TF: Peaceable Kingdoms by Dayton Ward Review Thread (Spoilers!)

Discussion in 'Trek Literature' started by Sho, Dec 22, 2013.

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Rate Peaceable Kingdoms.

  1. Outstanding

    18 vote(s)
    19.6%
  2. Above Average

    37 vote(s)
    40.2%
  3. Average

    31 vote(s)
    33.7%
  4. Below Average

    5 vote(s)
    5.4%
  5. Poor

    1 vote(s)
    1.1%
  1. Csalem

    Csalem Commodore Commodore

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    Had to give this book an average. I found the start very slow and took a lot of time for the plot develop. The first third of the book came across as recap after recap and I found it frustrating after a while. I used to think Greater Than The Sum was the book that suffered the most from this but not anymore.

    As for ranking the books within the series, I would go in descending order: 2,3,4,1,5
     
  2. flavaflav

    flavaflav Captain Captain

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    Average

    This was an extremely unsatisfying ending to 'The Fall' series. I don't have many problems with the writing or story when the book is looked at in a vacuum (hence the generous average grade), but I can't look at it that way since it's part 5 of a 5 book series.

    The biggest problem with the book, and series, is the revelation that Ishan is not who he says he is. this comes out of absolutely nowhere. there are no clues dropped in any of the other books, so when we learn the truth, it totally falls flat. And then the entire story gets wrapped up with a nice, big, fat reset button. Outside of Garak becoming Castellan in 'Crimson Shadow' there are no lasting repercussions in the entire series. imo, it all ends up being a waste of time and a poor riff on B5s civil war arc.

    Some story points also seem to have been completely glossed over. Last time we see Velk in jail, he has a phaser to his head. How does Riker actually get him out of that predicament? I suppose there is a slight hint that Anjar's man who was supposed to take him out was co-opted by Riker and Akaar, but we're not really sure.

    Andoria beginning the story right back in the arms of the Federation also seemed rushed. I didn't get the impression at the end of 'Poisoned Chalice' it would happen so quick and with so little push back from some federation Council members. I suppose I could live with that though.

    Outside of 'Crimson Shadow' and Ceremony of Losses'. I just didn't get the sense this was a well thought out story idea by the authors and editors involved. It just seems like lazy story telling. While the entire premise was a bit lame and meant for shock value only, it could have been done well. It simply wasn't. I'm really disappointed how 'The Fall' ended. Meh.
     
  3. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

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    You mean, aside from Nanietta Bacco dying, the Andorian species being saved from extinction, Bashir being drummed out of Starfleet and branded a criminal, White-Blue being revived, Kellessar zh'Tarash being elected President, and Starfleet launching a huge new exploration initiative?

    :rolleyes:

    Oh please. Babylon 5 did not invent the trope of the usurper killing the rightful leader. Baras assassinating Bacco is no more a "ripoff" of President Clarke assassinating President Santiago than Clarke assassinating Santiago was a "ripoff" of Macbeth assassinating Macduff.

    Yes, we are. Because Velk survived.

    Of course, other readers who read a scene with that Starfleet lieutenant being recruited and saving Velk would just say that that's not a "necessary" detail and that it's another example of the novel not being "tight" enough.
     
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2014
  4. Romulan_spy

    Romulan_spy Commodore Commodore

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    I wonder if The Fall would have been better if the Typhon Pact really had been responsible for Bacco's assassination as part of a scheme to weaken the Federation prior to invasion. Peaceable Kingdoms could have been about Ishan plotting a preemptive invasion of the Typhon Pact and our heroes racing to stop him and stave off galactic war. This would have made the "ends justify the means" angle of Ishan's actions more grey. While his actions (ordering unsanctioned covert ops missions and plotting to start a preemptive war) would be seen as very much against the values of the Federation, the threat to the Federation that he is trying to prevent would also be very real. I actually thought we might see this at the end of the novel when several times we got hints that Ishan was willing to launch military strikes against the TP and even hints that he has some plan to crush the TP once and for all. Unfortunately, we never actually saw it but everything got wrapped nicely. As it is, the issues were rather black and white since it was clear that Ishan as well as the Federation captains and admirals doing his bidding, were the "bad guys".
     
