Here's my two cents (and likely a few more) on Silent Weapons
. This must have been the first book (that I can recall anyway) to hit the shelves in the Netherlands prior to the official US release date. Not that I mind... ;-)
REVIEW BELOW CONTAINS SPOILERS
Cold Equations was mentioned as being more of a trio of standalone novels rather than a complete triology. What strikes me most about SW in comparison to its predecessor is how different the narrative felt. I suppose it's partly due to the much larger number of point-of-view characters in SW, which I cannot say I mind too much. While I must confess to not having warmed up to any of the Breen this time (they felt a bit like baddies-of-the-week), I do applaud the continuing theme of showing the true danger of the Confederacy as a whole. The multi-layered covert ops plot ("Ogres are like onions: we have layers!") left me completely guessing as to its final purpose until the very end, which a good mystery should in my opinion.
Silent Weapons is also a much more political kind of story. I've always loved Nan Bacco and reading about the workings of the Federation government, and although she's not really the star of this story, we still get plenty of the good stuff. The android assassination plot had a real bite given who the assassin turned out to be (or rather turned out to be impersonating) and I wonder what the consequences of that will be to Bacco's presidency in the long run. She has after all lost one of her most important supporters and confidants. I do hope we'll see her win the reelection that's mentioned, but I'm no longer certain that will be the case. However, what really had me excited in this part of the story was the developments between the Federation and the Gorn. The Gorn imperator's vow at the end that he'd make the Breen pay for what they'd done and that he'd do exactly what they'd want least, namely forging new ties with the Federation, brought a big smile to my face. Because, while I find the Typhon Pact situation engaging and fresh in terms of storytelling, I am also rooting for a resolution to the Federations's recent series of misfortunes. A pro-Federation Romulan-Gorn block within the Typhon Pact is something I'd very much like to see succeed, and it felt natural for Bacco, with her history with the Gorn, to be able to pull that off.
There's not much I can say about the setting on Orion; what we got matches with what you might expect based on the description of Orion society. A decent bit of world building, but I feel it's the last time we'll be welcome there. Heavens, what a mess they all left behind...
As for the developments on the Enterprise, there's two things I want to comment on. First, Beverly's issues with Picard's shifting priorities. This is perhaps the only part of the story that I had trouble understanding, namely her surprise that Picard would put her life and that of their son above his duty to Starfleet and the Federation. Even I saw that one coming, seeing how long it took for them to finally get together and how much his chance to have a family means to him. (I do understand her taking issue with her son being seen as "the captain's child", given that Wesley wasn't exactly an average child either.) Second, I also noticed that people aren't talking about Choudhury's death as much as I'd thought they might. We see definite cracks in Worf's armor, which I'm hoping will be a feature in the final volume, but that's about it. I do like Smrhova as a new character, but I did have some trouble matching the somewhat uncertain officer of Persistence of Memory to the "hit first and ask questions later" version presented in Silent Weapons. Either way, her depiction in this volume did a lot to set her apart from Choudhury and define her own character, and that I appreciated.
So, we get to grading it. I enjoyed Silent Weapons
more than its predecessor, but I'm grading it the same: Above Average. I tend to reserve Outstanding for books in my "top 10 ever" list, but if the trend continues, the final volume might just make it there. A big Thank You to David Mack and the staff at Pocket for another fine read!