Reviews and Awards
Sunrise, published in Marion Zimmer Bradley's Fantasy Magazine, issue #12, received a runner-up Cauldron Award for being voted a favorite story in that issue by readers.
To Die by the Sword received a 2nd place Bards Challenge Award.
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Reviews by Cee, Sichenia
Review by Cee
Review by Emily
Review by Cee
Novella - X/G
Conquered is a Conqueror story with a different premise than most. Gabrielle is a one-legged poet who lost her limb after she was crucified by the Conqueror. Seven years later, the Conqueror is defeated by Alexander and put into prison on Shark Island. Gabrielle goes to speak with her to record her history. She finds a woman who is receiving the punishment everyone thought she deserves, but facing the human being behind the evil isn't as easy as Gabrielle thought it would be. Xena also has her own demons to fight. Even if Gabrielle can forgive her, can anyone else, and can Xena ever forgive herself? The story gives us a close examination of the ideas of redemption, forgiveness, and how we deal with the aftermath of evil acts. It's a fascinating character study that is very highly recommended.
Review by Sichenia
I absolutely love Conqueror stories, but I have to admit they tend to become a little repetitive after you've read 30-something of them.
way or another, the rebel-poet-slave Gabrielle is always
defeated-captured-sold and faces the mighty-cruel-brooding Conqueror. After
some (how much depends on the Bard) time and/or
angst-torture-crucifixions, Xena is reformed by Gabrielle's love and they live happily ever after.
Well, in Conquered you won't find *anything* in line with the Conqueror bardic canon. First of all, Xena is not ruling. She's been defeated by Alexander, and is prisoner in Shark Island, at the mercy of the sadistic warden Thelassa. Gabrielle has lost a leg as a consequence of her crucifixion, and is bitter and angry. She wants to hate Xena, and the former Destroyer of Nations helps it in their first meeting insulting her and hurting her with her words. But Gabrielle doesn't leave, and slowly breaks the defenses of the Conqueror... and her own at the same time.
Conquered is a story *not* for those who hate to see the main charachters
mistreated. There's a lot of suffering (both physical and psychological) for
Xena and Gabrielle in this story, but boy, the story
couldn't be as good without it. And Conquered IS definetly a very good story. Grammar and spelling are flawless. The characters are wonderfully outlined, their actions always have a reason, and while at the beginning you obviously side with the hurt, resentful Gab and her hate, but bit by bit you can't help but becoming sympathetic with Xena.
Leslie embarked for a really hard journey, trying to change both Xena and Gabrielle, and in my opinion she's made a wonderful job so far. Conquered strengthens my belief that the Conqueror genre can still give us many, many hours of wonderful entertainment. This story is absolutely a "do not miss."
Temple of Rage Review:
Review by Cee
Short Story – O/U
Fans of Conqueror stories will enjoy this story – call it an Uber Conqueror. Set in a modern world where ancient gods are still worshipped, Ares worshipper Harmon attempts to gain his favor by killing the leader of the Elijian Campus Crusade for Peace. Temple of Rage has an inventive mix of modern and futuristic elements to create a world that is both recognizable and imagined. It also blends elements from the Xena series into a modern world. Recommended.
Black Scarab and the Magic of Christmas Review:
Review by Emily Duncan
Classification: OF: Modern & Misc.
Sex/Violence Content: Alt
Length: Short Story - Complete
This story was produced for the Academy of Bards' 'Holiday Havoc' challenge, which, to my mind, makes it even more worthy of recommendation. Writing 'fiction to order' (i.e. when certain words or phrases have to be included) is a feat in itself - actually turning a list of random words into a quality original story is something else entirely. And Leslie Ann Miller manages to do exactly that with this piece. 'The Black Scarab and the Magic of Christmas' is a tale reminiscent of 'Men-in-Black' - it focuses on a secret government agency, but the operatives here are charged with controlling the use of magic (which is apparently more widespread than you might think), rather than hunting down little green men. You may think this sounds extremely derivative, but I can assure you that Miller's great fictional imagination soon makes you realise otherwise. To reduce it to the genre of 'Uber' - even though the two main characters are evocative of the archetypes - is also, in my opinion, to do the story a disservice. I don't want to spoil the tale by giving away too much - but the writing is flawless, the plot cute and whimsical, and it will definitely put a smile on your face.