Atalanta

Review

Jan van der Crabben
by
published on 25 July 2023
Atalanta: A Novel
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Title: Atalanta: A Novel
Author: Jennifer Saint
Audience: General Public
Difficulty: Easy
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Published: 2023
Pages: 304

"Atalanta" is a retelling of the archer heroine in Greek mythology. Jennifer Saint tells a version of the story in which Atalanta takes part in the quest of the Argonauts to steal the Golden Fleece, as well as the hunt for the Calydonian boar. It is an engaging modern take on the myth that explores what it might have been like to be the only female hero in ancient Greece.

There are several versions of Atalanta's story in Greek mythology, and Jennifer Saint, known for writing mythology-based novels, chose to build her story around the most compelling elements that make for a very engaging story to a modern audience of general readers. In Saint's version, Atalanta is abandoned in the forest by her parents. She is then found and raised by Artemis, who teaches her survival and archery. When Jason's quest to steal the Golden Fleece from King Aeetes in Colchis is announced, Artemis asks Atalanta to join the quest as her champion.

This book is filled with background information that explores the intersection of Atalanta's story with other myths.

As one could expect, a ship full of Greece's famous heroes including Hercules is traditionally not the place for a woman. Atalanta struggles to be accepted, and throughout the journey, it is hard for her to find her place among the testosterone-filled group of heroes. This is a thread that weaves throughout the book: How can a woman who is the best archer and runner in all of Greece find her place in a male-dominated world? Is it even possible for society to accept such a heroine? Throughout the book, Atalanta encounters resistance simply because she is a woman living in a man's world whose skills in archery and running surpass that of any man.

Compared to Saint's previous novel Ariadne, Atalanta has much more agency in this book than Ariadne does in hers. Whereas things mostly happened to Ariadne, the heroine of this book is refreshingly active in shaping her own fate. She still suffers from plenty of self-doubt, which is not surprising as she pushes the boundaries of what is accepted in ancient Greek society.

This book is filled with background information that explores the intersection of Atalanta's story with other myths, which makes it even more interesting. Of course, this being a cloak-and-dagger story, there is plenty of action, as well as a bit of romance, and much contemplation about the ancient Greek world.

Whether you already know the myth, or whether you are even aware of Greek mythology and history or not, any general reader will find this book captivating. It is written for an adult general audience, but teenagers may find it fascinating, too. Don't miss out on Atalanta's story.

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About the Reviewer

Jan van der Crabben
Jan is the Founder and CEO of World History Encyclopedia. He holds an MA War Studies from King's College, and he has worked in the field of history-related digital media since 2006.

Cite This Work

APA Style

Crabben, J. v. d. (2023, July 25). Atalanta. World History Encyclopedia. Retrieved from https://www.worldhistory.org/review/375/atalanta/

Chicago Style

Crabben, Jan van der. "Atalanta." World History Encyclopedia. Last modified July 25, 2023. https://www.worldhistory.org/review/375/atalanta/.

MLA Style

Crabben, Jan van der. "Atalanta." World History Encyclopedia. World History Encyclopedia, 25 Jul 2023. Web. 20 Apr 2024.

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