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Trek Literature "...Good words. That's where ideas begin."

View Poll Results: Rate The Poisoned Chalice.
Outstanding 52 53.61%
Above Average 39 40.21%
Average 5 5.15%
Below Average 1 1.03%
Poor 0 0%
Voters: 97. You may not vote on this poll

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Old November 29 2013, 10:20 PM   #61
JeBuS
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Re: TF: The Poisoned Chalice by James Swallow Review Thread (Spoilers!

I voted Average. I can't find anything specific to complain about. But there's nothing in particular that jumps out at me to praise, either. It's a functional middle-of-a-series book.
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Old November 30 2013, 12:16 AM   #62
Jarvisimo
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Re: TF: The Poisoned Chalice by James Swallow Review Thread (Spoilers!

I really enjoyed a lot about this novel, including a lot of the nods to oft-forgotten (or avoided) bits of Trek lore, including the Roman TOS people. As someone mentioned upstream, there was a real sense of layering the dense web of Trekdom. And while I think all the authors do that these days, each has their own style and choices. Overall the novel felt less thematically playful than either of the first two novels (one of which was a great success, the other far more problematic), and it is very much like the forward-inclined plotting of Mack's volume. I loved some of the cameos, such as Martok, which really captured the performance and mannerisms of their television or film counterparts.

I also liked the comparison with the wild period of the twenty-third century, mentioned by one of the characters. This novel certainly felt like that at points - especially the late end of that period as depicted in Swallow's Valeris novel. The sniper villain was rather akin to another Starfleet sniper with an army rank, that being Colonel West! And the wild fringes of the Empire and the House Fleets: very ... feudal. A lot of left and right hands not knowing what is going on. It also reminded me of his Horus Heresy novel about two competing assassination plots, Nemesis. But whereas that novel suffered from interesting concepts (the use of the domestic setting and the monster villain) and let down by less exciting, more generic action movie plotting and characterisation, this was more interesting and more fun.

I only have a few plot points of concern. Was the Titan not meant to be more than a week away from the Federation? As in like two or more months away (as was the case in Destiny). But the novel has the Titan come to Earth no more than after being called back a week earlier. It seems a bit of a blip, but one explicable by a line or two about how the ship had come close to home perhaps? As it stands, it really unfortunately shrinks space a bit, and seems incongruous with the scope of Titan as a setting and as a thematic series to date. Also as someone else noted, I thought Garak's election was 'After the Fall' too? And, maybe this was just me, but some of the characterisation between the Fall's novels seems off - especially Ishan, but also Velk (and even a stalwart familiar character like Akaar changes between this and the last novel). But this is not a fault, per se: it comes from differing perspectives and different styles between authors, and is true of much Trek series.

Finally, how much was the surveillance culture introduced in this novel an allusion to real world events? How much with the idea of a leak last novel? With this novel, in trek terms I thought this spying was done only by S31, but this felt (of course) much more real world and more close to what our 'fallen' humanity does.
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Old November 30 2013, 12:24 AM   #63
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Re: TF: The Poisoned Chalice by James Swallow Review Thread (Spoilers!

One thing I noticed while reading the novel: Three years have passed since Titan's last adventure, yet all the ensigns are still ensigns. Was nobody promoted? Torvig and Lavena would have been an obvious candidates, and Dakal (despite his comparatively recent graduation).

Every position filled by a commander would be over the top, of course, but is not some auto-promotion feature after serving a couple of years?*

*That would exclude artificial lifeforms, as we saw that Data never made it past lieutenant commander in 15 years.
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Old November 30 2013, 01:53 AM   #64
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Re: TF: The Poisoned Chalice by James Swallow Review Thread (Spoilers!

I know it sounds like I'm gushing, and I probably am, but I loved loved LOVED it. Here's my review.
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Old November 30 2013, 09:23 AM   #65
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Re: TF: The Poisoned Chalice by James Swallow Review Thread (Spoilers!

Finally got my copy in yesterday, 40 pages in, and already feeling this is the Titan I liked.
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Old November 30 2013, 09:37 AM   #66
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Re: TF: The Poisoned Chalice by James Swallow Review Thread (Spoilers!

Markonian wrote: View Post
One thing I noticed while reading the novel: Three years have passed since Titan's last adventure, yet all the ensigns are still ensigns. Was nobody promoted? Torvig and Lavena would have been an obvious candidates, and Dakal (despite his comparatively recent graduation).

Every position filled by a commander would be over the top, of course, but is not some auto-promotion feature after serving a couple of years?*

*That would exclude artificial lifeforms, as we saw that Data never made it past lieutenant commander in 15 years.
Harry Kim syndrome!
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Old November 30 2013, 09:48 AM   #67
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Re: TF: The Poisoned Chalice by James Swallow Review Thread (Spoilers!

