Book Review: The Empty Throne

My rating: 2 out of 5 stars

So, after reading another Xena novel, Prophecy of Darkness by Stella Howard, I was eager to read more. Luckily, I had bought a few others at the same time, and so I dove into this one.

To say I was disappointed was an understatement. These books were so vastly different it was disturbing. Yes, they were written by different authors, so I expected them to be a bit different in the writing style, but where as Howard’s book felt like a written version of an unaired episode, Emerson’s was like a really bad fan fiction.

There was a lot that bothered me about this book. All too often, Xena was referred to as “The warrior”. Okay, fine, she’s technically a warrior, but why use that label more as a name than anything else. Also, Argo, Xena’s trusty palomino mare, was never referred to by her name. In fact, I can’t even recall the author stating that she was a mare. Anytime the horse was mentioned it was much like Xena, only ever being called “the horse”. Only, I can’t recall a single time when the horses color was even mentioned. I realize that is a small detail, but one that any Xena fan would expect to see in the story. I was honestly surprised that Gabriel wasn’t called “the sidekick” throughout the book given how things were going.

Add into the fact that the story line seemed to go no where. I realize that there isn’t always a direct line to the end and that sometimes things have to happen outside of a heroes initial quest in order to full move things along, but ugh what a slog this book was. Even half way through I felt like Xena, or should I say ‘the warrior’, was no closer to getting anything done that at the beginning.

To continue my list of unpleasantries. Let’s talk about Xena’s weapons. She has a sword, sometimes a whip and this thing called a Chakram. Unfortunately, time and time again, the author spelled it Chakra. Close, but not quite. It’s little missteps like that that really dragged the book down. I don’t know is she half-assed her or just never watched an episode of the show, but nothing felt right about this book.

Really the only reason I gave it two stars is because, in the end it is a Xena novel, as bad as it was, and it was mercifully short. If your a Xena fan, you can read this one if you want, but I wouldn’t recommend it. I really hope her other books are better, because I own two more.

Book Review: Prophecy of Darkness

My rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Up until a few months ago, I didn’t know there were any Xena: Warrior Princess books written. I should have known, because it seems that most popular TV shows, whether they are current or older, seem to have books. So you can imagine my joy when I found some Xena books in a used book store. I bought all I could find, which sadly was only four of them, but I was very happy to have them. I chose to read Prophecy of Darkness first.

The book starts off just a bit slow, but not so much that it was a turn off. It was simply setting up everything for the rest of the book. One of the really great things about books like this, is not only does it give you more “episodes” of the show to enjoy, but it allows you to see exactly what characters are thinking and get to see their inner workings as they encounter danger or are tasked with a mission that may be beyond their normal abilities.

Xena and Gabrielle were very much like how I remembered them in the TV series. I would say that this book would fall somewhere near the beginning of the series, as it mentions Gabrielle’s lack of battle training, and as the series progressed she began quite proficient in fighting. It was fun to get to see these characters again and listen to their banter over camp fires, and read about Gabrielle’s thoughts towards Xena and vice versa.

The story has good flow to it, as the two travel the lands on the quest to find a seer and help to stop an event that could end the world. Most of the characters introduced play a very minor role in the story, with only the seer and Telius.

Overall, I enjoyed this book quite a bit. It was very much like an extra episode from the show. It is a quick read and would appeal to any fans of the show, as well as those who may have never seen it, but want to experience the characters and world. I will definitely be reading more of these books in the future, and look forward to see what extra adventure that Xena, Gabrielle and even Joxer get into.