As Si Cwan, prime minister of the New Thallonian Protectorate,
prepares to marry off his sister Kalinda in a politically
advantageous pairing, the bride-to-be is abducted. This calamitous
event threatens to destabilise the entire sector, especially
since Kalinda's abductor is someone all too familiar...
a bold change of direction for the series, Peter David has
set this book three years after his previous New Frontier
novel, Stone and Anvil, and not long before the events
of the movie Star Trek: Nemesis.
A lot has changed in those three years. Captain Mackenzie
Calhoun's wife and former first officer Elizabeth Shelby has
been promoted to Admiral, in command of Space Station Bravo.
Her old ship, the Trident, has a new captain in the
shape of another old flame of Calhoun's. Burgoyne 172 and
Dr Selar have split up over the potentially fatal genetic
condition of their son Xy, whose rapid development has allowed
him to become a fully qualified doctor and science officer
by now. Si Cwan and Robin Lefler are married, and Si Cwan
has been elected prime minister, which means that Lefler is
both the first lady of New Thallon and the sector's Starfleet
representative - dual roles that don't always fit comfortably
side by side. And the half-Vulcan Soleta has embarked on a
dangerous quest to embrace her Romulan heritage. In his foreword,
the author is at pains to point out that these changes are
not some kind of dream, hallucination, divergent timeline
or parallel universe - so get used to it!
having read a New Frontier novel before (though I have
always wanted to, having thoroughly enjoyed the few of David's
books and many of his comics that I have been exposed to),
I'm not sure whether or not this is a good place for new readers
to jump in. Certainly it kicks off an intriguing new set of
story arcs, which will probably keep the series going for
many more books to come. On the other hand, the changes that
have affected the characters will be all the more effective
if you are already familiar with their circumstances prior
to this novel.
readers have no need to fear, however, because all the important
details are gradually conveyed for the benefit of the uninitiated
and, as always, David's narrative is populated by a vast array
of previously minor characters from the screen incarnations
of Star Trek, all vividly fleshed out into well-rounded
personalities. In addition to Shelby (who appeared in the
Next Generation storyline The Best of Both Worlds),
Lefler (from the episodes Darmok and The Game)
and Dr Selar (The Schizoid Man), there's also Arex
and M'Ress (time-displaced from the oft-overlooked animated
series of Trek). Admiral Jellico (from the two-part
TNG episode Chain of Command) also puts in a
new direction of this series involves the possible return
of a once-powerful species to Sector 221-G. This particular
plot development reminds me of Babylon 5 with its mighty
Shadows and other First Ones, but that's not a bad series
to be compared with.
ever, Peter David mixes wry humour (which is particularly
evident in earlier sections) with tense drama (especially
towards the end of the book). Captain Calhoun remains a remarkable
character, managing to be as imperturbable as Spock while
acting more recklessly in politically sensitive situations
than Kirk ever would have done.
is a whole new New Frontier, but no less welcome.
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