Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Captain's Daughter

Star Trek #76
The Captain's Daughter by Peter David
Published December 1995
Read January 10th 2014


Previous book (The Original Series): #75: First Frontier
Next book (The Original Series): #77: Twilight's End


Purchase The Captain's Daughter from Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk

Spoilers ahead for The Captain's Daughter!

From the back cover:
When Demora Sulu, an exemplary young Starfleet officer, suddenly attacks her commanding officer, who kills her in self-defense, everyone is stunned. No one is more grief-stricken than her father, Captain Hikaru Sulu of the U.S.S. Excelsior. Determined to learn the truth behind his daughter's bizarre death, Sulu goes to the planet where she was killed, and finds himself confronted by an old enemy eager to destroy Sulu's reputation and his life!

My thoughts:

One of the more intriguing new releases coming later this year is David R. George III's The Lost Era: One Constant Star, featuring Captain Demora Sulu of the U.S.S. Enterprise 1701-B. A revisit to that era has piqued my curiosity. In anticipation, I decided to go back and read a couple of books that featured that ship and her crew.

The first, The Captain's Daughter, is a great story by Peter David featuring the early days of the Enterprise-B's career. Set shortly after the presumed death of Captain James T. Kirk at the beginning of Star Trek: Generations, The Captain's Daughter is partly concerned with the fallout from that incident. In Generations, the character of Captain John Harriman comes across as barely competent; or, at the very least, in way over his head. And when, on a mission to investigate a distress call, Ensign Demora Sulu ends up being killed by Harriman in an act of self-defense, the Captain's problems seem to multiply.

I feel that The Captain's Daughter is the beginning of an attempt to redeem his character somewhat. We get an insight into what Harriman's failures in that ill-fated shakedown cruise have done to him, and how much of what happened was not entirely his fault. Chekov almost seems to serve as a proxy for the Star Trek audience who saw Harriman as incompetent. When Demora (who is Chekov's goddaughter) is allegedly killed, the hatred of Harriman comes to a head. However, we see that Harriman's actions were at best justified, and at the very least unavoidable.

A character I was always curious about: Ensign Demora Sulu.
Half of the story occurs in flashback, and we learn the origins of Demora Sulu. When I first watched Generations twenty years ago (GOOD LORD! Twenty YEARS?!?), I was very curious about her character. Like Kirk, I wondered "when did Sulu find time for a family?" In The Captain's Daughter, Peter David has fleshed out that story beautifully.

Best scene in the novel: Captain Harriman relieving his father, Admiral "Blackjack" Harriman, of command of the Enterprise. This selection showcases Peter David's formidable wit at its finest!

Final thoughts:

The Captain's Daughter was a delightful read, both when I read it nearly ten years ago, and again when I read it to write this review. While Peter David's work can sometimes border on the farcical, I found that this novel had just the right amount of whimsy and David's trademark "tongue-in-cheek" style. He managed to strike the perfect tone for a story that is both serious and amusing. Like a lot of PAD's works, The Captain's Daughter has a certain amount of heart, making for a sentimental yet fun read.


Further resources:

Also by Peter David:

My next read:

At the moment, I'm reading the new release for February: the much-anticipated continuation of the Voyager "relaunch," Kirsten Beyer's Protectors!


Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Release Day! Voyager: Protectors

The new release for this month is the much-anticipated continuation of Kirsten Beyer's stellar Voyager series: Protectors. Since the release of Full Circle nearly five years ago, Beyer's take on the Voyager "relaunch" has been a highlight of the Trek novel line.

Below, find the cover, back-cover blurb, and links for purchasing Voyager: Protectors.

And, as always, enjoy!

My Review of Protectors




Publisher's description:
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, is questioning 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.



Purchase Voyager: Protectors:

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

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


Previous Release: The Fall: Peaceable Kingdoms
Next Release: Titan: Absent Enemies (e-book)

Monday, January 27, 2014

A TON of new Star Trek book news!

