Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Nobody's Princess

Many grow up on Greek mythology and Homer’s epics if they’re from a household of bibliophiles. I was one of those little girls who stood in front of my mirror and pondered, will I ever look like Helen? Cinderella was ever the afterthought. But as I grew out of my princess phase I maintained a fascination with all things Greek and with the immortal creatures of legend, whether made that way by birth or beauty.

Nobody’s Princess by Esther Friesner is the excellent antithesis to Helen’s centuries of girly-girl portrayal. The Spartan princess is shown as stubborn, fierce, witty, and awkward. This novel gives an insight to the background of a girl far from perfect and sometimes, far from beautiful. Helen begins her story in Sparta, an attractive child hemmed in by life with her spiteful twin and a society that doesn’t allow women to rise to great heights unless on the wings of gods or marriage. Through her own youthful cunning, the Spartan princess discovers her good looks and a fierce determination to provide a great queen to her people. Her self-discipline carries her to places that even a princess would not usually dare go. And what better way to rule Sparta than by the sword?

But all plans for such domination are forgotten when the opportunity arises to accompany her sister to the land of Clytemnestra’s betrothed. This move pushes Helen into a whirlwind of gender prejudices, court politics, and the ever-strong fear of the gods. All the same, our undeniable heroine battles through to conquer and walk the fine line between her gawky adolescence and a destiny that would bring cities to their knees.

Nobody’s Princess is written with brazen ferocity and impeccable research. The characters are likable and real and the setting is well detailed. Greece and all its conflicts lay at your feet with this novel. The flaw most prevalent is that the plot would probably prove difficult for a short time to readers unfamiliar with basic Greek histories and mythology. My only other complaint is that it ended far too fast. Now I have to wait until April 22nd for the next. * le sigh *

All in all, I was quite satisfied with this book and how it portrayed Helen. So I doth be bestowing upon it a 5.7 out of 7 LIGHTNING STRIKES *insert sound effects here* (first time with the new rating system. Deepest thanks to all our valiant voter-types). Now someone just needs to write a book focusing on Cassandra of Troy and come up with an equally grr... cover.

Being fierce and applying for citizenship to Sparta,

*Aella Siofra*

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

I confess now before this jury of bloggers that I am not a big reader of realistic fiction (go right ahead and frown you Meg Cabot lovers). And a title like Head Games with a cover practically screaming relational dystrophy was the pinnacle of wary-making. But it was suggested *sigh* and thus I read it. And thus I was surprised.

Head Games is written from the point of view of 15-year-old, Internet gaming obsessed Judith Ellis. Her greatest goal in life is to defeat the homicidal player known only as Irgin the Headcase. But if virtual reality becomes as unfair as the world outside you bedroom what kind of escape is to be found? A string of events bring Jude to drop her game and, surprisingly, Irgin does as well. In real-time Jude struggles with witchy ex-pals, the bad-reputation kid from the screaming family across the hall, a girl with 200 brain cells short of a boxer, and the secret of what happened one night at 58 Seventy-first Street. Tension heightens as she discovers that the mysterious Jonathon, afore mentioned bad-rep boy, is the true persona of Headcase Irgin. But his intentions are as unclear in New York City as they were in the game-o-verse. Judith discovers her own boundaries breaking down as she learns that reality doesn’t always qualify for a C- and sometimes you have to play the game twice to figure out how it works.

Head Games offered many the surprise and sleight of mind. Judith finds solace in the unexpected and danger in those things closest to her, leaving the lingering sensation of alertness for the reader to experience. I read this in about an hour of fluorescent book-light-beneath-covers stunt work. So don’t think of the cover- focus on the plot and excellent writing and you will discover a realistic-fiction novel that borders on the most in-depth of sci-fis.

5.7 out of 7 of whatever the polls decide.

Internet-ing, Avoiding On-line Gaming,

Aella Siofra

Friday, January 4, 2008

Now that the Poll is over...

Why don't you scurry on over to my blog and see how it turned out?

~Medeia Senka~

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Snow Leopards. A Vampire Court. Were-folk. Magic. Amazon-esque archer women. Tree people. Intensely awesome dialogue.

The above list should be enough, but I suppose it isn’t. All the same, just from that, does this not seem ideal for those readers who cling to the ever-dying light given off by true grand novels?

The Cry of the Icemark by Stuart Hill begins in the company of a young princess with fire in her soul and eyes who is just starting to understand life outside the boundaries of her beloved capital, Frostmarris. But when the threat of war becomes real and her legendary father must fight for the defense, Thirrin Freer Strong-in-the-arm Lindenshield finds herself having to make good of shaky alliances suggested with the ancient and wonderful beasts of the hidden lands of the Icemark. 14-years old, she brings her new friend Oskan Witch’s Son and her aging tutor to the Hypolitan city, reigned over by an elite society of warrior women. After a council of war, Oskan and Thirrin set out to the Vampire and Were-folk courts and learn of the incredible creatures hidden at the Hub of the World. The massive, elegant, and beautiful Snow Leopards, who happen to be beyond explanation of cool. Thirrin must use every bit of her gifts of diplomacy and her bearing as the monarch of Icemark to gain respect among creatures that have warred with her kind for years. The sharp wit and mind-numbing efforts made in the bitter winters of the North finally come to a head in an unforgettable confrontation against the greatest force on earth in the form of the Polypontus Empire.

This is probably one of my new favorite books. I had looked at it with a sense of foreboding on my shelf, feeling inclined to spend my afternoon and evening reading the volumes I had already started and not the 500-page novel gone untouched. But when I did make the effort and the first chapter was about werewolves I knew there was no hope for those books previously begun. The characters were brilliant and yet flawed, relying on each other for friendship. Every deal struck had dizzying consequences if it should go wrong and every battle would decide the fate of the Icemark. Whip-quick dialogue and a complete understanding of the dark and wild setting furthered the sheer epic-ness of this powerful book. I think you can already guess this rating.

No? It’s a 7 out of 7 of whatever the poll decides so go vote and then read this book. + There’s a sequel!

Thanking Stuart Hill for writing again and hunting do
wn book 2,