So I was surprised to learn Helen was from Sparta. Which makes me frustrated with her story because at that time in history women of Sparta were pretty bad ass with many freedoms we take for granted in the Western world today.

The book covers Helen's life with Theseus the first kind rumoured to have either kidnapped Helen or Had a genuine romance with Helen. The author went with the true love and Theseus saving the damsel Helen. Theseus was a very likeable character as the older, wiser hero and man. 

The story itself was more focused on the romance side of their life together and took on a Romeo and Juliet doomness feel. Indeed even though Helen was  Queen she pretty much never left the palace and we hardly ever saw her being well Queeny. This could be in part due to the Athenian court but it seemed that no one at court or in Athens seemed concerned the Queen was practically a hermit which was odd.

I enjoyed the history and mythology that went into the story. The author has clearly done a fair bit of research and knew the era and characters quite well. The thin line between mythology and history was well walked. You also didn't need to know much about mythology to read this book as the author does well at explaining the difference between Gods,mortals, and demi gods along with who is who, and you never feel like you have been given a lot of information at once.

The book  did end suddenly. So I can only assume more books are planned as the ending seemed an odd way to end a stand alone book. The whole book did have a "beginning" of the story sort of feel. This probably led to the book being slower paced and more focused on drama and romance then action. I would be interested to read the next books to see how Helen acts when the fur is flying after she is kidnapped by Paris.

Finally it should be noted that the book deals with the issue/topic of rape and infanticide which could be upsetting to some.

This book didn't quite win me over however I would read a second book and I would recomend it to anyone interested in Helen's story or Greek Mythology. Also I think this is a very promising start to a new historical writers career and hopefully she will continue to write more on this period.

No comments:

Post a Comment