Monday, May 2, 2011

Reap the Whirlwind

Star Trek: Vanguard: Reap the Whirlwind by David Mack
Published June 2007
Read: May 2nd, 2011

Previous book (Vanguard): Summon the Thunder

Next book (Vanguard): Open Secrets


Click the cover to purchase Reap the Whirlwind at Amazon.com!


Spoilers Ahead for Reap the Whirlwind and other books in the Vanguard series!


From the back cover:

Ancient secrets lie on the fourth planet of the Jinoteur system, and three great rivals are fighting to control it. The Federation and the Klingon Empire want to wield its power; the Tholian Assembly wants to bury it.
But the threat stirring on that distant world is more dangerous than they realize. The Shedai, who ruled the Taurus Reach aeons ago, have risen from their ages of deathlike slumber -- to gather, marshal their strength, and take their revenge.
To keep Jinoteur from falling into enemy hands, the crews of Starbase Vanguard and the U.S.S. Sagittarius must risk everything: friends... loved ones... their own lives. But the sacrifices they make may prove too terrible for them to bear.
About the novel:
Reap the Whirlwind begins six weeks after the previous Vanguard novel, Summon the Thunder.  The Shedai - an ancient and powerful race of beings - continue to awaken on worlds throughout the Taurus Reach.  Through it all, the Starfleet crews of Starbase 47, the USS Lovell, USS Endeavor, and the USS Sagittarius begin to realize that they are in well over their heads.

The
USS Sagittarius is sent to the Jinotaur system, which is the source of the mysterious carrier wave that was detected in the previous novels.  In orbit of Jinotaur IV is a derelict Tholian vessel, which A & A Officer Ming Xiong boards to investigate.  While he is aboard the Tholian ship, the Sagittarius is attacked by the Shedai defense system and crash lands in a river on the surface.  The team on the surface must fend off attacks from the Shedai while repairing the Sagittarius.  Xiong manages to escape from the Tholian vessel, and is later rescued by the Sagittarius.  Not everyone on the crew survives, and some manage to pull through only due to the timely intervention of Cervantes Quinn and Tim Pennington aboard the Rocinante.  During their time on the surface, the crew of the Sagittarius makes a startling discovery about the Shedai "carrier wave," which allows it to be used to regenerate the damaged tissue of a crewmember who lost her leg when the Shedai attacked.  The discovery of the regenerative properties causes Starfleet to send a new scientist to head up the project on Vanguard: Dr. Carol Marcus.  Excited about the regenerative properties of the wave, she clearly is determined to investigate using it for more than simply healing damaged tissue.  She notes that entire planets and ecosystems can be created using the technology.  Someone who controls that power would literally hold the power of creation, akin to the genesis myth of the Christian bible...

Meanwhile, elsewhere in the Taurus Reach, the colony on planet Gamma Tauri IV formally refuses protectorate status from the Federation.  Commodore Reyes urges the president (who is also his ex-wife) to reconsider under the pretense of protection from Klingon forces.  President Vinueza knows he is hiding something, however, and she refuses.  Sure enough, the Shedai of that world come to life and begin slaughtering the colonists, a Starfleet scouting party, and a Klingon away team.  Commodore Reyes watches in horror from
Vanguard as President Vinueza transmits her final moments as her and the colonists are slaughtered by the Shedai.  In the end, Commodore Reyes initiates Starfleet General Order 24, which calls for a photon torpedo bombardment of the planet surface, basically turning the entire globe into a radioactive glass and ash covered wasteland.  Over 13,000 colonists, along with a number of Starfleet officers, are lost at Gamma Tauri IV.

Back in the Jinotaur system, it becomes apparent that a civil war is raging amoungst the Shedai.  While most of the Shedai are content to go to war with and slaughter the "lower" lifeforms in the Taurus Reach (the Klingons, Tholians, and members of Starfleet and the Federation), one Shedai (called "The Apostate") has other ideas.  He fights the other Shedai on the surface of Jinotaur IV, allowing the Starfleet crew to escape.  As the
Sagittarius and Rocinante flee, the Jinotaur system ceases to exist.

