Saturday, December 31, 2011

TrekLit Year in Review

Well, goodbye to 2011.  It's been a great year for me, and I think a great inaugural year for this blog.  I started it in April as a way to better catalog the Star Trek books I read, and as a way to remember what I liked and disliked about each one.  However, it has become more than that now.  I genuinely look forward to posting reviews and news in and of themselves.  I enjoy sharing my views with other fans, and to the readers of this humble blog, thank you so much for providing me an outlet for sharing my love of Trek books.  Here, in chronological order, are the reviews I wrote from the past year:


April

Inception (Star Trek: The Original Series) by S.D. Perry and Britta Dennison

Unworthy (Star Trek: Voyager - Relaunch) by Kirsten Beyer


May

Reap the Whirlwind (Star Trek: Vanguard #3) by David Mack

Vendetta (Star Trek: The Next Generation) by Peter David


June

Watching the Clock (Star Trek: Department of Temporal Investigations) by Christopher L. Bennett

Blind Man's Bluff (Star Trek: New Frontier) by Peter David

Unspoken Truth (Star Trek: The Original Series) by Margaret Wander Bonanno

My Enemy, My Ally (Star Trek: The Original Series - Rihannsu #1) by Diane Duane


July

Children of the Storm (Star Trek: Voyager - Relaunch) by Kirsten Beyer


October

The Final Reflection (Star Trek: The Original Series - Worlds Apart #1) by John M. Ford

Open Secrets (Star Trek: Vanguard #4) by Dayton Ward

Cast No Shadow (Star Trek: The Original Series) by James Swallow

Precipice (Star Trek: Vanguard #5) by David Mack

A Choice of Catastrophes (Star Trek: The Original Series) by Michael Schuster and Steve Mollmann

The Sorrows of Empire (Star Trek: The Mirror Universe) by David Mack

The Struggle Within (Star Trek: Typhon Pact - EBook) by Christopher L. Bennett


November

Declassified (Star Trek: Vanguard #6 - 4-novella collection) by Dayton Ward, Kevin Dilmore, Marco Palmieri, and David Mack

To Brave the Storm (Star Trek: Enterprise - The Romulan War) by Michael A. Martin

What Judgments Come (Star Trek: Vanguard #7) by Dayton Ward and Kevin Dilmore

The Children of Kings (Star Trek: The Original Series) by David Stern

The Romulan Way (Star Trek: The Original Series - Rihannsu #2) by Diane Duane and Peter Morwood

The Lost Years (Star Trek: The Original Series - The Lost Years #1) by J.M. Dillard


December

Forged in Fire (Star Trek: The Original Series - Excelsior) by Michael A. Martin and Andy Mangels

Rise Like Lions (Star Trek: The Mirror Universe) by David Mack

Swordhunt (Star Trek: The Original Series - Rihannsu #3) by Diane Duane

Honor Blade (Star Trek: The Original Series - Rihannsu #4) by Diane Duane

The Empty Chair (Star Trek: The Original Series - Rihannsu #5) by Diane Duane



April, of course, was the month I first started writing reviews and posting them to this blog.  I did read a large number of Trek novels in the months leading up to April, but I didn't write any reviews for them.  Perhaps someday I can go back and revisit them and share my thoughts.  There was also a large gap after July.  I wasn't sure I was going to continue updating this blog, but after a couple of months I decided I missed the experience of writing about the novels I had read.  I decided to "catch up" by reviewing the books I had read over the summer, and managed to do so within about a month and a half.

November saw a huge spike in readership for this blog, and I can say with certainty that this increase was due to the attention my blog received in the r/startrek community on Reddit.  Thanks everyone for checking it out, and a special thanks to those who continue to visit!

2012 looks to be a good year for Star Trek literature.  Two more entries in the Typhon Pact series are coming, along with the conclusion to the Vanguard series, a continuation of Kirsten Beyer's excellent Voyager relaunch novels, some interesting-sounding Original Series novels, and hints of a TNG trilogy from David Mack, about which little has been revealed.  Keep track of the latest announcements on the 2012 Releases page.

