Friday, November 29, 2013

The Poisoned Chalice

Star Trek: The Fall
The Poisoned Chalice by James Swallow
Release date: November 26th, 2013
Read November 27th 2013


Previous book (Titan): Fallen Gods

Previous book (The Fall): A Ceremony of Losses
Next book (The Fall): Peaceable Kingdoms

Purchase The Poisoned Chalice from Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk

WARNING: Spoilers ahead for The Poisoned Chalice and The Fall!

From the back cover:
One simple act, and the troubles of the United Federation of Planets have grown darker overnight. The mystery behind the heinous terrorist attack that has rocked the Federation to its core grows ever deeper, and William Riker finds himself beset by rumors and half-truths as the U.S.S. Titan is ordered back to Earth on emergency orders from the admiralty. Soon, Riker finds himself drawn into a game of political intrigue, bearing witness to members of Starfleet being detained—including people he considered friends—pending an investigation at the highest levels. And while Riker tries to navigate the corridors of power, Titan’s tactical officer, Tuvok, is given a series of clandestine orders that lead him into a gray world of secrets, lies, and deniable operations. Who can be trusted when the law falls silent and justice becomes a quest for revenge? For the crew of the U.S.S. Titan, the search for answers will become a battle for every ideal the Federation stands for. . . .

My thoughts:

How is it possible that the books of The Fall just keep getting better and better? The Crimson Shadow was simply outstanding, at a level that I thought would be impossible to match. Then comes A Ceremony of Losses, and I have to eat my words, as David Mack more than rose to the occasion. But that level of quality story-telling couldn't possibly be maintained, could it? It turns out that it can, as James Swallow hits another one out of the park with this month's The Poisoned Chalice.

The Poisoned Chalice continues the two main story threads that have come up so far in The Fall: the fall-out from the assassination of President Bacco, including the rise of the morally-ambiguous Ishan Anjar, and the solution to the Andorian reproductive crisis and the repercussions for Dr. Julian Bashir and his "co-conspirators." James Swallow deftly handles both threads extremely well, bringing them together in the end in a creative and entertaining way.

The events in the book can be seen as parallels to events and issues in the real world. While some of these parallels are fairly obvious, it is still worth examining them. For example, the members of the "Active Four" group encounter a "black site" maintained by an ally of the Federation, the Klingons. In many ways, this black site is reminiscent of Abu Ghraib or Guantanamo Bay. Similarly, the Ishan regime's methods of pinning a terrorist attack on the Typhon Pact instead of the true perpetrators brings to mind the initial justification for the attack and invasion of Iraq by the United States in 2004.

Earlier, I mentioned the group called "Active Four," a paramilitary unit activated by the President pro tem's chief of staff in order to capture or otherwise neutralize the President's assassins. This group consists of Nog, Tuvok, another member of Starfleet, a Federation "marine," and a few civilian mercenaries, including a familiar face we haven't seen in some time: William Riker's transporter twin "brother," Thomas Riker! I've long been curious as to his fate, and I'm overjoyed that James Swallow was able to use him here.

It was a pleasant surprise to see Thomas Riker playing a part in this novel!
The original characters created by Swallow are interesting enough, but what I truly enjoyed was his use of the regular characters. Nog and Tuvok are especially well-written, and I really enjoyed the interactions between the two of them. Similarly, Swallow has a great handle on the literature-only characters such as Admiral Akaar and the members of the Titan crew, including my favorite, Ensign Torvig Bu-Kar-Nguv (usually shortened to Ensign Torvig). I have previously not been a big fan of Titan's first officer, Commander Christine Vale, but this book has done a great deal to change my opinion of her. She receives a short-lived commission as commander of the U.S.S. Lionheart, and her actions and how she was written really redeemed the character in my eyes. Similarly, I've never been very impressed with Tuvok, but his role in this novel is very well-written, and I found myself really empathizing with him.