  5. DS9forever

    DS9forever Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I'm confused as to what "The Fall" refers to. The fall of... Bashir? The fall of the Cardassian alliance with the Federation?
     
  6. JeBuS

    JeBuS Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    You're really quite good at missing the point when you try hard enough. The lieutenant being co-opted by Riker would have been germane to the plot. The color of the grass and the striations on the planet, however...
     
  7. Thrawn

    Thrawn Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Often I'm on a pretty similar wavelength to Sci, ss seeing him vigorously defend this when I thought it was, by TrekLit standards, pretty irredeemably atrocious has been a little odd.

    But I've done similar things when I really liked choices that were under attack, so it's hard to begrudge.
     
  8. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

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    Mind you, I'm mostly defending it against criticisms that I think are unfair or disproportionate. There have been a number of posters who have posted what I thought were fair criticisms, and I haven't argued with them.

    I've had my critiques of Dayton Ward's writing myself -- I think he has a habit of spending a lot of time on set-up and rising action, and then rushing his climaxes and resolutions, for instance. One thing that I appreciated about Peaceable Kingdoms was that the rising action didn't feel like it squeezed out the climax and resolution, the way it often did in his Vanguard books and in Paths of Disharmony.

    I did think the climax itself was a bit rushed, but still ultimately satisfying. I would have preferred to get a stronger sense of the general public reaction to Baras's arrest and his deception being uncovered; what happened to the Federation Councillors who had thrown their support behind him, for instance? Who were the other candidates, how did the Special Election work -- did they throw him off the ballot, for instance? Etc.

    In some ways, I recognize, though, that this is a function of Ward choosing to focus his Star Trek novels on the more familiar paradigm: I get the sense that his Star Trek is like the canon, in that he prefers to write straightforward, starship crew-focused action-adventure; he's not the kind of writer who would even want, I infer, to write a novel like Articles of the Federation that breaks with the paradigm. (This is my inference from how he structures most of his plots and from his writing style; I don't know this for sure.) It's not necessarily always the kind of Star Trek I want to read, but the fact that he has different creative goals than I do is not necessarily a bad thing -- even if I don't always find it satisfying personally.

    I didn't find it as satisfying that Ishan Anjar turned out just to be a warhawk who took things too far; something like an Obsidian Order agent might have been more dramatically satisfying... mostly because I loved Bacco as a character so much that if she had to be cut down, my impulse would be to have her cut down by a tried-and-true, good old fashioned villain. Not to say that Ishan isn't himself villainous -- but he's a more down-to-Earth sort of villain, you know? Mind you, that's not to say it was the wrong choice for Ishan to be a warhawk who goes too far; my creative impulses can run towards melodrama sometimes, and it's more realistic to imagine a domestic warmonger going all Oliver-Stone-JFK than it is to imagine a hostile foreign agent infiltrating the Palais. It's still a bit unsatisfying to imagine that so awesome a character could be struck down by someone so mundane -- but then, I imagine that must be how people who watched JFK or MLK felt about those assassins. Those who are larger than life are often taken from us by those who are very, very small.

    I would have preferred a greater emphasis on those legitimate questions raised by the "warhawks," but I also think that The Fall treated them more even-handedly than many of our posters are implying. We had plenty of scenes where characters like Vale would hear "Ishan"'s speech and think, "I agree with that." Even Baras himself wasn't two-dimensional -- his willingness to be persuaded by Picard in The Crimson Shadow comes to mind, and he raised legitimate concerns about Bashir's actions in A Ceremony of Losses. (David Mack, in a podcast interview, compared him to former New York City Mayor Rudy Guiliani, whom he argued always felt like he needed an adversary to function.)

    And there were several characters that people have accused of being two-dimensionally evil who I don't think were at all -- the captain of the Warspite, for instance, whose attitude and behavior I suspect we the audience would be thrilled by if the narrative had framed his side as being "right."

    Still, I think it would have helped if there had been a primary character who was himself firmly in the "let's be more military-oriented" side, who was firmly in "Ishan"'s camp before being disillusioned by the reveal.

