Wednesday, July 31, 2013

A Time to Die

Star Trek: The Next Generation
A Time to Die by John Vornholt
Published March
 2004
Read March 20th 2013


Previous book (The Next Generation): A Time to Be Born
Next book (The Next Generation): A Time to Sow


Click to purchase A Time to Die from Amazon.com!

Spoilers ahead for A Time to Die and the rest of the A Time to... series!

From the back cover:
It was supposed to be a mission of mercy, until the unthinkable occurred: the destruction of the U.S.S. Juno, killing all hands on board. Starfleet Command has unjustly assessed the actions of Captain Picard and the Enterprise crew during that fateful assignment to the Rashanar Battle Site -- the sector that saw one of the fiercest conflicts of the Dominion War, and which is now a hazardous interstellar graveyard filled with hundreds of devastated starships. While the court-ordered medical evaluation that relieved Picard of command is ongoing, there is growing speculation that his illustrious career may be coming to an end.
To clear his former commander, acting captain William Riker and a demoralized skeleton crew agree to conduct a covert operation, and must venture the Starship Enterprise back into Rashanar to track down a mythical menace -- one that may already be responsible for the annihilation of countless fully armed starships. Unbridled hostility and the promise of death lurk at every turn, but they could never imagine that their only chance of survival may lie in the unexpected return of a long-absent friend...


My thoughts:

A Time to Die is the second book in the A Time To... nine-part book series, and the conclusion to the first duology made up of A Time to Be Born and this novel. Like the first part of this story, the novel is competently written and certainly exciting in parts, but overall A Time to Die just wasn't as satisfying as the set up in A Time to Be Born.

Points in the book's favor are awarded for the "fish out of water" scenarios experienced by Captain Picard, who is aboard the Enterprise, but not in the role of her commanding officer. Rather, the captain must take a back seat to Commander Riker, whom Starfleet has placed in temporary command. It was interesting to see Picard not as the competent commander who is always in control of the situation around him, but rather brought low by the circumstances that have led to the current crisis.

While it was nice to see Wesley Crusher in action again, I was not sold on the romance between him and Colleen Cabot, Picard's therapist. In A Time to Be Born, I found Cabot to be a level-headed and experienced presence, but in this novel, her character has changed dramatically. As Wesley's love-interest, I was unconvinced. Star Trek has a long tradition of featuring whirlwind romances, but after only a few short scenes together, Vornholt has Wesley and Colleen declaring their love for each other. Sure, there is precedent: Kirk fell in love with Rayna Kapec over the course of one TOS episode; I, however, remain unconvinced.

Finally, the last somewhat disappointing aspect of A Time to Die was the resolution of Wesley's storyline. Throughout these two novels, we've seen Wesley concerned that his interference in the lives of his friends is jeopardizing his standing within the Traveler community. In fact, he is convinced that aiding his former shipmates will lead to his being unable to be a Traveler at all. However, at the end of this novel, the consequences of his actions are simply waved away, and we learn that most of the dramatic tension involved in his actions aren't even an issue. This resolution, to me, is very unsatisfying.

Final thoughts:

After the promising set-up that was A Time to Be Born, I found myself somewhat disappointed in this novel. While it was well-written with some exciting action and interesting moments, the overall resolution rang a little hollow. I suppose that after the exciting beginning to this duology, I was expecting a little more from A Time to Die.

A Time To...

A Time to Be Born by John Vornholt
A Time to Die by John Vornholt
A Time to Sow by Dayton Ward & Kevin Dilmore
A Time to Harvest by Dayton Ward & Kevin Dilmore
A Time to Love by Robert Greenberger
A Time to Hate by Robert Greenberger
A Time to Kill by David Mack
A Time to Heal by David Mack
A Time for War, A Time for Peace by Keith R.A. DeCandido

My next read:

On the go at the moment is Dayton Ward's new TOS novel, From History's Shadow. Very promising so far! Look for my review soon.