Tuesday 9 September 2008

Reviews: Recent reads

I’ve been catching up on my Trek reading recently, and trying to keep up with new releases that most interest me too, so I’ve got through a stack of books, and offer a mini review/reflection of each:

Ahead of the release of Fearful Symmetry I felt it would be useful to refresh my memory of Warpath, as I read it far too fast the first time, and enjoyed it a lot, so was not begrudged to read it a second time. After the period of reflection for the DS9 relaunch in Worlds of DS9, Warpath threw us into full throttle again. It also gives us a nice continuation/resolution to the ongoing Vaughn/Prynn tensions. I loved this book the first time, and still do, it’s fast paced, full of action, with a bunch of soul too, a really enjoyable read which set us up eagerly anticipating whatever came next.
Fearful Symmetry
And what came next was this. I enjoyed this book, but was also a little disappointed, it did not have enough payoff after Warpath, both seem like bridging novels between what came before and whatever is next and I’m disappointed Fearful Symmetry didn’t move the overall DS9 story forward more. However a part from that the book was great, the Iliana Ghemor side was particularly compelling – I found the new revelation about Dukat’s character a particularly interesting twist. Fingers crossed this next instalment in the sage has more payoff, the Kira side of this book didn’t really seem to get very far.
Day of the Vipers
The first book in the Terok Nor trilogy – I was a little nervous about this series, as I’ve not always found the Cardassians and Bajorans the most interesting races, so a story with them and little else was something I was unsure about. Well this book cast aside any such doubts. There are very few familiar characters here, and even the setting of Bajor and Cardassia is unfamiliar, coming from an earlier time, but nothing alienated me, the book grabbed me instantly and pulled right to the end, you obviously know where the story is going, and it’s a tragedy for Bajor, but a beautiful piece of writing – I think this book will be remembered as one of the Star Trek greats, and it made me much more eager to read the rest of the trilogy (but I put it on hold to catch up with other books first)

Obsidian Alliances
Overall I found this book less successful than Glass Empires, but I think that could be entirely the responsibility of The Sorrows of Empire, which was a fantastic story that made the first anthology shine.

The Mirror-Scaled Serpent – There were a lot of interesting elements to this story, I sort of liked the separate parts, but I didn’t find the story altogether that special. There’s nothing wrong with it, it makes good use of all the Voyager elements, and puts some nice mirror–twists on them, it sets up Kes to be something exciting in the future, and pays off on what The Sorrows of Empire established a bit. I look forward to a greater payoff to the bigger stories in the Mirror Universe at some point.

Cutting Ties – To my great surprise this story was my favourite in the book. Surprised because I’m not a New Frontier reader (yet) and therefore expected to be thrown off by having to understand not just unfamiliar characters, but mirror versions of them. But I wasn’t at all, I just found the story enjoyable through and through.

Saturn’s Children – I found this story a bit forgettable. Though upon refreshing my memory it wasn’t too bad. I found the Terran Rebellion side of the story the more interesting element, it had a coolness factor of all the Defiants and the deeper philosophical musing over the redeemablity of the terrans.

Greater Than the Sum
The TNG relaunch has had a bumpy ride so far, but this novel irons everything out and tells a lovely story to boot. The book sorts out all the mess with the crew, though regrettably disposed of T’Lana (she had such a good setup in Resistance that despite her being a pain in the arse I was hoping she’d stick around to redeem herself) and thankfully also disposed of Leybenzon (in a nice permanent way). It also fleshed out the crew, the highlights of the newbies being the quirky and refreshing take on a half Human/half Vulcan T'Ryssa Chen (who the story somewhat revolved around) and the beautifully characterised new chief of security Jasminder Choudhury. Beyond the crew the story also neatly tied up some loose ends with the Borg (and not just the ones left over from previous relaunch stories) and introduced a glorious new lifeform. I loved this book, easily on par with Q & A as the best of the TNG relaunch to date.

Orion’s Hounds
I found the first two Titan novels less satisfying than I hoped, so hadn’t rushed to continue the series, but with Destiny on the horizon I thought I should catch up. Thankfully Orion’s Hounds was a much more satisfying tale, new life and new civilisations on an incredible scale. I really enjoyed the exploration of the galactic ecosystem, I really enjoyed getting to know the diverse crew, and I really enjoyed this book. The benchmark for future Titan novels I hope.
Sword of Damocles
I found the start of the this next Titan book almost irritating, the author conveyed a little too well the tense atmosphere on the Titan. Thankfully once the story got off the ship and onto the featured planet it got much more interesting and enjoyable. Another wining entry in the Titan series.

Kobayashi Maru
What I really liked about this book: It felt big, interstellar politics spread across Earth, Vulcan, Romulus Qo’noS and beyond. I like that the story doesn’t restrict itself to tightly to Enterprise herself, but explores every facet of the universe the series set up (here’s hoping for a Worlds of DS9-like series for Enterprise at some point). This book seemed quite strongly like a sequel to The Good That Men Do, and that’s fine, I’m glad they’ve found a convincing way to use Trip’s new position – I was concerned his storyline might seem like a distraction from everything else for the sake of keeping him about, but he’s well used. The new Romulan weapon was nicely used too, though with Margaret Clark’s hints that they plan to fix the apparent discontinuity of TOS having more primitive computer systems I’m a little worried the ultimate defence will be a little too like Battlestar Galactica. But overall good book, I await the Romulan War.


Bernard said...

Man, you crammed the reviews on this one. Hard to reply to all of them! LOL. I agree with most of the stuff you mentioned.

I have like most of the TNG relaunch, especially the "A Time to" ones, but it seems the last 3-4 books have been seriously lacking. This book finally puts the pieces back together again. I was getting worried with the whole Destiny saga coming up!

Titan books I liked overall. I just love the ship design! Can't wait to see a model of that one so I can get it!

Fearful Symmetry. Liked it...but then didn't as well. As you mentioned it was sort of a let down after WarPath. I like Sisko getting involved again just wish we would learn a little more about him since he's returned. What's his agenda, etc. Will he be returning to Starfleet soon and in what capacity. And c'mon, I miss the "interaction" between Quark and Ro Laren. There was some magic between the two.

8of5 said...

And that was with the most recent couple of books left off :P

I've enjoyed the TNG relaunch since Q & A, which was fantastic, I thought Before Dishonor was good fun (even if the mutiny was annoying) and Greater Than the Sum continues the good run, I found death in Winter and Resistance both disappointing, so I'm glad the we seem to have an upward trend now.

Find Star Trek comics, toys, statues, and collectibles at TFAW.com!