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Ron Fritsch
Helen's Orphans
Ron Fritsch, author
Did Helen choose to run off to Troy with Paris, or did he force her to go with him? Two orphans of the Trojan War, the tragic conflict Helen’s elopement or abduction precipitated, search for the answer to one of the oldest questions in history—and discover much more.
Two orphans of the Trojan War seek to discover the true nature of the relationship between Helen of Troy and Paris in this engaging historical novel. Timon and Lukas, growing up in the same orphanage that Helen and her sister Clytemnestra once did, are befriended by Helen, who has recently been queened after her return to Sparta. Helen spends considerable time visiting with both orphans, answering their inquiries about Paris and the Trojan War, and freely discloses her memories of the destructive events. Fritsch’s uses flashbacks from Helen’s perspective, intermingled with present-day narration by Timon and Lukas, to reveal an alternate ending to the Trojan War.

Despite appearances from the likes of Achilles, Nestor, and Menelaus, Timon and Lukas emerge as the ensemble’s most compelling characters. They share touching moments, such as when they sing together and discover a mutual love of music, and their eagerness to question Helen (“Did you find Paris attractive?”) is relatable. Fritsch (The Lord Chamberlain’s Daughter) crafts a detailed and immersive fiction that is charming in its minute detail, though some readers will be disappointed by a lack of dynamism in prose. A tendency toward the pedantic diminishes the drama, as even battles at times read more like a history essay than an engrossing tale: “The few archers the Greeks had room for inside Troy could only fire their arrows upward at Trojan archers.”

Timon and Lukas are fresh air in this history lesson. Those familiar with the Odyssey and the myth of the Trojan War will find few surprises in Fritsch’s characterization of Helen, Paris, and Clytemnestra, but Helen’s point-of-view passages give the legend charm and agency--and even make her relatable. With an appeal to audiences versed in Greek myth, Fritsch’s new spin on a timeless tale will draw in readers with his sympathetic characterization and occasional original inventions.

Takeaway: A novel approach to an established classic, with an alternate ending that will please fans of Greek mythology.

Great for fans of: Madeline Miller’s The Song of Achilles , David Gemmell’s Lord of the Silver Bow.

Production grades
Cover: A
Design and typography: B
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A
Marketing copy: B