2012 will be a year of change for me.  I'm currently teaching English in South Korea, and my contract will expire at the end of August.  At that time, my plan is to move back to Canada.  Hopefully I will be able to keep up with this blog and share my Trek reading experiences with you.

Here's to the year that was 2011, and to joy and happiness in 2012.  Happy new year!

Friday, December 30, 2011

NEWS: Soliciation covers for Raise the Dawn and Fallen Gods

The Simon and Schuster Online Catalogue has been updated with new (and definitely not final) covers for next year's Typhon Pact: Raise the Dawn by David R. George III and Titan: Fallen Gods by Michael A. Martin.  They are due to be released in July and August of 2012, respectively.

Solicitation cover for Raise the Dawn:

Clearly not the final cover for Raise the Dawn, as it features the original title for the series, Chain of Destiny, rather than the now-confirmed series title Typhon Pact.


Solicitation cover for Fallen Gods:



Odd that the cover features the Enterprise-E rather than the Titan.  For all we know, the story does feature the Enterprise in some fashion.  However, since this is just a solicitation cover and not the final product, it is likely the Enterprise is just a place-holder.


The Empty Chair

Star Trek: The Empty Chair by Diane Duane
Rihannsu #5
Published December 2006
Read December 28th, 2011

Previous book (Rihannsu): Honor Blade

Previous book (The Original Series): Provenance of Shadows - Crucible: McCoy
Next book (The Original Series): The Fire and the Rose - Crucible: Spock
Spoilers ahead for The Empty Chair and the Rihannsu saga!


From the back cover:

THE CULMINATION OF A SAGA TWENTY-TWO YEARS IN THE MAKING.
They call themselves the Rihannsu -- the Declared.  To the Federation, they are the Romulans.  By any name they are adversaries as formidable as they are inscrutable.  Self-exiled from Vulcan in ages past, they retain an ancient martial philosophy and a code of conduct that has sustained them through centuries of hardship, warfare, and thwarted ambition.
Now their empire is gearing for war once again.  Armed with the revolutionary Sunseed technology, which can destabilize entire stars, a Romulan vessel is warping toward the heart of the Federation.  Its target: Earth's sun.
But this offensive comes at a perilous time, as a growing number of Romulan worlds are joining a revolution -- one led by the renegade Commander Ael t'Rllaillieu of the warbird Bloodwing, with the aid of Captain James T. Kirk of the Starship Enterprise and the Hamalki physicist K's't'lk, the Federation's foremost authority on Sunseed technology.  As the threat to Earth looms ever larger, Bloodwing and Enterprise lead an armada toward the Romulan homeworld for a final reckoning that will decide the future of the Rihannsu people.    

About the Novel:

The Empty Chair is the fifth and final installment of Diane Duane's Rihannsu saga.  In a direct continuation from the previous novel, Honor Blade, the Enterprise "pursues" Commander Ael's ship, the Bloodwing, deeper and deeper into Romulan space.  The vessels arrive at Artaleirh, a planet that has declared itself a member of the "Free Rihanssu."  Artaleirh, like a number of other worlds in the Romulan Star Empire, is in a state of open rebellion.  Having already captured a number of Romulan vessels which had been sent to pacify the world, Artaleirh is in a position to openly defy the will of the Romulan Praetors. Captain Kirk and Commander Ael assist the Free Rihannsu in fending off a Romulan attack, and a subsequent Klingon attempt to capitalize on the instability in the region.


Pledged to follow Commander Ael's leadership, the Free Rihannsu mount a full-scale insurrection against the Romulan Star Empire, with Captain Kirk and the Enterprise along to assist.  Meanwhile, the praetors of the Romulan Empire have deployed a devastating weapon to destroy Earth's sun, and it is up to Spock, Scotty, and a Hamalki physicist named K's't'lk (see Diane Duane's earlier novel, The Wounded Sky) to figure out a way to stop it.  In the end, for good or ill, the Romulan Empire will be changed forever.

