Chakotay's first mission as captain of the USS Voyager,
to return a group of displaced colonists to their home planet,
seems easy enough. He even has an extra reason to enjoy the
trip: his sister Sekaya has joined the mission as the colonists'
spiritual advisor. But Sekaya and many members of the crew
bear spiritual wounds that have not yet healed...
have a couple of issues with the synopsis on the back of this
book, part of which I have adapted above. For a start, I have
omitted its comment that "sceptics back at Starfleet Command
are watching [Chakotay] closely for any sign that he will
revert to his renegade Maquis ways." That may be so, but it
doesn't really come into play here, beyond the fact that Starfleet
refuses to allow the captain to have another ex-Maquis, Tom
Paris, as his first officer. The blurb does this new two-book
tale a disservice by making it seem too similar to Michael
Jan Friedman's recent Stargazer books, which also featured
an untried captain (Picard) who was expected to fail by certain
cynics in Starfleet.
are some superficial similarities to the Stargazer
series, however. Though this is a continuation of the Voyager
television series, many of the starship's crew are unfamiliar.
Only Chakotay and Harry Kim (who is now head of security)
remain from the main cast of characters, as well as a few
more minor recurring characters such as the Vulcan engineer
Vorik. However, the continued exploits of the rest of the
old team, plus Kim's girlfriend Libby (who, unknown to him,
is now an agent for Starfleet Intelligence), are followed
in cutaway scenes that pick up story threads from Christie
Golden's last two Voyager novels, Homecoming
and The Farther Shore.
great dilemma about continuations of popular series is always
whether to keep the old characters together at the expense
of credibility (in the fifth and sixth Star Trek movies,
the Enterprise had three captains serving aboard it!)
or writing some characters out to the disappointment of fans.
By dispersing the crew but keeping them all in the story as
they go their separate ways, I think the author has struck
a happy medium. It is certainly refreshing to read a narrative
that is not set at some point in Star Trek's "past"
but rather moves the franchise forward.
second gripe about the back cover blurb is that it gives away
events that take place in the final 60 pages of the book.
(Don't worry, I have omitted that paragraph from my synopsis!)
I suppose the marketing team at Pocket Books were struggling
to make the plot sound sufficiently exciting, since this is
more of a spiritual and emotional tale than one of action
and adventure. In fact, it is very much the first half of
a two-book story, rather than a separate novel in its own
right, so there is a lot of character-based setting up before
the cliffhanger ending.
be put off, though, because this character development is
mostly very engaging. The relationship between Chakotay and
his sister, and her own recollections of the past, are moving.
Flashbacks to a previous life experienced by Kaz, the ship's
new Trill doctor, are suitably traumatic. Best of all, conflict
is rife between the old crew of Delta Quadrant veterans and
crew replacements who saw action in the Dominion War. Some
of the new people feel that the old Voyager staff got
off lightly by escaping the Dominion War. This is the kind
of conflict that we should have had between the Starfleet
and Maquis personnel during the first season of the television
series - though admittedly prose is a better medium for conveying
this sort of thing.
I indicated earlier, this is essentially the first half of
a story, rather than a complete book. But it is a very involving
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