Michael Martin has managed to butcher Enterprise’s potential and leave me feeling as let down with this series as I was after watching the show’s television finale. The failings of this book begin on the cover where you see multiple NX class ships in a battle with “War” in the title. This is extremely misleading as the Enterprise is the only NX ship in the book and all the major battles and incursions in this war are skipped over save the final one with Enterprise rarely supporting the war effort. Reading this novel is like tuning into a football game only to have the reporters focus completely on what’s happening with the players on the bench.
Granted, the editors at Pocket Books cut the series down to two books, but rather than make the most of this with an action packed and morally provocative story with rich character development, Martin skips over the meaningful parts in a careless way that leaves the book without depth or emotion. So I’m glad I know how the war went but I am left feeling like I would if my entire knowledge of WW2 came from its Wikipedia entry.
I’m glad the overabundance of side stories involving forgettable characters and the author’s philosophical musings about warfare that plagued “Beneath the Raptor’s Wings” are not in this book. Even though this was largely done, the book still hops around a lot with large gaps between chapters with every chapter seeming more like its own individual short story than part of a singular and unraveling plot. There were still erroneous and boring mini stories involving Enterprise rescuing ships in distress and the Vissians from ENT: Cogenetor that were not effectively related to the whole and should have been removed in favor of more interesting action sequences and the compelling formation of treaties that concluded the war and formed the Federation.
It was frustrating how Martin would spend pages setting up interesting tactical situations and as you are ready for a great battle sequence, the action sequence would be skipped over and take the reader directly to the aftermath. A major victory for the Romulans was taking an enemy dockyard, but we just get what happens after they’ve secured it. Later a Romulan ship is going to execute a masterful strategy against 2 Starfleet ships but then the attack is skipped completely as the Enterprise crew discusses what just happened; the conversation involves dropping the name of an important character in the series so this scene easily could have been developed with an appeal to readers but instead we just get a casualty report which has nowhere near the emotional impact. Later still, there is an attack on Earth and Mars but the pivotal moments are skipped leaving you having to glean what happened by characters discussing it. Is this a war story or a book about desk jockeys talking about a war around an office water cooler!?!
Martin has effectively killed all the enthusiasm I had for ENT novels after reading “The Good That Men Do” and for any of his future works. Though I’m glad to have at least a basic knowledge of how the war went and how the Federation was founded, I feel Martin needs to make like the protagonists in this book and watch Trek stories unfold from the sidelines.