My Thoughts:

An excellent conclusion to a very entertaining series.  I had been told that the Rihannsu novels were a particular gem in the Trek lit library, and they certainly did not disappoint.  If you have read my reviews of the previous novels in the series, you know that the large gaps of time in between the publications of the various novels caused a number of continuity issues, but if you can overlook these, the five novels are a very good read, one that you will not regret putting the time into.  (Alternatively, you can read the omnibus collection The Bloodwing Voyages which has "corrected" versions of the first four novels, and then move on to The Empty Chair.)


The quadrant-rocking Empire-changing events of The Empty Chair feel very grand and epic in scope, and are accorded the necessary weight in the book.  Much like during the V'Ger crisis of Star Trek: The Motion Picture or saving Earth in The Voyage Home, the events of the final installment of the Rihannsu saga feel like history being made.  The epic quality of the story adds to the drama, as it feels more "important" than other run-of-the-mill "planet of the week" stories.


One interesting element of the story was the depiction of Kirk becoming used to being an admiral in the true sense of the word: commanding a large fleet of vessels.  Because the Rihannsu saga had been moved to a point after The Motion Picture, Kirk had obviously already been an admiral, but The Empty Chair points out that his position had been more along the lines of commanding a desk rather than a fleet.  It was interesting to see Kirk struggle with his own self-doubts as to how he would perform as a commander of an armada, and his efforts to draw inspiration from historical figures who have led men into battle.


Because of the large gaps between publication of various parts of the story, one might expect that the Rihannsu saga wouldn't hold together well as a cohesive narrative.  With the exception of the shifts in the time period in which it is set, this is not the case.  Diane Duane is definitely a writer who has no problem finding the "voices" of her characters, and the story holds together quite well.


Final Thoughts:

Reading the Rihannsu saga has been a special treat.  Diane Duane shows herself to be a master of "world building," and the Rihannsu culture is very well fleshed-out, much moreso than the Romulans of televised Star Trek.  Of course, much of this is due to the freedom that the medium of novels allows.  Putting together an hour-long program doesn't allow a writer to delve into the culture of a race of aliens quite as deeply as a novel hundreds of pages long does.  For creating such an interesting and vibrant culture, as well as telling a hell of a good story while doing so, I highly recommend the Rihannsu saga to any reader of Trek fiction.

Final rating for The Empty Chair and the Rihannsu saga as a whole: 9/10.


Previous novels in the Rihannsu series: #1: My Enemy, My Ally; #2: The Romulan Way; #3: Swordhunt; #4: Honor Blade


I'm finally reading William Shatner's tale of Captain Kirk's resurrection following the events of Star Trek: Generations, entitled The Return, in response to a friend's request.  Look for that review in the coming weeks!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

NEWS: Solicitation cover revealed for next year's Plagues of Night

Hi everyone!  I'm really excited about next year's line-up of Trek novels.  I'm looking forward to Greg Cox's new TOS novel The Rings of Time as well as the planned TNG trilogy by one of my favorite authors, David Mack.  Unfortunately, details on this trilogy are scarce at the moment.

Another pair of releases coming up next year are David R. George III's Typhon Pact duology, Plagues of Night and Raise the Dawn.  Simon and Schuster have just released a preliminary cover for Plagues of Night, and it's pretty impressive.  Keep in mind, this is only a retailer solicitation cover, and the final version may look very different:


I have updated the 2012 Releases page with the new cover.

The back-cover blurb for Plagues of Night has also been released:

In the wake of the final Borg invasion, which destroyed entire worlds, cost the lives of sixty-three billion people, and struck a crippling blow to Starfleet, six nations adversarial to the United Federation of Planets -- The Romulan Star Empire, the Breen Confederacy, the Tholian Assembly, the Gorn Hegemony, the Tzenkethi Coalition, and the Holy Order of the Kinshaya -- joined ranks to form the Typhon Pact.  For almost three years, the Federation and the Klingon Empire, allied under the Khitomer Accords, have contended with the nascent coalition on a predominantly cold-war footing.  But as Starfleet rebuilds itself, factions within the Typhon Pact grow restive, concerned about their own inability to develop a quantum slipstream drive to match that of the Federation.  Will leaders such as UFP president Bacco and RSE Praetor Kamemor bring about a lasting peace across the Alpha and Beta Quadrants, or will the cold war between the two alliances deepen, and perhaps even lead to an all-out shooting war?