As all of this is happening, Commander T'Prynn's inner battle against the katra of her betrothed, Stenn, rages on.  His katra urges her to submit to his will, while she tries to maintain sanity by battling back.  Things between T'Prynn and her Klingon double-agent lover, Anna/Lurqal, come to a head, and T'Prynn is forced to leak false intelligence to the Klingons through her.  This leads to Anna's cover being blown, and T'Prynn sends her to live a new life, protected with a new face and new name deep in the Federation.  However, as Anna is departing the station, the freighter carrying her explodes in the docking bay, killing her.  This causes T'Prynn to have a complete breakdown, and she lapses into a coma.  Meanwhile, the battle in her mind rages on.


Commodore Reyes takes stock of all that has happened: the awakening of the Shedai, the loss of all life on Gamma Tauri IV by his order, and the personal turmoil his decisions have caused.  He decides to allow Tim Pennington to file a story that leaks classified information, no longer able to hide behind his own lies and cover-ups.  This results in his arrest by his current girlfriend, JAG Officer Captain Rena Desai, for leaking classified information.



My thoughts:
Reap the Whirlwind is an exceptionally written, well-paced, engrossing novel.  When I first started reading the Vanguard series, I was sceptical.  However, the first novel, Harbinger, pulled me in almost immediately. Now, I am eager to find out what happens next.  Will T'Prynn recover?  What's next for Commodore Reyes?  Will we see the beginnings of Project Genesis, developed by Dr. Marcus?  What happened to the Jinotaur system, and what does this conflict within the ranks of Shedai mean for the future of the Taurus Reach?  While I have not read the later novels in the Vanguard series, I feel as though Reap the Whirlwind marks a definite turning point in the series.  We see many changes, including a tragic end to the Anna Sandejo/Lurqal storyline and a pivotal change for the character of Cervantes Quinn.  And while it is nice to see the redemption of Tim Pennington, it hurts that it is at the cost of Diego Reyes' career.  However, I do not believe that I could have continued to operate in his shoes.  Commodore Reyes has the weight of many worlds on his shoulders, and the fact that his decisions led directly to the deaths of many people would be an incredibly difficult cross to bear.

I found
Reap the Whirlwind to be an incredible read.  The characters are written as real, vital people, and with a level of sophistication and maturity that other works sometimes lack.  I also have to commend David Mack, and Trek literature in general, for making room for LGBT relationships, an issue that I sometimes found lacking in the various television series.  Also, in one particular love scene between T'Prynn and Anna near the beginning of the book, Anna notes that the marks T'Prynn left in her back had bled... are there perhaps hints of BDSM in their relationship?  I find openness to ideas such as these refreshing, especially if handled as maturely as Mr. Mack seems able to.

Finally, although this is a secondary attribute of the novels, I have to say that I absolutely love the cover art for the novels of the Vanguard series.  This novel in particular is gorgeous.  I believe that the covers are done by Doug Drexler, whose blog can be found
here.

If you have not checked out
Vanguard yet, I urge you to do so.  I cannot say enough about how well these books are written.  Also, I have found that any novel that has David Mack's name on the cover is going to be a winner.  He is absolutely one of my favorite modern Trek novelists.

I'm hard-pressed to find a problem with this novel.  Again, I am a very lenient and forgiving person, so take this with a grain of salt, but I feel compelled to give
Star Trek Vanguard: Reap the Whirlwind a 10/10.


More about Reap the Whirlwind:

Also by David Mack:




Next read:  
I am eager to read Christopher L. Bennett's new novel, Department of Temporal Investigations: Watching the Clock.  However, for some reason, the Kobo bookstore doesn't yet feature it to download, despite it having been released some time ago.  Also, I am unable to buy the electronic version from Amazon because that title isn't available to Canadian customers!  Therefore, I believe that my next read will be from one of my favorite Trek authors, Peter David.  I've never read his famous Next Generation novel, Vendetta, and I think that oversight should be rectified immediately.


Until next time, LLAP!