The Faith Trials
Author: James Laurence
This was the second best of the character focused novelizations so far, just railing behind The Angel Chronicles: Vol 3. For people who have watched the show these particular novelizations don’t add a ton of value in reading them. However, much like the aforementioned Angel Vol. 3, The Faith Trials is a good read because the episodes picked are some of the best in the series and fit well together as a collection. I give the Angel book the slight edge due to my personal preference for that season of the show as well as that the ending felt a bit more final than the final episode in this book.
Unlike most of the character novelizations, The Faith Trials revisits four episodes from the series instead of three. The first episode here is season three, episode three “Faith, Hope and Trick” which introduces Faith to Sunnydale. Faith was one of my favorite characters on the show, showing what would happen if the slayer abilities went to somebody without the moral character of Buffy. This episode is also great for the memorable villain Kakistos, who is set up to be a potential big bad guy for the season, and also for Mr. Trick, one of the more memorable henchmen vampires on the show.
Up next is season three, episode seven’s “Revelations,” which features a new watcher for Faith and the groups discovery that Angel is alive and Buffy’s been hiding him. Despite the four episode gap between the first two installments, Laurence does a nice job of making the transition seemless to fill in any details that were missed in between episodes. The new watcher was a great villain and there’s some Xander centered drama that really ramped up the stakes in the episode.
The book wraps up with the excellent two parter from season 3, episodes 14 and 15 “Bad Girls” and “Consequences.” Laurence would seem to need a lot more exposition to bridge the gap for seven episodes but aside from some brief summaries of Xander and Willow’s relationships and Angel’s near suicide, manages to not bog down the story with a ton of recap. Here Buffy is taken by Faith’s impulsive ways and begins to act similarly. This quickly spirals to a burglary and then a death of a human, and the second part of the episode deals with all the consequences.
The resolution is very open-ended as to the possibility of rehabilitating Faith while also setting up her next arc as a bad guy. It’s compelling stuff but I can’t help but wonder who it’s aimed for. For readers looking for more of Faith’s story, they can’t get it in novelization form. Still, I could do a lot worse than revisiting four of my favorite episodes from my favorite tv show from my youth.