**spoiler alert** The tale in it's intricate complexity was as thrilling and enticing as the first volume of this series! The DTI cast and its everlas...more**spoiler alert** The tale in it's intricate complexity was as thrilling and enticing as the first volume of this series! The DTI cast and its everlasting fight against bureaucracy, timeline vandalism and the force of nature that is James Tiberius Kirk are an entertaining addition to the Star Trek cosmos and this book clearly plays to the strengths of this idea.
Regretably the major "villain" of the story is not very impressing and his tampering uses to annoy more than really thrill or enrage, but in compound with the various alien races it just about works out in the end.
And just in the tradition of the old TOS episodes the book languishes in humor after the major crisis finally is overcome and life can go on. I can hardly remember to have laughed so much in such short a part of any book...
Where the Vanguard series earlier this week left me largely unsatisfied, this story had exactly what i needed and wanted. Not the least of it a good if not quite perfect blend of new times and the good old times of Kirk and co... A billion hidden hints and mentions of other adventures from as good as all incarnations of the Star Trek myth and the already mentioned hyper complex interwoven but very nicely unwinding storythreads all have their part in the appeal of this book. I just hope that Bennet will be able to refrain from downsizing, slowing down and dumbing down his own little franchise here so other installment that may follow will be able to keep up this high level of entertainment and refined storytelling!(less)
**spoiler alert** In hindsight it's a pretty nice closure to one of the best miniseries Pocket books has published yet. Still.. i'm satisfied, but not...more**spoiler alert** In hindsight it's a pretty nice closure to one of the best miniseries Pocket books has published yet. Still.. i'm satisfied, but not completelly happy with the developement of the series and the characters. For one thing... i'm not averse against "dark and gritty" as a more realistic outset to write Science Fiction today, but it isn't a cure-all for every story idea and setting either.
So seeing here basically the Federation (or Starfleet) go rogue and thus cause an interstellar war in the timeframe of the original series wasn't something i really could enjoy... the ethical and morally decisions that were made are despicable and unworthy of any Starfleet or Federation setting, doesn't anybody ever learn out of disasters like "Insurrection" that it's a bad idea to force characters to decide between their conscience and stuff like "national security"? This is NOT the USA of 2269 and it should not shown as degenerate and inhumane as out big friends from over the big pond are often presenting themselves this days!
A court-martial happy Starfleet of this degree is in my eyes not different from the big threats we were originally shown Klingons and Romulans were supposed to be... and while i wholeheartedly agree with Manons last thoughts in this book it's not enough to be multi cultural and diverse with lots of tolerance and next to none discrimination... the peaceful, scientifically curious but conscient and politically wise aspects also belong into this setting, this interstellar confederation. If it starts lacking these it's just another marauding pirate nation and loses its special place in history and the whole ST setting! When the good guys become simple criminals there aren't any good guys anymore...
I'm quite happy that they did not go through with the worst ideas and ended up with a pretty clean sheet, even going so far as to NOT kill everybody that wasn't already known to survive from later settings, but the fear that almost every figure they invented had to go was very real for a big part of the book... And as Star Wars has already begun to rigidly cannibalize its best book universe characters in the newer stories i had a real worry that ST would now follow foot, strictly in concurrance of the "dark and gritty" mood of course, but still... in a series that has been so widely connected with the tv series, books, movies and comics of several eras (okay, the emphasize is on TOS, but there's more) it would be a shame if they would off all their precious personae they had brought through 8 volumes of hell ;)
So there were good parts, there were not so good parts and there were very tragical parts... but all in all it did a decent job in bringing the story line that had gone completelly overboard since the fifth book round in a circle and one of the highlights is indeed the cameo at the end of the same ship that started all the fuzz many years and books ago! Vanguard had its heights and depths and somehow the last book manages to mirror all of these highs and lows perfectly...(less)
**spoiler alert** To start i'm a little disappointed that the coordination and the will to construct a proper time line seems to be so poorly at Simon...more**spoiler alert** To start i'm a little disappointed that the coordination and the will to construct a proper time line seems to be so poorly at Simon and Schuster that the great Romulan War that has accompanied us since 1967 and the early TOS stories is only "worth" two not too long volumes and especially this second installment feels quite rushed and forced with it's many temporal jumps. I'd think that the story that could have been told and the willingness of the Enterprise fans to buy such books would have justified at least a five parter and maybe even a whole series like the "Time to" or Gateway titles - if need would have been there even with installments in the nearly related series for TOS, Vanguard or SCE dealing with aspects and persons that would reach further than only the ENT cast and landscape. But enough with this point, let's have a look at the action itself...