Tuvok has never been one of my favorite characters, but James Swallow has
written him in a very compelling way while still remaining true to his character.
As I've said above, I was blown away by this novel. However, if I were to search high and low for one small quibble, it would be the speed at which the Titan seems to have returned to Earth. Previously, she had been out in the far reaches of the Beta Quadrant exploring the fringes of known space. However, she made it back to Earth on what seems to be very short notice. However, as I said, this is a very minor quibble, and if this is the quality of the story we get, I'm okay with the assumption that they found a short-cut!

Final thoughts:

Absolutely stellar. I thought that I had already figured out what the best Star Trek novel of 2013 would be. Now, I'm not so sure. James Swallow has advanced the story of The Fall in an extremely compelling way. I found myself staying awake into the wee hours saying "just one more chapter" over and over again. Well done. Dayton Ward certainly has his work cut out for him in the conclusion! I can't wait to see how this all turns out. 5 out of 5, would read again!

Further resources:

Also by James Swallow:

The Fall

Revelation and Dust
by David R. George III
The Crimson Shadow by Una McCormack
A Ceremony of Losses by David Mack
The Poisoned Chalice by James Swallow
Peaceable Kingdoms by Dayton Ward

My next read:

Look for a review of the third book in the Deep Space Nine relaunch, Section 31: Abyss by David Weddle and Jeffrey Lang in the coming week!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Cover and blurb for 2014's Voyager: Protectors!

Simon and Schuster have released the cover for the much-anticipated continuation of the Voyager relaunch, Protectors by Kirsten Beyer. Check it out below, along with the back-cover blurb!


Following the destruction of four fleet vessels at the hands of the Omega Continuum, the U.S.S. Voyager and U.S.S. Demeter set course for a region of the Delta Quadrant far beyond anything previously explored. Captain Chakotay is determined to prove to Starfleet Command that the fleet’s ongoing mission is vital to Federation interests…and the key to doing so may lie in a distress call Voyager received nine years earlier, but could not investigate. Meanwhile, Vice Admiral Kathryn Janeway is recalled to the Alpha Quadrant for an evaluation period to determine her next assignment. Given the trauma she has recently endured, Admiral Akaar, Starfleet’s Commander-in-Chief, questions Janeway’s fitness to command the fleet. Janeway’s primary concern remains the fleet’s safety. For their mission to continue, she must find a way to secure the resources they require. But the uncertainty of her superior officers has left her powerless to act in their best interests...

Protectors is due to be released at the end of January next year. You can preorder it today at Amazon!


Mass-market paperback: Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk

E-book (Kindle): Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk


Release Day! The Fall: The Poisoned Chalice

Hey everyone! A new feature here at Trek Lit Reviews will be a day-of-release announcement for all new releases, with a publisher's description and links to purchase. So, without further ado, here's this month's new release: Star Trek: The Fall: The Poisoned Chalice by James Swallow! The Poisoned Chalice is available now! Pick it up wherever books are sold, or download the e-book version.

Happy reading!

My Review of The Poisoned Chalice


Publisher's description:

One simple act, and the troubles of the United Federation of Planets have grown darker overnight. The mystery behind the heinous terrorist attack that has rocked the Federation to its core grows ever deeper, and William Riker finds himself beset by rumors and half-truths as the U.S.S. Titan is ordered back to Earth on emergency orders from the admiralty. Soon, Riker finds himself drawn into a game of political intrigue, bearing witness to members of Starfleet being detained—including people he considered friends—pending an investigation at the highest levels. And while Riker tries to navigate the corridors of power, Titan’s tactical officer, Tuvok, is given a series of clandestine orders that lead him into a gray world of secrets, lies, and deniable operations. Who can be trusted when the law falls silent and justice becomes a quest for revenge? For the crew of the U.S.S. Titan, the search for answers will become a battle for every ideal the Federation stands for. . . .


