*ARC provided via Netgalley in exchange of an honest review*
Author: Amalia Carosella
Release Date: May 10th, 2016
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mythological
Series: Helen of Sparta, #2
Sequel to: Helen of Sparta
With divine beauty comes dangerous power.
Helen believed she could escape her destiny and save her people from utter destruction. After defying her family and betraying her intended husband, she found peace with her beloved Theseus, the king of Athens and son of Poseidon.
But peace did not last long. Cruelly separated from Theseus by the gods, and uncertain whether he will live or die, Helen is forced to return to Sparta. In order to avoid marriage to Menelaus, a powerful prince unhinged by desire, Helen assembles an array of suitors to compete for her hand. As the men circle like vultures, Helen dreams again of war—and of a strange prince, meant to steal her away. Every step she takes to protect herself and her people seems to bring destruction nearer.
Without Theseus’s strength to support her, can Helen thwart the gods and stop her nightmare from coming to pass?
Before/During: Love Ramblings!
Well, for one thing, I love the Illiad and have always been fascinated with every detail of it, but I’ve never pondered too hard on “the face that launched a thousand ships”, even though the war between Acheans and Troy basically-supposedly-it-was-an-excuse! started because of her.
I knew Helen’s background story only superficially, I was so focused on sucking up everything about Achilles (he’s my favourite and I am particularly fond of the supposed-implied-it-was-there-don’t-let’s-argue-about-it homosexual relationship he had with Patroclus because I am PRO-LOVE IN EVERY WAY IT COMES!) and the gritty-gory bits.
Yes, I didn’t pay too much attention to the figure of Helen of Sparta who’s better known as Helen of Troy, about whom we made fun in school because Troy sounds very much like a bad bad bad word in Italian we found fitting to describe that poor woman because we were young and stupid and illiterate and I am now ashamed of it.
Since she was the “excuse” used to start the war, I dismissed her as un-important. How superficial of me! What an idiot I’ve been!
Pluuuus – and this is a tid bit nobody’s interested in but I’m going to share this anyway – By Helen’s Hand‘s release date is my birthday!
That’s a sign.
I’m on chapter 9, and so far this is so up my ally, it promises to be among the best mythological inspired books I’ve EVER read (and I’ve read quite a few, modestly)…
New booklove, so soon after the last??!
The Actual Review: A Love Confession!
I am passionate about a lot of things.
As I might have mentioned before, Homer’s epic and immortal masterpieces are one of those many many things. Mythology is another. So yeah, this was a love match from the start!
I was captured from the very first page by Amalia Carosella’s marvelous voice. Her way of narrating is simple and direct, there isn’t one single word that isn’t needed. Through her words she gives life to immortal characters, depicting them in a humane manner and thus bringing them to a, to me, more personal level.
The story is what it is – the general lines are the same as the myths and the narrations of Homer and Ovid, and shouldn’t, nay!, can’t be changed – but I loved the alternative twists and fill-ins the author gives to the story – GENIUS! For example, it’s not a given fact that Helen went willingly with Paris… And the ending? GENIUS!
Also, personally I’ve always thought Menelaus crazy and his brother a power-hungry megalomaniac and Amalia Carosella (I want you to be my new BFF, btw) has given foundation to my believes.
Yes, it’s yet again booklove! ❤
NOTE: By Helen’s Hand is the second installment of the Helen of Sparta series, but it works well as a standalone, too.
It picks up smoothly from the previous installment and is built upon the events of it, but if you know your myths you should be able to follow By Helen’s Hand easily.
I don’t think I’ll ever grow tired of reading and re-reading retellings of The Age of Heroes. Nope, don’t see that happening. EVER. It’s just so a fascinating subject, so extensive, so infinite, actually. i don’t think there can be too many book versions of it.
MORE BOOKS ABOUT HELEN OF TROY:
In this lush, compelling novel of passion and loss, Helen of Troy, a true survivor, tells the truth about her life, her lovers, and the Trojan War. This is the memoir that she has written—her legendary beauty still undimmed by age.
