Blades Raised!

The Academy of Bards
presents the fan fiction reviews of

BlackDaemon and the Mysterious Reviewer

Reviews are not necessarily the views of the Academy of Bards. We've enlisted two well-spoken, independent thinkers to do them for us!

Previously Reviewed Fiction from the Academy of Bards

From the Mysterious Reviewer | From BlackDaemon

Reviews from the Mysterious Reviewer

"Bleedin' Hearts" by D. Jordan Redhawk
Uber/Alt. Rated: PG-13

Stormy weather, and a balky car, bring together the village outcast and an upper class woman she remembers from school as having everything. What follows seems almost as inevitable as a freight train, but the reader is caught up in events and rooting for the lonely teller of this tale by the end of the first page. Part 4 in a 6 part series of stories, this is a well-told first person tale of a young woman managing to get along, and then some, in spite of everything.

Rating: 4.3
Pages: 14
Detractors: None
Recommendation: Well written, delightful tale about a young woman whose life is lonely and rife with unforgiving attitudes. New to this intriguing character, I find myself anxious to read the rest of her saga and get to know her better. Thanks Jordan.

"Most Cherished Dreams" by D

Uber/Alt NC-17 for some violence and mildly graphic sex.

Donovan has spent a lifetime searching for the person who possesses the stunning green eyes that haunt her dreams. The dreams, started as a child, have grown stronger as she matures. With the help of her sea captain father Donovan has become a Captain in the Royal British Navy, a deception she gladly maintains because she is free to roam the Caribbean where the pull for her green eyes is strongest. Hannah’s dreams of beautiful blue eyes began when she was only five, growing stronger with age until she had a beautiful blue eyed but faceless friend in all her dreams. After the sudden death of her father, she leaves her successful career and retreats to her uncle’s home on a small island in the Caribbean, where her dreams become stronger than they have ever been before. Their ultimate meeting produces more than one kind of storm.

Rating: 3.8
Pages: 215
Sporadic but minor glitches in text, grammar, and syntax
Recommendation: Oh, yes. Nice variation on the soulmate theme.

"Still Life" by Devize

Uber/Alt, Rated: NC-17

This is a story that keeps you guessing, or maybe confused is a better word, until the end.
First reaction: I didn’t like it, because I got lost trying to figure out where the author was going.
However, the more I read, the more intrigued I became.
The dream sequences are very well done, though they are similar to other stories I’ve read.
When it was over, I still had some problems with a few things, but I’d say the author managed to do just what was planned.
Overall, I did actually like the story, though I still have trouble saying I enjoyed it, because of the frustrations on several levels.

Rating: 3
Pages: 23
Just my confusion, which you may not have at all.
Recommendation: Yes, but don’t expect everything well laid out for you.

"Grey Ice" by Evecho

Original/Alt. PWP (Explicit Sex)
Body: This is a short story about a predator becoming the prey.

Rating: 2.6
Pages: 7
Detractors: Seemed a bit choppy. Didn't seem erotic, more; slap you in the face with it.
Recommendation: If you're looking for consensual rape, this is it.

"Finding Honor" by Windstar
Uber/Alt, NC-17 (Sex and Explicit Violence)

Finding Honor is a trip into the distant future and another realm. Instead of the world of Xena, or an Uber variation, so familiar to Academy readers, Windstar takes us into the world of Honor Harrington, a universe created in the novels of David Weber, an excellent read in their own right, though not venturing into the Alt. genre.  The story begins near the end with the lead character, Aeris, seriously wounded and seeking to escape. She is stopped and captured as she collapses from her injuries.  From that ominous beginning, the story takes us back a year in time to the day, Aeris lands on the planet Grayson.  Immediately we are thrown into a world of deception and intrigue. Aeris herself is a rebel, fleeing her home world and the purges that followed the assassination of their president.  In deep cover herself, she saves a security guardˆattached to Honor Harrington's personal guard forceˆand lands a job as a guard to her, until recently, greatest enemy. Aeris is immediately attracted to the charismatic Honor Harrington. She soon discovers her feelings are reciprocated. From there the intrigue thickens, the emotions distract, and disaster strikes the Harrington household. A science fiction fan since I was old enough to know what it was, I was pulled right into this story but even if you aren't into Sci-Fi, or Spec-Fic as it is often called, this story has enough intrigue, violence, and sex to hold your interest.
Rating: 3.7
Pages: 116
Detractors: None
Recommended: Oh, yes!

