Asymmetric Worlds (2020)
Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views (01/21)
In “Helen’s Orphans,” the author Ron Fritsch has taken creative license to present a plausible version of how the most beautiful woman in the world was an innocent party involved in starting the Trojan War.
In this version, Helen has to make choices based upon circumstances presented to her by a family member who has nefarious plans to see to the start of the Trojan War, without appearing complicit. As in the other versions, Helen runs away to Troy with Paris. Some believe she was running off with her lover, others believe that he kidnapped her and left her no choice. In this version, an explanation is provided that allows for many questions to be answered. After Paris dies, Helen is able to return home and be reunited with Menelaus. They both know the truth, but don’t openly share it because it would involve more drama. Helen finally opens up to two orphans she has been helping and tells them her story. As the narrative progresses, we learn that one of them isn’t just any orphan, and he has a role to play in her life. Important decisions are made for the future.
Ron Fritsch did an amazing job creating this story. First of all, he presents a useful list of characters with descriptions of who they are. I frequently found myself referring back to this list. Then he tells the story by dividing it up according to who the narrator is. It alternates between Helen and Timon, who is one of the orphans. This format really made it easy to follow along. Fritsch also takes the time to develop the characters so that they go beyond being one dimensional. As he introduces us to their past, we gain a greater understanding of how they evolved, even if we still find them unlikeable.
“Helen’s Orphans,” is written in a reader friendly format that makes this Greek tragedy very easy to understand. I really enjoyed reading it and did so in a single sitting. As a person who delights in conspiracy theories, Fritsch’s alternative version, fed that need quite well. Fans of Greek mythology and ancient history with really enjoy this novel.