Gossips began whispering about Princess Helen from the moment of her birth. A daughter of the royal house of Sparta, she was not truly the progeny of King Tyndareus, they murmured, but of Zeus, king of the gods. Her mother, Queen Leda, a powerful priestess, was branded an adulteress, with tragic consequences. To complicate matters, as Helen grew to adulthood her beauty was so breathtaking that it overshadowed even that of her jealous sister, Clytemnestra, making her even more of an outcast within her own family. So it came as something of a relief to her when she was kidnapped by Theseus, king of Athens, in a gambit to replenish his kingdom’s coffers.
But Helen fell in love with the much older Theseus, and to his surprise, he found himself enamored of her as well. On her forced return to Sparta, Helen was hastily married off to the tepid Menelaus for the sake of an advantageous political alliance. Yet even after years of marriage, the spirited, passionate Helen never became the docile wife King Menelaus desired, and when she fell in love with another man—Paris Alexandros, the prodigal son of King Priam of Troy—Helen unwittingly set the stage for the ultimate conflict: a war that would destroy nearly all she held dear.
A lush, seductive novel of the legendary beauty whose face launched a thousand ships
Daughter of a god, wife of a king, prize of antiquity’s bloodiest war, Helen of Troy has inspired artists for millennia. Now, Margaret George, the highly acclaimed bestselling historical novelist, has turned her intelligent, perceptive eye to the myth that is Helen of Troy.
Margaret George breathes new life into the great Homeric tale by having Helen narrate her own story. Through her eyes and in her voice, we experience the young Helen’s discovery of her divine origin and her terrifying beauty. While hardly more than a girl, Helen married the remote Spartan king Menelaus and bore him a daughter. By the age of twenty, the world’s most beautiful woman was resigned to a passionless marriage until she encountered the handsome Trojan prince Paris. And once the lovers flee to Troy, war, murder, and tragedy become inevitable. In Helen of Troy, Margaret George has captured a timeless legend in a mesmerizing tale of a woman whose life was destined to create strife and destroy civilizations.
MORE BOOKS INSPIRED BY THE ILLIAD:
Greece in the age of heroes.
Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the court of King Peleus and his perfect son Achilles. Despite their difference, Achilles befriends the shamed prince, and as they grow into young men skilled in the arts of war and medicine, their bond blossoms into something deeper – despite the displeasure of Achilles’ mother Thetis, a cruel sea goddess.
But when word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, Achilles must go to war in distant Troy and fulfill his destiny. Torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus goes with him, little knowing that the years that follow will test everything they hold dear.
…continuing from King of Ithaca.
It was ten years ago since Odysseus started his rule of Ithaca and his reign has been one of peace and plenty. But across the seas, eyes meet across a burning fire and a long-forgotten oath begins to surface. When Paris of Troy meets Helen of Sparta the love affair of centuries begins. For the rest of Greece—it means war. Reminded of the sacred oath sworn, Odysseus and his captain of the guard, Eperitus, must gather their troops and journey to Aulis where the fleet of Greeks is gathering to begin their legendary journey to Troy. But a sleight to the gods keeps their ships trapped at harbor and only the greatest of sacrifices can set them free—the slaughter of an innocent girl. In a race against time, Odysseus and Eperitus pit themselves against Kings and Gods in an attempt to prevent the greatest war in history.
It was a clash of arms that would echo through the millennia: a hard-fought conflict born of love, pride, greed and revenge; a decade-long siege of the ancient world’s greatest city from which nobody will escape unscathed.
As urgent and passionate as if told for the first time, international besteller Colleen McCullough breathes life into legend, swinging our sympathies from Greece to Troy and back again as they move inexorably towards a fate not even the gods themselves can avert. Here are Greek princess Helen, sensuous and self-indulgent, who deserts a dull husband for the sake of the equally self-indulgent Trojan prince Paris; the haunted warrior Achilles; the heroically noble Hektor; the subtle and brilliant Odysseus; Priam, King of Troy, doomed to make the wrong decisions for the right reasons; and Agamemnon, King of Kings, who consents to the unspeakable to launch his thousand ships, incurring the terrifying wrath of his wife, Klytemnestra.