"Passion's Fool" by Kim Pritekel <> Original/Alt
Rated R, for very explicit sex   Sarah is pledged to a man she has never met and waits nervously to wed him, hoping that he will be of a kind and gentle nature. Such a thing is nearly unheard of in mid sixteenth century England, where women are used as pawns in the game of power; more often than not treated brutally, and ignored, except to be used as a brood mare to produce heirs.  With much trepidation, Sarah is escorted down the aisle, by her father, to wed an unknown man. The union will consolidate the power of two wealthy families. Sarah prays for the best but has no idea what awaits her.  Neither does the woman who will soon be her husband. Kim takes us into the uncertain life of a woman who has virtually no control of her destiny in a time when women were totally dependent on the whim of their lord and master.  What makes this story unusual is that Fallon, lord and master of all he surveys, is also a woman.  When her brother died, leaving her family without an heir, her father raised her as a man to keep the family and properties intact. Without an heir, the family stood to lose everything. The problem is that Fallon must marry and must keep her true identity from everyone including her new bride.  Then there is the wedding night, and the proof needed to convince everyone that the marriage was consummated. This is an excellent read. Kim has created a very erotic story that revolves around the fears and trepidations of two very frightened people, trapped in a world that leaves them little choice in their actions.  This story is rated R for very graphic but extremely well done sex.  Rating: 4.3
Pages: 25
Detractors: A few minor errors in wording/grammar, etc.
Recommendation:  Definitely

Reviews from BlackDaemon Coward by Mark Annetts
Uber/ALT/Complete. Rated R for adult situations.
Enh, maybe PG. Ask Mark.

Now, I’ve never met Mark, though from the many posts of his that I’ve read over the years, I knew he had sharp wits, and a great sense of humor. Guess what? His fiction reads the same way! Fun characters, concise and clear plot work, great dialogue – this story is a fast-paced read that will make you smile. It’s a bit of an action thriller, featuring an emotionally distant private investigator, and her client, a lively, fast-talking pistol who doesn’t know how to take “no” for an answer. Hmmm. Could love be in the air?

Three Blades. I’m greedy; I wanted more!

“Revolution” by Kim Pritekel
Uber/ALT/Complete, Rated R for adult situations, language

Pritekel always seems to share stories that are well-worth the time spent reading them, and this one is no exception. The more of her work I read, the more I realize that she has a knack for exploring odd romantic pairings, and for accurately describing love between younger women. “Revolution” is the story of Brooklyn, a twenty-something copy editor, and her friendships with her boss’ twin teenaged daughters, Jodi and Cody. Brooklyn finds herself moving down a path she never envisioned, toward attraction and passion, and finally love.

Four Blades. I wish this one were published. It’s the kind of story you really want to hold in your hands. Great work.

“Old Wounds, New Beginnings” by Kim Pritekel
Uber/ALT/Complete, Rated R for adult situations, prison violence, language

Sure, I should quit reviewing this author’s work and move on to other folks, but Pritekel knows how to tell a story I can’t resist!

Pritekel gives us another seemingly odd pairing in this story. Jamie is a newly-released ex-convict with a past she hopes to leave in a Colorado prison. She finds work on a large Texas, and her boss, Tyg, has a past of her own that has come back to haunt her. Despite their different backgrounds, these women are drawn to each other. “Old Wounds, New Beginnings” is really a story about overcoming fear of the past, and growing the courage necessary to face the present, and the future.

Three Blades.

“And Playing the Role of Herself” by Dabkey
Uber/ALT/Complete. NC-17 because it’s got all the good stuff.

If you haven’t read this yet, stop everything else you’re doing and read it now! I finished it quickly, then read it again! This story is so easy to visualize, so moving and honest, it’s hard to put it down, so don’t bother trying.

Caidence Harris is smitten, but gushing over another woman isn’t good for her acting career, even in progressive Hollywood. So, she’s keeping her feelings for the lovely, famous - and supposedly extremely unavailable - Robyn Ward to herself. As time passes, though, it gets harder and harder for Caid to keep her heart guarded, especially when she discovers that she and Robyn may have more in common than she originally thought.

Five Blades. Big ones. Swords, even!

