TP: Rough Beasts of Empire by DRGIII Review Thread (Spoilers!)

Discussion in 'Trek Literature' started by Thrawn, Dec 22, 2010.

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Rate Rough Beasts Of Empire

  1. Outstanding

    38 vote(s)
    26.0%
  2. Above Average

    61 vote(s)
    41.8%
  3. Average

    25 vote(s)
    17.1%
  4. Below Average

    13 vote(s)
    8.9%
  5. Poor

    9 vote(s)
    6.2%
  1. Enterprise1981

    Enterprise1981 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Rough Beasts Of Empire review thread

    Who knows the future of the Dominion after the Founder mass suicide in "Olympus Descending". At last check, Odo and Laas are what's left of the Founders. And there was certainly major political fallout on Cardassia after the assassination of Alon Ghemor and contributions to the Battle of the Azure Nebula. Not sure whether or not they are one of the expanded Khitomer Accords powers.
     
  2. David cgc

    David cgc Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Rough Beasts Of Empire review thread

    I tend to agree with this interpretation, which is why I thought Sisko's specific rationale at the end was flawed, but the general idea might not be. Sisko said that the Prophets were warning him of a fact, not a threat, when they said getting married would lead to his great sorrow. However, I don't think that's the case. If that were the case, then there are pretty much two ways it could've gone: one is that getting married set up a whole complex chain of events that resulted in things like Vaughn being nearly killed in the invasion (or, more cynically, Vaughn and Sisko becoming friends so that it would hurt Sisko when Vaughn was injured), his friends dying in the fire, Rebecca being kidnapped (which is, on the face of it, true), and suchlike. If that's the case, then, as flemm says, the ship has sailed, and Sisko's committed to the path of suffering no matter what he does here on out. The other possibility is that Sisko, by virtue of being married from moment to moment, is directly causing these misfortunes, which would be a difficult case to make. I see no way an unmarried or divorced Ben Sisko would've kept Vaughn from ramming the Borg ship, kept his friends from having the fire, kept his daughter from being kidnapped, or kept his father from succumbing to stress and age. But this is the interpretation that Sisko is taking; it was not a critical fork in the road the Prophets were warning him of, but that his own maladroitness would continuously generate fresh suffering down the years so long as he was married, and by cutting him off from his family, he could save them from it. There's no evidence for that.

    But I have a different reading, which supports Sisko's actions, if not his specific understanding. Basically, the Prophets were, in fact, threatening him when they told him he shouldn't marry Kassidy. Well, they were reiterating their earlier threat, when they did as Sisko asked and discorperated the Dominion fleet in the wormhole.

    "But what of the Sisko? He is intrusive. He tries to control the game. A penance must be exacted. It is agreed; The Sisko is of Bajor, but he will find no rest there. His pagh will follow another path."

    Because they need to punish Sisko for his insolence, or because it somehow metaphysically remunerates them for the effort of foiling the Dominion, Ben can either leave Bajor, or They will make him suffer (deny him rest) for staying. The warning about Kassidy, then, was telling him not to put down roots. If he hadn't married her, it wouldn't have hurt so much when he was driven from Bajor and had to leave his wife and daughter. Once he did marry Kassidy, it meant he was doomed to lose her either way, either by his exile from Bajor, or the Prophets' actions if he didn't leave fast enough to satisfy Them. Hence, nothing but suffering. Boom, prophecy.

    Now, this does require the Prophets to be huge jerks, essentially using their cosmic powers to kill some half-dozen innocent people just to impress upon Sisko that he exists at Their sufferance, not the other way around, and They're the ones that call the shots, no matter how many space fleets are coming to mess with Bajor. Still, I think we can make a compelling case for that, between their inaction during the Occupation, and their inspiration of religions on at least three planets that, perhaps not coincidentally, all ended up hating each other.


    I'm gratified to hear that DRGIII wasn't intentionally paralleling Star Trek: Online with the quick reunification of the Romulans and Kira entering the clergy. Well, it's less STO that I'm worried about leading into than Countdown. Anywho, I especially enjoyed the red herring about Spock being nominated Praetor for that reason. That'd be a clear break from the Path to 2409, and would be a fantastic twist on why Nero and Spock both believed he had so much responsibility to bear for the loss of Romulus.

    I'm a little disappointed by the loss of the story opportunities that came about from East Romulus and West Romulus (the Ki Baratan wall!), especially since I was looking forward to the whole thing being turned upside down in five years when Romulus went foom and suddenly the Imperial Romulan State became the sole and legitimate heirs. I guess things will still be turned upside-down, but that's going to be considerably less enjoyable if it's a moderate-to-good-guy Romulan Empire that goes, and there isn't a batch of good-guy Romulans waiting in the wings.

