Xena: The Complete Illustrated Companion
by K. Stoddard Hayes
I’ll never forget the closing minutes of the final Xena episode, aired back in June of 2001. Xena’s newly deceased spirit sits with her (still living) longtime companion, Gabrielle, at the gorgeous “life-giving fountain” as a beautiful sunset draws the final curtain on my favorite television show. I had goose bumps and was terribly upset, knowing that I would never spend another Saturday afternoon experiencing the joy of a new episode of Xena. Such is life, and all good things must end, and after six wonderful seasons, Xena: Warrior Princess came to a proper and well written halt.
I may have been saddened by the closing of the show, but treats like Xena: Warrior Princess; The Complete Illustrated Companion really help to alleviate my ongoing trauma. The book is divided into several sections: An introduction on the birth of the Xena character, a brief synopsis of each season, a more detailed and specific episode guide, a thorough character directory, and a fun “behind-the-scenes” look at the series.
Much of the information is common knowledge to die-hard Xena fans, but there are several worthwhile bits to tantalize even the most devout. An interesting bit of which I was unaware was that Xena was originally intended to die in battle after her brief stint on the once popular Hercules series, but a combination of popular response and the want of a spin off gave birth to her own series.
The episode guide is illustrated with various pictures from the corresponding episodes, and while somewhat brief in each episode’s summary, does serve as a handy reference. To the left of each summary is the name of the episode’s writer and director, a list of guest stars (including the characters they played), and the original air date. Following the summary is an interesting quote from each episode.
The book’s greatest strength is its spectacular description of each and every important character ever to appear on the show. Each character’s history is discussed within the context of the larger story, as well as the events leading up to the respective actors being cast.
Another advantage of this book is the breadth and wealth of photographs. The center of the book comes with a lovely set of full color photos on glossy paper, with the final photo in the series being the prettiest picture of Xena walking through the waters of the ocean in a beautiful white and golden outfit.
This book is absolutely spectacular. As stated before, the episode summaries could hit a little harder, but what is here is enough to suffice. The book is nearly perfectly put together, and it’s the kind of thing that I’ve been waiting for to quench my thirst for a valuable Xena resource. This is one to pick up, for sure.
Titan Books: http://www.titanbooks.com/