Plagues of Night is due to be released in June of 2012.  You can read its entry in the Simon and Schuster catalog here.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Honor Blade

Star Trek #96: Honor Blade by Diane Duane
Rihannsu #4
Published October 2000
Read December 15th, 2011

Previous book (Rihannsu): Swordhunt
Next book (Rihannsu): The Empty Chair

Previous book (The Original Series): Rihannsu #3: Swordhunt
Next book (The Original Series - Production Order): The Eugenics Wars: The Rise and Fall of Khan Noonien Singh: Book One
Next book (The Original Series - Numbered Novels): In the Name of Honor
Spoilers ahead for Honor Blade and the Rihannsu saga!


From the back cover:
At last, the United Federation of Planets and the Romulan Star Empire have agreed to meet on neutral ground to attempt to resolve the tangle of intrigue and conspiracy that began with the hijacking of the U.S.S. Intrepid many years ago -- but the meeting may be as dangerous as the war they hope to avoid.
As a show of good faith, the crew of the legendary Starship Enterprise has been ordered to attend the talks.  In their informal charge is Romulan renegade Ael, the wanted fugitive who, with Kirk, served as a catalyst of the current troubles.  Kirk must represent the interests of the Federation first and foremost, but the best approach to an agreement remains muddled in the ever-shifting Romulan order.
And the visiting Romulan party is as fractious and divided as their troubled world.  Among the Romulan nobles in attendance are the hero and popular Senator Arrhae, who secretly helped rescue Dr. Leonard McCoy from a Romulan execution, and the very men and women who put McCoy on trial for treason -- and tried to carry out the sentence.
As Kirk and crew attempt to renegotiate a delicate peace, and Romulans attempt to restore their tarnished honor, it becomes increasingly apparent that their only course of action is to prepare for war!

About the Novel:

Honor Blade picks up immediately after the events of Swordhunt.  The Federation and Romulan diplomatic parties arrive at the meeting place, while Commander Ael and the Bloodwing remain hidden away from the sensitive negotiations.  The talks are to take place aboard a neutral starship, and joining the negotiations are several familiar faces.  On the Federation side, both Ambassador Robert Fox ("A Taste of Armageddon") and Samuel T. Cogley, Attorney at Law ("Court Martial") are in attendance.  On the Romulan delegation is Senator Arrhae, who in actual fact is a Lt. Commander in Starfleet, deep undercover in the Romulan Empire (see a prior Rihannsu novel, The Romulan Way).


As the negotiations get underway, it soon becomes apparent that they are just a front for the Romulans to capture or destroy Commander Ael and the sword and begin a war with the Federation.  Determined not to let that happen, Captain Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise intervene in their machinations and attempt to sway the situation in the Federation's favor.

My Thoughts:

As usual with Diane Duane's work, the writing and story-telling are superb.  She has a particular talent for writing Commander Ael and Captain Kirk in a very compelling manner.  There is much to like in the Rihannsu novels, not the least of which is the depth that Duane gives the Romulan culture, an element that was unfortunately missing in the on-screen incarnations of Star Trek.


One particular aspect of the story that I loved was Captain Kirk's (and, by extension, the Enterprise's) reputation and relationship with the rest of Starfleet.  The idea that the Enterprise's exploits have become so famous and numerous that the rest of the fleet would take her and her crew for granted is a very interesting idea.  The Enterprise coming under attack by Romulan vessels in Federation space is no big deal, because everyone knows that Jim Kirk will, as usual, pull a rabbit out of his hat and escape unscathed.  Naturally, this attitude grates on Kirk, who doesn't like to be taken for granted.  An interesting angle on the "larger than life" reputation the Enterprise has that I had not considered before.


