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Xena Warrior Princess: Go Quest, Young Man
Ru Emerson
Ace Books, 272 pages

Xena Warrior Princess: Go Quest, Young Man
Ru Emerson
Ru Emerson lives in Oregon, where with her husband, Doug, and their cats on a small ranch some distance from the rest of the world.

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A review by Pat Caven

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I have to say, right up front, that I don't often read movie or television novelizations. I will admit to picking up one or two Star Trek books back in the 70s when I was desperate for a new storyline on an old favourite... but that's it. However, I am a pretty hard-boiled Xena fan and I have an appreciation for the author's other works, so why not this? 270-odd pages later, I know why.

The first book in a new Xena trilogy, Go Quest, Young Man introduces the reader to the "arc" plotline: Joxor is bedazzled into joining a quest to save Helen of Troy and bring her back into the arms of her obsessive husband -- Xena's old enemy Menelaus. Heedless of their desire to drown the hapless Joxor in the nearest bog, Xena and Gabrielle head off to Sparta to investigate this alleged quest. But Old Home Week doesn't end here as Xena makes a side trip to deliver a message to Hercules (Iolaus, Salmoneous, et. al.) and soon runs into the still love-struck warlord Draco (quick, grab your episode guide) amongst the crew of Menelaus' would-be heroes. All of it a set up for the trilogy, Go Quest, Young Man ends in the middle of action and unfortunately doesn't leave you wanting more.

True camp is a very visual humorous style and Xena: Warrior Princess is an extremely visual show. Without even the benefit of any whirring chakram sound effects or sword swishes (not to mention lice being cracked and shot into the fire), the characters are merely shallow and two-dimensional. What kind of character development can occur when locked into the Universal licensing framework? There are no new insights into the characters relationships or fleshing out of their history -- something I was naïve enough to hope for. And you must be a fan of the show (with an excellent memory for detail) to understand the references to storylines of the past. But the one thing I did enjoy in Go Quest was that Gabrielle was back up to her hard-won fighting form -- unlike the grating and sanctimonious performance of this past season.

My recommendation? If you want to read something while waiting for the new fall TV schedule to begin and need a dose of a strong, sword-wielding, butt-kicking female hero -- pick up Elizabeth Moon's Deeds of Paksenarrion, Jennifer Roberson's Swordbringer or Emerson's own Princess of the Flames. You won't be as disappointed -- and you can always create your own campy sound effects (*swoosh*)!

Copyright © 1999 Pat Caven

Pat Caven was (and perhaps in some ways still is) a local bookseller. She has now wandered into the public domain.


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