Purchase The Fall: The Poisoned Chalice:

Mass-market paperback: Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk 

E-book (Kindle): Amazon.com | Amazon.ca


Previous Release: The Fall: A Ceremony of Losses

Friday, November 22, 2013

Invincible, Part Two

Star Trek: S.C.E. #8
Invincible, Part Two by David Mack and Keith R.A. Decandido
Published October 2001
Re-released in print form as part of the S.C.E. compilation Miracle Workers in February 2002.
Read March 4th 2013


Previous ebook (S.C.E.): #7: Invincible, Part One
Next ebook (S.C.E.): #9: The Riddled Post


Original ebook cover



Compilation of S.C.E. #5 - 8: Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk


Spoilers ahead for Invincible, Part One and the rest of the Corps of Engineers series!

From the back cover:
Long believed to be just a Nalori myth, the shii has turned out to be devastatingly real! The monster -- seemingly invulnerable, undeniably powerful, and completely ruthless -- has carved a swath through the Nalori construction project on the crystal planet of Sarindar. The project's supervisor, Commander Sonya Gomez, must find a way to stop the deadly creature before it destroys the entire project and its workers. 
But when the truth behind the shii is revealed, Gomez realizes that even one of the S.C.E.'s top officers may not be able to solve every problem...

My thoughts:

Part two of this story amps up the stakes and the drama, as a second "monster shii" conducts a murderous rampage, killing many of the workers assigned to Sarindar. As Commander Gomez attempts to discover the true nature of this violent animal, she finds herself abandoned, both by the workers she is assigned to lead and by the government that has enlisted her services.

At its heart, Invincible is an exploration of the character of Gomez in the face of extreme difficulty and hardship. The mystery of the shii and why it is attacking the work camp is a vexing one, and attempts to communicate or come to some sort of understanding are ultimately futile. While the search for a technological or diplomatic solution is admirable, in the end, it comes down to the use of brute force and ingenuity to overcome the threat. The story is a good examination of Gomez's character, and the solutions she improvises are certainly creative and worthy of an engineer's mind.

In my review of Part One, I mentioned that I was fascinated by the character of Zilder, an evangelistic Bolian, and was curious about where the authors would take his character. As it turns out, where they took him wasn't very far; Zilder is one of the earliest casualties of the monster shii in part two!

In part two, the conceit of telling the story through log entries and "tricorder transcripts" continues. While it is an interesting way to present the story, it does tend to become a little tiresome towards the end. The log entries are just a little too detailed to be taken as such, and I wonder what this story would have been like told in a more traditional manner.

Sonya Gomez has come a long way since her days as an ensign aboard the Enterprise-D.

Final thoughts:

Sonya Gomez has come a long way from the young, green ensign we saw in TNG's "Q Who" and "Samaritan Snare." Mack and DeCandido present her as a competent engineer who, while still experiencing a certain level of self-doubt, is very much up to the tasks before her. It was fun to follow her on this journey, although the log and transcript method of telling the story did tend to distract, especially towards the end.

My next read:

This review marks the end of the second collection of S.C.E. stories, Miracle Workers. I intend to continue to read and review the stories of the Corps of Engineers in the future, as well as more traditional Trek novels, including new releases. Speaking of new releases, I'm currently reading the fourth book in The Fall, James Swallow's The Poisoned Chalice, featuring Riker and the crew of the U.S.S. Titan. Look for a week-of-release review!


TatV: TOS Season One, now available in the UK and Europe!

Hey everyone, just a quick post to let you know that Marc Cushman's These Are the Voyages: TOS, Season One has just been released in European markets. Customers in the UK, France, and Germany, you can now click the links below to get your copy, along with a link for customers in the US! Also pictured below is the brand new final cover for this edition. Enjoy!

Click to purchase from Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.fr | Amazon.de
You may also click here to read my review of These Are the Voyages: TOS, Season One.

These Are the Voyages: TOS, Season Two will be available to purchase early in 2014.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Invincible, Part One

Star Trek: S.C.E. #7
Invincible, Part One of Two by David Mack and Keith R.A. Decandido
Published August 2001
Re-released in print form as part of the S.C.E. compilation Miracle Workers in February 2002.
Read February 25th 2013


Previous ebook (S.C.E.): #6: Cold Fusion
Next ebook (S.C.E.): #8: Invincible, Part Two of Two


Original ebook cover

Compilation of S.C.E. #5 - 8: Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk


Spoilers ahead for Invincible, Part One and the rest of the Corps of Engineers series!

