While investigating the disappearance of a secret Romulan
fleet, the USS Titan has been flung more than 200,000
light years into the Small Magellanic Cloud, one of the Milky
Way's satellite galaxies. The Cloud is home to the Neyel,
long-sundered offshoots of humanity, with whom the Federation
has had no contact in over 80 years. Now the Neyel are threatened
by a mysterious cosmic upheaval that seems to be reweaving
the fabric of space itself...
the previous book in this series, Taking
Wing, The Red King takes a fair while
to get going.
Indeed, for me this book was even harder to get into, because
its setting, the Neyel Hegemony within the Small Magellanic
Cloud, is not one that I was familiar with. The Neyel, offshoots
of Terran humanity genetically engineered to survive in the
Cloud, previously appeared in the authors' Star Trek: The
Lost Era novel, The
Sundered, which featured the USS Excelsior
commanded by Captain Sulu. How fortunate, then, that two former
members of the Excelsior crew, Admiral Akaar and Commander
Tuvok, happen to be aboard the stranded Titan to remind
readers of what happened last time.
You would be forgiven for wondering whether Tuvok is some
kind of jinx, having been present when the Excelsior
was catapulted into the Cloud and when Voyager was
lost in the Delta Quadrant. The Vulcan wryly acknowledges
his bad luck.
though, Titan's predicament is not a permanent one.
Had the starship remained stranded, it would have been far
too similar a development to the concept behind the Voyager
so, the Neyel step somewhat on the toes of Michael Jan Friedman's
notion of mutated survivors of the Valiant expedition
beyond the Galactic Barrier, as documented in his Stargazer
novels The Valiant and Maker.
the inclusion of an artificial satellite called Vanguard
might cause confusion to readers of the recently launched
series of books set aboard a completely unrelated Vanguard
as with the same authors' Taking Wing, the novel's
pace picks up before too long. The latter half of the book
is a frantic race against time to save a planet's population
from annihilation as a cosmic upheaval wreaks havoc upon Neyel
space. I turned these particular pages at a rate of knots.
view of the Neyel Hegemony's history of oppressing native
races, and given Titan's own multi-species crew complement,
concerns are raised that the starship's highest-ranking officers,
all of whom happen to be human or humanoid, are giving preferential
treatment to rescuing the human-descended Neyel. Thus the
book has become unintentionally topical, being published in
the wake of questions raised over the alleged racial bias
of the USA's rescue efforts following Hurricane Katrina.
Red King is a decent enough book, though I suspect it
will be of greatest interest to readers who enjoyed and are
familiar with events in The Sundered.
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