Pocket Books, out now
(originally published as three separate novels: Gods of Night, Mere Mortals and Lost Souls)
With the omnibus edition now available, we present our original reviews of the three volumes that form David Mack’s magnum opus (likewise re-edited for repetition… although not removal of excess use of the word Stygian)
The Borg are on the rampage and across the galaxy Starfleet crews battle the odds…
This epic trilogy resets the Star Trek universe of the 24th Century, featuring the various crews created on screen and in print in a battle with the Borg that has been building up in the recent novels. David Mack, renowned in Trek fandom as “The Angel of Death” for his habit of killing characters off, has a daunting task, juggling strands that span not just different crews, but different centuries, given that the loss of the Columbia NX-02 in the 22nd Century is integral to the plot.
The intricate plotting pays off in the first volume, as readers can start to tie the threads together, even if the various characters can’t as yet. Events in the Enterprise era timeline affect the crew of the Aventine 200 years later, and while the crew of the Titan may feel cut off from the rest of Starfleet, their actions are clearly correlated.
Telling a story on this wide a canvas could have meant that the smaller character details got overlooked, and it’s to Mack’s credit that they aren’t. Some of the most affecting sequences are family-based, as the Rikers try for a child, Beverly Crusher Picard shares her fears about the Borg’s effect on her husband, and Starfleet officers talk to their families for what may be the last time.
The middle portion of any trilogy suffers to a certain extent, as it has to move events on, yet still leave enough to be resolved in the conclusion. Mack circumvents this problem to a certain extent, keeping the various balls in the air with regard to the Borg’s forthcoming invasion and probable annihilation of the Alpha Quadrant, but using much of the middle section to recount the tale of Captain Erika Hernandez.
The former Enterprise-era officer finds herself and three of her crew trapped with the Caeliar, facing almost incomprehensible choices. Each makes their own decision, with some frank discussions about life, death, euthanasia and sex that would have been unthinkable in a Star Trek novel 10 years ago, and I defy anyone not to be touched by their fates.
Political machinations come to the fore as well, with DS9′s wily tailor Elim Garak taking a central role in President Bacco’s attempts to form a coalition against the Borg. Fans of Keith DeCandido’s Articles of the Federation will find much to enjoy in this section.
The rest of Starfleet isn’t ignored, with the Aventine led by Dax and Picard’s Enterprise exploring new avenues, while a task force assembles, including Voyager. Once again, Mack intersperses the large scale events with some smaller moments which bring a “human” touch to what could otherwise simply be an impersonal battle.
Once you begin the final volume, you’ll want to read it through to the end without a break if at all possible. All the various plotlines that have been seeded up to this point collide, with four Captains from across Starfleet’s history working together to find a way to deal with the Borg.
After 20 years, we finally discover the origin of the Borg, and it’s suitably galaxy-spanning. Astute readers will guess some of it, but Mack has a number of surprises up his sleeve, not least the way in which their origins are used in the final battle.
But we continue to see far more than simply the derring-do of the various starship crews. Little vignettes demonstrate the chilling inexorability of the Borg invasion far better than pages after pages of starship battles ever could, with the odd throwaway line providing fodder for plenty of spin-off material set simultaneously should anyone ever want to create a new collection of short stories. The personal stories of the various command crews aren’t neglected either, with Will Riker’s decisions haunting him, and Jean-Luc Picard finally coming to terms with parts of his past.
It’s a cliché to say things will never be the same after this or that story, but on this occasion, it’s absolutely true. 9/10