Wow! Talk about a wealth of new information about upcoming Star Trek titles! Let's get right to it!

One of my "must listen" podcasts is Literary Treks, from the good people over at Trek.fm! Every week, Matthew Rushing and Christopher Jones discuss the latest developments in Star Trek novels and comics. Often, they feature interviews with the authors or other people in the Trek publishing industry. Well, this past week, they had Margaret Clark on, the editor who works on the Trek book line. And wow did she have a lot of information to dish!

First up, there are a few announcements of new books coming in 2014. In October, we have the next installment of Kirsten Beyer's Voyager series, much sooner than expected! Look for Acts of Contrition to hit the shelves on or around September 30th.

Clark also spoke briefly about the upcoming TNG novel, The Light Fantastic, the follow-up to David Mack's excellent Cold Equations trilogy. The Light Fantastic should be available towards the end of June.

Two more announcements: December's release is an as-yet-untitled novel from the TOS movie era by Greg Cox. And, in another exciting piece of news, John Jackson Miller will be returning to the Trek book arena following his release of Titan: Absent Enemies next month. In 2015, look for a full-size novel by Miller, featuring Captain Ezri Dax and the USS Aventine! I'm very excited about this one.

John Jackson Miller returns with a novel about Captain Dax and the Aventine

On Christopher L. Bennett's blog, he has announced the next two novels in the Rise of the Federation series! In 2015, we will get book three, tentatively titled Uncertain Logic. After that comes the fourth book in the series, as yet unnamed.

The return of Department of Temporal Investigations! Yay!

On the e-book front, we have several new announcements that are all very interesting! First of all, possibly coming later in 2014, we have a new entry in Department of Temporal Investigations! Also announced on CLB's blog, this will be the third entry in this quirky series. While not a full novel, Bennett describes it as a "hefty" e-book novella at 35,000 words. Long-time readers will know how much I enjoyed the first two entries in the series. I am very excited by this news!

Other e-book novellas coming in the next two years include a Deep Space Nine e-book titled Lust, Latinum, Lost and Found by Paula M. Block and Terry J. Erdmann. This sounds like a fun title, in which Quark realizes he is not the only game in town in the spacious new DS9. In the story, he attempts to get his hands on a copy of the new Vulcan Love Slave. No, this is not a joke, and yes, it sounds like a heck of a lot of fun!

Also revealed by Margaret Clark on the latest Literary Treks is an e-book novella called Q Are Cordially Uninvited, a story about Q and the wedding of Dr. Crusher and Captain Picard. The author has not yet been revealed. More on this as it develops!


With these announcements, the 2014 schedule is now complete:

January:
The Fall: The Poisoned Chalice by Dayton Ward

February:
Voyager: Protectors by Kirsten Beyer
Titan: Absent Enemies by John Jackson Miller (e-book)

March:
The Original Series: No Time Like the Past by Greg Cox

April:
Enterprise: Rise of the Federation: Tower of Babel by Christopher L. Bennett
The Original Series: Seasons of Light and Darkness by Michael A. Martin (e-book)

May:
The Original Series: Serpents in the Garden by Jeff Mariotte

June:
The Lost Era: One Constant Star by David R. George III

July:
The Next Generation: The Light Fantastic by Jeffrey Lang
The Original Series: The More Things Change by Scott Pearson (e-book)

August:
Seekers #1: Second Nature by David Mack

September:
Seekers #2: Point of Divergence by Dayton Ward and Kevin Dilmore

October:
Voyager: Acts of Contrition by Kirsten Beyer
The Original Series: Shadow of the Machine by Scott Harrison (e-book)

November:
Section 31: Disavowed by David Mack

December:
The Original Series: Untitled by Greg Cox

January 2015:
The Next Generation: Home Again by Una McCormack

As-Yet Unscheduled:
Deep Space Nine: Lust, Latinum, Lost and Found by Paula M. Block and Terry J. Erdmann (e-book)
Department of Temporal Investigations: The Collectors by Christopher L. Bennett (e-book)
The Next Generation: Q Are Cordially Uninvited by unknown (e-book)