As mentioned in the previous review of Swordhunt, Honor Blade is simply part two of three, and the story won't be concluded until the final novel, The Empty Chair.  However, I feel that Swordhunt and Honor Blade together make one fairly cohesive story, with a definite turning point at the end.  Therefore, I have no problem making a full review of these stories, while still finishing reading the final book. 

Final Thoughts:

Great plot and characterizations, the Rihannsu saga has done much to hold my interest.  I am a huge admirer of Diane Duane's writing talents, and look forward to reading more by her.  Already in the queue to be read at some future point are her novels Doctor's Orders and The Wounded Sky.

Final rating for Swordhunt and Honor Blade together: 8.5/10.


I am (of course!) reading the final novel in Diane Duane's Rihannsu saga, The Empty Chair.  I can't wait to see how this all ends!



Monday, December 12, 2011

Swordhunt

Star Trek #95: Swordhunt by Diane Duane
Rihannsu #3
Published August 2000
Read December 11, 2011 

Previous book (Rihannsu): The Romulan Way
Next book (Rihannsu): Honor Blade

Previous book (The Original Series): New Earth #6: Challenger
Next book (The Original Series): Rihannsu #4: Honor Blade
Spoilers ahead for Swordhunt and the Rihannsu saga!


From the back cover:


The sword was the ultimate symbol of Romulan power, tradition, and pride.  It lay in the senate chamber of the Romulan Star Empire, revered and untouched for centuries, until the day Dr. Leonard McCoy was tried for treason -- and both were stolen during a daring attack on Romulus itself.
Now, to avenge that insult and save face in eyes of their deadly enemies, the Empire must recover the sword at any cost.  Their envoys to the Federation demand the return of the sword and the extradition of the Romulan renegades who aided the Starship Enterprise in McCoy's escape.  If diplomacy fails, the Romulans will trap the Klingons and the Federation in open war.
In such dangerous times, the Starship Enterprise is assigned the most valuable -- and volatile -- element of all: the fugitive Ael, her stolen bird-of-prey, Bloodwing, and the sword they carry.  Ael will undoubtedly attempt to use ship and sword to foil her enemies and play her hand in the dangerous game that she's begun.  But she will do it all under the watchful eyes of Captain James T. Kirk, the Federation starship captain who knows her dangerously well...

About the Novel:

The Romulan Empire is incensed over the escape of Commander Ael with Dr. McCoy and, more grievously, the Sword of S'Task in the previous Rihannsu novel, The Romulan Way.  The sword, which traditionally sat in the "Empty Chair" of the Romulan Senate, reserved for S'Task, the man who led the Romulan exodus from Vulcan, is a beloved symbol of the honor of the Rihannsu (Romulan) people.  Honor which Commander Ael believes no longer exists in the current Romulan government.


In a bid to get Ael and the sword back, the Romulan government decides to open negotiations with the Federation.  However, the negotiations appear to be largely a pretense to begin a war.  Assigned to the Romulan delegation is Arrhae, former housekeeper and now a Senator in the Romulan Senate.  Unknown to the rest of Romulus, however, is the fact that Arrhae is a deep-cover Federation operative, assigned to cultural studies of the Romulan Empire.  In the preceding novel, The Romulan Way, Arrhae elected to remain behind on Romulus rather than be "rescued" by Dr. McCoy.

My Thoughts:

Rather than feeling like a complete novel, Swordhunt ended abruptly and is continued in the next Rihannsu entry, Honor Blade.  Because I was reading on an e-reader rather than a "dead tree" copy, the end was completely unexpected.  The novel seemed to meander for quite awhile.  There is a lot of setup for the diplomatic mission, but by the end of the book, it has not yet begun.  I love character development, and Commander Ael is a fascinating character, but I kept wanting the story to commence.  Instead, the action never really takes off for our heroes, and the novel ends just as things start to happen.  This is not necessarily a bad thing, as the next book obviously picks up immediately after.  However, I am curious as to why the novel was split into two parts to begin with.  This entry isn't particularly long, and I think both books in one volume would have made more sense.  Although, I suppose, the financial aspect of it means that Pocket Books can sell two volumes as opposed to only one.