One other continuity oddity was the treatment of Andor suggested by the end of A Ceremony of Losses and in this novel:

"And just this morning, the Parliament Andoria passed its first binding resolution: a repeal of its Secession Act. It passed along party lines, and Presider zh'Fellleth contacted the Federation Council in person to submit Andor's application for readmission to the Federation."
That revelation put Ishan visibly ill at ease [...]"That should give the Council something to debate about for a while."
"Not likely." Joy brightened Safranski's face. "Several dozen senior members of the Council have already pledged to support Andor's readmission, and Councillor Enaren of Betazed has promised to fast-track the application out of committee over the weekend and move it to a floor vote. Andor's membership could be reinstated as soon as Monday afternoon."
Of course that final point is in the conditional tense, but still...this seemed a foregone conclusion. I guess not in the world of politics, especially not with a violent Velk around.
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Old November 30 2013, 09:49 AM   #68
mickmike
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Re: TF: The Poisoned Chalice by James Swallow Review Thread (Spoilers!

[.[/QUOTE] Harry Kim syndrome![/QUOTE]

Harry Kimdrome?

thanks, i'm here thru thursday. ENJOY THE VEAL!
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Old November 30 2013, 10:49 AM   #69
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Re: TF: The Poisoned Chalice by James Swallow Review Thread (Spoilers!

mickmike wrote: View Post
Jarvisimo wrote: View Post
Harry Kim syndrome!
Harry Kimdrome?

thanks, i'm here thru thursday. ENJOY THE VEAL!
That was nice, although I totes didn't know that phrase. Google gave me this (although my first allusive thought was Arrested Development and Anne Veal )
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Old November 30 2013, 04:20 PM   #70
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Re: TF: The Poisoned Chalice by James Swallow Review Thread (Spoilers!

DEWLine wrote: View Post
Nob Akimoto wrote: View Post
Am I missing something here??


In any case, I really loved it. Not what I expected at all, especially several characters popping up. Can't wait to see how this is going to conclude. Bring on Peacable Kingdoms!
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Old November 30 2013, 08:49 PM   #71
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Re: TF: The Poisoned Chalice by James Swallow Review Thread (Spoilers!

Its geek speak, 1337 = ELITE see?
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Old November 30 2013, 10:33 PM   #72
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Re: TF: The Poisoned Chalice by James Swallow Review Thread (Spoilers!

Yeah, I got that joke and moved on.
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Old November 30 2013, 11:48 PM   #73
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Thank you, James!

Snagged my copy today..
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Old December 1 2013, 06:15 AM   #74
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Re: TF: The Poisoned Chalice by James Swallow Review Thread (Spoilers!

Lots of spoilers ahead.

Definitely liked this one. A lot of great stories told. Surprisingly enough, given my past feelings about her, I really enjoyed Vale’s story, especially as it joined up with Troi’s. Bashir becoming an adopted Andorian was a great touch, one I really liked.

My favorite storyline was Riker’s. It was nice to see one of our heroes given some real power to throw around. Like playing a video game in god mode (which is always more fun, in my opinion). I think (and hope) that his promotion will stick.

I say that in part because this book really felt like a finale (or part one thereof, at least) to the Titan series. I am personally okay with that, so that was not a negative component of the book for me.

I enjoyed the Tuvok/Nog storyline, but more in theory than in practice. I can’t really say I enjoyed reading it. Felt like an attempt to match the style of A Ceremony of Losses, but without the proper pacing. Reminded me of the Trok storyline from Plagues of Night, which I also had trouble with. Just not my kind of story, I guess.

Definitely enjoyed seeing Tom Riker again. Hope we’ll see more.

Good use of the Titan crew. I enjoyed the proportions we got of each character.

While James Swallow justified it very well story-wise, I wish that Bashir had not been released from prison. I figure there will be some resolution to his storyline in Peaceable Kingdoms, but I think that progressing his story beyond what we were shown in A Ceremony of Losses guts, to some degree, the effect of that book. I think it would have been more arresting to have really made Bashir disappear for a long time– if not in-universe, then at least from a real-world publication perspective. (For comparison, if Edward Snowden is ever captured by the US, you can bet your rear that he’ll disappear for a very, very long time.)

Was a little disappointed, honestly, to see Velk implicated in the Bacco assassination. I think it ruins the parallels to the real world. (Call me blind, but I just don’t see a mainstream American politician arranging the assassination of an incumbent in order to grab power. But perhaps that’s a conversation for another time.) But I’m reserving full judgement until the end of Peaceable Kingdoms. Certainly Ishan continues to make the point about leaders who take advantage of turbulent times for their own personal gain.

I liked the story that was told in this book, but I thought it was hurt by the pacing. If Revelation and Dust suffered from feeling like the first book in a series, I think The Poisoned Chalice felt too much like a middle book (without actually being one).