As I said, lots of new news! If you haven't checked out Literary Treks yet, you most definitely should. It's a really great podcast, and Matthew and Christopher do an excellent job each week providing news, interviews, and reviews of works from all over the Star Trek literary landscape! In particular, make sure you listen to the latest episode with Margaret Clark, entitled "Tell Me a Good Story." Not only is there a lot of new news there, it was very enlightening about the process of publishing Star Trek novels. Behind-the-scenes information is always fun!

As always, use my 2014 Releases page to keep track of the new releases in Trek fiction. Also, I've just started my 2015 Releases page! There's not much on there yet, but it will be updated as more information is known.

Until next time, live long and prosper!


Sunday, January 26, 2014

Cover for Jeff Mariotte's Serpents in the Garden

Pocket Books' latest Star Trek cover has been unveiled:


Early in his five-year mission commanding the U.S.S. Enterprise, Captain James T. Kirk found himself caught up in a growing conflict on the planet Neural. To maintain the balance of power against a force being armed by the Klingons, he provided weapons to his friends, the Hill People. Years later, Admiral Kirk learns that the Klingon presence on the planet has grown considerably, in possible violation of the Treaty of Organia. Did his impulse as a young captain turn out disastrously wrong? Should he—could he—have done more to eliminate the Klingon threat? To find out, he embarks on a secret mission back to Neural—where he might just be the only person who can prevent an interstellar war.

Serpents in the Garden is a follow-up to the TOS episode "A Private Little War," and sees a movie-era return to the planet Neural. Serpents in the Garden is set to be released at the end of April. Click the links below to pre-order it!


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Fall

Star Trek: 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


WARNING! If you haven't read The Fall yet, STOP READING! SPOILERS AHEAD!


The last half of the year in Trek lit was dominated by The Fall, a five-book epic series dealing with a major tragedy and an existential threat to the United Federation of Planets. With the release of the final book in the series, Peaceable Kingdoms, The Fall has now come to an end. Now that the dust has settled, how does the series as a whole stack up? And, possibly more importantly, where do we go from here?


Revelation and Dust by David R. George III

In my initial review of this novel, I speculated that the major story-line of the novel would be picked up again in the rest of The Fall. Now that the series has concluded, it is apparent that that is not the case. It would seem that the Kira/Keev story is a setup for further novels in the Deep Space Nine series. While this is welcome news and I'm excited to read them, it is a little disappointing that the main narrative of this novel is so disconnected from the overall Fall arc. Still, it is a lovely story that left me wanting more. The "big event" of the assassination of President Bacco kicks off a great story that has far-reaching repercussions for the Federation and our characters. I only wish that the cliffhanger ending was picked up on or at the very least mentioned in further stories in The Fall.

Purchase from Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk


The Crimson Shadow by Una McCormack

Quite possibly one of the best Trek novels ever written, and certainly the best novel this year, I've made my love of The Crimson Shadow very clear. Una's story about the politics and society of Cardassia is both beautiful and disturbing. As usual, her writing of Garak is pitch-perfect and a true pleasure to read. Her original characters are also dynamic and fully fleshed-out. The revelations uncovered by Picard and Garak about the true perpetrators of Bacco's assassination are shocking, and the outcomes of this discovery will be felt throughout the series. Like Revelation and Dust, The Crimson Shadow tells its own story, but it contrasts the previous novel by integrating that story more fully into The Fall.