    I'm curious about why, as mentioned in another thread, DRGIII was given permission to kill off Spock. I'd hoped that it would be something reasonably apparent in the book itself, but I can't think of anything that would give Spock a get-out-of-death free card (or a clone or impersonator) in time for the Hobus event. Maybe it'll become a factor in a future book.

    On the whole, I enjoyed the book, even if I didn't specifically agree with Sisko's state of mind (I suspect someone will be along to tell him he's being ridiculous now that he's confessed his reasoning). Oh, I also particularly enjoyed the scene with Spock and his Gorn contact at the bar. Some people forget that, under that logical exterior, Vulcans in general and Spock in particular are enormous wise-asses.
     
  3. dispatcher812

    dispatcher812 Commander Red Shirt

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Rough Beasts Of Empire review thread

    Of the three books so far I must say the this was by far my favorite. While I had to almost force myself to read the others at no time during my reading of RBoE did I feel bored. I actually liked the Sisko plot. I was a little confused with what happened to Vaughn in ZSG and I am glad that was explained although I don't think I am alone when I say that This book should have been first.
    I am a little disappointed with these books as a whole. They are missing something and don't seem to flow as well as Destiny. We are seeing parts of the Thypon Pact as individuals and dealing with inside issues and not as one big group. I am hoping that the novels coming out after Paths of Disharmony or maybe that book itself finally shows us what the Typhon Pact is all about.
     
  4. Rush Limborg

    Rush Limborg Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Rough Beasts Of Empire review thread

    If I may ask:

    David, you metioned that Rough Beasts begins, chronologically, before Zero Sum Game.

    How far does that go--or do they overlap some way? (If they overlap, how far?)

    I apologize, but...it's just that I'm in the works of writing a fanfic which takes place after ZSG, but involves the Romulans, and I don't want to contradict anything....
     
  5. Thrawn

    Thrawn Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Rough Beasts Of Empire review thread

    ^ Yeah, you're really going to need to read this book, then.
     
  6. Enterprise1981

    Enterprise1981 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Rough Beasts Of Empire review thread

    Ooh, I look forward to reading that. I trust it will tie in the Breen keeping some of the secrets of the slipstream drive for themselves with
    the Tzenkethi manipulating Romulan politics in their favor.
     
  7. David cgc

    David cgc Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Rough Beasts Of Empire review thread

    The book begins immediately after "Destiny," before even "A Singular Destiny." The action takes place over the course of something like seven to nine months.

    Also, you could read the book.
     
  8. David R. George III

    David R. George III Writer Fleet Captain

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Rough Beasts Of Empire review thread

    Rough Beasts of Empire actually takes places over the course of precisely one Terran year. It begins in late February 2381, during the final Borg invasion described in David Mack's brilliant Destiny trilogy, and it ends 365 days later, in late February 2382.
     
  9. Thrawn

    Thrawn Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Rough Beasts Of Empire review thread

    Man, my reviews have been longwinded lately. Here's another one: I had two simultaneous, totally separate reactions to this book, and I'm still working on reconciling them.

    It basically went like this - on the one hand: HELL YES. ONLY REALLY GREAT TREK BOOK IN ALL OF 2010. On the other hand: Star Trek has a really annoying problem right now.

    ****SPOILERS AHEAD****

    Let’s start with the bad news first – holy crap does the Star Trek universe have no idea where it’s going. It’s strangely almost palpable, what’s happened since Marco left the line. He juggled Vanguard, Titan, DS9, Mirror Universe, Lost Era, Voyager, and various other linked things, all in different time frames no less, and STILL made them feel like part of an evolving and unified narrative going interesting places. Then, he leaves, Margaret Clark decides to bring all the series up to the same time frame – something that you’d think would help coordination – and now all of a sudden it feels like authors are just grabbing whatever plot threads they feel like grabbing and making a giant clusterfuck out of the entire enterprise.

    Like, the Typhon Pact's purpose was to examine these alien societies, and that's been going pretty well. The problem is that totally random character threads have been used around them. Tuvok is now the repository of all terraforming knowledge, which works with his time on the Excelsior in some way… Bashir is joining Section 31, somehow… and now we have Sisko, leaving his wife and rejoining Starfleet, in a plotline that tangentially and awkwardly touches the overarching narrative twice (remembering Tzenkethi, speaking with Donatra) but has no comfortable place in this novel.