From the back cover:
One of the SCE's top officers, Commander Sonya Gomez, is assigned to supervise a project on the crystal planet of Sarindar -- helping the reclusive and hostile Nalori harness a valuable new ore. Morale is low and the project is behind schedule. Gomez must get the workers up to speed and on track -- a task made more difficult by the Nalori workers, who do not want her there even though their government does. 
Just when Gomez begins to gain their trust, two workers are killed by a mysterious local animal called a shii. Gomez must learn the secret of the shii before it kills again...

My thoughts:

In Invincible, we learn what Commander Sonya Gomez was up to while the rest of the da Vinci crew battled the Androssi for control of Empok Nor. The reclusive and somewhat xenophobic Nalori have invited Starfleet to assist them in extracting a mineral called chimerium from one of their planets, Sarindar. Gomez is sent to take charge of the project, which has been marred by setback after setback. At first, the workers resent her presence, both because she is from the Federation and because she is a woman. However, Gomez manages to begin to get the project back on track despite the attitude of the workers under her command. However, things take a turn for the worse when a large creature, seemingly an oversized "shii," attacks the work camp. When the creature is killed by Gomez, the threat seems to be over. Unfortunately, as part one comes to a close, it is apparent that the danger is far greater than initially believed...

Invincible
is a different sort of story from what most readers of Star Trek fiction would typically be used to. Told in series of log entries and letters, the narrative is presented in the first-person, a rarity for Trek fiction. The style works for the story, for the most part. Of course, Gomez's log entries are far more detailed and verbose than the one or two sentence entries we usually got during the various Trek television series.

In the course of the story, we learn a little more about Commander Gomez and her career in Starfleet since her two appearances in the second season of The Next Generation. There are also some interesting revelations about the currently-in-limbo relationship between Gomez and Duffy. In addition, a few of the secondary characters get some interesting development. In particular, I enjoyed learning about Kejahna, the Nalori "second in command" of the Sarindar project. Also of note is a Bolian by the name of Zilder, who turns out to be an evangelical believer who tries to convert everyone he encounters. Evangelism is something that isn't explored all that often in Star Trek, so I'm curious to see where his story goes in part two.

Final thoughts:

A very interesting setup here in part one, and a cliffhanger ending that makes me eager to find out what happens. The first-person narrative style is interesting, and a departure from the norm is always welcome. Good character development and a suspenseful tone made this story one worth reading. Here's hoping that the payoff in part two is just as good!

My next read:

Next review: S.C.E. #8: Invincible, Part Two by David Mack and Keith R.A. DeCandido.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Cold Fusion

Star Trek: S.C.E. #6
Cold Fusion by Keith R.A. Decandido
Published July 2001
Re-released in print form as part of the S.C.E. compilation Miracle Workers in February 2002.
Read February 14th 2013


Previous ebook (S.C.E.): #5: Interphase, Part Two
Next ebook (S.C.E.): #7: Invincible, Part One


Original ebook cover




Compilation of S.C.E. #5 - 8: Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk

Spoilers ahead for Cold Fusion, the rest of the Corps of Engineers series, and the events of the Deep Space Nine relaunch novels Avatar, Book One and Book Two!

From the back cover:
Following the catastrophic conclusion of Avatar, Lieutenant Nog -- the chief operations officer of space station Deep Space 9 -- joins forces with the crew of the USS da Vinci!
With the station's future in doubt, Nog meets the da Vinci at Empok Nor, Deep Space 9's long-abandoned twin, in order to salvage vital technology. But they arrive to find that someone has beaten them to it -- an enigmatic and dangerous alien race known as the Androssi. When the SCE crew learns what the Androssi have planned for Empok Nor, it threatens not only the lives of the da Vinci and Deep Space 9 crews, but galactic peace itself!