Purchase from Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk


A Ceremony of Losses by David Mack

It may be a tired joke, but David Mack's reputation as "The Angel of Death" is well-earned. His Destiny trilogy featured casualties on a galactic scale and changed the face of the Federation forever. So, it is ironic that his latest novel features the saving of an entire species from extinction. In A Ceremony of Losses, we see Dr. Julian Bashir's attempt to complete the work started by Andorian scientists to prevent the extinction of that species from a reproductive crisis that came to light over ten years ago in the Trek lit universe. We learn more about the hawkish President pro tempore, Bajoran Ishan Anjar. This book sets us up for the final thrust of the final two books in The Fall...

Purchase from Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk



The Poisoned Chalice by James Swallow

Giving Una McCormack's book a pretty good run for its money is The Poisoned Chalice by James Swallow. I was very impressed with this novel. Swallow shows a definite love of black ops/shadow intrigue with the penultimate entry in The Fall. The characterizations of Tuvok, Nog, and the rest of the covert team featured in this book were terrific, and the plot featured enough twists and turns to keep me guessing the entire time. The actions of Ishan Anjar's administration show a callous disregard for the ideals of the Federation, instead sacrificing those ideals for safety, security, and a good showing at the polls. The stage is set for a great debate between the warhawks and the doves.

Purchase from Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk



Peaceable Kingdoms by Dayton Ward

The final entry in The Fall, Peaceable Kingdoms had a lot to live up to. The previous three novels set the bar extremely high. Unfortunately, this is where the series stumbled just a bit. Gone is the nuanced face-off between two opposing viewpoints. Instead of having an antagonist whose views don't jibe with our heroes', we instead get a usurper who has no legitimate claim to his position. While the story that Peaceable Kingdoms tells isn't necessarily a bad one, it is unfortunate that we didn't get a deeper examination of the issues. This is not to say that this story isn't enjoyable. Anyone who doubts Ward's ability to craft wonderful prose needs to re-read the scene in which Attorney General Phillipa Louvois brings the charges against the President pro tem to the floor of the Federation council.

Purchase from Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk


The Series as a Whole:

The Fall succeeded on a number of levels. I feel as though the middle three novels did an excellent job setting up a showdown between two opposing ideologies. Essentially, the Federation has faced another existential crisis. Unlike the Borg invasion of Destiny, however, the threat has not come from an external force, but from within. The Federation was founded on the ideals of peaceful cooperation, mutual respect, and the idea that we are better off together than apart. On one side, the warhawks, who believe in greater security and force to protect the people of the Federation. On the other side, the traditionalists, who believe that a Federation that ignores the ideals upon which it was built is not worth protecting. Where the series falls apart is in not taking that argument to its conclusion, and instead forestalling any meaningful debate on the issue.

The Fall has had a profound impact on the Star Trek lit-verse. Not as huge an impact as the Destiny trilogy did a few years ago, mind you, but a sizeable one nonetheless. Nanietta Bacco, a well-loved and respected character, has had her story come to an end. Her legacy is a period in which the Federation faced a multitude of crises, but still came through in the end mostly intact. She was an excellent character and will be sorely missed. In addition, the Andorian reproductive crisis, a story that has been with us for over a decade (has it really been that long?), has been resolved. When a story-line has been running that long, the fear is that it may be abandoned before coming to a satisfying conclusion. Thankfully, this did not happen.


So where do we go from here?

While wrapping up the main story, The Fall has left a number of plot threads dangling. Obviously, the cliffhanger from Revelation and Dust must be dealt with, and we can only hope that David R. George III has a book in the works that continues that story. But beyond that, we don't know the ultimate fate of the Starfleet officer turned renegade, Dr. Julian Bashir. We know that he is planning to go after Section 31, and one can only assume that his story is continued in Section 31: Disavowed by David Mack, scheduled for release towards the end of this year.

One question that has me curious: what of William Riker? In The Poisoned Chalice, he is promoted by Fleet Admiral Akaar to the rank of Admiral, and is no longer captain of the Titan. Will that promotion stick? And what of Titan the series? Will it continue with the Titan acting as Riker's flagship? Or will it be commanded by Christine Vale? Or, heaven forbid, will the Titan series end? We may have our answer in February, as a Titan e-book exclusive will be released: Absent Enemies by Trek newcomer John Jackson Miller. I recently read one of his Star Wars novels, Kenobi, and really enjoyed it. I'm excited to see him tackle Trek, as well as to learn the ultimate fate of Riker and the Titan.