Which is the next disappointment... Where the war started in Beneath the Raptor's wing as a coalition effort and everybody pulled their weight here rapidly the Earthers are left alone and have to bear the brunt of the force of the vastly larger Romulan Star Empire, that way losing quickly whatever ground the desperate allied efforts might have won in the opening stages of the conflict. It's a small wonder that Starfkeet even lasts five years throughout this long despearate series of almost pyrrhic victories and abysmal losses. It's nearly massacre after massacre and you have to wonder where Earth might have got so many ships to lose from, during five seasons of Enterprise there certainly was no 150 ship strong Daedalus Class in service that was used here heavily to bolster the ranks (Not that i didn't like the Daedalus, it's a very cool retro Design out of the golden Days of Scifi and in most other contexts i would have been happy to see her in such a prominent role, but this? It's a bit much to swallow after ENT only showed us a handfull of triangular Warp three ships as Earths Defense or Starfleets reaction forces... But then, without them Earth wouldn't have the chance of a snowball in hell on a hot summer's day!
While Earth is stopping the unbreakable tide of onrushing romulan warships by damming them with expendable ships of their own the Romulans try to bring their dangerous Warp 7 Project to life, desperately relying on the provess of a certain Cunaehr... better known as Trip Tucker in his secret Vulcan/Romulan deep cover personality. While Trip tries to stay alive at the same time he is aware that with a whole fleet of Warp 7 able ships Romulus would be invincible and the war would be lost for earth so he stalls for time and seeks every opportunity for sabotage. But will it be enough?
Some fast forwards later that show just more of the same we finally arrive at the great showdown... through the mental link Trip has instructed T'Pol of the staging Area for the Romulan attack on Earth that shall decide the course of the war in the mind of Admiral Valdore. It's the fifth world of Leonis 83 A, better known as Cheron and both sides gamble the core strength of their fleets on this adventure. Archer's fight seems to be hopeless, he's outnumbered if not outmatched three to one and the battle quickly deplores his forces to half their initial strength, when finally the cavalry arrives. Shran of Andoria and Kolos of QonoS have assembled outlaws, pirates, smugglers and Mercenaries to deliver an inofficial auxiliary force where their governments still keep back. This 31 ships almost balance the numbers of the two fleets still smashing at another with all they've got. Then the tides of war turn once again, as romulan reinforcements arrive and the smaller and not so heavily armed vessels fo the rag tag armada get quickly devastated, just to give a last glimmer of hope to the Coalition warriors when Lazarus (the secret service tag for Commander Tucker) sends a secret code meant to weaken the attacking romulan vessels. After some experimenting with the right commands to use the aggressors finally start exploding from breaching warp cores and their numbers dwindle. But still they're the stronger foorce in the system and any fight of attrition must leave the Allies annihilated and the Romulans with a free flight path to the Core worlds. In this moment the missing fleets from the unwilling Coalition Planets do arrive, Dozens and dozens of Vulcan, Tellurian and Andorian battle ships turning the tides of war definitely in favor of the Coalition. The Romulans turn to flee and whatever ships are no longer able to go to warp destroy themselves. It's over and the war is won.
A year later Admiral Valdore reports that peace negotiations are under way that will lead to the installation of a neutral zone and the chance for the Empire to rebuild its strength and keep a sharp eye on it's now united enemies on the coalition front. An enraged first consul executes him for this cowardice, only to be killed herself by teh present Commander of Valdore's staff (And i've already a big grunt against the darned Klingons with their stupid knife games and murerous honor-intrigues now the Romulans turn out just the same... D'Oh!)
