Sunday, September 13, 2015

The Returned, Part 3

Star Trek: New Frontier
The Returned, Part 3 by Peter David
An e-book exclusive novella
Release date: September 7th 2015
Read September 9th 2015


Previous book (New Frontier): The Returned, Part 2

Next book (New Frontier):


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:

Here it is: the conclusion to the e-book trilogy The Returned. Calhoun and crew witness the near-total destruction of the D'Myurj species and now find themselves leading an even greater threat back to our own galaxy. The Dayan, bent on the destruction of all life everywhere, are using Calhoun and the Excalibur to access the wormhole to bring them to the Milky Way Galaxy, where they will presumably systematically wipe out all life.

Meanwhile, on New Thallon, Mark McHenry faces off against Q who is posing as "The Awesome," the god of the Thallonians. Q is keeping his cards close to his chest, not revealing why he is showing such interest in the Thallonian line of succession and aiding Shintar Han in his desire to kill Robin Lefler and her son, Cwansi.

The Returned, Part 3 does an adequate job in resolving the various storylines that came out of parts one and two. The story was generally engaging, and it kept my interest throughout. The typical Peter David whimsy is definitely present, as is his tendency to go to dark places from time to time. However, I felt that something was missing. Some parts felt very "paint by numbers," almost as though the author was kind of bored with writing these characters. The final act of the story is wrapped up at a breakneck pace, with a crazy, soap opera-ish ending. I suppose that is par for the course for New Frontier, but it still felt a little cheap.

As I mentioned above, there are a few "dark" moments in the story, most notably when Q assaults two of the characters by removing their lungs and allows them to suffer in order to force Mark McHenry to go along with his plan. And there is also a very unexpected sexual assault perpetrated on Captain Calhoun by Soleta. I would have been interested to see where this story might go, but the assault itself is dealt with just a little too flippantly for my tastes.

This happens a couple of times in the story. Ideas such as consent, lack of control, all-power beings, and even genocide aren't quite given the depth that they need. I enjoy exploring these ideas, and I feel that literature should force us to examine our beliefs and worldview, but this story doesn't quite get there for me.

Still, I don't want to say to skip this story. If you are a fan of New Frontier, you will enjoy seeing the characters back in their element, with a huge, over-the-top galactic threat, facing off with the usual irreverence of the New Frontier gang. Just take everything with a grain of salt and try not to worry too much when the story gets pretty far off the rails.

Final thoughts:

New Frontier fans will be happy to see the gang back together, and the story features Peter David's usual whimsy and dabbling in darker story ideas. I would have liked to have seen a deeper exploration of some of the issues at the heart of the story, but that is not to be. Still, I don't think you should skip this if you enjoy New Frontier. There are some developments that are important going forward, and I do truly hope that New Frontier continues to go forward.

The "Next book (New Frontier)" space above remains open, hopeful that someday I will have a title to type in there again.

More about The Returned, Part 3:

Also by Peter David:

Next time on Trek Lit Reviews:

I continue to review the TOS Mere Anarchy series with book two: The Centre Cannot Hold by Mike W. Barr.

DFTBA!