My thoughts:

The sixth S.C.E. story is a bit of a departure from stories we've gotten so far. A tie-in to the Deep Space Nine relaunch series, Cold Fusion contributes to the on-going story taking place in those novels.

Cold Fusion takes place shortly after the events detailed in the Avatar two-parter. Deep Space Nine is on emergency battery power, having lost her fusion core during an incident with rogue Jem'Hadar forces. DS9's chief engineer, Lieutenant Nog, has a daring plan to replace it. He intends to salvage the fusion core from the abandoned Empok Nor, featured in a number of episodes of DS9. Rather than removing the core and transporting it to Deep Space Nine, Nog proposes tractoring the entire station to Bajoran space, where it can be used for spare parts indefinitely. This ambitious plan is set in motion with the help of the S.C.E., specifically, the crew of the intrepid starship da Vinci.

Cold Fusion chronicles the attempt to tractor Empok Nor to Deep Space Nine to use for spare parts.

I like the idea of tying in the S.C.E. crew to the goings-on of the wider novel continuity, and it was nice to have the connection to the DS9 relaunch in particular (having recently reviewed the Avatar two-parter). It's possible that the idea was to bring in readers of the DS9 novels to the S.C.E. world by having a tie-in story. In any case, the S.C.E. crew were a good fit for the story that was told, and it was a good decision to do this crossover.

One aspect of the story that annoyed me somewhat was the condescending attitude that the team from the da Vinci had towards Nog. They were dismissive of his ideas and had little to no respect for his expertise. I've slowly begun to really like the S.C.E. crew, and I have to admit that they disappointed me here. In the end, of course, Nog proves his abilities and is better appreciated by the engineers. However, the initial dismissive attitude towards him was a little vexing.

Lt. Nog of DS9 guest-stars in Cold Fusion.


The main antagonists of the story are the Androssi, introduced in this story for the first time. They would later be used in the novel A Time to Be Born. I enjoyed the implied backstory between the Androssi and the S.C.E. crew. While I would like to have known more about the past encounters, the references to their previous engagements were used to good effect.

Final thoughts:

Another enjoyable entry in the S.C.E. series. The tie-in to DS9 was a nice touch, and while the attitudes of the da Vinci crew towards Nog were annoying, I appreciated that they came to respect him in the end. With this story, we begin to see the hints of a larger shared continuity beyond just the Deep Space Nine relaunch series, something that I greatly come to appreciate as the prime Trek universe continues to mature in the novels beyond Star Trek Nemesis.

Also by Keith R.A. DeCandido:

Star Trek: S.C.E. #2: Fatal Error (2000)

Star Trek: S.C.E. #7: Invincible, Part One of Two with David Mack (2001)
Star Trek: S.C.E. #8: Invincible, Part Two of Two with David Mack (2001)
Gateways, Book Four: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Demons of Air and Darkness (2001)
"Horn and Ivory" from Star Trek: Gateways, Book Seven: What Lay Beyond (2001)

Star Trek: S.C.E. #10: Here There Be Monsters (2001)
Worlds of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Ferenginar: Satisfaction Is Not Guaranteed (2005)
Star Trek: The Next Generation: Slings and Arrows, Book VI: Enterprises of Great Pitch and Moment (2008)
The Klingon Art of War (2014)


My next read:

Next up: S.C.E. #7: Invincible, Part One by Keith R.A. DeCandido and David Mack.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Interphase, Part Two

Star Trek: S.C.E. #5
Interphase, Part Two of Two by Dayton Ward & Kevin Dilmore
Published March 2001
Re-released in print form as part of the S.C.E. compilation Miracle Workers in February 2002.
Read February 3rd 2013


Previous ebook (S.C.E.): #4: Interphase, Part One of Two
Next ebook (S.C.E.): #6: Cold Fusion


Original e-book cover


Compilation of S.C.E. #5 - 8: Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk

Spoilers ahead for Interphase, Part Two and the rest of the Corps of Engineers series!