[EDIT: After reading the rest of the thread, I think I'm maybe a little too harsh. I think the big thing for me was that the conclusion was not as concluding as I would've hoped. I was also disappointed by how little productive we really got out of the Tuvok/Nog story, especially given how much of the book was devoted to it. But, I don't mean to minimize the things about this book that were really great, which are numerous.]

Voted above average. 8.5 out of 10.

***

Am wondering where all of this is going. I have a theory, which I've included in a spoiler below. I assume that this storyline will come to a conclusion in Peaceable Kingdoms (which I also assume is totally written and locked-in). But, on the off-chance that my assumptions are wrong, I want to avoid potential story ideas.


Can’t wait for the end of the year!

***

RTOlson wrote: View Post
There was also something that appeared to be an inconsistency between this novel and "The Crimson Shadow." IIRC, the new Cardassian castellan has already been elected by the time the events in this novel transpire, but the election appeared to have happened "After the Fall" in Crimson Shadow. I don't think things have fallen yet, but I could be wrong.
I agree that The Crimson Shadow is a bit vague on this point, but I think there's nothing that quite reaches the level of explicitly contradicting.

Also, for much of The Crimson Shadow, there is discussion of the impending election. I can't remember if there is a specific timeline attached to that. Possible explanation: did Garan resign? And did that provoke a more rapid election?

As the book concludes, we're presented with what appears to be two conspiracies. One centered around the people who killed Bacco and the other around our heroes. Our heroes make an argument that sounds good primarily because of their status as heroes and the fact we trust them to do what's right. However, I could also picture similar words coming from nefarious figures, like Admiral Leyton from "Paradise Lost."

I suppose such things reinforce the belief that actions speak louder than words and so far our heroes appear to be acting in the right. I guess we'll see what actions are taken when "The Fall" concludes next month.
Yeah, I share your concern about Riker's Conspiracy. Makes me wonder/worry about what they'll do in Peaceable Kingdoms. I hope they'll find an elevating solution, like they did with the holoprogram.

Of course, one way to do that:


Markonian wrote: View Post
The plot is a fast-paced political thriller and lives from the morality of its characters. Practically every major character has to make a stand and choose between right and rules. The ongoing thread of suspense is only matched by A Ceremony of Losses.

However, it isn't 'just' the plot that engages me so and increases my heartbeat, its the smoothless integration of Trek lore. It is a STAR TREK novel: Characters use state-of-the-art technology, inspiring technology; long-lost familiar faces return - including Xelatians, Bynars, Suliban, Magna Romanii; the Challenger is referenced and there's a wealth of minutiae that makes the universe familiar through and through. It feels familiar, in a good way. I'm amazed.
Yeah, these are both things that I really liked. I especially like how you articulated your point about the integration of Trek lore. That was definitely something I felt, but would not have been able to put my finger on.

Jarvisimo wrote: View Post
I really enjoyed a lot about this novel, including a lot of the nods to oft-forgotten (or avoided) bits of Trek lore, including the Roman TOS people. As someone mentioned upstream, there was a real sense of layering the dense web of Trekdom. And while I think all the authors do that these days, each has their own style and choices. Overall the novel felt less thematically playful than either of the first two novels (one of which was a great success, the other far more problematic), and it is very much like the forward-inclined plotting of Mack's volume. I loved some of the cameos, such as Martok, which really captured the performance and mannerisms of their television or film counterparts.

I also liked the comparison with the wild period of the twenty-third century, mentioned by one of the characters. This novel certainly felt like that at points - especially the late end of that period as depicted in Swallow's Valeris novel. The sniper villain was rather akin to another Starfleet sniper with an army rank, that being Colonel West! And the wild fringes of the Empire and the House Fleets: very ... feudal. A lot of left and right hands not knowing what is going on. It also reminded me of his Horus Heresy novel about two competing assassination plots, Nemesis. But whereas that novel suffered from interesting concepts (the use of the domestic setting and the monster villain) and let down by less exciting, more generic action movie plotting and characterisation, this was more interesting and more fun.
I think you get at a great point about this novel being less thematically playful. I think that was part of my disappointment. After The Crimson Shadow and A Ceremony of Losses, I had high hopes. Definitely agree with your point about the cameos.

Yeah, I really liked the comparison with the 23rd century, especially in the context of Vale's remark about not really remembering much about the Cetacean Probe Crisis of 2286. Was a great reminder of the vastness of the Trek universe. And was nicely realistic, too. Paralleling Vale's ignorance of an Earth crisis from a century ago, I definitely could do with brushing up on my English history around 1913 (I'm American). Also enjoyed (in a frustrating way) all the stuff about right hands and left hands not knowing what the other was doing.
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Old December 1 2013, 06:36 AM   #75
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Re: TF: The Poisoned Chalice by James Swallow Review Thread (Spoilers!

Finished yesterday & really enjoyed it. Can't wait to see how this ends, been a great mini-series.
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