I'd like to make a small note about the continuity of the Rihannsu series.  A staggering thirteen years pass between the publication of this novel, Swordhunt, in 2000, and the publication of the last entry in 1987.  In that time, many changes occurred in the Star Trek universe.  The first two novels in the Rihannsu series, My Enemy, My Ally and The Romulan Way take place during a supposed second five-year mission between the events of the original Star Trek television series and Star Trek: The Motion Picture.  However, by the time Swordhunt was written, the timeline had been revised and the second five-year mission had never happened.  So, the decision was made to place Swordhunt and its follow-up, Honor Blade, during the original five-year mission of the original television series.  However, this means that references to various details between this novel and the previous ones don't match up perfectly.  Muddying the issue even more is the sequel, The Empty Chair, which again revises the timeline of the Rihannsu series to a post-Star Trek: The Motion Picture period.  Confused yet?


The good news is that a revised edition of the Rihannsu saga has been published in the form of an anthology comprising the first four books.  Rihannsu: The Bloodwing Voyages corrects many of these small continuity errors into a cohesive narrative that is internally consistent for the most part.  The small discontinuities in the books are a little distracting, but don't impact the overall enjoyment much for me.  However, readers who are bothered by these issues have another option!  In addition, Swordhunt and Honor Blade are presented as a single story in The Bloodwing Voyages, solving one of my issues with these novels.

Rihannsu: The Bloodwing Voyages was published in 2006, fixing
many of the niggling continuity errors in the Rihannsu series.
Click to order from Amazon.com!

Final Thoughts:

I feel that Swordhunt does not stand sufficiently on its own to warrant full consideration.  Therefore, I think I will reserve final judgement until I've had a chance to finish the follow-up story, Honor Blade.  While I have been informed that Honor Blade doesn't complete the story, I would still like to chime in with my thoughts at that point.  To get the entire story, I will have to read The Empty Chair.  I will, of course, post a review of the entire story once I have done so.  What I have read thus far I have very much enjoyed, as I have enjoyed most of Diane Duane's work.  While the story seems to be meandering a bit, what action there has been has been exciting, and I hope the payoff will make up for the lengthy setup.


I am, of course, reading the next novel in the Rihannsu saga, the continuation of Swordhunt, entitled Honor Blade.  Full review coming soon!




Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Rise Like Lions

Star Trek: Mirror Universe - Rise Like Lions by David Mack
Published December 2011
Read: December 5th, 2011

Previous book (Mirror Universe): The Sorrows of Empire

Spoilers ahead for Rise Like Lions and The Sorrows of Empire!


From the back cover:


IN THE MIRROR UNIVERSE... 
Miles 'Smiley' O'Brien struggles to hold together his weary band of freedom fighters in their war against the overwhelming might of the Klingon-Cardassian Alliance.  Every day pushes the rebels on Terok Nor one step closer to defeat, but with nowhere left to run, the time has come to make their last stand.
Light-years away, Mac Calhoun and his Romulan allies harass Klingon forces with devious hit-and-run attacks.  But Calhoun has a grander ambition: he intends to merge his fleet with the Terran Rebellion and lead it to victory--or die trying.
Meanwhile, a bitter feud threatens to shatter the Alliance from within.  The old rivalry between the Klingons and the Cardassians erupts into open warfare as each vies for the upper hand in their partnership.
Manipulating events from its hidden redoubts, Memory Omega--the secret operation initiated by Spock a century earlier--sees its plans come to fruition sooner than expected.  But striking early means risking everything--and if the revolution fails, Spock's vision for the future will be lost forever.