From the back cover:
With Captain David Gold and an away team trapped on the other side of an interdimensional rift, Lieutenant Commander Kieran Duffy finds himself in command of the U.S.S. da Vinci just as the ship comes under attack by the Tholians. The enemy is armed with a new and improved version of their infamous energy web and the da Vinci is badly outnumbered, but fleeing the battle means abandoning the captain and others to an unknown fate outside this universe. There, marooned aboard a derelict vessel, Gold and his S.C.E. team struggle to keep the madness-inducing effects of the rift from driving them to suicide and murder before they can find a way to escape the realm of Interphase.
My thoughts:

The mission to recover the U.S.S. Defiant, lost for a century in spatial interphase, takes a dark turn when the daVinci is attacked by the Tholians. Responding the the discovery of a Tholian device aboard the Defiant, the Tholians' attack is designed to prevent a terrible secret from getting out. The Defiant is pulled back into the interphasic rift, and the boarding party is cut off from the rest of the crew aboard the daVinci.

Part two continues the fast-paced action and suspense of part one quite well. In this story, the crew lives up to their name as the away team must think their way out of their predicament in a manner that only engineers truly can.

The Tholians remain one of my favorite "antagonistic" races in Star Trek, and any opportunity to explore this mysterious species is welcome. They are used to good effect in Interphase, and their actions are "other-worldly" enough that they don't simply come across as another race of "bad guys." Their motivations and behavior are truly "alien," and difficult to comprehend.

Tholians: wholly alien
One thing that surprised me reading this story was the tie-in to the Vanguard series of novels. Of course, this story was written years before Vanguard came about, so the genius really is in that later series, but that is not the order in which I read them. The mysterious Tholian device being carried by the Defiant? We learn its true purpose in the course of the Vanguard novel series, and let me tell you, its purpose is pretty far from benign. The Tholians were right in their desire to not allow it to be discovered.

Hey, cool. This is my 100th Review!

Final thoughts:

As I mentioned in my review of part one, the events of this story are superseded by the "canon" version of the Defiant's ultimate fate, as seen in the Enterprise two-parter "In a Mirror, Darkly." This fact does not take away from this story whatsoever. Interphase is a fun and compelling "version" of the Defiant's story, and the unexpected tie-in to the Vanguard series was a fun thing to discover. This two-parter showcases what the Corps of Engineers series can truly be: exciting, imaginative, and a welcome addition to the world of Trek!

There is room in Star Trek for more than one ultimate fate of the Defiant!

Also by Dayton Ward and Kevin Dilmore:


My next read:

Next up is S.C.E. #6: Cold Fusion by Keith R.A. DeCandido.


Friday, November 1, 2013

A Ceremony of Losses

Star Trek: The Fall
A Ceremony of Losses by David Mack
Release date: October 29th, 2013
Read October 22nd, 2013


Previous book (The Fall): The Crimson Shadow
Next book (The Fall): The Poisoned Chalice

Purchasing Links: A Ceremony of Losses from Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk

Spoilers ahead for A Ceremony of Losses and The Fall!

From the back cover:
THE NEEDS OF THE MANY 
Despite heroic efforts by Thirishar ch’Thane, the Andorian species is headed for extinction. Its slow march toward oblivion has reached a tipping point, one from which there will be no hope of return. 
THE NEEDS OF THE FEW 
With countless lives at stake, the leaders of Andor, the Federation, and the Typhon Pact all scheme to twist the crisis to their political gain—at any price. 
THE NEEDS OF THE ONE 
Unwilling to be a mere bystander to tragedy, Doctor Julian Bashir risks everything to find a cure for the Andorians. But his courage will come at a terrible cost: his career, his freedom . . . and maybe his life.

My thoughts:

After Una McCormack’s absolutely stellar The Crimson Shadow, how could another book in The Fall possibly measure up?

Quite well, as it turns out.