Finally, the end of the miniseries sees new orders issued to Picard and the Enterprise. It seems that Starfleet and the new Federation president are interested in seeing a new thrust of exploration. Admiral Akaar speaks of pushing the boundaries of Federation exploration and multi-year missions in the vein of Captain Kirk's historic "five-year mission." I can't help but wonder if this represents a kind of sea change in the tone and style of the novels set in the 24th century. The past few years have been marked by political stories and existential crises for the Federation. Perhaps the overall style of the novels will change from this point forward. Only time will tell, I suppose.

The Fall is far superior to earlier attempts at crossover stories, such as Gateways. I much prefer crossovers such as this one or Destiny, in which the action is much more integrated between the series and the stories have more of an impact on each other. For the most part, The Fall works. There are a few stumbles along the way, and I feel that the conclusion could have been stronger, but in the end I believe the Trek universe is better for having told this story.


My next read: 

As promised, Peter David's The Captain's Daughter.


Monday, January 20, 2014

Cover and blurb for Christopher Bennett's Latest!

Hi everyone! Following last year's excellent Rise of the Federation: A Choice of Futures by Christopher L. Bennett, I have really been looking forward to the follow-up. The wait is nearly over, as the sequel, Tower of Babel, is set to be released at the end of March! The cover for this much-anticipated novel has just been revealed, and it sure is a beauty. Look below for the cover, as well as the back-cover blurb and links to pre-order Tower of Babel from Amazon!


The United Federation of Planets has weathered its first major crisis, but its growing pains are just beginning. Admiral Jonathan Archer hopes to bring the diverse inhabitants of the powerful and prosperous Rigel system into the Federation, jump-starting the young nation's growth and stabilizing a key sector of space. Archer and the Federation's top diplomats journey to the planetoid Babel to debate Rigel's admission…but a looming presidential race heats up the idealogical divide within the young nation, jeopardizing the talks and threatening to undo the fragile unity Archer has worked so hard to preserve. 
Meanwhile, the sinister Orion Syndicate recruits new allies of its own, seeking to beat the Federation at its own game. Determined to keep Rigel out of the union, they help a hostile Rigelian faction capture sensitive state secrets along with Starfleet hostages, including a young officer with a vital destiny. Captain Malcolm Reed, Captain T'Pol, and their courageous crews must now brave the wonders and dangers of Rigel's many worlds to track down the captives before the system is plunged into all-out war.

You can pre-order both the paperback edition and e-book from the links below:

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

As always, look for my review shortly after the release date!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Peaceable Kingdoms

Star Trek: The Fall
Peaceable Kingdoms by Dayton Ward
Release date: December 31st, 2013
Read January 5th 2014


Previous book (The Fall): The Poisoned Chalice
Next book (24th century continuity): Titan: Absent Enemies
Next book (TNG): The Light Fantastic


Purchase Peaceable Kingdoms from Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk

Spoilers ahead for Peaceable Kingdoms and The Fall!

From the back cover:
Following the resolution of the fertility crisis that nearly caused their extinction, the Andorian people now stand ready to rejoin the United Federation of Planets. The return of one of its founding member worlds is viewed by many as the first hopeful step beyond the uncertainty and tragedy that have overshadowed recent events in the Alpha Quadrant. But as the Federation looks to the future and the special election to name President Bacco’s permanent successor, time is running out to apprehend those responsible for the respected leader’s brutal assassination. Even as elements of the Typhon Pact are implicated for the murder, Admiral William Riker holds key knowledge of the true assassins— a revelation that could threaten the fragile Federation-Cardassian alliance.  
Questions and concerns also continue to swell around Bacco’s interim successor, Ishan Anjar, who uses the recent bloodshed to further a belligerent, hawkish political agenda against the Typhon Pact. With the election looming, Riker dispatches his closest friend, Captain Jean-Luc Picard, in a desperate attempt to uncover the truth. But as Picard and the Enterprise crew pursue the few remaining clues, Riker must act on growing suspicions that someone within Ishan’s inner circle has been in league with the assassins from the very beginning . . . .