About the Novel:

In the mirror universe, Spock's secret plan, "Memory Omega," begins to take shape.  Because of incursions from "our own" universe (in the Deep Space Nine episodes "Crossover," "Through the Looking Glass," "Shattered Mirror," "Resurrection," and "The Emperor's New Cloak," along with many other stories in the form of Star Trek prose), the timetable for the implementation of Spock's plan is moved up.  The Terran Rebellion, being a viable revolutionary group with a fair chance of succeeding, is the focus of Memory Omega's efforts.  Their recruits, sprinkled throughout the quadrant, work to undermine the Klingon/Cardassian Alliance and support the Rebellion.  With sleeper agents in the form of the Vulcan servants in the homes of Cardassians and Klingons, Memory Omega operatives are perfectly placed to cause as much damage as possible when the time comes.


Through it all, a Romulan fleet commanded by Mac Calhoun (the mirror counterpart of the enterprising captain of Peter David's New Frontier series) seeks to join forces with the Rebellion.  Together, and with Memory Omega's help, they hope to finally overthrow the Alliance and usher in a new age of peace for their corner of the galaxy.

My Thoughts:

After reading The Sorrows of Empire and hearing the news that David Mack was writing the conclusion to the Memory Omega storyline, I was extremely excited.  Too excited, I worried.  Oftentimes, when I get really worked-up and eager for a new book, the results are disappointing.  Not so with Rise Like Lions.  This book lived up to nearly every expectation admirably!

I found myself genuinely caring about
characters in the Mirror Universe,
such as Ezri Tigan and her wife, Leeta.
The Mirror Universe is a concept that has not always been treated well in Trek lore.  While visits there were fun and exciting, they were never really taken all that seriously.  Over-the-top characters, grandiose pontifications of mustache-twirling villains, and no real impact on the day-to-day lives of the characters in OUR universe made them easy to overlook.  What I feel that David Mack has accomplished is the legitimization of the mirror universe.  With both The Sorrows of Empire and Rise Like Lions, I found myself genuinely caring for the characters and truly invested in the outcome of their stories.  In particular, the characters of Miles 'Smiley' O'Brien and Jean-Luc Picard were very well written.  Ezri and Calhoun also come across as real, sympathetic people whom readers will be invested in.

I did find that I missed out on a bit of the story, not being familiar with all of the stories that have taken place in the mirror universe.  If all you have read is David Mack's The Sorrows of Empire, you may find yourself in a bit of a need of catching up.  I'm still a little unclear about how Neelix and Kes found themselves embroiled in the affairs of the Rebellion and Memory Omega, but I suspect the answer is in one of the short stories I neglected to read.  Even so, I found the story very enjoyable and easy to follow, even without all of the dots connected.



Duras -- hated in our reality,
hero in the mirror universe.
I love the concept of the mirror universe because it allows the writers to take our preconceptions and turn them on their heads.  For example, the role that Kes plays in Rise Like Lions involves her character taking an especially dark turn.  Inversely, Duras (of the Next Generation episodes "Sins of the Father" and "Reunion") comes across as a hero, and we find ourselves in the strange position of rooting for one of the most hated characters from Worf's past (in our universe, at any rate).

As is usual with a David Mack story, the body count is extremely high!  Without going into too much detail, there are many, MANY casualties on the way to the resolution of this story arc.  Also, this particular mirror universe story continues the tradition of Ferengi death that started in Deep Space Nine's crossover episodes.  In a big way.


I felt that the entire story was wrapped up very well, and of course it being an alternate reality frees up the author to take more liberties than in a typical Trek story, making it just that much more fun.  The stakes felt real, and the resolution was eminently satisfying.  David Mack even finds a way of dropping hints that the ending may not be, in fact, the end!  There is certainly more room for further adventures in the mirror universe.

Final Thoughts:

I highly recommend this story, but only if you have already read (at the very least) The Sorrows of Empire.  An amazing follow-up and possible conclusion to the story of the Mirror Universe.

Final rating: 9.5/10.

More about Rise Like Lions:


Also by David Mack:


My next read:

Right now, I'm waiting on my copy of William Shatner's The Return.  In the meantime, I'm reading book three of Diane Duane Rihannsu mini-series, Swordhunt.  Review coming soon.  In the meantime, as always, LLAP!