Saturday, August 15, 2015

The Returned, Part 2

Star Trek: New Frontier
The Returned, Part 2 by Peter David
An e-book exclusive novella
Release date: August 3rd 2015
Read August 5th 2015


Previous book (New Frontier): The Returned, Part 1

Next book (New Frontier): The Returned, Part 3


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

Spoilers ahead for The Returned and Star Trek: New Frontier!

Publisher's Description:
Captain Mackenzie Calhoun and the crew of the U.S.S. Excalibur are back, picking up three months after the stunning events depicted in New Frontier: Blind Man’s Bluff. Calhoun's search of Xenex has failed to find any survivors, and now he is bound and determined to track down the race that killed them—the D'myurj and their associates, the Brethren—and exact vengeance upon them. His search will take the Excalibur crew into a pocket universe, where he discovers not only the homeworld of the D’myurj, but another race that shares Calhoun's determination to obliterate his opponents. But is this new race truly an ally…or an even greater threat?

My thoughts:

Continuing directly from Book 1, The Returned Part 2 finds Captain Calhoun and his crew in the pocket universe, seeking out the D'myurj homeworld on a mission to rescue the Federation captives being held there. Having found a D'myurj ship with nearly the entire crew murdered, Calhoun discovers their attackers: the Dayan. A single D'myurj survivor is found aboard the disabled vessel and brought to the Excalibur. After agreeing to help the Dayan seek out and destroy the D'myurj, Calhoun learns from the rescued alien that the Dayan may be an even greater threat.

The underlying themes of this book are much more complex than it would seem at first blush. It wasn't until discussing the book with Matthew Rushing on episode 115 of Literary Treks that I came to really appreciate the depth of the story that Peter David is telling here. In many ways, the issue faced by Calhoun with regards to the D'myurj is similar to a classic Star Trek trope: the idea that the motivations of aliens are more complex than we humans (or people of the Federation) give them credit for. In the classic episode "Arena," the Gorn seemingly commit a wanton act of mass murder in their attack on the Federation colony on Cestus III. At the end of that episode, we learn that the Gorn thought that the Federation was the invader, and they were merely protecting their own people from what they perceived as the violent encroachment of the colonists. Similarly, it seems that the D'myurj attacked the Xenexians in order to preserve their own species, which is in danger of being wiped out by the Dayan. While still a horrible crime, Calhoun finds that their motivations may not have been what he thought they were.

Mark McHenry
As usual, the quirkiness of the New Frontier universe is present on every page of this novella. Peter David's prose is always a pleasure to read, and I definitely enjoyed the juxtaposition of the harsh nature of the Dayan and their almost soft-spoken manner when dealing with Calhoun and his crew.

Robin Lefler and Mark McHenry's story on New Thallon continues here as well, with McHenry gaining planetary fame due to his seemingly god-like powers. There is also a surprise guest star who makes his identity known at the end of the book. Those of you who have read the story will know why I'm excited to see this mystery character and Mark McHenry come together...

Final thoughts:

In some ways, The Returned, Part 2 suffers from what Matthew Rushing and I have termed "middle book purgatory." It's difficult to give a solid rating to a story that is incomplete. There are a lot of interesting themes and ideas up in the air, and I am looking forward to seeing how they are resolved in Part 3. Part 2 was definitely enough to hold my interest, and I once again find myself wishing I had the third part already downloaded. September can't come fast enough!

More about The Returned, Part 2:

Also by Peter David:

My next read:

Next week, my review of #13 of the S.C.E. series: No Surrender by Jeff Mariotte.