VAN: Reap the Whirlwind by David Mack Review Thread (Spoilers!)

Discussion in 'Trek Literature' started by Sho, Jun 23, 2012.

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Rate Reap the Whirlwind.

  1. Outstanding

    29 vote(s)
    80.6%
  2. Above Average

    6 vote(s)
    16.7%
  3. Average

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  4. Below Average

    1 vote(s)
    2.8%
  5. Poor

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  1. Sho

    Sho Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    [​IMG]

    Released in 2007, Reap the Whirlwind is the third installment in the Vanguard series of books, and the second to be written by series co-creator David Mack. A lot of threads set up in Harbinger, Summon the Thunder and Distant Early Warning coil together here, and the fog starts to lift with force from one of the series' central antagonists, the ancient Shedai civilization. It's a powerful ride that has, in Mr. Mack's own words, some of the characters hit rock bottom along the way.

    Here's the official Simon & Schuster blurb's take on it:

    And an excerpt from the book: http://books.simonandschuster.com/S...Mack/Star-Trek-Vanguard/9781416560753/excerpt

    Finally, a note about spoiler policy: This review thread is for a book that, at the time of posting, is several years old and which has several sequels. While discussing the book's events and merits in hindsight of those sequels is expected to be part of the appeal of the thread, please be mindful of readers who are reading the series for the first time (such as myself :)). Refer to facts from later installments obliquely if you can, and consider to surround critical information with spoiler tags. But don't strain yourself too much all the same - beware ye who enter here, of possible spoilers!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 5, 2012
  2. Sho

    Sho Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Re: Vanguard: Reap the Whirlwind by David Mack Review Thread (Spoilers

    I'm finding it very hard to write nearly as much about this one as I did in my reviews of earlier installments of the series (see my takes on HAR, STT and DEW), mostly because there's awfully little to complain about here :).

    It does struggle a little to get going in the beginning (which I didn't really mind, though, because the O'Halloran/Anderson bits were hilarious - speaking of which, I do wish all that setup had paid off a little later in the story, though I'll grant there wasn't really any room to cut away from the action by then), but once it commits - wow, what a ride! Whereas I was disappointed with how little Summon the Thunder seemed to actually move things forward, Reap kept one-upping itself and taking things further than I expected, and not only in terms of plotting but more importantly also conceptually: It finally made the Shedai and the meta-genome interesting to think about, substantiating the potential only asserted by earlier chapters of the saga and thus addressing just about its last major element I was feeling queasy about.

    And there's just an awful lot of personal wish fulfilment going on here, too: The quirky Sagittarius crew, favorites from Harbinger, takes center stage for much of the action, Tim Pennington's rollercoaster of a life continues with bittersweet redemption, and reality starts intruding on the still a bit too larger-than-life for me T'Prynn in the form of an inquisitive doctor ...

    There's really just one story thread that falls flat-out short of its potential, I think, and that's Xiong's private adventure. It ultimately just doesn't seem to amount to much, neither in terms of what it contributes to events nor in terms of what it does to the character, who three books in still doesn't feel very defined. And the thing is that I love what I call "artifact stories", that is Rendezvous with Rama-style examination of alien objects or environments, and this seemed like a ripe opportunity for such a tale, but there's very little in the way of details about the Tholian ship in there.

    Overall, though, Reap the Whirlwind makes for a very satisfying chunk of reading time, and parts two to three flow along spectacularly well. It doesn't have the sort of structural cleverness of Harbinger, but it feels so sure of itself regardless, even driven, that it just won't stand for you putting it down. Simply put, it's Outstanding.
     
  3. David Mack

    David Mack Writer Commodore

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    Re: Vanguard: Reap the Whirlwind by David Mack Review Thread (Spoilers

    ^ Thanks for your review. I'll just say in response to your dissatisfaction with Ming Xiong's story line that, while many of the novel's other arcs represented culminations of previous setups, the Xiong story line in Reap the Whirlwind is actually just the first step on a long arc that will carry all the way through to the series' finale, Storming Heaven. You're still seeing only the beginning of his journey.
     
  4. Sho

    Sho Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Re: Vanguard: Reap the Whirlwind by David Mack Review Thread (Spoilers

    Aye, thanks :). His final chapter in the book certainly promises some interesting days ahead for him. I guess looking back on it there has been a bit of a build-up toward him having to openly take a stand one way or the other about the Taurus Reach mission, too, given his concerns about the way things are run, and Dr. Marcus may be just the unstable element to force his hand (and perhaps not into the direction he once would have expected, given his revelation about the genome's potential uses).

    By the way: Seeing Dr. Marcus enter the stage was a real "Of course! That makes so much sense!" moment. One of the best and most convincing tie-ins into canon I've come across so far, three books and a novella worth of work paying off there :). Great idea! Was that something you and Marco worked out together in advance, or did you come up with it while writing Reap? I'd love to know more about the - wait for it - genesis there.

    (I realize I could probably find the answer in the recently-released series bible, but the risk of being spoiled is just too high ... sorry for asking you to retread years old stuff here. But then, a work like Vanguard is going to find new readers for years to come!)
     
  5. shanejayell

    shanejayell Captain Captain

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    Re: Vanguard: Reap the Whirlwind by David Mack Review Thread (Spoilers

    *tosses a vote in*

    I rated it above average. :D

    I really need to reread the whole series again....
     
  6. captcalhoun

    captcalhoun Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Vanguard: Reap the Whirlwind by David Mack Review Thread (Spoilers

    it's Outstanding.
     
