Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Open Secrets

Star Trek: Vanguard: Open Secrets by Dayton Ward
Published May 2009
Read: July 1st, 2011


Previous book in the series: Reap the Whirlwind
Next book in the series: Precipice


Click the cover to purchase Open Secrets at Amazon.com!

Spoilers for Open Secrets and earlier novels in the Vanguard series follow! Beware!


From the back cover:


The Taurus Reach is in turmoil.


With tensions mounting between the Federation and the Klingon Empire, Ambassador Jetanien works frantically on Starbase Vanguard to halt the escalation toward war. Commodore Diego Reyes, the station's former commander, awaits trial for treason, while the shattered mind of his intelligence officer, T'Prynn, becomes the battlefield in a fight for her very life.


But even as matters deteriorate, the discoveries made in the Taurus Reach have attracted one of the Federation's most promising scientific minds: Dr. Carol Marcus believes she is close to solving a puzzle that will transform her life's work. Meanwhile, an unexpected defection brings a new perspective to the investigation, and Vanguard's Lieutenant Ming Xiong is confronted with an artifact that could be the key to decoding the Taurus Meta-Genome.


With Operation: Vanguard teetering between its greatest breakthrough and a conflict that could engulf two quadrants, its future may depend on the man Starfleet has selected to replace Reyes as base commander: Admiral Heihachiro Nogura.


About the novel: (Again, MAJOR SPOILERS!  You've been warned!)
Following on the events of the previous Vanguard novel, Reap the Whirlwind, the station's new commander arrives: Admiral Nogura (see: Star Trek: The Motion Picture), and the JAG office of Starbase 47 prepares for the trial of its former commander, Commodore Diego Reyes. Reyes is charged with willful disobedience of a superior officer, releasing classified intelligence data to unauthorized personnel, and conspiracy in the second degree. A Tellarite prosecutor by the name of Captain Mosh zelev Sereb arrives, freeing up Rana Desai to work as Reyes's defense attorney.

Ming Xiong and the Starship Endeavor investigate the former location of the Jinoteur system.  However, they find only empty space. The Endeavor returns to Vanguard, and soon a Tholian shuttle enters Vanguard’s sensor range. The shuttle is under attack by a number of Tholian vessels.  The crew of Vanguard soon discover that the shuttle is piloted by Nezrene, commander of the Tholian crew rescued from Jinoteur by the USS Sagittarius in Reap the Whirlwind.  The Endeavor is able to rescue Nezrene and chase away the attacking vessels. Grateful, Nezrene works with Xiong and Carol Marcus in researching the Shedai technology.  Xiong and Nezrene travel to Erilon aboard the USS Lovell to investigate the Shedai technology found there.  However, the ship soon comes under attack by the Klingons, and Xiong ends up being captured.

Meanwhile, Dr. M'Benga and Tim Pennington take T'Prynn to Vulcan to meet with an unorthodox Vulcan healer, Sobon, when efforts to revive her aboard the station fail. Eventually, Healer Sobon is able to drive Stenn's katra from T'Prynn's mind. Finally free of his influence and torture, T'Prynn apologizes to Tim for all of the trouble she has caused him, and flees before Starfleet can intercept and arrest her.

Back on the station, Reyes's trial begins with Diego pleading guilty to willful disobedience of a superior officer, but not guilty to the other two charges. The court martial ends with Reyes being found guilty of all charges except conspiracy in the second degree. Commodore Reyes is stripped of rank and sentenced to ten years in the Federation detention facility in New Zealand, followed by a dishonorable discharge. However, while en route to Earth, the transport carrying Reyes is attacked by a pirate vessel which had been hired by General Chang (see: Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country). The transport is destroyed.

Xiong, a prisoner of the Klingons, is put to work researching the Shedai technology on planet Mirdonyae V. The Klingons give him a large crystal, purchased from the Orion pirate Ganz. When it is plugged into the Shedai interface, the planetary systems power up and gives Nezrene access to the technology. He finds a map showing thousands of Shedai artifacts and technologies throughout the Taurus Reach. The Wanderer, a Shedai who is "awake," senses the activation of the crystal and the technology on Mirdonyae V. The Starship Endeavor soon arrives, and rescues Xiong along with the crystal artifact. As the Endeavor leaves the area, the Wanderer arrives and destroys Mirdonyae V, taking the Klingon ship with it. The Klingons blame the loss of their ship on Starfleet, and tensions between the Klingons and the Federation continue to escalate.

Three months later, the situation between the two powers comes to a head. War is openly declared, and the Klingons surround Vanguard and begin an attack. However, this event coincides with the events of the Original Series episode, "Errand of Mercy." The Organians intervene in the conflict and prevent the battle for Vanguard from occurring. Aboard the lead ship of the Klingon fleet, Commander Kutal discuses this surprising development with his prisoner, former Commodore Diego Reyes. (Dun dun DUNNNNNN!!!)

My thoughts:
I love the Vanguard series. It is completely engrossing, and I'm always eager to find out what happens next. Open Secrets is no different. Following the events of Reap the Whirlwind, I was extremely eager to discover the fates of the characters. T'Prynn in a coma, Reyes under arrest... what would happen? The resolutions to these plot lines were satisfying, and at the same time, opened new dimensions to the Vanguard story. Now, of course, in the tradition of any good serial, new questions are begging to be answered.

What will become of T'Prynn, on the run from Starfleet? How does she find her way back into Starfleet's good graces? What about Reyes? How did he survive, how did he come to be in the custody of the Klingons, and what will happen to him now? Although Vanguard doesn't feature characters from the screen-Trek universe front and center, the various authors have created a cast of players who make this on-going story as compelling, and sometimes more compelling, than many other Star Trek stories.

Although Open Secrets doesn't quite match the quality of the previous novel, I enjoyed it thoroughly. I give Open Secrets 8/10. It made me happy at times, sad at other times, and occasionally shocked and awed me. Just like a good Star Trek novel should.


Also by Dayton Ward:

More about Open Secrets:

Next Review:
The next review will be the next novel in the Vanguard saga, Precipice by the excellent David Mack. Until then, as always, LLAP!