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Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Star Trek The Fall: Peaceable Kingdoms by Dayton Ward



Star Trek The Fall: Peaceable Kingdoms on Goodreads.

It’s hard to offer anything concise about Dayton Ward’s Star Trek The Fall: Peaceable Kingdoms. As the last book in a five part series, it has the unenviable task of catching all the balls that the previous four books threw up in the air.

Ward’s book is an interesting read, and it benefits from the momentum that has been built leading up to this finale. That so much of the story is Beverly Crusher centric was surprising if only because Crusher is so often a back burner character. I also enjoyed some of the back and forth morality subtext between Crusher and Thomas Riker as they were forced to do all they could to stay alive and find the evidence they were searching for. And while the scenes aboard Enterprise played with a certain sense of routine, the look at Picard as a husband worried about his wife is a fun note that isn’t overplayed—it’s the suggestion of Picard going over the edge rather than the fact of it that makes for the more compelling read in this case. Ward also makes several attempts to show us who the villain Ishan is—from his own point of view—and attempts to paint a rationale over his behavior.

Ultimately it is the revelation of the Ishan mystery that feels so underwhelming. Ward’s efforts to make him credible come too late in a series where Ishan was portrayed, for much of it, as almost a total black hat. While Ward’s portrayal of Ishan is credible and might stand up on its own in a vacuum, it cannot overcome the certainty built up by the previous installments that he is a villain and soon to be defeated. And while the revelation of Ishan’s real identity is both credible and—thankfully—free of some grand conspiracy that would lead to another series of books about war in the Star Trek universe, it is wholly underwhelming.

The book’s closing moments—with Picard talking a little truth to power—improved the book’s standing in my eyes. Whether consciously or not, Ward seemed to channel some internet fans’ angst over TNG era books being so devoted to war and political intrigue rather than the exploration and metaphor that Star Trek has lived on. It was, for me, possibly the best scene in the book.

In the end, this was an interesting and quick read if only because of all that came before. While Ward handled it well, I don’t know that it could escape the weight of the series it had to conclude.

I gave this book two stars on Goodreads.

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