Book Review: The Further Adventures of Xena

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Ever since discovering that there is a book series of Xena: Warrior Princess stories, I have been searching for them in used book stores and buying whatever copies I can find. My latest find was this short story collection, which I was eager to read.

This book contains fifteen different short stories which are spread throughout the Xena series. For the most part I really enjoyed the stories, though admittedly there were one of two which I found less entertaining and more tiresome to read. Even so, I thought this was a great way to add some new stories to the series and allow a multitude of authors to contribute.

It also showed how each author interpreted certain characters. I feel that nearly all of them portrayed Xena, Gabrielle and Joxer’s personalities and attributes properly. There were some where I questioned how much of the series they had watched, because in their stories the characters just didn’t feel right.

One great addition to this collection was a story told from Argo’s perspective. I thought this was a fantastic way to really embrace all the main characters of the series. We all know what Xena, Gabrielle and Joxer are like, their reasons for doing what they do. But there isn’t much know about Agro except that she is Xena’s horse. The story wasn’t overly long, but I felt because it didn’t focus on the main three that it was one of the better stories. Agro was in the other stories, but she wasn’t the main attraction of them. Also, there were two stories in this collection where the authors made Agro a stallion and I was a little annoyed with that, since these authors have claimed to be huge fans of the show, so they should know that Argo is female.

Overall, I felt this was a really great book and added something new to the Xena universe. Fans of the show will surely enjoy this and the other books in the series. I’m looking forward to reading more of these books as I find them.

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Book Review: The Huntress And The Sphinx

My rating: 3 out of 5 stars

I was pretty darn hesitant about reading this book. A while ago I read the previous book in the series, The Empty Throne by Ru Emerson, and it was so bad I didn’t think I would enjoy this one at all. Luckily, this book ended up being okay and it was such a relief to not hate this book.

The writing style of this book was definitely an improvement over the previous book. The overall flow of the story and characters were pretty solid. This book certainly felt more like one of the episodes of the TV series, though not quite as good.

Xena and Gabrielle are pretty much the characters we know from the TV series. A few other characters from the series also make minor appearance, or are mentioned, but don’t really play a major role in the story. Atlanta, the other main character of the story, was pretty cocky at the start and I didn’t really care for her until later in the book when her character grows and learns from her actions.

Overall, I liked this book. It was good enough to keep my attention throughout but I still felt it wasn’t as good as it could be and certainly wasn’t as enjoyable as watching the TV series. I’m likely read more of this series at some point, assuming that I find the books, as so far I have only seen them at used book stores. If you enjoyed the Xena TV series then these books may be worth reading just to revisit that world and get a few of new content from it.

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.