I've finally finished reading the book and I have to say that I absolutely love certain aspects of the novel, but it's also not without its faults.
I see this more as a Romulan political thriller with tangential connections to the Typhon Pact instead of an outright Typhoon Pact story, and at the same time, acts as a wonderful bookend to Taking Wing
which began the sundering of the Romulan Star Empire. On an odd note, I see Taking Wing
in the same fashion with but replacing Typhon Pact with the Titan
. Like Taking Wing
, Rough Beasts of Empire
delves into many Machiavellian dealings involving the state affairs of the Romulan people although the Reman aspect is smaller here.
I loved seeing the continued existence of Spock's Reunification Movement even though it was usurped by Tal'aura for her own purposes and taken advantage of by the Tzenkethi. Considering this and the degree of impracticability on cultural and political levels, I'm surprised how strong Spock remains in regards to this issue. Going into the book, I found myself asking the same questions Slask and Gell Kamenor ask of Spock but I wish Spock provided some answers. On individual and small group levels, I can see the benefits of sharing and bringing together cultural and ideological ideas from both the Vulcan and Romulan people, but how can it work on a large scale level?
Like Zero Sum Game
did for the Breen, I loved the delving into the Tzenkethi culture and made me hunger to see more of what little we did see (and I was happy to see they weren't feline in nature). I wish the Tzenkethi had a larger visable role in the book considering it's advertised as a Typhon Pact book.
That being said, I found the two flashback chapters to Sisko's time during the Federation-Tzenkethi war to be a bit jarring because I felt they added very little to the overall narrative. Likewise, I found Sisko's involvement in the story to be unnecessary. While I enjoyed the natural progression of his character since his return from the Celestial Temple (despite disagreeing with Sisko on his motives), I found his role in the story to be tangential at best. I felt his mission to visit Donatra was merely there so he could have a direct connection to the main narrative (and have an excuse for his presence in the book) but I found it unbelievable that he happened to be the second most knowledge person of the Romulans after Spock within the Federation. Sure his dealings with them during the Dominion War and his time at the embassy (was that fact known prior to this book?) gives great insight in the way they work, but of all the captains, admirals, ambassadors, diplomats, and dignitaries in the Federation, Sisko is the best person Akaar and Bacco can come up with?
Speaking of natural progression of characters, I have to say I was initially very shocked by the revelation that Kira left Starfleet and joined the Bajoran Religious Order, and is now a Vedek (although not a member of the Vedek Assembly thus hopefully never to become Kai). I had been very interested in Kira's progression in Starfleet and I didn't like the sudden change in career direction. I had thought the attack from Taran'tar and her initial encounter with Illiana Ghemor wasn't enough to push her in that direction, but I suppose the additional untold story of Kira's second encounter with Illiana along with the Ascendants is what pushed her over the edge. I suppose we'll have to wait and see how that encounter goes.
I unfortunately spoiled myself in two ways: I read about a month ago in this forum that someone had expressed disappointment that the Romulan sundering had been resolved so quickly, and I accidentally saw on Memory Beta (while reading up on praetors) that Gell Kamenor succeeded Tal'aura. I was a little surprised by both revelations but this gave me an interesting perspective on the book and made me wonder how these two events would unfold. Speaking of Gell Kamenor, I unfortunately forgot about her involvement in Serpents Among the Ruins
until Spock commented on involvement with the Treaty of Algeron. Clearly I need to read that book again.
A few odds and ends: I didn't like the sudden appearance of Sela because her role in the book felt rather superflous and added little and could have been any random Romulan (plus we still don't know how she got out of a coma and Federation custody, but that's not George's fault). On the flip side, I loved Tomalak's role in the book and I especially loved his grandiose speech to the Romulan Senate which felt like Tomalak channeling G'Kar. Lastly, I liked seeing what happened to Vaughn even if I didn't find the inclusion of the events to the story necessary (it was necessary for Sisko's story but again I didn't feel like Sisko's story synced up well with the rest of the narrative).
Hmmm...after reading back at what I've written, I come off rather negative about the book. I want to state again that I loved the book with only a few quibbles. I look forward to Paths of Disharmony
and future Typhon Pact stories.
One interesting observation on a personal note: I was amused by the inclusion of Ensign Orr on the bridge of the Okinawa
. Not only is my surname Orr, but my grandfather and namesake was a Navy corpsman at the Battle of Okinawa. Probably a big coincidence, but one I had to point it out.
David R. George III wrote:
As for the teardrop-shaped ships, they are not my invention, but that of James Swallow. Those ships first appeared in his excellent Day of the Vipers.
Interesting, I honestly can't remember that happening and I loved that book. Can you remind me what were the circumstances of their appearance?