“Hearts and Flowers” by Fingersmith
Uber/ALT/Complete, NC-17 for Very Adult Situations and Language to Make A Sailor Blush

Cut to the chase: I loved this one. It made me laugh out loud, shake my head, smack my PDA (I wanted to smack the character but my PDA was the closest I could get), and it certainly raised my pulse rate. This is a great story, and the lead character is now one of my favorites. Beware the NC-17 warning: once things get going, they *really* get going, so don’t read anywhere near work. Still, make sure you read it.

Didn’t tell you squat about the story, did I? (Evil grin.)

Five Blades. Move it to the top of your list.


“Wall of Silence” by GabGold
Uber/ALT/Complete, NC-17, Language, Violence, Adult Situations, Graphic Crime Descriptions

Great work by a talented writer. The title refers to the legendary code among police officers to keep each other’s confidences. Our tragic heroine, Foster Everett, is a pint-sized stick of dynamite with a fiery temper and several bad habits. When her temper gets her in major trouble, she finds herself with only the suspicious backup of her partner, and the unwanted (though secretly desired) attention of a tall, quiet bouncer at the local women’s bar. Believe me; my description doesn’t do this story justice. Must-read.

Four Blades out of Five: sometimes the teasing hints in this story were so good, I couldn’t figure ‘em out, and it was mildly distracting. Otherwise, this is a good, tightly-written story.


"Misplaced People" by CG Devize
To Read:
To Buy:

(Please note: at SCP, the book is listed under C G Devise)
Original/ALT/Complete, NC-17, Violence, Language, Adult Situations (that means sex, in case you hadn’t figured it out.)

Here’s one that I strongly recommend you folks purchase. This was recently published and is available from SCP and few others, and it’s a good addition to the bookshelf.

Devize does an admirable job of introducing characters who seem to leap from the page. And these women aren’t perfect; they’re flawed, make mistakes, and are very human, which makes for a good read. Striker and Morien, besides having *great* names, are rich characters with eventful lives and these two manage to take the long, twisted, often misunderstood path to loving one another. Great stuff.

Four blades out of Five. If you need a novel to eat up some summer time, start this one now. Must read, must purchase. Feed the bard the second best way there is – send money!


"Random Thoughts" by Claire Withercross

Withercross has written a series of vignettes about the beginnings and development of the relationship between Xena and Gabrielle. These stories are dark and angsty (which, by now, y'all know I love), but beautifully written. Add ‘em to your “while-away-a-Saturday-afternoon” list.

Four Blades out of Five.


"Destiny Conquered" by Linda Crist
Conqueror/ALT/Complete, Extra NC-17

Be warned: this one starts off with a bang. In keeping with the Conqueror legend, this Xena is one evil (expletive deleted, heh), and it takes the innocence of a young, blonde slave to even begin to tame the beast. Hmmm. Wonder who the blonde is.

Take the NC-17 rating to heart, but give this one a glance if you’re a Conqueror fan. There isn’t much to this story beyond the development of the relationship between the Conqueror and slave, but familiar supporting characters add a little flavor to the story.

Three Blades out of Five.


"Conquering Heroine" by CN Winters and Amy

This is just a fun, wicked, provocative read with a twist on the standard Conqueror theme: Gabrielle’s the Conqueror. “Conquering Heroine” is fun because a number of classic supporting characters pop up from time to time. It’s wicked, because of the NC-17 stuff, which I’ll leave to your imagination, and it’s provocative, because we don’t often get to see an Evil Gab.

Three Blades out of Five. This one will likely only appeal to fans of the genre, but for those of you who like a good Conqueror tale, add it to your list.


“In All The Empty Places” by Janneen Brownell
Original/ALT/Complete. PG-13: Adult situations, but not graphic.

Brownell has gifted us with a well-written story of one woman's incredible life as witnessed by those around her. The story begins with Victoria Senett as she travels to Windchase, the palatial home of reclusive former actress Jillian Young. Young's life is filled with more drama than her onscreen work: on Christmas morning twenty-five years ago, her husband and young daughter, Kellen, were murdered. And now Jillian is about to marry Victoria's father.

The mystery unfolds beautifully, leaving just enough to the imagination to keep the reader inextricably involved. This isn't your standard uber fare - in fact, it's a most original story of the lost innocence of a child as well as a mother's questionable sacrifice. While it has romantic elements, it's more than just the story of a love between two women. What kind of story is it? Well, I can't tell you without giving away all this story's secrets!

This one does have some intense angsty moments, and manages to bring the gothic feel of wintry England to the California coast while still portraying Los Angeles in a realistic light. This is a must-read!