  7. David Mack

    David Mack Writer Commodore

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    Re: Vanguard: Reap the Whirlwind by David Mack Review Thread (Spoilers

    Without giving away spoilers: Yes, her inclusion as a supporting player in the Vanguard saga was planned from the very beginning, in the series bible. As are many other links to original-series and TOS-movie-era canon.
     
  8. Kertrats47

    Kertrats47 Commodore Commodore

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    Re: Vanguard: Reap the Whirlwind by David Mack Review Thread (Spoilers

    This was the first Vanguard novel I reviewed for my blog. Simply put: it was outstanding. I had been enjoying the Vanguard series up to this point, but Reap the Whirlwind really was the book that made me sit up and take notice! After reading it, I really knew Vanguard was going to be something special.

    Link to my review (from about a year ago).
     
  9. JD

    JD Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Vanguard: Reap the Whirlwind by David Mack Review Thread (Spoilers

    I haven't read it since it first came out so I don't have the clearest memories of it, other than that I thought it was absolutely incredible, and would without hesitation say it is one of my favorite books I have ever read. As you can probably guess, I voted outstanding.
     
  10. Sho

    Sho Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Re: Vanguard: Reap the Whirlwind by David Mack Review Thread (Spoilers

    Really curious who voted "Below Average" & what they felt didn't work about the book ...
     
  11. Patrick O'Brien

    Patrick O'Brien Captain Captain

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    Re: Vanguard: Reap the Whirlwind by David Mack Review Thread (Spoilers

    Great book:bolian: Voted Outstanding!
     
  12. starri

    starri Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    Re: Vanguard: Reap the Whirlwind by David Mack Review Thread (Spoilers

    It's hard for me to say which of the VGD books is best, because they were all so good, but I think Reap the Whirlwind might be my favorite, simply because I love the crew of the Sagittarius and we get to spend so much time with them.

    It also kicks off some story arcs for T'Prynn and Pennington, and those two stories are my favorite part of VGD.

    Also, while the end of the scene is traumatic, the moment where T'Prynn tells Quinn that, because of what he'd done for the Sagittarius that she'd paid off all his debts and that he was free, it gets me every time.
     
  13. Deranged Nasat

    Deranged Nasat Vice Admiral Admiral

    Re: Vanguard: Reap the Whirlwind by David Mack Review Thread (Spoilers

    Agreed. :) All the more satisfying in my case given that I truly hadn't considered the meta-genome in the context of the wider Trek 'verse before this. When Marcus shows up, it's a true "aha!" moment, and genuinely exciting. Here I realized just how much thought and effort was feeding into the series - it wasn't just a fun multi-book adventure fleshing out the mid-23rd century, it was consciously weaving itself into the established universe with purpose, bolstering prior stories in an unobtrusive way. Its events had significance beyond the confines of the novels - but without detracting from the self-contained strength of those novels. That's exactly how good tie-in fiction should work.
     
  14. Basill

    Basill Captain Captain

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    I voted outstanding. I loved Harbinger and was hooked with it, but Reap the Whirlwind was the first one I simply couldn't put down.
     
  15. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

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    Finished re-reading this one about two weeks ago. An excellent novel about institutional guilt and corruption, and the corrupting nature of secrets and the false god of national security.
     
  16. Thrawn

    Thrawn Rear Admiral Premium Member

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    My god, this book was good.

    (I'm re-reading Vanguard on my way to Seekers, and I just had to say. Good lord.)
     
  17. Claudia

    Claudia Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I voted "Above Average" because while it was very exciting, it didn't quite hit the outstanding-level for me... or rather, it hit it too late into the novel, I guess.

    I think what bothered me about the Vanguard-series up to that point was the moral ambiguity by the SF-characters. T'Prynn and Reyes' actions against Pennington were just despicable. There's no other word for it, even if they might have been warranted by the situation/orders/whatever. And of course, the willful ruination of a person happens in reality "for the greater good", but that's why I read Star Trek because I kind of like to have the illusion that society can grow above all those petty, immoral decisions (not withstanding that DS9 already started to darken that illusion by Section 31 or even Sisko's actions). So I really appreciated the show conscience on Reyes' part especially, but also that this show of conscience - not in the least caused by the terrible choice he had to make surrounding Gamma Tauri IV - had consequences for him in return.

    I enjoyed the events on Jinoteur (even though Sagitarius' crew is a bit... quirky for me. There are only so many one-liners I can stand.) very much, especially now in retrospect after having read Open Secrets. Who's really the bad guy among the Shedai? What's the Apostate's agenda? I thought it very interesting that SF is viewing the Apostate as some kind of good guy, whereas for the Tholians (Nesrene) he's the absolute evil as he was the one to enslave them. Again, at least that's my impression from Open Secrets.

    Overall, I felt as though the plotthreads start coming together. With Marcus' appearance it becomes clearer what the meta-genome is about. The mythical Shedai come out from under the shadows, the race for mastery of their technology between the Klingons and the Federation is on (with contributions from other races), and the main SF-protagonists so far (Reyes and T'Prynn) were given a heart and a conscience fighting their own demons - literally and figuratively.

    Great book - definitely the turning point in this to me so far lackluster series.
     
  18. Dimesdan

    Dimesdan Living the Irish dream. Premium Member

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    I decided to kinda do this, just reread What Judgements Come and Storming Heaven before reading Seekers.

    From what I remember of Reap the Whirlwind, it was excellent and by far, one of the best Trek novels written and was a real "game changer" for the Vanguard series. Of course, I'm not sure if I've ever read a Mack story that was below very good.