Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Goddess of Yesterday

by Caroline B. Cooney

First paragraph: "I was six years old when King Nicander came to the island of my birth, demanding tribute and a hostage."

Review: Anaxandra is taken from her family and sent to live with King Nicander as his crippled daughter's playmate. Six years later Nicander's island is attacked by pirates and everyone is slaughtered except for Anaxandra since she stays hidden in the ocean - taught to swim by her father years ago. After several days a ship pulls up to the island where she remains stoic and stalwart near her king's shallow grave. She unintentionally misled the sea captain and his men to believe she was the King's daughter and decided it was a reasonable course of action to assume her name. The sea captain was actually King Menelaus who took her home with him to play with his children and meet his beautiful wife, Helen. The rest of the story is about the events leading up to the great trojan war.

When I picked this book up I actually had no idea it was about Greek and Roman mythology. So that was a fun little surprise.

I've never actually bothered to read any of the stories of Troy or the Trojan war. I've read lots of the stories before and after but never this one itself. I knew the general story and figured that was good enough. I did enjoy this creative retelling. The addition of the main character Anaxandra as well a few others made it possible to see the story from a fresh new perspective.

That being said, this story lacked a very important key aspect. It missed that suspense that makes you want to keep reading to find out what happens. This aspect should generally be introduced in the first few pages of the story but I never really found it.

So while the characters were interesting and the story creatively unique, you are not in anyway, attached to the book. It probably would have taken me a lot longer to read but I had a deadline so it forced me to keep at it. I'm glad I did because there were several aspects to the story of Troy that I'd either forgotten or just never read about.

If nothing else this story definitely reignited my passion for Greek mythology. I've already gone and checked out several mythology books from the library.

Oh. One thing I almost forgot. I really enjoyed the protagonist in this book. She was kidnapped, made hostage, came to love her kidnappers who were then killed, then forced to travel across the sea to what would most likely be her death and not once did you get the "Oh. I have such a horrible life" whiny dialogue from her. She held her head high and took it like a pro. The only time she ever really let her spirit fall was when she was forced to cut off all her "glory", aka hair (twice), by Helen.

If you want a refresher course in some Greek mythology or you just want an easy read on the Trojan war this is probably a good book to pick up. I wouldn't, however, suggest this book as a thrilling page turner.

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