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Old January 25 2009, 06:41 AM   #98
Thrawn
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Re: A Singular Destiny review thread (possible spoilers)

Warning: SPOILERS AHEAD!


This novel was definitely an interesting read; it took a lot of chances, I think, and some worked and some didn't. If nothing else, I think the primary mission of this one was to show What Happens Next on a galactic scale after Destiny, and to really fulfill that trilogy's promise of "everything is different now", and in that regard it succeeds brilliantly. The plot is all interconnected, but covers a lot of ground, both personal and political. I'm a fan.

It also seemed to me as though a lot of the book was built around taking the projects KRAD has put a lot of work into (Bacco, Gorkon/Klingons, SCE) and a bunch of books he likes (Final Reflection, etc) and updating them into the post-Destiny timeline, and here I think the book is less successful. Sure, it's nice to see a lot of these people again, but there's just so much name-dropping that I question whether a casual fan would really be able to keep up. And, mind you, I *LOVE* this vast interconnected universe that Star Trek is these days; I felt that all the cameos and shout-outs in Destiny greatly added to the experience.

But here, it just really felt like too much. Like, is there some prior story about Dax and the Ferengi ambassador I've forgotten? And I've never read SCE, and while I know enough about their reputation to find the "they made a planet disappear" joke be funny, I found the chapter devoted to catching up on those characters hard to follow; similarly, despite having finished A Burning House a month ago, I was already fuzzy enough on the names of some of those characters that I had to be running to Memory Beta in those sequences just to make sure I wasn't missing anything. I'm all for a wider universe sort of approach, but it seems like with every successive novel, KRAD assumes more and more readers share his obsession with keeping lists of every obscure character and species in the universe, and for the first time, I think it did detracted from this story somewhat.

I also felt that Sonek Pran was a fantastic character, but putting such a huge emotional event in the last 70 pages of this book, and the fact that Pran was a character that we just met, seemed to rob that event of a lot of the emotional weight it was trying to have. It just seemed tossed off and annoying. I think, for me personally, it would've had a lot more impact if we'd met Pran with his wife already dead, depressed and reeling in a dead-end job, and shown him regain his prior joy in life as the story went on. As it was, despite really enjoying Pran and his characterization and hoping we see him again, I didn't buy the end at all.

Finally, I wish that the existence of the Typhon Pact hadn't been dropped online before this book came out; it would've been better if that'd been a total surprise. It was a brilliant plot development, well foreshadowed and explored in the novel, but I'd pretty much predicted what it was going to be in advance. That's not KRAD's fault, but it did detract from the book for me.

On the plus side, I did love seeing the Aventine again, especially Kedair's brief investigation of the mine on Capella, and I thought that crew was well-characterized and fun to have around. I loved all of the stuff back at the Federation government; in this case, I'd forgotten all the names of characters, but KRAD didn't require me to know them to enjoy the scenes. The spirit and power of Articles of the Federation came through cleanly, without me feeling like there was something I was missing (which was happening to me for a lot of the rest of the book), and I remain very impressed with how important to the Trek universe Bacco and her staff have become.

I also liked seeing how the Klingon Empire and the Romulan Empire(s) were coping with the changes, and the political situation there; that whole situation was one of the more interesting currents in Articles, and it's great to see the Borg invasion used as a plot point to further move around and complicate those alliances and politics. I look forward to reading about the future relationships developing here. (To think, a story lasting over 200 years with all these three powers in various states of conflict and peace, and there are still new twists and developments to see!)

In all, I think the large-scale continuity of the Trek universe these days is both its greatest advantage and biggest flaw; it requires a lot of balance, on the part of the authors, to use that continuity in a way that makes the universe feel huge and detailed without making the reader constantly feel like they're missing out on backstory and details. I thought Destiny nailed it perfectly, and ASD went a bit too far in the excessive detail department. But aside from that, this was an excellent glimpse at Destiny's aftermath, and (if it hadn't been blown in advance) would've been a truly surprising new political development in the galaxy.

8/10
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