Four Blades out of Five: Definitely one to add to your list. There are a few minor editing glitches that are mildly distracting, but otherwise, I couldn't find a fault with this great story, and actually dropped everything to read it. Highly Recommended.


"Daughter of Egypt" by Shadowriter

Shadowriter spins a great tale, and "Daughter of Egypt" is no exception. This story has the flavor of a Mel & Janice story, but it's an original uber that begins in Cairo, and travels the far reaches of the imagination. Sound dramatic? So's the tale. Young Daryl is a foreigner in the only home she knows. Born to British parents in Cairo, then orphaned in her early teens, Daryl turns to thievery to maintain her existence. Talented though she is, one day she is nearly caught, but finds herself rescued by a reclusive blue-eyed stranger. Running from the law, she discovers that her fate may be far more dangerous than prison. Highly recommended.

Four Blades out of Five: The good ones always leave you wanting more, and this story is no exception. Sequel! Sequel!

"Wild" by Kim Pritekel & Alexa Hoffman


I *loved* this story, so much that I read it twice, back-to-back. Then, I stopped reading fiction altogether for about a week afterward, simply because I enjoyed it so much, I didn't want anything to detract from it. While the subject matter - girl gets girl, girl loses girl, girl gets girl back - is pretty standard, nothing else about this story is formulaic. Here's a quick excerpt:

Abel tossed the sun block back into the basket, seeing her weapon of choice when she did. With a confident smile, she grabbed her book, opened it up to the first page, and settled in to read, cursing quietly as she smudged the lens of her sunglasses with the greasy suntan lotion. As her eyes scanned the page, suddenly she felt that strange . . . feeling, again. She looked up at the lake, trying to listen to the day, but heard nothing. Turning her eyes back to the page, she scanned until she found her place.


The figure gripped the tree even tighter, fighting the urge to just jump out from behind it, and say, 'Spinney! How are ya?' Instead, she stayed put, her heart pounding in her ears, indecision making her blood rush faster.

This would be the perfect chance for her to say hello to her old friend again. For her to put her dreams and day dreams to rest, and exchange them for new, fresh memories.

Blue eyes squeezed shut, a pink tongue sliding out to rake across suddenly very dry lips. She took several deep breaths and opened her eyes again.


Abel followed the page as she turned it, starting at the first line of the new page, and making quick progress down through the opening sequences of the story. She lifted her leg to cross over the other when she froze.

Floating on the soft breeze. "Hi, Spinney."

Abel leapt out of her chair, heart flying up to her throat. She heard a distant splash as her paperback fell into the water.

There before her, standing at the beginning of the dock, not ten feet away, stood her ghost.

Five Blades out of Five. 'Nuff said. I don't want to give away any more details because the story unfolds itself beautifully, so you're on your own. Read it now!

"Between The Lines" by Linda Crist


I realize I promised y'all I'd stay away from the incomplete stuff, but I can't help but recommend this series for those of you who have mentioned that you're watching X:WP episodess from the very beginning. These stories are the perfect accompaniment to re-living the legend as it develops in the first two seasons. They add depth to the simpler stories, and additional perspective to the more intense episodes. And, if you're not watching the original series in order, these stories are a great way to go back to the beginning, and read about the development of the relationship between X & G in the context of the classic series, as opposed to the many offshoots (Amazon Nation, Conqueror, alternate timeline, etc.)

Five Blades out of Five. Can't find a thing to constructively criticize! Very well written.

"Well Met By Moonlight", by Nene Adams

Original/ALT/Complete, Rated PG, for some graphic content
A delectable morsel that teases from the first taste until the last bite, "Well Met By Moonlight" is the tale of former governess Alice Russell, who has fallen on hard times and a dark path.  Adams has incredible talent for painting the rich colors of any particular time piece, and at times, I actually felt as if I was reading a piece from an older period, as a opposed to a modern tale of the past. Make sense? Sure it does! If you're a Nene Adams fan, you simply must read this. If you're a fan of vampire tales, add this one to your collection of faves. Recommended! Four blades out of five, but only because I had to look a couple of things up to understand the story!