My thoughts:

The Fall has been an excellent series, for the most part. With a bit of a rough start from Revelation and Dust, what followed were some of the best Trek books ever written. After the superb set-up from the preceding four books, how does Peaceable Kingdoms compare? Well... sadly, not nearly as good as the prior installments.

Don't get me wrong: Peaceable Kingdoms does an adequate job of tying up the loose ends and resolving the overall story of The Fall. However, it all feels a little "paint-by-numbers." I do understand that the really great set-up of the previous novels set a very high bar that is difficult to match, but I found it impossible to escape the feeling that something was missing.

One aspect of Peaceable Kingdoms that annoyed me was the constant recapping of events from the previous books. While this sort of rehash doesn't normally bother me (after all, someone may not have read the previous books), it seemed that this recap was done numerous times throughout the book. I didn't understand why so much information was being rehashed so frequently.

The final revelation about the character of Ishan Anjar was somewhat disappointing. However, I did appreciate the fact that he believed that he was doing what was right for the Federation. The best villains are the ones who truly believe that they are on the side of the angels. However, I would have enjoyed a more nuanced examination of the two opposing sides of the debate: warhawk vs. moderate. I felt as though the warhawk side was portrayed too one-dimensionally. Having said that, there was one instance in which the lack of information from the "other side" was welcome: at one point, the Enterprise is heading towards a confrontation with another Federation starship, sent by the President pro tem to apprehend Dr. Crusher and a team from the Enterprise. Numerous attempts to communicate with the vessel are met with silence, and we are left to wonder what exactly will happen when the two vessels meet. Will she join us, or will she fire on us? I felt that being "kept in the dark" with regards to the action happening on the other starship added to the tension of the moment.

Despite the shortcomings previously mentioned, it was great to see the TNG crew back in action again. As with last year's Brinkmanship, Dr. Crusher takes a central role, which was once again very welcome. Some of the peripheral characters have gotten short shrift in most of the books, so it is always nice to see them take center stage from time to time.

It's nice to see more characters who have become peripheral in recent years, such as Dr. Crusher, take a starring role in the novels.

Finally, the book ended on a high note. The implied "new direction" that the Next Generation-era books seem to be headed in is very welcome. I am very excited at the possibility of future stories of exploration and the new path the Federation will be charting. A greater emphasis on exploration and the re-introduction of multi-year missions of discovery are exciting prospects. I'm very curious to see where future books will take this idea!

Final thoughts:

The final book in The Fall connects all of the dots that it needs to, but in a lot of ways just kind of seemed to go through the paces. I understand that the really great set-up of the previous novels is hard to match, but I feel something was lacking. I am a big fan of Dayton Ward's work to date, and as I said, this novel is a satisfactory ending. However, it lacks the "something special" that entries like The Crimson Shadow, A Ceremony of Losses, and The Poisoned Chalice had.

Further resources:

Also by Dayton Ward:

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:

Next up is my review of The Fall as a whole, followed by Peter David's TOS novel, The Captain's Daughter.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

This Gray Spirit

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Mission Gamma, Book Two of Four
This Gray Spirit by Heather Jarman
Published: September 2002
Read December 20th 2013


Previous book (Deep Space Nine): Mission Gamma, Book One: Twilight
Next book (Deep Space Nine): Mission Gamma, Book Three: Cathedral


Purchase This Gray Spirit from Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk

This Gray Spirit is also available as part of the omnibus These Haunted Seas, containing the first two books of the Mission: Gamma miniseries.