The treaty is negotiatec through Subspace radio on the demand of the Romulans that fear like their Vulcan brethren that uncovering their relation would only threaten the blossoming peace, Commodore Archer and Prime Minister T'Pau are present at the asteroid based Earth Outpost 1 for the final signing of the treaty. Vulcan will seek redemption for their part in the war (which T'Pau sees as very un surakian acting) by demilitarising their world and using the hulls of their main battle ships as ground structue for several new outposts for the neutral zone where the Earth and her Colonies will deliver the personnel (just like TOS shows us with the fleet ;))
Next we see Archer as the Signing of the Federation Founding Charter and witnessing when T'Pau declines President Samuels offer to become the first Vulcan representative to the Council, stating that she doesn't see her place in life as a leader anymore and instead proposing a surrogate that finally gets accepted. (T'Maran, not that i think it will be of much importance for future stories)
A last scene sets on 2186, on the day before the 25th birthday of the federation. A young newswoman has flown to Vulcan to finish a series of interviews with the old ENTERPISE veterans and the only story left from the senior officers is that of T'Pol. An astonished reporter meets a human male in the house's garden and is then politely sent away by two kids, recognizing that against all odds and in spite of all rumors Commander Tucker has returned to the side of his T'Pol.
Well with that short recollection of the story put down i must say that i've not been the greatest fan of ENTERPRISE while it ran under its first producers Braga and Berman. But this book is far more in the tradition of the single Manny Coto Year 5than the other three so it's more to my gusto and i already liked the two books before. In general i must say this book is NO exception, it's telling a solid story and it's full of small hints and mentions of stuff from all the Star Trek series of course with the main focus on the Enterprise television stories, but to count all this little easter eggs would take days of cross referencing on- and offline and end in something like the annotations indutrious fans have published for the Diskworld books or similar works of fiction... THAT part of the book is more than excellent and would have justified even a full five stars. Sadly there's also the part where the author is forced through five years of a dire and grim war and for a large part we only get the perspective of an Enterprise that's banned from the front lines much like the sixth of her offsprings will be during the Dominion War and Borg invasion two hundred and ten/fifteen years later (First Contact). In the light of his famous reputation as amurderer gained through the Kobayashi Maru incident Archer is involved in a goodwill initiative that aims to win a bit of cooperation of the lesser powers in the quadrant that have yet not decided on a position in the Earth-Romulan war. That's nice for any general book from any of the ongoing series, but as the second part of a war time chronology it's rather poor. The few looks at the concurring front battles we get are rather sketchy and far in between, the few actions involving the Enterprise itself are rather devastating and do not tend to raise much hope for the outcome. Lastly through all this sketchiness, rapid scene jumping and hasty counting down of the years of this war we get cheated quite a bit of our most important good as readers of an ongoing series... any character development. Essentially we get three characters with enough inner view to speak of even a rudimentary development: Captain Archer that is heavily burdened by his guilt about the Kobayashi Maru, the high casualty count on the front and his not so active role in the war effort (which is not really countered by successes in his sideline jobs...), T'Pol which is slowly breaking under the combination of Stress and the continuing influence of her bonding with Trip that's not too well going to truly cheer her up [close to two years Trip is trapped inside a warp incapable vessel going high sublight speed and thus falling under the laws of time dillation messing with the time synchronization of the bond] and of course suffering from the constant stenches of unwashed humans, farting dogs and aromatic aliens and finally Charles Tucker III himself who's most of the time in a cell or under interrogation. Most of these conditions do not change over the course of the book and so don't the characters living through them.
as a final conclusion: It's a nice book in the best tradition of the illustrious last Enterprise Season and 50 years of Star Trek Story telling. But it's also not everything it could have been and as the main representation of one of the most monumental moments in Trek history it's doing a pathetically poor job of inspiring awe with this historic events. The writing and the care with the original research are well over average which is the main reason for my good grading of the book, but it would not have taken magic to turn a well written book intro an extraordinary one and much of this missing impact is IMO to charge towards the editors which have decided that a single book of 320 pages would be enough to cover this wide field. J'Accuse!(less)
**spoiler alert** So it's nearing the end with Vanguard. and they're slowly pulling at all the loose strands of their narrative to cut the unanswered...more**spoiler alert** So it's nearing the end with Vanguard. and they're slowly pulling at all the loose strands of their narrative to cut the unanswered ends short and not leave all too much without conclusion. While that's a nice gesture towards the readers of this now seven book series (one an anthology) i don't really feel like they're doing themselves a favor from a pure narrative pov...
At the Beginning Vanguard felt like a welcome return to the days of the STAR TREK that today mostly is thought of as the original series or TOS... it was all there, the nostalgia inducing technology, the square-jawed crewmembers (just like the Kirks and McCoys and Scottys of old times) and the long lost out of sight conflicts with Klingons and Romulans and Tholians... It was very promissing for all people which grew up with TOS and have missed it's playful simplicity for a long time while watching the follow up series set in more modern times.