    And look at what's happened to DS9! Now we have Bashir on a random irritating cliffhanger from a book that had nothing else to do with DS9, a major conflict behind us with no real hint at its impact (Ascendents), several stories totally hanging from several years prior (Taran'atar, Dominion), and now Sisko leaving his wife... It’s just a mess, quite honestly; a complete mess. It’s just destroyed the through-lines of the DS9 stories almost completely, and I have no idea how we’ll be picking up the pieces after this. Sisko's story is so completely connected to the DS9 mythology that it needed to happen in a DS9 novel, with the other characters reacting and being a part of it. Right now, it feels like it's going nowhere. Is this setup for Sisko to be an adversary to the Tzenkethi later, outside the DS9 stories? For his wife to get him back, in a story about the Bajoran religion? No idea.

    Come to think of it, that might actually be the reason all this plot intertwining is bothering me; it’s completely unclear where they’re trying to go. Sisko is being set up for something here, but what? Bashir…? Tuvok…? Where is all this headed? When Marco did this shit, I felt like he had a plan. Right now, it's just scattershot and confusing, including yet another DS9 plot being grabbed in a TNG story in Paths Of Disharmony. AND we know NONE of this is being followed up on until 2012 at the earliest. At this point, it feels like we need like a 10 book miniseries involving everyone in the whole 24th century crossing over with everyone else just to get the plotlines untangled and sorted back out into individual series. It's frustrating as hell, and all this damage has been done in three books!

    But on the flipside...

    Everything that happens in this book – disconnected and divorced from context though it is – is AWESOME.

    1) The Tzenkethi are freaking brilliant and incredibly intimidating and cold and awesome and I love them. Having one - ONE - genetically predetermined problem solver just totally fix the entire Romulan problem? THAT is how you introduce a bad guy. These are some serious ceiling-walking badass motherfuckers, and I can't wait to see them again.

    2) The turns of the Romulan Empire are fabulous (and completely surprising to me). Putting the Romulan Empire in the hands of a new and totally sane Praetor is exactly what should be happening right now.

    3) Spock is characterized better than I’ve ever seen him and is starting nicely to move towards canon’s placement for him from JJTrek. I really could practically hear Nimoy delivering the lines; flawless.

    4) Finally, in my opinion, Sisko’s story couldn't be more perfect. It’s exactly right in that painful, Joss Whedon way where it’s so totally sad and wrong and upsetting and unhappy for everyone involved, but it’s exactly where Sisko needs to go next. Yes, I understand the awkwardness inherent in turning a black man into a deadbeat dad, but if we could kill off Janeway and still have no problem throwing out the most gender-equal story in Trek history the very next year (Destiny), I think we can get away with this. Because it’s so perfect. I mean, that story really needed to happen in an actual DS9 novel and not here, since leaving out everyone’s reactions is really odd, but as it stands here it still presents a completely reasonable reaction to impossibly bizarre circumstances that took some real guts to pitch and write. I’m impressed.

    Honestly: I loved every twist, every turn, and every character. This was written brilliantly.

    But: MAN, is it clear what the lack of good editorial leadership is doing. Jesus. This book was great, but this whole miniseries is an absolute disaster, structurally.
     
  10. kkozoriz1

    kkozoriz1 Fleet Captain

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Rough Beasts Of Empire review thread

    Agree completly about the trainwreck ths DS9 has become. I was really looking forward to the DS9-R-R (reboot, reboot) but will be passing on it now. I have zero interest in how it;s being laid out.
     
  11. David R. George III

    David R. George III Writer Fleet Captain

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Rough Beasts Of Empire review thread

    Well...uh...thanks?

    Seriously, interesting comments all around. I am particularly gratified to hear that you liked the Tzenkethi, the machinations of the Romulans, Spock's characterization, and in particular, Sisko's arc. I do understand your desire to have had Sisko's tale told in a novel set singularly within the Deep Space Nine milieu. For various reasons, I did not have that option. I also gather just why you think that the Star Trek literary universe has "no idea where it’s going." All I can tell you is this: that's not true.
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2011
  12. JD

    JD Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Rough Beasts Of Empire review thread

    I haven't actually read RBoE yet, but I haven been pretty shocked by everything I've read about it, and what I've read in ZSG.
    At this point I'm hoping that maybe they're going to do a big miniseries or arc that brings everybody back together. I have not problem with new characters, but I really like all of the DS9 characters we've gotten in the books, and I don't want to see any of them replaced just for the sake of showing how time has past. We could easily have seen time pass without having to write out so many of the characters or make so many drastic changes to the ones who are sticking around.
    Don't get me wrong, I've been enjoying ZSG, and what I've read about RBoE sounds good, I just would have rather seen things go in a different direction.
    I keep wanting to defend the books that have been released so far this year, but then I realized that I've skipped most of them because they have been getting such bad reviews. I rushed out the buy Inception, but I'm honestly not sure when I'm gonna get around to buying it, and I didn't even bother with Unspoken Truth for the same reason.
     