I do not envy David Mack's task of having to follow Una McCormack's fantastic entry in The Fall, but unsurprisingly, he handles the task with his usual aplomb. A Ceremony of Losses continues the story of the Andorian reproductive crisis; a story-line that, surprisingly, has now been with us for over a decade. Against the backdrop of the recent tragic events that have befallen the Federation, Dr. Julian Bashir embarks on a personal mission of mercy to help solve the Andorians’ dilemma. His plan is to access the Shedai meta genome, and act which, if discovered, would led to the end of his Starfleet career at best, and at worst, charges of treason and a life in prison. The meta genome is the Federation’s most closely-guarded secret, possibly for good reason. Featured in the unparalleled book series, Vanguard, the Shedai meta genome was discovered by Starfleet a century earlier. Its discovery and the fallout from that event led to a short but brutal conflict with the Tholian Assembly. In addition, while the meta genome could yield a plethora of benefits, the knowledge it contains could also be used in very destructive ways. In fact, Project Genesis was derived from information in the meta genome, a device that could be used as a devastating weapon. Needless to say, Starfleet and the Federation will do everything it can to ensure that the information contained in the meta genome stays under lock and key.

Dr. Bashir must overcome overwhelming odds in his fight to bring a cure to the Andorians.
It is against all of this that Bashir must struggle to find a cure for the Andorian people. This herculean task is the ultimate embodiment of Bashir's frequent "uphill battles," famously enacted in the holosuites on DS9 through the Battle of the Alamo and the Battle of Thermopylae. Instead of a small force of Texans holding out against a vast Mexican army or 7000 Spartans against a force of 100,000 Persians, Bashir and a few genetic scientists must go up against the entire might of Starfleet and the Federation, as well as a reactionary Andorian government that would rather consolidate its hold on power than allow their people to be cured.

A Ceremony of Losses touches on a lot of topics that are worth deep examination. The political party in power on Andor is very right-wing and reactionary, and their base is very much against science and anything that goes against their religious beliefs. Key to maintaining their power is getting their base riled up and ready to fight. The "President Pro Tem" of the Federation, a Bajoran by the name of Ishan Anjar, is also extremely reactionary and a true "warhawk." Quick to anger and looking to score cheap politcal points at the expense of the prudent course of action, Ishan's (hopefully short) regime is a stark contrast to the presidency of Nanietta Bacco. It is in the middle of this charged political climate that Bashir finds himself.

As usual, David Mack handles the characters in his book as expertly as he does the grand, epic plots. In particular, the strained-of-late relationship between Bashir and Dax gets some very welcome development, and I'm eager to see where it goes in future novels. Also, this novel features the return for one of my favorite lit-only characters: Thirishar Ch'Thane, formerly the science officer of Deep Space Nine.

Thirishar Ch'Thane ('Shar'), formerly of Deep Space Nine.
A Ceremony of Losses, much like David R. George III's Revelation and Dust, leaves several plot points dangling at the end. A few of these are obviously specific to The Fall and will be picked up in the remaining two books in the series. However, Bashir's story in particular looks to be continued in David Mack's 2014 novel, Section 31: Disavowed, which is set to be released toward the end of next year. In addition, due to the lack of mention of the plot points revealed at the end of Revelation and Dust in this novel, we can probably assume that those stories will be continued in another novel further along in the DS9 story, and will not feature in The Fall.

Final thoughts:

I was a little worried about being disappointed after the high level of quality of Una McCormack's The Crimson Shadow, but my fears were completely unfounded. Truly, this is unsurprising, as I have yet to be disappointed by anything of David Mack's that I have read. He keeps his streak going with A Ceremony of Losses. This epic and far-reaching entry in The Fall will be an influence on story-lines going forward for many novels to come. As usual, Mack remains secure in his position as one of my favorite Trek-lit authors of all time. Another winner! 4/5 stars.

Blink and you'll miss it...

In one of my favorite references to something outside of Star Trek EVER, keep an eye out for a hilarious call-out to the animated series Pinky and the Brain.

Further resources:


Also by David Mack:

The Fall



My next read:

Look for my reviews of the stories from the second volume of S.C.E., titled Miracle Workers. First up: Interphase, Part 2 by Dayton Ward and Kevin Dilmore.