Here is another one of those stories that makes you wish the author was writing more often then she does. By the way, is it just me, or are you noticing a subtle proclivity in my choice of stories towards the ones written by authors which are not writing anymore...
I think I should mention this to my shrink. Could be a major break-through.
Right. Back to the subject at hand. Claire. Claire likes her stories dark. Disturbed. Deep. Claire likes to torture poor Xena. Then again, in Claire's stories, unlike the campy hero of the TV show, Xena is truly a woman fighting with her butchering past day in and day out.
We were told, over and over again, during the past six seasons, how bad Xena was and how difficult the path of redemption is and we've had our heroine do selfless and stupid deeds of redemption over and over again, but you know what? I'm not conviced. I'm really not convinced Xena was all that bad - despite every attrocity she had supposedly commited, she was always able to put her past behind and move on with a few stony looks and patented 'suffering' facial expressions (aka - eyes cast in the distance, brows drawn together and lips pursed just enough to let us know Xena's off somewhere dark and stormy).
If you want to get a taste of what I, personally, imagine living with yourself after all you've done must be like - well, read on. Claire has painted a landscape that is violent and engaging - you won't be able to call this place bleak. It's got deep reds of love and passion and murky depths of sins commited (or is it the other way around?), and the landscape keeps changing. The only constant is the relationship of the two women who connected despite the odds.
This series follows our heroins from the first steps of their friendship, into the scarred romance and the inevitable end. I can't really tell you more than this because, though they have plot and structure, that is not what these stories are about. They're about suffering and fighting to convince yourself each day that you're worthy of living it.
Claire's characterizations and inner monologue are some of the finest I've read. The relationship between Xena and Gabrielle, so often left open for personal interpretation and sadly underexplored in the show, is developed wonderfully here. Sadly, as is the case with all the other stories of the highest quality I've had the pleasure of reading, I am incapable of accurately describing the details of it in a way that would make you understand why I'm so taken aback by the quality of this work.
I guess there is only one way to find out...