  13. Thrawn

    Thrawn Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Rough Beasts Of Empire review thread

    Oh don't get me wrong; I'm interested in how it's being laid out. It just seems really disorganized and random. I think lots of good stories *could* come out of this, I just don't really see any particular indication that they're on the way.

    ...except for that post, and the others like it you've posted lately. I mean, I really want to believe you, and it's always worked out before. I'm just frustrated that, even if this IS all going somewhere great, we won't even be able to find out for a really long time.

    But genuinely: I did a lot of complaining in that review, but as a standalone novel, best Trek novel in a year easily. Easily. Sorrows Of Empire was the last Trek book I enjoyed this much.
     
  14. David R. George III

    David R. George III Writer Fleet Captain

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Rough Beasts Of Empire review thread

    Here's the thing (and I mentioned this earlier in the thread). At the conclusion of the Deep Space Nine television series, the characters were scattered all over the galaxy. Sisko ascended to the Celestial Temple. O'Brien and his family left DS9 and returned to Earth. Worf accepted a position as Federation ambassador to the Klingon Empire. Garak remained on Cardassia. Odo went back to the Great Link. Dukat, Winn, Damar, and the (allegedly) last Weyoun clone all perished. Of the main characters, only Kira, Bashir, Ezri, Jake, and Quark were still on the station. Really, this kept with the overall feel of DSN, at least for me. The real hallmark of the show was change, and the final episode continued in that vein.

    In relaunching Deep Space Nine as a continuing literary endeavor, it became necessary to introduce new characters, and to follow familiar characters in new settings. Now, could the remaining original cast members be brought back together on the station? Yeah, maybe. Could it be done believably and well? I'm not so sure. In my estimation, though--and I mean this not as a writer, but as a reader--resetting the characters and situations to where they began would not be particularly fulfilling. Of course, that's just my take.
     
  15. ATimson

    ATimson Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Rough Beasts Of Empire review thread

    Actually, it's the January 2011 book. ;)
     
  16. Thrawn

    Thrawn Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Rough Beasts Of Empire review thread

    I bought it and started reading it in 2010, so it counts for me ;)
     
  17. Thrawn

    Thrawn Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Rough Beasts Of Empire review thread

    I completely agree with this entire post; this isn't actually what I was complaining about. Many plots are good; many directionless, apparently random plots are irritating.
     
  18. David R. George III

    David R. George III Writer Fleet Captain

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Rough Beasts Of Empire review thread

    Well...good things come to those who wait. Not a great response, but the best I can manage under the circumstances.

    I didn't really take anything you said in your review as complaining. I think you brought up a lot of valid points, and certainly they reflected how you feel about the Trek literary line at the moment. Nothing wrong with that.

    You did, on the other hand, say an awful lot of complimentary things about Rough Beasts of Empire. I appreciate that.
     
  19. flemm

    flemm Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Rough Beasts Of Empire review thread

    Can you explain in more detail why you think it is perfect?

    In passing, I don't personally think that depicting Sisko as a neglectful parent is, in itself, problematic. Certainly there would need to be some strong motivation for this, but whatever, there is no reason why that should be off-limits as a creative choice.

    More problematic, I think, is portraying such a selfish course of action as necessary and selfless. That really strikes me as the core issue in the Sisko story: the constant insistance that Sisko is leaving to save his family and not to avoid his own personal sorrow, while his motives don't really stand up to much scrutiny (at least imo).

    Portraying Sisko as a neglectful parent is one thing, giving him a pass on it because of a really dubious interpretation of a five-year old prophecy is another. Now, sure, Sisko could get called out on this in a future novel, but anyway for the moment we have the text of RBoE to consider.
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2011
  20. Rush Limborg

    Rush Limborg Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Typhon Pact: Rough Beasts Of Empire review thread

    Well...I'm actuall 3/4 of the way into writing it--which is why all this news about Donatra, and Tal'Aura, and Spock, and the RSE, and the IRS...is causing me to bang my head my head against the proverbial wall. Now, I'll have to re-write most of it, since it relies for much of its impact on Tal'Aura's hostility towards the Federation--and Ezri's working relationship with Empress Donatra. (I was basing all that on the assumption that Donatra would be around for a bit longer....)

    Unfortunately, some elements of the story ALSO demanded I set it after ZSG--which Memory Beta tells me takes place at some point AFTER RBoE ends.

    *sigh* I'm actually considering putting in a "This Takes Place In An Alternate Universe" disclamer--otherwise, I'll just end up disposing of much of the dramatic structure....

    And I take it ZSG takes place after this? :(