Spoilers NF: House of Cards by Peter David Review Thread

Discussion in 'Trek Literature' started by Defcon, Apr 26, 2014.


Rate House of Cards

  1. Outstanding

    10 vote(s)
  2. Above Average

    7 vote(s)
  3. Average

    4 vote(s)
  4. Below Average

    0 vote(s)
  5. Poor

    1 vote(s)
  1. Defcon

    Defcon Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    May 9, 2003
    New Frontier: House of Cards by Peter David


    Sector 221-G: For the whole of Federation history, this large area of space has been controlled by the Thallonians, a cruel, militaristic race of which little is known except that they rule the other races in their sector with a vicious iron hand.

    Now the Thallonian Empire has collapsed and the systems it once ruled are in chaos. Old hatreds are surfacing. Petty tyrants control deadly weapons. World after world is descending into disorder and self-destruction. The Federation must send a starship to help where it can and report what it finds.

    That ship is the USS Excalibur, a newly refit Ambassador-class starship commanded by Captain Mackenzie Calhoun and manned by Starfleet's best and brightest, including some old friends from Star Trek: The Next Generation and some of the most dynamic new characters ever to crew a Federation starship.

    Join Captain Calhoun and the crew of the USS Excalibur as they explore strange new worlds, seek out new life and new civilizations, and boldly go where no one has gone before!


    My (short) review from over a decade ago:

    House of Cards is a good start into the New Fronter series. Even when, like with most new series, the introduction of the characters is at the forefront of the novel, this short novel is able to work and satisfy on its own, while whetting your appetite for more. Overall one of the best "pilots" for a new series I've experienced, be it TV or books.
  2. Tarheel

    Tarheel Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Jan 29, 2014
    When this was released, I had a standing order to read anything by Peter David. Therefore I snapped it up as soon as it appeared in my local bookstore and read it immediately. As I recall, the first two books were released together and the second pair followed just one month later.

    I don't remember too much about Book One specifically, since the first four books comprised one adventure. However I remember being highly entertained and anxiously awaiting the conclusion. I seem to recall that the flashbacks to Calhoun's past sometimes dragged, but that was probably my only complaint. The general idea of a whole new crew and ship separate from the TV series was exciting.

    I continued to purchase every New Frontier novel as it was released, but got behind in my reading after a few more books. It's been my intention to re-read House Of Cards as the beginning of a personal relaunch into the series.
  3. RoJoHen

    RoJoHen Awesome Admiral

    Apr 14, 2000
    QC, IL, USA
    I would love to go back and reread all the NF books. I picked up the first four books all at one time, and I blew through all of them in a day. NF is such a fun series!
  4. Deranged Nasat

    Deranged Nasat Vice Admiral Admiral

    It is a good start to the series, and the set-up with the Thallonian Empire and its recent collapse is a strong one (I only regret that the books eventually lost interest in the original nature of the setting, since it holds so much promise). The new characters introduced - Calhoun, Soleta and Si Cwan in this one, if I remember rightly - are enjoyable (Soleta probably being my favourite New Frontier character). My only real complaint about House of Cards is that it's the start of the characterization of Jellico as The Difficult Admiral and a general jerk, warping the character into something honestly rather unrecognizable. Other than that, though, good stuff.
  5. zarkon

    zarkon Captain Captain

    Mar 24, 2011

    When I first read House of Cards in the nineties, I didn't remember exactly which admiral Jellico was, and just assumed he was random arsehole admiral #39428 from some episode I missed or forgot. The next time Chain of Command was repeated on telly a few years later, I was shocked to find that Jellico was Admiral Awesome who had called out Riker & Troi on their whining. More seriously, the episode had clearly set out specifically to make Jellico a highly competent man who didn't like riker's style or the way he ran the day to day operations of the enterprise, and especially with war looming he just wanted things done and done quickly, with his blunt/abrasive style causing conflict. PAD...didn't really capture that at all. It's always puzzled me why he used Jellico for that role. I assume he wanted someone who had already been antagonistic on TNG, but someone like Pressman would have fitted that role a lot better(which reminds me, is there any treklit that ever mentioned whether he ducked the charges or not?).

    But yeah, other then that this book was fantastic, and really started things off with a bang. New characters are absolutely fantastic - PAD has for me always been brilliant at creating characters - and other then Jellico, all the TV characters come off well.
    Idran likes this.
  6. Deranged Nasat

    Deranged Nasat Vice Admiral Admiral

    I think that's it exactly: someone who was antagonistic and recognisable. As you say, though, Jellico wasn't that type of antagonist, he was a disciplined starship commander whose style wasn't entirely compatible with the one the crew were used to, which led to some mutual discomfort. He generates conflict in Chain of Command, but he's not an obstacle, the way he is here. Objectively, Jellico isn't objectionable in the episodes at all, other than the fact that he isn't Picard and doesn't do things Picard's way.

    His character also contributed to the low-burning theme in later TNG seasons that officers who had experience on the Cardassian border were more hard-nosed and no-nonsense than their fellows, which I appreciate. It helps make the Trek 'verse more lived-in and three-dimensional.

