Random House, 2008 (2008)
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Reviewed by Hilary Williamson
is a sequel to
, in which Esther Friesner introduced readers to Princess Helen of Sparta. In that first story, the author led us through Helen's childhood and coming of age; her insistence on participating in her brothers' warrior training; a journey to Mykenae where famed huntress Atalanta mentored her; her friendship with slave boy Milo whom she freed; and her journey to Delphi, where the Pythia helped her fulfill a dream, to secretly join her brothers, Polydeuces and Castor, who are about to embark with Jason on his quest for the Golden Fleece.
opens, Helen (posing as Glaucus) and Milo reach Iolkos by fishing boat. There, Jason's Argo is about to embark. They meet Herakles' nephew Iolaus who recognizes Helen but is persuaded to take them both aboard as his weapons bearers. Iolaus and Herakles' handsome weapons bearer Hylas (of whom Milo is jealous at first) persuade the other Argonauts to help keep their presence on the ship from Polydeuces and Castor. We see Jason and his crew's adventures through Helen's eyes, and it becomes clear how storytelling can exaggerate ordinary encounters and skirmishes into extraordinary myths - indeed Orpheus tells Helen that '
plain truth makes a poor song.
' And her eyes are opened in other ways when Milo tells her why he is no longer jealous of Hylas, and Herakles pursues her, seeing her as '
fter Helen's entry into womanhood is recognized by villagers, her sex is revealed but she still hides her identity (from all but her brothers) by pretending to be her friend Atalanta. In Colchis, she barely survives the irrational jealousy of a crazed Medea, who has set her sights on Jason, and ends up leaving with Milo on a merchant ship to Athens. There, she's imprisoned by cruel Theseus who wants her for his bride. But Helen of Sparta is
. After a clever escape plan takes her to Mykenae, she reunites with family and with someone else very dear to her. The book ends as Helen receives a message from the Pythia about what's ahead for her, but muses, '
My future ... May the choices that create it all be mine!
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