Purchase These Haunted Seas from Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk


Spoilers ahead for This Gray Spirit, Mission Gamma, and the rest of the Deep Space Nine relaunch!

From the back cover:
UNSAILED SEAS
The political intrigue aboard Deep Space 9 escalates when Gul Macet's warship arrives at the station with an unexpected passenger. Cardassian Ambassador Natima Lang has returned to the station on a mission of hope, but it's one that will bring back old wounds and old ghosts. As tensions rise on all sides, Colonel Kira Nerys discovers that the line between friend and foe is narrower than she ever imagined.
Elsewhere, the crew of the damaged Starship Defiant forges an uneasy alliance with an unusual alien species -- one whose unique biological makeup is the key to the balance of power in that region of the Gamma Quadrant. As the crew becomes ensnared in a web of deceit, Lieutenant Ezri Dax and Ensign Thirishar ch'Thane struggle to stave off a genocidal civil war.

My thoughts:

As with the previous book, there is a great deal happening in This Gray Spirit. There are four major plots taking place, and Heather Jarman does an excellent job giving time to each of them.

In the Gamma Quadrant, the Defiant deals with having to find a way to navigate a treacherous area of space filled with hidden traps and weapons. Meanwhile, Dax and Shar remain on an alien world to negotiate a settlement between two competing castes. I enjoyed the turn that Dax's character took in this part of the story. As she struggles to find her own voice amid the chorus of previous hosts, she realizes her true potential, and also recognizes when and how she can use the experiences of her previous hosts to great effect.

Back on the station, preparations continue for Bajor's entry into the Federation. Meanwhile, a Cardassian delegation arrives, hoping to negotiate with Bajor for a normalization of relations between the two worlds. When the negotiations don't go as planned, Kira is shocked to discover why. This plot development sets up a number of events in later novels. Jarman's handling of Kira's character was perfect, and I think she was the most well-written character in the novel. I especially appreciated the exploration of Ziyal's legacy. Ziyal and Kira were very close, and the effect that Ziyal's short life had on Kira was very well represented in this novel.

The memory of Tora Ziyal and what she represented plays an important role in This Gray Spirit.

The subplot involving Shar's bondmates is tragic and fraught with very heavy emotions. I have known people dealing with depression, and those experiences resonated with what I was reading in this book. Thriss, the bondmate with whom Shar was closest, is deeply troubled due to Shar's departure on the Gamma Quadrant mission. While I had read these novels years ago, the tragic culmination of Thriss's story was no easier to read than it was the first time. In fact, the foreknowledge might have made the impact even more brutal.

When I first began reading This Gray Spirit, I was unaware that it was Heather Jarman's first professional novel. She does a fine job navigating the various complicated plots weaving their way through this book. One interesting trend I noticed was the tendency to describe actions having taken place rather than showing them. This happens a couple of times in the book. One example was an incident involving Thriss threatening a patient while volunteering in the infirmary. Rather than showing the incident, a chapter begins with two characters discussing what had happened, using a "did you hear what happened?" type of conversation. While I generally prefer to have things shown rather than told, I found that this way of presenting the story made for an interesting read. Sometimes less traditional methods of exposition can be fun!

Final thoughts:

An excellent entry in the DS9 relaunch! All of the characters get ample "screen time" (or would that be "page time"?) and the stories are just as emotionally relevant and character-driven as the Deep Space Nine television series often was. In particular, the author's handling of Kira and Ezri are excellent. The invocation of Ziyal's memory and the use of characters from DS9's past are particularly welcome. Heather Jarman is clearly someone who knows her Trek!


More about this book:



Also by Heather Jarman

Worlds of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Volume One: Andor: Paradigm (2004)

My next read:

I am currently finishing up the final book in The Fall, Dayton Ward's Peaceable Kingdoms. After that, I will be reading Peter David's The Captain's Daughter.