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Golden Apple: Emily Hauser’s “For the Most Beautiful”

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Title:  For the Most Beautiful: A Novel of the Trojan War

Author: Emily Hauser

Publisher: Pegasus Books

Copyright: January 10, 2017

ISBN: 1681773015

ASIN: B01K5J6S42

Format: E-Book, 388 Pages, $8.60 [Amazon Paperback], $17.84 [Amazon Hardcover], $12.99 [Kindle], $20.78 [Audible], $18.01 [Barnes & Noble Hardcover], $12.99 [Nook], $12.99 [iBooks]

Summary:

The hidden tale of the Trojan War: a novel full of passion and revenge, bravery and sacrifice, now is the time for the women of Troy to tell their story.

Three thousand years ago a war took place where legends were born: Achilles, the greatest of the Greeks, and Hector, prince of Troy. Both men were made and destroyed by the war that shook the foundations of the ancient world.

But what if there was more to the tale of these heroes than we know? How would the Trojan War have looked as seen through the eyes of its women? Krisayis, the ambitious, determined daughter of the High Priest of Troy, and Briseis, loyal and passionate princess of Pedasus, interweave their tales alongside Homer’s classic story of the rage of Achilles and the gods of Olympus. What follows is a breathtaking tale of love and revenge, destiny and the determination, as these two brave women, the heroes of the Trojan War, and the gods themselves come face to face in an epic battle that will decide the fate of Troy.

A glorious debut full of passion and revenge, loyalty and betrayal, Emily Hauser breathes exhilarating new life into one of history’s greatest legends.

Review:

War is brewing and the Gods are behind it. Paris, the young Trojan Prince is at the base of Mount Ida, tending to a flock of goats when something fantastic happens to him. Three magnificent women, unlike anything he has ever seen before, appear to him and order him to be the judge of their contest. The question that is posed to him: Who is the most beautiful goddess? The prize is a golden apple to be awarded to the winner. Zeus’s gray-eyed daughter, Athena offers the prince great victories over his enemies and success in every endeavor. Hera, Queen of the Gods presents to the prince the greatest power in the world and control over others. Best of all is Aphrodite, the goddess of love’s gift: Helen, the most beautiful woman in the world. Paris sees her in a vision and falls irrevocably in love. The only issue is that Helen, Queen of Sparta and wife of Menelaus is already married. With Aphrodite as the acknowledged winner, all three goddesses vanish immediately.

Krisayis is the daughter of Polydamas (High Priest of Apollo) and she lives a good life as the official companion of Princess Cassandra of Troy. A young woman in the throes of her youth, Krisayis is involved in a romantic relationship with Cassandra’s brother, Troilus. While her heart entertains the notion of one day being wedded to Troilus, she bitterly remembers her father’s declaration that she will one day be a priestess to Apollo. This is something that she battles with constantly. When the enchanting Helen of Sparta arrives in Troy with Prince Paris, it is no surprise that a fleet of over a thousand Greek vessels is not far off. Knowing that war is inevitable, Krisayis, Troilus, and Cassandra’s lives are forever changed.

Briseis is the beautiful Princess of Pedasus that knows she needs to marry and soon. However, since a curse was pronounced upon her many years ago, no man will so much as touch her. The prophecy is: “He who seeks Briseis’ bed shall then her brothers three behead” (Hauser). When she is introduced to Prince Mynes of Lyrnessus, she is surprised to find that he is not only young but that he is handsome as well. The only worry to darken the moment is that of the ever-looming curse. As her father’s herald announces that the curse has been lifted, Prince Mynes agrees to marry Briseis and the two grow to love one another. Not long after they are married and living in Lyrnessus, the Greek fleet arrives and things are never the same again.

Emily Hauser’s For the Most Beautiful is a contemporary retelling of a very old epic, Homer’s The Iliad. What makes this story unique is the fact that it is told from the women’s point-of-view. In particular, the two heroines of this story are Krisayis, daughter of Polydamas the priest, and Briseis, the tragic princess who is known conventionally for her link to Achilles. While the story did start out a little slow, once I was about a quarter way into the book, I could scarcely put the book down. Ms. Hauser’s writing style was engaging, interesting, refreshing, and thoroughly original. What really made her writing stand out were the fun twists that I clearly wasn’t expecting. The author did take artistic license in certain aspects, deviating from the established lore of The Iliad, but this didn’t detract from the story for me.

As far as the cast of characters went, Achilles was by far my favorite character. Ms. Hauser’s depiction of the legendary Greek demigod really impressed me and I felt an immediate connection to him. Patroclus, at first, came across a bit flat but I saw a depth to him as the story continued. From the outset, I absolutely adored Briseis and felt for her plight. She had a quiet strength that really stood out amongst the other characters and her bravery in standing up to the Greeks really stirred things up. I confess I had a difficult time connecting with Krisayis who I found frustrating at times but in the end she did win me over. While Briseis was more reserved, Krisayis was stubborn, determined, and very much in your face. As a fan of The Iliad, Helen is my favorite character and I would have liked to seen more of her.

For the Most Beautiful was a complete delight and I look forward to the next installment.

Pros: Ms. Hauser used alternative names for the gods which added to the story. For example, Apollo was Apulunas or Zeus was Zayu. Having the gods involved in their own story line (which obviously was linked with the mortal world) enhanced the tale and added some originality. Lastly, I would like to add that the Author’s Note was a nice touch. It is always good to know why a writer did something a certain way as well as the research that went into making the story. In the back of the book: A Glossary of Character; A Glossary of Places; A Bronze Age Calendar (that was so neat and unique).

Rating:

2

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