Ru Emerson was born in 1944 and is the author of twenty-three novels, including the Nedao trilogy, the six-volume Night-Threads series, media tie-in novels based on Xena: Warrior Princess, and (as Roberta Cray) The Sword and the Lion.
Emersonâ€™s first novel, Princess of Flames came out in 1986, I bought it the moment I saw it on the shelf and was struck all of a heap by the writing and characters. This is a standalone book, it starts with the four legitimate children of the king who are increasingly unhappy about his insistence in keeping Elfrid, his bastard daughter by his mistress, at court. They hatch a plot, the king is deposed â€“ and injured during this event so that he becomes mentally impaired â€“ and he and his bastard daughter are exiled â€“ with an attempt to assassinate them on the road out of the kingdom. Eight years later Sedry, the kingâ€™s oldest son who had taken the throne needs assistance and calls in the well-known fighter, Archbishop Gespry, to lead a task force composed of locals and mercenaries against an enemy on his borders. But Elfrid has been waiting for the past eight years to return. This is her chance and the book is how and what she does to avenge herself on those who deposed the king and were responsible for her father’s death. The book was well rounded with a fleshed-out background that made it and the characters fascinating, and it was excellent militaristic fantasy.
When, the year after it, the first of a trilogy appeared, I grabbed To the Haunted Mountains eagerly. I subsequently seized the other two and more than twenty years later all four books are still in my library being re-read every few years and I still love them. The Nedao trilogy was again a well filled-out background, and I hoped that it might be only the first three books set within that and that there’d be more. Sadly it was only three books. I didn’t find the six Night-Threads books nearly so good. I read the first, held it until Iâ€™d bought and read the second, and then dropped both. It wasnâ€™t that it was bad, but it just didnâ€™t engage me. I found the characters unattractive, and they didnâ€™t make me care whether they survived or not. Other readers may well feel differently but even within the books they couldnâ€™t hold my attention let alone from one book to the next.
After that Emerson seemed to move into tie-ins or into other-author-series of some sort.
Her Xena books were of their kind, very well-written, a friend who has all of the Xena tie-ins agrees that Ru Emersonâ€™s books were by far the best of them all. Her “Starbridge” book was very good, (I have almost all of that series and cherish it) and considering her Xena work I was surprised when in 2001, the anthology, Further Adventures of Xena: warrior Princess appeared and there wasnâ€™t a story by Ru Emerson within. (I had my story â€œHorsing Aroundâ€ in that.) And by 2003 Ru Emerson seemed to have vanished as an author.
I have no idea why, she wrote well, in many cases very well, but it may be that she felt she had no more to say and therefore stopped writing. There are a host of reasons why an author may stpp writing. But I do recommend her first four books in particular, and the Xena, Starbridge, and Grayhawk books to those who like such works. I only hope that one day Ru Emerson will decide to return to the worlds of her original four books and do more within those backgrounds.
1986. Princess of Flames (Standalone)
1987. To the Haunted Mountains (Trilogy)
1988. In the Caves of Exile
1989. On the Seas of Destiny
1990. Masques (Beauty and the Beast)
1990. Spell Bound (Standalone)
1990. The Calling of the Three (Night-Threads series)
1991. The Two in Hiding
1992. One Land, One Duke
1993. The Craft of Light
1994. The Art of the Sword
1995. The Science of Power
1993. The Sword and the Lion (Epic fantasy â€“ standalone) listed as written by â€œRoberta Crayâ€)
1993. Fortress of Frost and Fire (One of the Bardâ€™s Tale series â€“ see Mercedes Lackey bibliography anywhere)
1996. The Empty Throne (Xena- warrior Princess tie-in novels)
1997. The Huntress and the Sphinx
1997. The Thief of Hermes
1999. Go Quest, Young Man
2000. How the Quest Was Won
2000 Questward Ho
1998. Voices of Chaos (Ann Crispin and Ru Emerson This is actually
the seventh in the Starbridge series)
1999. Against the Giants (Greyhawk series â€“ D&D)
2001. Keep on the Borderlands (as above)
Short Fiction: (And perhaps someone will gather these short stories into a collection for those of us who missed them in original markets. )
1987. A Golden Net for Silver Fishes
1988. The Werewolf’s Gift
1988. Two-Edged Choice
1990. Shapeshifter’s Duel
1993. Looking Forward: Excerpt from The Craft of Light
1996. Call Him By Name
1998. Three-Edged Choice
2003. Find a Pin
About every six months I google Ru Emerson to see if there is anything new about her, and this time your commentary showed up. I wish she was still actively writing. I have almost exactly the same feelings about her that you do – I love Princess of the Flames and I reread the Trilogy at least once a year. A few years ago I tracked down the whole set via Amazon for a neice as her Christmas gift.
an update for Ru Emerson is that in late 2011 Ridan Publishing signed all seven books in A.C. Crispin’s StarBridge series – including the seventh written by Emerson. StarBridge, Silent Dances, Shadow World and Serpent’s Gift should all be available by now. The last three books in the series are scheduled for release in early 2012. I recommend the series,
I love those first 4 books also – and kept hoping there would be sequels to both. The Nedao series seemed more “done” to me, but there was a whole world left to explore!
A few years back I borrowed “In The Caves of Exile” – my favorite – from my mom… then she passed away… and my dad’s house burned partially down… and now I wish I’d grabbed all the other books, too! I was just checking Amazon about replacement copies, but I *really* want the ones with the beautiful covers… sigh.
It’s time to introduce *my* oldest daughter to Ru Emerson’s work!
Thank you for this article…
I met Ru in 1991 at Westercon, a nice lady and I have always loved her first four books (and treasure the signed one with personal message that she did for me after spending hours chatting together in the pro-room during the con.) But, long deep sigh, it happens every so often, terrific authors seem to fade away and you never know exactly why or what happened to them. Look at Lorna Freeman for example. I agree, Nedao was a well-realized world and I’d have liked to read more about it, a LOT more. But that’s life.
It’s been more than twenty years since I met her briefly at a local book signing. At the time, she was living in Dallas, Oregon.
I have not read the Nedao series, but I happened to enjoy the Night-Threads series, perhaps more because of the concept of how two differing magic school philosophies might be reflections of the same, older, lost school of magic. I thought Princess of Flames a first rate book. Triumphant, yet sad; revenge is always a costly purchase. The Greyhawk book was well done.
I do see a short story, published in 2016, in the Speculative Fiction database, here:
She is a talented writer, and I, too, would have enjoyed reading more of her work.
yes, I was at a convention in Vancouver in, I think,1998 and spent quite a lot of time with her in the pro-writer’s room. I liked her a lot, and as I also loved her Princess of Flames and the Nedao series, I regretted all the more that she wrote so few works. I still have those books, (one signed by her to me with personal comments,) and re-read them regularly. It’s just sad when you run into a reader you love and either they stop writing, or write very few books. (Pat Hodgell is another. I love her Kencyrath books, started buying them in 1983, but there are so few.)
As I noted, she did do a short story in 2016. I wrote to the Dallas Public Library to see if they had any news of her, as she used them a lot for research, and credited them more than once for their help with her writing. I haven’t heard anything back yet.