Tuesday 25 February 2014

Star Trek: Vanguard: Reap The Whirlwind - David Mack

Title: Reap The Whirlwind
Author: David Mack
Published: 2007
Chronological Period: 2266

Available at:
The Book Depository
Amazon UK

“Reap The Whirlwind” by David Mack is the 3rd novel in the Star Trek Vanguard series and it really highlights how these novels are getting better and better. The novel is full of engaging philosophical and moral dilemmas set amongst a thoroughly engrossing and enjoyable space adventure. Simply put, I believe this novel and the series in general is proving to be Star Trek at its very best.

The story itself picks up several weeks after the events of the previous novel, “Summon The Thunder”. The ancient and powerful alien race known as The Shedai continue to awaken throughout the Taurus Reach and are continuing to threaten the various Federation colonies that have spread across the region. The crew of Starbase 47 and its various support ships continue to try and protect these colonies from both the Shedai and the Klingons with whom tensions have continued to rise. However, trying to keep the information on the Shedai a secret is proving a strain, especially when one of the leaders of these new colonies turns out to be Commodore Reyes’ ex-wife.

Mack has really ratcheted up the tension in this book which helps to turn the book into a addictive page turner as the reader. This tension is expertly released via various exciting action sequences that don’t pull any punches as the body count continues to rise due to the dangers of the Taurus Reach. All of this is supported by some really wonderful characters that continue to grow as they face various challenges, both personally as an individual and professionally as a member of Starfleet etc. I now really feel for these characters and can’t help but feel for them as they are forced to face the wide ranging consequences that have resulted from their actions in both this and previous books.

What I also have enjoyed about the book is that Mack has continued to try and give the reader differing viewpoints to that of our usual Federation heroes. We get to see things from the view of the Klingons, Tholians and now even the Shedai themselves which provides so many interesting layers to the story. Seeing things from the Shedai’s position in particular was a clever move as it manages to give this potentially super powerful enemy a real face that the reader can try and understand and opens up future avenues to explore in greater detail as the series progresses.

I have finally come to the conclusion that none of the Vanguard novels are going to have any real standalone stories that would make me recommend the book as an individual read. Yes, there are two superbly enjoyable central plots to this novel, the first being around the colony being set up by Commodore Reyes wife and the scouting mission being undertaken by the USS Sagittarius but neither of them would mean much to a reader who doesn’t know the overall storyline. Basically, if you haven’t read the previous book in the series and/or don’t plan to read the next ones then I wouldn’t waste your time picking this novel up.

Overall, this is another fun and entertaining book in the Vanguard series which now has me well and truly hooked. If you have enjoyed the previous books then you are really going to be thrilled by this book.

Monday 3 February 2014

Star Trek: Vanguard: Summon The Thunder - Dayton Ward & Kevin Dilmore

Title: Summon The Thunder
Author: Dayton Ward & Kevin Dilmore
Published: 2006
Chronological Period: 2265

Available at:
The Book Depository
Amazon UK

“Summon The Thunder” by Dayton Ward & Kevin Dilmore is the 2nd novel in the Star Trek: Vanguard series and follows on directly from its predecessor novel, “Harbinger”. With the main characters already established, the two authors have been able to write a story which concentrates on trying to unlock some of the mysteries of the Taurus Reach alongside further development of the characters.

Basically, following the destruction of a colony and starship the federation has uncovered another alien complex on a frozen world and is beginning a new investigation. Unfortunately they appear to activate an ancient defence system is which almost results in the destruction of another Starfleet vessel. However, it isn’t just the Federation that is suffering loses in the Taurus Reach with the Klingons also under attack from an unknown aggressor which leads to further tensions between them and the Tholians who appear to know more than they are letting on. And so, Commodore Reyes must try and work this tense political situation whilst also trying to keep the Federation’s own secrets regarding their reasons for being in the Taurus Reach.

The book is quite action driven, with a pretty high body count which provides a real sense of danger. But the authors still managed to mix in elements of political subterfuge, espionage, moral choices and scientific research to give the book a feeling that is reminiscent of the original series which loved to throw in action and multiple redshirt deaths between the scientific discussions, diplomatic conundrums and moral dilemmas. I think the authors managed to create a decent blend here and I did enjoy all elements of the story.

Due to the large amount of characters present the book does jump around a lot but as I already knew who the characters were I found it easy enough to follow. In addition, the further development introduced in this novel enabled me to get a better understanding of all the characters and appreciate their various individual perks and nuances. An advantage I did note in regards to the reader already knowing the characters is that it enabled the author to spend more time really exploring the Taurus reach, with us getting a chance to see things from a Klingon, Romulan and Shedai perspective. It gave the book a much wider perspective and I think it benefits hugely from this.

I did have one issue with the book and is the lack of a structured standalone plot which was something I also noted in “Harbinger”. This book is all about continuing the main story arc without giving the readon something they can appreciate on its own merits. Personally, I can’t imagine someone reading this book and enjoying it unless they have read “Harbinger” and are also planning on reading the next novel “Reap The Whirlwind”. Basically, in my opinion it just doesn’t provide enough entertainment on a standalone level.

Overall, I do think that “Summon The Thunder” is a decent sequel to “Harbinger” which further develops both the characters and the mystery of the Taurus Reach in an enjoyable manner. The characters in particular really come into their own and there is some good exposure given to the other species such as the Klingons which is useful as it offsets the lack of a definitive standalone plot within the novel. Simply put, if you enjoyed “Harbinger” then I suspect you will enjoy this novel even more.