But... and it is a really enormous but... the longer the series went, the less important did it become where and when it took place, as the Shedai with their ridiculous superior powers claimed more and more of the center stage for them and the "every day" type guys lost either their footing or were absorbed into the adventures becoming kind of 23rd century James Bond clones like Quinn or Pennington has to experience more than once. This novel now had Diego Reyes in the Bond role, complete with his own "Royale" Casino and Bar to hang around in for much of the story and some action to shake the complacent feeling of idleness up every some days a bit... But well, if you look closely all it amounts to is that he is sitting around a lot and does not like his "host" who does not like his Hostee too much and when the time is right they finally start to get him out of there but with so miserable planning, that most Online Players would have done better in this situation. Other than that it's mostly the story of a single experimnt conducted aboard the Dedalus Class CoE vessel Lowell, which also goes pear shaped in a very predictable way and there's a side story of ambassador Jetainens new pet project, a planet called nimbus III or "planet of galactic peace"...you might by now have a clear idea off how that might work out both in short and long terms?
I guess what i want to say is that the series has lost its focus and with that it's irresistable drive forward a long time ago and when they now start to sweep up the shards and splinters left over from the previous books it gets startingly apparent. Near-omnipotent adversaries tend to do this to a book series. so now when there's only a single book left till the series is over and they've already been foreshadowing most heavily what this might bring with it... itÄs just to hope that they won't go the easy way of killing off all the sympathetic people they'd put aboard this experiment, just to prove they're able to kill off everyone... and that, if the Vanguard Experiment is deemed successful they will tone the next try at installing a TOS contemporary series in the book schedule a little bit down to not empower any of the parties involved too much too soon and to keep with their strengths like likeable characters perfectly fittin the time they're set to act in... I know it's always tempting to present a reader with something special, with something never read or written before and a race like the shedai might seem perfect for such a purpose, but in the long run it stays a cheap narrative gimmick and using such gimmicks will hurt a novel like using doping to enhance your physical prowess will hurt an athlete!(less)
This book had hooked me completely for the "Lost Era" idea. Restoring the honor and dignity of Captain John "not until tuesday" Harriman, telling the...moreThis book had hooked me completely for the "Lost Era" idea. Restoring the honor and dignity of Captain John "not until tuesday" Harriman, telling the story of how the federation came to sign the infamous Treaty of Algeron AND why the Romulans kept to themselves for almost a century behind the limits of the Neutral Zone AND doing so in a simply enjoyable, funny and entertaining way is marvelous on it's own, but amongst the Star Trek books (of that time) Serpents was a giant by itself, almost a league of it's own. It might even have introduced (me to) the new time of growing continuity, interaction and exchange of ideas, figures and timelines between the authors as it surely was one of the first truly fan-written ST books i ever got to read. There are tons of cameos and a loving dedication to the so harshly unterrepresented Ent-B that there cannot be any other explanation. Lost Era and especially SATR is a work of fanfiction that got the chance to whirl the old guys writing for a living for ages and occasionally doing so for Star Trek, quite a bit around. (Okay, Peter David had much of the same elements always gracing his books and especially the New Frontier series, but there never was this level of interaction between David and the other hard writing names in ST during the nineties and early 2000s)
Half a decade later almost every new ST book follows this kind of style, but back then it was the dawn of a new age(less)
The two greatest engineers Star Fleet ever had working together hand in hand is always great news. This novel seems like every fanboys wishes come tru...moreThe two greatest engineers Star Fleet ever had working together hand in hand is always great news. This novel seems like every fanboys wishes come true. It's got a great roster of well known figures from the years of TNG and uses them to good effects. The novel itself draws around the mid a bit on and has some lenghts, but both beginning and ending are very enjoyable and right in the way the TV series went.
I don't think McIntire has already written another book in the Star Trek Universe, but this story has got a lot of fanservice appeal and tells still a decent story using as well the known concepts of the episodes on the screen as well as the options only written works do have. (exotic species and happenings, scale and length of narrative)
There surely are better Star Trek books out there, but this novel does not have to be ashamed of it's place among them as it's still in a comfortable high percentile of them. and we could have gotten much worse.(less)