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Star Trek TNG: Gods of Night: Destiny Book 1
David Mack
Pocket Books, 430 pages

Star Trek TNG: Gods of Night: Destiny Book 1
David Mack
David Mack has been to shows in every Rush concert tour since 1982, and he finally met two-thirds of the band in 2007. He currently resides in New York City with his wife, Kara.

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A review by Michael M Jones


"This is a clash of civilizations... and it will end when one of us falls."
—Captain Jean-Luc Picard
The Federation is in danger once again, as the Borg have renewed their attacks with a new, vicious enthusiasm, aiming for annihilation rather than assimilation. Entire worlds have already fallen beneath their relentless fury, and the Federation's resources are rapidly being stretched to their limits. But not all hope is lost. On several different starships, Starfleet's finest minds continue to seek out new ways to combat their enemy.

On the U.S.S. Enterprise, Captain Picard wrestles with his internal demons, fighting the Borg on the outside and his long history with them on the inside. He's finally starting a family with his new wife and longtime love, Doctor Beverly Crusher, but what future will their child have? Picard's unique relationship with the Borg gives him insights into their battle strategy, but will Picard be able to stop them from launching a devastating assault?

On the U.S.S. Titan, Captain William Riker investigates the secret of the Borg's new ability to travel across the galaxy near-instantaneously, even as he and his wife, Deanna Troi, worry about their own inability to conceive a child. Will they be too distracted by personal matters to attend to the crisis at hand? And what secrets will the Titan discover as it plunges into uncharted territories?

On the U.S.S. Aventine, Captain Ezri Dax and her crew study the mystery of the Columbia, one of Earth's first starships, found crashed and abandoned deep in the Gamma Quadrant. Could the fate of this long-lost ship unlock vital secrets that might help the Federation win the war at hand?

Finally, told in flashbacks, the story of the Columbia, how it was lost in the first place and what happened to its crew, unfolds, granting insights into a previously-untold period of Earth's history. Both separately and together, these threads tell the opening act of a new Star Trek epic, one in which the stakes are as high as they've ever been.

As a casual Star Trek fan, I've been enjoying the recent batch of books detailing the fates and adventures of Starfleet's best and brightest post-Nemesis. We've seen them grow and change, find romance or earn promotions, and go off in new and interesting territory. We've seen the attempts to build a new Enterprise command crew following the death or departures of several core members. And now we're seeing yet more change and progress as the books throw the setting into all-out war, in a way we haven't seen since the Dominion War some years back. It really looks as though they're ramping up to deal with the Borg once and for all in this trilogy, and David Mack proves himself quite capable of handling the task at hand.

Mack does a very good job of capturing the voices of the characters -- when Picard rails against the Borg, you can hear Patrick Stewart delivering the lines, and when Worf makes with the Klingon warrior-stoicism, it's Michael Dorn's voice drifting off the page. The lesser characters get their time to shine, though with such a sprawling cast, it's understandable that many of them only get a little time to shine. Dax's crew on the Aventine, in particular, come off as fairly anonymous, but several of the Titan crew really ring true as characters I'd love to read more about. As for the Columbia's personnel, they get plenty of time to show off their strengths and weaknesses.

One theme which runs through the book is that of family. The twin storylines of Picard and Crusher, and Troi and Riker, represent two sides of the same coin, but numerous other characters either deal with their families, or worry about their families back home, to the point where it's about as subtle as a hammer. It's a rare jarring note in an otherwise entertaining story, but it does get a little overwhelming at times.

There's a lot to keep track of in this book. Not only do we have four different ships with their own storylines, but we're also treated to assorted little scenes that pick up on what's going on with the Klingons, the Federation, and the U.S.S. Voyager, helping to convey the impression of this event as widespread and impacting every corner of the Star Trek universe. Luckily, Mack keeps it from collapsing under its own weight, and sets things up nicely for the remainder of the trilogy. And there's the main problem: not only is this the first in a trilogy, it's picking up on storylines begun in previous books (and series). Didn't know Riker and Troi were trying to have a baby? Didn't know Picard and Crusher was married? Didn't know Ezri Dax had her own ship? Surprise! I can't in good conscience recommend this book as a jumping-on point for new readers, or even lapsed readers, since it would be like discovering a show mid-season, after all the major characters and plotlines are well in motion. It's a well-written, gripping read that captures all the 'gosh-wow' excitement, strange new worlds and boldly going where no man has gone before that I've always associated with the spirit of Star Trek, but it also relies on decades of continuity. Worse still, there's been enough change in recent years to create a sense of dissonance for those fans returning to the fold after some time away.

Of course, that caveat aside, I'm happy to point to this book and say that it's a great example of Star Trek, and I really liked it. I'll definitely be reading the rest of the trilogy, and the books that follow to see what lies ahead for our heroes.

Copyright © 2008 Michael M Jones

Michael M Jones enjoys an addiction to books, for which he's glad there is no cure. He lives with his very patient wife (who doesn't complain about books taking over the house... much), eight cats, and a large plaster penguin that once tasted blood and enjoyed it. A prophecy states that when Michael finishes reading everything on his list, he'll finally die. He aims to be immortal.

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