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Last modified: November 03 2012 12:33:03

Please make sure to read the EXPLANATORY NOTES before reading these reviews.

Alternative stories are designated as such with an [Alt] at the end of the title line.

This file features reviews of stories written by Puckster. For any other fiction by this bard please visit any of the Xena fan fiction indexes.

ALICE'S ALTERNATIVE by Puckster -- [Alt]
This is a very unusual, highly original follow-up to Puckster's first two XWP novels - CEREBUS' CHALLENGE and EMPATHY'S COST. The story is set both in the present and in the ancient past and has the goddess Gaea once again calling on Xena and Gabrielle to help her fight an evil the two know all too well - an evil which now threatens a world warrior and bard never even envisioned. Joining them is Alice - a modern day woman that has lost her way in the world and is desperately looking for some meaning in her life. With a significant part of the tale unfolding in the Amazon jungle, Puckster story carries a strong conservationist theme which in itself ties well with the presence of Gaea - a goddess seen as the embodiment of the Earth itself - and with the idea that humans need a link to the natural world around them, they need a connection that goes beyond the cold, profit-driven, stiflingly civilized existence we all tend to live in. Adding to the storyline is Pucksters' solid depiction of the commitment between Xena and Gabrielle - the passion they share, the playfulness, the certain knowledge of one another. This is a fun story with a great message. - 97 pgs., 12/21/97

**CERBERUS' CHALLENGE by Puckster -- [Alt]
An *EXTRAORDINARY* debut for a new bard, this story will likely make it into many a readers list of favorites! This tale is simply MAGICAL - one of the most romantic and passionate in XWP fan fic today. After an unnerving encounter with Cerberus, Hades' dog, Xena decides to go visit an old friend - a priestess of the great goddess Gaea with whom the warrior knows both she and Gabrielle will be safe while they rest and gather their strength once again. The priestess Sybil welcomes them with open arms knowing that beyond physical rest, the warrior and bard will need both strength and courage to deal with the raw emotions in their hearts and to finally face the burning passions pulling them together in a destiny slated to change the world. This story reads in part like a mystical fairy tale, at times like an erotic journey of discovery, and ultimately like the most tender of romances. A cautionary note - DO NOT read at work! ;-) Extremely well-written and beautifully presented this is a definite MUST READ!!! VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!! [See also the sequel EMPATHY'S COST] - 67 pgs., 6/97
FANFIC ART: "Cerberus' Challenge" by Angelique

**EMPATHY'S COST by Puckster -- [Alt]
With the debut of CERBERUS' CHALLENGE on the Net back in June of this year, Puckster immediately claimed a place among the best of the best in XWP fan fiction. With this new sequel, her standing is assured. Starting where the first story left off, this tale has Xena and Gabrielle traveling toward the Island of Thera so the bard can meet the "master empath" - a mysterious figure who they hope will be able to help Gabrielle control the empathic powers growing stronger within her. Soon they are joined on their journey by a spunky teenage priestess-in-training who is able to tell them a bit more about the dangers associated with Gabrielle's newfound abilities. What none of them suspect, however, is that the fate of the world will soon rest on those powers for a destructive force of unimaginable proportions has targeted the earth and not even the gods of Olympus can hope to stand against it. With the concept of a "chosen one" and a proud warrior protector on a valiant quest to fulfill their destinies, this story is very reminiscent of grand epics of fantasy literature like Tolkien's LORD OF THE RINGS or Terry Brook's SWORD OF SHANARA. Unlike those, however, it is like Puckster's first story, a very passionate, dare I say "imaginative" romance, that continues to explore the Xena/Gab relationship and presents us with a very beautiful, satisfying interpretation of it. [See the sequel ALICE'S ALTERNATIVE]. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!! - 75 pgs., 8/8/97

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