Tender, compelling… A dazzling tale.
History, myth, intrigue, and long-buried secrets mark this beautifully told tale by Fritsch that takes readers into two orphans’ search for answer to Helen’s elopement with the Trojan prince, Paris. Helen and her older sister, Clytemnestra, have spent their childhood in an orphanage until the handsome, gentle Menelaus spotted Helen working in the orphanage. The girls soon come to work and live in the palace. With Menelaus’s intention to marry Helen once he turns eighteen, Clytemnestra begins to work on her plan of marrying into the royal family herself. Her dream soon comes true after Agamemnon, rejected by Helen decides to marry the older sister. As the day of Helen and Menelaus’s wedding approaches, the things take a drastic turn and Helen elopes with Paris, the endearing Trojan prince, bringing a great war to Troy’s doorsteps. Orphaned in the war, the teens Lukas and Timon seek answers to their questions as Helen visit them in the orphanage. Fritsch’s extraordinary storytelling abilities shine as he brings to life the larger-than-life heroes and villains of Trojan war mythology: his portrayal of Agamemnon’s political ambition, Hector’s obliviousness to impending danger, the ill-fated duel between Hector and Patroclus, the showdown between Achilles and Hector, the tragic death of Paris all are evoked with skill and passion, as are individual struggles and personal conflicts. Helen as a greatly torn woman who loved two men with equal passion is as authentic as she is as a legendary figure whose beauty and personal choices had tragic consequences of epic scale. This is a romanticized Helen though: compassionate, caring, sentimental, and self-sacrificial. Fritsch is at his strongest when he portrays Helen as the gentle compassionate royal who makes it her life purpose to help the less fortunate orphans. The compassion and empathy Helen convey is authentic, and despite her obvious faults, readers cannot help but fall in love with her. The great mythic war between Trojans and Greeks is portrayed with skill and precision and rings true to the period without verging on exaggerated or melodramatic. The first-person narrative told in Helen and Timon’s voices is engrossing, and the continuous surprising reveals keeps the reader invested throughout. The skillfully evoked era and meticulously researched period details, combined with the crisp, straightforward prose and smoothly paced narrative make for a page-turning story pulsing with romance, sacrifice, conspiracies, betrayals, and battles. Lovers of Greek mythology and historical fiction won’t want to miss this one.
By Ron Fritsch
Pub date December 17, 2020
Price $9.99 (USD) Paperback, $3.01 Kindle edition
Categories: Historical fiction