For the Most Beautiful

Written by Emily Hauser
Review by Nicky Moxey

Think of the tale of Troy. What names can you remember? Active men – Achilles, Paris. Passive women – Helen, only remembered for being beautiful; Cassandra, laughed at for her unbelievable prophesies. In For The Most Beautiful, Emily Hauser has told the story of two unlikely heroes, women whose voices have been lost. Krisayis, daughter of the Trojans’ High Priest, and Briseis, princess of Pedasus, start near the top of the hierarchy, but both are enslaved by the Greeks. Their struggles in the face of that disaster, and the need to preserve the essence of Troy, form the core of the book. Looking down from the clouds is the panoply of gods – with their own desires and agendas, and with two of the female gods grumpy because they were not chosen as “most beautiful”…

If I hadn’t been reading a review copy, I might have abandoned it. The early vacuousness of its protagonists, and the shallowness of the gods, really irritated me. But I persevered, and gradually grew to like, and then admire, the girls – very much. I got to the end of the book, and immediately read it again, this time appreciating the superb character arcs that Emily Hauser has drawn. The gods hadn’t changed, but then that is the nature of gods. This is a fascinating picture of life in Bronze-Age Troy, from the point of view of women at both the top and bottom of society. The author’s knowledge of, and respect for, the period shines through. Read it twice. You won’t regret it.