Saturday, June 20, 2015

Warpath

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Warpath by David Mack
First Published March 2006
Read June 18th 2015


Previous book (Deep Space Nine): The Dominion: Olympus Descending

Next book (Deep Space Nine): Fearful Symmetry

MMPB: Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk
Kindle: Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk

Spoilers ahead for Warpath and the Deep Space Nine relaunch!

From the back cover:
They were created to be killing machines. Highly intelligent, resourceful, and deceptively complex, the Jem'Hadar are a species engineered for war and programmed at the genetic level for one purpose: to fight until death as soldiers of the sprawling stellar empire known as the Dominion. No Jem'Hadar has ever lived thirty years, and not even their masters, the shape-shifting Founders, know what such a creature is capable of becoming were it to be freed of its servitude. 
One Founder, however, has dared to wonder. 
Appointed by Odo himself to learn peaceful coexistence aboard Deep Space 9, Taran'atar, an Honored Elder among the Jem'Hadar, had for months been a staunch, if conflicted, ally to the crew of the station, ever struggling to understand the mission on which he was sent… until something went horrifically wrong. 
Consumed by self-doubt and an ever-growing rage, Taran'atar has lashed out against those he was sworn to aid. While Captain Kira Nerys and Lieutenant Ro Laren both lie near death aboard DS9, their assailant has taken a hostage and fled into Cardassian space, pursued by Commander Elias Vaughn on the USS Defiant. But as the hunt unfolds, Taran'atar's true objective becomes increasingly less certain, as the rogue Jem'Hadar leads the Defiant to a discovery even more shocking than his crime.

My thoughts:

The Jem'Hadar: mindless killers, or something more?
As a long-time fan of Star Trek, I love the stories where a former foe becomes an ally. The Organians' prediction in the TOS episode "Errand of Mercy" that the Federation and the Klingons would become "fast friends" was fulfilled when we saw Lieutenant Worf grace our screens every week on Star Trek: The Next Generation. Thus, I was intrigued when I learned that a Jem'Hadar soldier would be a main character in the Deep Space Nine relaunch novels. The other characters were wary of him, of course, worried that he might turn on them at any moment. Nog especially feared the powerful warrior, which was understandable given his wartime experiences facing off against the Jem'Hadar. I, however, was not worried. After all, Odo had ordered Taran'atar to obey Kira as though she were a Founder, and no Jem'Hadar would ever betray the will of a Founder. No, Taran'atar would prove that the Jem'Hadar could work alongside other species in mutual cooperation and overcome their breeding as killers.

Boy, was I ever wrong.

At the end of The Dominion: Olympus Descending, Odo's great experiment goes horribly wrong. Taran'atar brutally attacks Lieutenant Ro and Captain Kira, leaving them for dead. As Warpath opens, he flees the station, taking Ensign Prynn Tenmei captive in the process. Now it is up to her distraught father, Elias Vaughn, to take chase in the U.S.S. Defiant in an attempt to bring back both alive.

Warpath is classic David Mack. He superbly juggles a number of different stories throughout the book, bringing everything to a head on the Cardassian world Harkoum, where we learn who exactly was behind everything. It turns out that Taran'atar was not acting on his own volition, and that he may not be completely at fault for his actions after all. Present here is some great action sequences, as well as some great character work, notably for Vaughn and Prynn, and also for Taran'atar himself as he struggles with his own identity and place in the universe.

Warpath suffers a little bit from being setup for what is to come, but it is also a very strong story in its own right. I especially enjoyed Prynn's struggles against Taran'atar, as well as the cat-and-mouse game of tactics between Taran'atar and Vaughn aboard the Defiant as each attempts to out-think the other. Also, look for some fun references, most obviously to the 1984 anime NausicaƤ of the Valley of the Wind. It turns out that the Nausicaans of Star Trek borrow more from that film than just their name!

Final thoughts:

A fun and exciting novel filled with great action and some fantastic setup for the stories to come. This is classic David Mack: a number of stories come together with some fantastic payoff, while still setting up the novels to come. Four out of five stars is my rating for Warpath. Not to be missed.

More about Warpath:

Also by David Mack:


My next read:

This week, I will be featuring my review of the behind-the-scenes interview book about Star Trek: The Motion Picture: Preston Neal Jones' new Return to Tomorrow. And then, in a week, if I can keep my reading pace up, look for Fearful Symmetry, the next book in the Deep Space Nine relaunch by author Olivia Woods.