    Also, he reminded Troi that she was a qualified Starfleet officer and got her out of silly dresses and into the uniform, where she belonged.

    Of course, Jellico can be forgiven in light of the great characterization elsewhere in New Frontier. Like I said, Soleta is a favourite of mine, and I found Calhoun surprisingly enjoyable and intriguing - surprising because I suspect that any attempted description of the character to an ignorant me would sound very much like a character I wouldn't like.
    historypeats likes this.
  7. Enterprise1701

    Enterprise1701 Commodore Commodore

    Mar 24, 2014
    Sol III, Sector 001, 2063 C.E.
    Anyone else besides me object to the Thallonian Empire only occupying "Sector 221-G"? How can there be at least a dozen probably more different inhabited homeworlds all conquered by the Thallonians within the "G" part of a sector?

    But that's a trivial matter compared to House of Cards being a stellar pilot novel. If only Xenexians were different enough from humans to be worth having an emoticon on the Trek BBS. If only New Frontier remained this good throughout its run.
  8. JD

    JD Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Jul 22, 2004
    Arizona, USA
    I had to vote outstanding. This was the first adult Star Trek novel I ever read and for that reason alone it will always be special to me.
    Despite the fact that the series did eventually suffer a drop in qualify, it really did get off to a great start. Even after having read almost a hundred other ST novels, the first five or six NF books are still some of my favorites.
  9. Paris

    Paris Commodore Commodore

    Dec 29, 2008
    In the future's past
    I remember being a teenager and picking up all four of the first books at the same time and enjoying them immensly. I really dug Calhoun and how he tied into the Star Trek universe along side some of our favorites like Picard, and i really liked how PAD presented this new crew. I still love these books to this day, although I haven't done a re-read in awhile. Maybe after i'm through with the DS9-R i'll dive back in :)
  10. Mizrach

    Mizrach Lieutenant Red Shirt

    Feb 1, 2017
    Just finished the novel and I agree with the points presented in this thread.
    This is mature Star Trek at it's best, with gore, sex and anti-hero protagonists. The novel flow like a river even without epic battle. Characterization is the best I found until now in TrekLit, my only complain is Jellico, I really like him in TNG, not so much in this novel because it's the only "villain" in the last part of the book.
    Overall this is the best pilot of any ST series, I hope the quality stay this high throughout the novels.
    Idran likes this.
  11. Thrawn

    Thrawn Rear Admiral Premium Member

    Jun 15, 2008
    Washington, DC
    New Frontier is pretty uniformly excellent until Stone and Anvil, which in hindsight I think should have just been the finale. After that the books skip ahead a couple years, and beginning with After the Fall, things deteriorate. There are some good moments in the books from After the Fall onward, but the arcs don't land as well as what came before, and the characters start to act wrong.
  12. Stevil2001

    Stevil2001 Vice Admiral Admiral

    Dec 7, 2001
    I think if I was rereading the series, I'd jump ship after Cold War, which is the last one I remember actually enjoying before I gave it all up (with Missing in Action).
  13. King Daniel Beyond

    King Daniel Beyond Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Nov 5, 2008
    King Daniel Beyond
    I remember liking this when I first read it, but specifics are vague.
  14. Thrawn

    Thrawn Rear Admiral Premium Member

    Jun 15, 2008
    Washington, DC
    Really? I thought Stone and Anvil was one of the best Trek books ever.
    Jinn likes this.
  15. Jinn

    Jinn Mistress of the Chaotic Energies Rear Admiral

    Dec 22, 2015
    The NF novels in 2376 are by far my favorites.
  16. Stevil2001

    Stevil2001 Vice Admiral Admiral

    Dec 7, 2001
    I just read the entry for it on MA, and I remember nothing about it other than one scene. So who knows if I liked it or not. But I do remember Gods Above and Being Human as dull/uninteresting.
  17. Csalem

    Csalem Commodore Commodore

    Mar 28, 2006
    Dublin, Ireland
    I probably would stop at Stone and Anvil too. Although around Cold War is where it seems every book had to deal with extremely impossible odds and became less about sector-specific issues. It was better when more tightly focused on the characters, which is why Stone and Anvil was a nice return to that sort of story, dealing with how Shelby and Mac met.
  18. DarKush

    DarKush Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Nov 18, 2005

    Cool that you're bringing back these retro reviews. I guess New Frontier is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year or will soon. I though the early books, including House of Cards, were very entertaining. But the series started to lose me when they did the trilogy around book nine. I wound up skipping that and coming back afterwards, but it wasn't quite the same. I quit the series either with Treason or Blind Man's Bluff. I know I didn't read the last book, The Returned. I also missed some of the tie-in books. Of those, I remember really liking Once Burned and also Double or Nothing.
  19. Idran

    Idran Commodore Premium Member

    Apr 17, 2011
    That wasn't actually Defcon; this thread was from about 3 years ago. :p

    Not attacking the thread revival, review thread and all, just giving credit where it's due to @Mizrach!
  20. DarKush

    DarKush Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Nov 18, 2005
    Well, thanks to Defcon and @Mizrach.
    Idran likes this.