    My score: B-. Not the best, and driven by creative goals that are perfectly valid but not always as satisfying to me. And I can see where some might be disappointed in it after the A+ and A++ efforts we saw in A Ceremony of Losses and The Crimson Shadow. But I also think it's stronger than some people are giving it credit for, and smarter, too.
     
  9. Jarvisimo

    Jarvisimo Captain Captain

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  10. Therin of Andor

    Therin of Andor Admiral Admiral

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    [LEFT]Sorry if this is a repeat post, but I'm avoiding spoilers (above). For those in the Twitterverse and on Facebook, this news has been conveyed:

    "Congrats to @daytonward - his 'The Fall: Peaceable Kingdoms' novel debuts at 13 on the @nytimes Best Seller list!"

    Star Trek's still got it![/LEFT]
     
  11. DEWLine

    DEWLine Commodore Commodore

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    Yes, it does.

    As for Sci's thoughts re: the fallout from Baras being called out in the council chamber publicly...that deserves its own novel(s). I'm in complete agreement on that point, and would happily pay to read such a tale.

    Other writers, though, are likely better suited to telling that tale in due course.
     
  12. Villager

    Villager Ensign Newbie

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    I don't know if this story was supposed to be mystery, but it's not my idea of one. I expect to be kept guessing till the end, and I expect to witness the investigation and discovery of the Big Secret. In this book, the Big Secret is revealed early, and we see none of the work of its discovery. It's just announced to us. The remaining answers are revealed in flashbacks, or in the perpetrators' private thoughts. (We don't even get an "And the secret will die with you! BWA-HA-HA-HA-HA!") Altogether, not satisfying to me.
     
  13. TheUsualSuspect

    TheUsualSuspect Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    ^ But in a political thriller, which is what Peaceable Kingdoms feels most like to me, you often know early on what the secret is, or at least have a good idea of it. The challenge is to defeat a powerful figure that seems to have an overwhelming advantage.

    In this case, Ishan seems to hold all the cards. Both The Poisoned Chalice and Peaceable Kingdoms feature our heroes racing against time to bring down Ishan before he can hide or destroy all the evidence against him and win election to the presidency.

    For me, that was the strength of Peaceable Kingdoms, although I was disappointed in the execution of it in the novel. And, like many others have commented, I also felt the conclusion felt rushed and didn't delve as deeply into some aspects of the situation as it might have.
     
  14. flavaflav

    flavaflav Captain Captain

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    Bacco is replaced what seems to be a Bacco clone.... who has less personality. Of course the Andorians would be saved. Who would ever think otherwise? Bashir will be back in some way, shape or form so nothing big there. I don't follow Titan so I could care less about whoever White Blue is... and it seems minute compared to the grand scheme of things. Starfleet's exploration will last until the next big crossover so nothing big there. All in all, the story is a reset button
     
  15. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

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    Nothing about zh'Tarash's personality resembles Bacco's, except that neither of them are douchebags. Bacco is informal and down-to-Earth; zh'Tarash is formal and aloof. Bacco is wisecracking and sarcastic; zh'Tarash is very earnest. Bacco is a divorced single mother; zh'Tarash is a formerly oppressed sexual minority living with her sh'za -- and Andorian equivalent of an out lesbian, in other words. Bacco was a surrogate mother to Esperanza; zh'Tarash is a surrogate daughter to th'Priil. Bacco was relatively old; zh'Tarash is relatively young. There is literally almost nothing personality-wise they have in common.

    You are moving the goalposts. I never expected the Andorians not to be saved -- but that does not change the fact that resolving the Andorian genetic crisis is a real and lasting consequence to the novel continuity.

    He'll be back as a character, but that does not mean he'll be back in Starfleet. And yes, that makes it something "big;" that makes it a real and lasting consequence.

    This does not change the fact that White-Blue's revival is a real consequence.

    You do not know that. The writers have said several times that the ending to The Fall will lead into a new creative direction for the Star Trek line. Destiny led to a new direction with the focus on political thrillers from 2009 to 2013; the idea that there won't be another new focus on different kinds of stories when there has already been a shift before is at best an inference which is not supported by the events of the past.

