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TAC Reviews...Queen of the Slayers

 

Buffy the Vampire Slayer and her friends have escaped the destruction of the Sunnydale Hellmouth and are hoping to have some time to rest. Unfortunately dark forces are lurking on the horizon and the Cleveland Hellmouth has now become active.

 

Queen of the Slayers Book Cover

 

When picking up a Buffy book you have to prepare yourself for disappointment because like Star Trek novels in which writers could literally take any of the dozens of ideas, themes, locations or the rich tapestry of characters many seem determined to write nothing interesting that adds to the universe.

 

I will usually make it to the end of the story but a lot of them are generally pretty poor, and this is one of the crappier efforts to hit shelves with Buffy’s name plastered all over it.

 

...[sigh]...so let's take a look then...

 

Okay, so following the events of Season 7 Buffy, her friends and the new slayers are hoping for a period of peace following the defeat of The First’s forces. Unfortunately for them, now that the Sunnydale Hellmouth has been sealed (thanks to Spike) the Hellmouth in Cleveland has become super active spilling out more uber-vamps and demons than the one in Sunnydale ever did.

 

Every potential slayer across the world has now been made into a Slayer and after taking the gang back to Europe, Giles tries to reorganise the Watchers Council. Buffy heads to Rome after learning that a number of new slayers have been drawn to the charismatic and infamous Immortal.

 

Meanwhile Faith and Robin Wood head to Cleveland to try and counter the evil spilling out of that Hellmouth.

 

The lives of Buffy and her friends are complicated by not knowing if they should trust the Immortal, and a rival to Buffy (the so-called Queen of the Slayers), who is trying to convince many of the newly turned slayers that Buffy is only interested in using them to gain more power for herself.

 

As the more astute of you will have realised that I do not care for this book, and now I am going to tell you precisely why.

 

The Queen of the Slayers attempts to continue the story of Buffy and her friends following the activation of every potential slayer during the final battle of Season 7. The final season of Buffy pitted the Slayer against The First Evil, and unfortunately it was always going to be difficult to tackle a story taking place after that. I mean every series built up on the threat of the previous one leading Buffy to go from Vampire Master (a vampire-master obviously), Angelus (her true love’s evil alter ego), The Mayor (a quirky political figure trying to turn himself into a pure blood demon), Adam (a man-made human/demon hybrid), Glory (a God), Willow (Buffy’s best friend during a time when she was corrupted by magic) and finally The First Evil (the original evil, the creature that spawned evil itself). Now…hopefully you are still with me, so ask yourself, where do you go from there??

 

Honestly right into a mess…

 

There are several factors about the book which will leave the audience a little puzzled right from the outset. The survivors of the battle at the end of Season 7 are in a bus racing away from Sunnydale at breakneck speed, why?? I mean the Hellmouth is shut down, there is no traffic about, the authorities are not hunting them down, so why don’t they just drive away at a nice leisurely pace?? In addition, after the Sunnydale Hellmouth is shut down, the Cleveland one becomes far more active than Sunnydale's had ever been. It makes the audience wonder why The First didn’t work to seal the Hellmouth in Sunnydale and focus its efforts on the super active Cleveland Hellmouth.

 

Also the other slayers seem to have little to no fighting abilities and drop like flies when confronted by anything stronger than a stiff breeze. In an episode of Angel Season 5, Angel had to deal with an insane slayer, at the end of the episode Andrew (guest star Tom Lenk) tells Angel that he is taking the slayer with him. To make his point around a dozen girls all walk out of the shadows and the audience knows that they are all slayers. In the episode this is incredibly cool, because like Angel we know they are all slayers and he does not have a hope in hell of taking them on and winning. Unfortunately, Queen of the Slayers makes it look as though Angel and Spike could probably have taken them (despite the fact Spike had no lower arms at the time) because they may be slayers but they don’t know how to fight whereas both Angel and Spike are experienced battle hardened fighters that could have taken all of the slayers out without even breaking a sweat.

 

It is remarkable what context does isn’t it??

 

On the one hand a cool scene in a cool series that looked impressive, but in a crap book with a crap story it just makes you realise that all of those slayers were probably in danger of drowning in their own fear if Angel had decided to fight them.

 

Nancy Holder is a writer that uses a lot of description during her novels. She spends the first 40-odd pages of the book describing the bus ride away from the wreckage of Sunnydale and a crash in which a couple of unnamed slayers die. This is basically my main problem with her. How the hell can you write 40-odd pages about a bus crash, I mean I write books, and honestly I could not even begin to imagine how I would waste so many pages on essentially nothing happening.

 

In the interest of being fair, I will say that it was not all bad. There are some tie-ins with Season 5 of Angel (that ran for another season after the end of Buffy). A highlight of these brief moments is when Buffy and Faith are discussing whether Angel has been corrupted by Wolfram & Hart and Faith tells Buffy that Angel is the only one who has never given up on her, so she isn’t about to give up on him. It ties into the bond that Faith has with Angel, and it is a connection equally as strong if entirely different to the connection Buffy has with him. I honestly think that bringing Faith into Angel would have been a great move that could have focussed on the redemption of both whilst still keeping Angel in the foreground, but I digress…It is that link that is the only good thing about this book. Buffy complains, and things are trying to kill her so no changes there.

 

Buffy novels are only occasionally considered to be canon by Joss Whedon (or his office), this is definitely not one of them, and the events seen in the canon comic book series called The Long Way Home that function as Season 8 completely undermine everything in this book which I am completely happy with.

 

This book is BORING, not Moby Dick boring, but you’ll still be sitting there reading pages and pages of nothing happening and you will just be wondering how the ass-kicking vampire slayer and her band of misfits have been so poorly represented.

 

Not surprisingly my Thumb is pointing squarely Down.

 

 

3/10 - Fans of the excessively descriptive style of Holder will want to grab a copy; everyone else should leave Queen of the Slayers on the shelf and read The Lost Slayer books instead

 

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© Chris Sharman