"Dark Springs," by Meghan O'Brien Original/ALT/Complete
Rated NC-17 (sex, violence, graphic content)
Here's a sexy, gritty modern tale that conjured visions so clearly, I thought I was watching a movie. In fact, "Dark Springs" would be one of those movies that gets released on Halloween, and the hot chick you've been crushed out on for weeks calls you up and says, "Let's go see the new scary movie" and you think, I don't like scary movies, but you go anyway because the hot chick really is that hot. So you watch the movie, and it scares the pants off you. Which is what you wanted anyway. [g] Well, this time, the hot chicks are *in* the movie. Cate's driving across country after finishing college, and finds herself playing road tag with a mysterious stranger on a motorcycle. What follows is an arousing, action packed race to the dawn, with a couple of sweet surprises. Definitely recommended.

Three Blades out of Five: there are sections that are not for those with weak stomachs, but if you can make it through Season 7 of BtVS, you can make it through this! I liked it so much, I immediately read another one of O'Brien's stories:

"Endgame," by Meghan O'Brien
Rated R (sexual violence, sexual themes, graphic content)

This is very much an adult story. O'Brien tackled some heavy subject matter with this one, but not so heavy that the story gets bogged down in angst or intensity. Fear not my disclaiming: this is one of the best stories I've read in a long while.  Just read the warnings at the beginning of the story very closely. Delaney is something of a female cad who tends to roughly love Œem and quickly leave Œem. When she meets Hannah, Delaney finds that (1) Hannah isn't a woman Delaney can use and discard, and (2) Delaney can't help being drawn to her anyway. "Endgame" beautifully depicts the loving, healthy development of a real relationship, and the ways that people can heal one another.

Five Blades out of Five: if you can handle the subject matter, this is a must-read.

"Message In A Bottle," by sHaYcH
Original/ALT/Complete, Rated PG, since a couple of adult subjects are discussed

Alright, I've used the word "magical" before, but this one really is. Lyran is a lonely shipwrecked sailor from a fantastic land bound by its stringent caste system, lost for years on an island from which she cannot escape. Her world is both enlightened and destroyed when a storm brings another ship to the island's shores, and its sole occupant is a nobly born woman of a different caste. Or is she? If you're a lover of fantasy, you must read this story. It takes a page or two to get used to the different flow of the language, but once you've adapted to the new world this story creates, you'll find the jewel that awaits. I've read a number of stories of the sea lately, and I could almost smell the salt water and feel the sway of a ship beneath my feet when I read this one.

Three Blades out of Five: this one is a little different from the usual fare, and I found myself wanting more in the end, but that's the sign of a good story, isn't it?

"The Tomb," by DJ Belt

Rated PG-13, for a little violence

The first in a series of M stories, "The Tomb" chronicles the adventures of the cocky but soft-hearted archaeologist and the long-legged translator with the sexy Southern drawl as they discover the last resting place of one Battling Bard and the remains of the Warrior Princess. This is fun tale that moves along at a healthy pace as our heroines try to protect the Grecian warriors from a rather familiar tall, good-looking, evil, dark haired man. Now, who could that be?

Four Blades out of Five: Add it to your list of Saturday afternoon read-it-in-one-sitting stories.

"The Curse of Higuchi" by L. Crystal Michallet-Romero Classic-ALT/Post-FIN, Complete
NC-17 (sex, violence, and general graphic content)

Every once in a while, I like a little angst in my fiction. This is an amazing tale, and not for the faint of heart. The story begins in the aftermath of Higuchi, as our Bard endures the darkest period of her life. "The Curse of Higuchi" is painted in dark tones, and while it doesn't drown in all-out angst, it does try the soul once or twice. Fair warning: when I say graphic content of all kinds, I mean it, and this story depicts its battles vividly. This portrait of our favorite pair of soulmates gives us a very human Gabrielle, complete with her shortcomings and a skoche of polygamy as she truly comes into her own, and a Warrior Princess who is forced to look at unexpected consequences of her actions as she watches her Bard move through life independently, though in pain. The story also introduces us to a new main character, and I'd really like to find out more about her adventures after the end of this tale. (HINT, HINT, to the bard responsible!) While predominantly F/F, there's a touch of M/M as well, though the men are vulnerable and loving in expressing their love for each other, and *that* content isn't graphic. The best parts of this tale illustrate the drive and passion its women have in their love for one another, and in this regard, Michallet-Romero succeeds in ways that will grab you and not let you go! Also, the author's portrayal of Middle Eastern and Indian traditions and spirituality are very eye-opening. (I'd say "enlightening", but that's just too much, isn't it? I don't need the pun police on my case already.)

Three Blades out of Five: it is quite long, so plan on investing some time reading it, and while the story never veers from the soulmate theme, it varies from the standard romance of just Xena and Gabrielle. Recommended!

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