    Once again, a real and lasting consequence.

    The Fall was full of real consequences; your characterization of it as a reset button requires you to ignore or actively mischaracterize several important plot developments.
     
  16. Kertrats47

    Kertrats47 Commodore Commodore

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    Finally: my review!

    I feel like I'm in agreement with a lot of people on here, but maybe to a somewhat lesser extent. I didn't dislike Peaceable Kingdoms, but I certainly did feel that it was missing the "certain something" that the preceding three novels all had.

    I'm afraid I had to vote "average" on this one.
     
  17. ronny

    ronny Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Yeah, it was a bit by the numbers along the way but I read the last 2/3's in a day to get to the end. It definitely wasn't as good as the middle three but I still liked it a lot.

    I actually like the fact the president protem was just a Bajoran collaborator hiding his identity and not some big master plan with an undercover Cardassian a-la Seska or something else over the top.

    For the series as a whole I like the fact the Federation comes out a winner. Andoria is back and even though Bacco is a big loss we don't have a loser in her place. I was going to get weary if the Typhon Pact was going to be about continuing Federation losses after the first book in The Fall.

    I'm also OK with the Enterprise being an exploration ship. We've got DS9 and it's related stories for the ongoing political arc and I'm not sure we need the Enterprise to be part of that and it can always be called back for another crossover event. And in the short term at least maybe having Riker around will have Titan involved in some non-exploration stories. It's almost like Enterprise and Titan have switched places. Not sure how long that will last. It would very well be the Titan e-book that's coming out in a couple months undoes all that.

    It feels good to be all caught up in the 24th century again...
     
  18. Scout101

    Scout101 Admiral Admiral

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    So, now that we've wrapped up the 5 book series, can we agree R&D was a failure? Only people supporting it were the 'wait and see how it pays off in the rest of the series' folks, and now that we got there: it didn't. It was maybe a setup for new DS9 books in the future, but really didn't do much for the Fall arc, and definitely didn't stand alone.

    Final book felt ok, but not quite as 'big' as I was hoping for to wrap up this 'event' arc. Everything ended ok, and the book was enjoyable, i was just expecting a bit more. Anyone have a decent explanation for what "fell" in "the Fall"? Not sure I see that part. Lends itself to expecting something epic, but in reality, what changed? Yes, Bacco was assassinated, but after some moustache twirling, we got a reasonable replacement that will carry on her agenda. Really the only thing that 'fell' was Bashir, as far as I can tell. Federation and Starfleet are both fine, Dax got her reset button, Picard is off on new and exciting adventures. Titan got the shaft a little, but sure Riker will take her back out shortly.

    maybe I'm nitpicking a series name that the editors picked to push sales, but really can't figure out where the series title was supposed to lead. And of the 5, Crimson Shadow and Ceremony of Losses were really the standouts. Look forward to new stories that are actually about exploration vice politics, though...
     
  19. Deranged Nasat

    Deranged Nasat Vice Admiral Admiral

    Perhaps "the fall" can be taken as a reference to the assassination itself? President Bacco fell. It's that one event that sets everything in motion and causes so much uncertainty. One leader falls and the repercussions are felt across local space.

    There's also a second thematic angle, perhaps, with the drop in optimism and general morale after the Federation's respected leader is suddenly taken from them?
     
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2014
  20. zarkon

    zarkon Captain Captain

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    I assumed after the first couple of books it was going to be a refrence to a fall of the ideals of the federation - becoming increasingly militant, paranoid, untrusting and so forth. We only ended up getting a smidgen of that though.

    Would never have been sustainable either, federation has to be built on hope, idic and so on, with people's struggles of aspiring to live up to that being the source of conflict.

    Anyway, the andorian crisis is finally, finally, finally over, garak is the grand high spoon and exploration is top of the agenda for picard again, so even if the overall theme and ending were somewhat disappointing, at least things are set well for ongoing TNG books. Looking forward to seeing if "The Light Fantastic" might not just give the e-e a new second officer(has that role ever been filled since kadohata split?).
     

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