Well after what I said about big explosions and space battles in the last review, that's exactly how this book begins, thankfully, the Excalibur escapes without being destroyed (phew), and the attacking side offer to resettle the refugees our side picked up in the last book...Aww now isn't that nice of them? I mean how benevolent can you get? This race is from the planet Nelkar or something, it's a wonder they aren't from Greece bearing rather extravagant wooden gifts...
The refugees are really chuffed at the offer and even say that they will name their next generation of children after the Nelkarites...Isn't that nice eh? I think Mary Untrustworthy Bastard has a nice ring to it, don't you? Oh sorry did I forget to mention that these Nelkarites aren't to be trusted? Sorry I should have made that clear earlier on...To this books credit the crew of the Excalibur know that something doesn't quite add up, this culminates in a scene where Lefler says "I think I'm going to be ill" because of the Nelkarites sickly sweetness.
"We will kill the refugees. All of them. Men, women, children...makes not difference."
Well as plot twists go it isn't all that unexpected, but what the hell, I like it. It's about time in this series we had a megalomaniac psycho killer, Trek just doesn't have enough of them, at least not many that manage to become Captains...Calhoun you see doesn't take threats kindly and so for the cliff-hanger of this book says, "Kill them all, I don't care."
Forget what I said about Calhoun before, he's nothing like Picard and only like Sisko, if Sisko was having a really, really bad day, and had in fact been taken over by a genocidic Founder.
There is a sub-plot to this book, involving Kebron and Si Cwan in their Runabout but I don't think I really need to go into that, I mean, I'm hoping you'll be reading this review because you were thinking of reading the book at some point, I don't want to ruin the entire plot. Call me lazy if you must.
Anyway on to the review...
Did I like this book? Uh Hu! I liked it a lot, in fact under normal circumstances I think it'd be a candidate for full marks, but no it's only getting four pips. The reason is because of what comes next, forget any images you have of Calhoun mounting a daring escape plan. Forget him leaving the system and letting those innocents die, you weirdoes at the back there! The resolution is much more satisfying than all that, in fact I'd say it is downright logical. It's something I'd have done and I get the feeling that it hasn't been done in modern Trek simply because it doesn't make good (being a subjective term, the producers seem to think it mean big explosions and BLAM! noises) TV.
Anyway I'm ahead of myself, this book is good apart from the unnecessary space battle at the beginning. Sure we've had similar situations to this in Trek, but this seems to put a new slant on them, Calhoun knows what Laheera (The Nelkarites spokesperson) is thinking, the reason being, he has been Laheera, he knows there is no point in negotiating, he believes the only answer to violence is violence. It's a stalemate of sorts, and a notion I find intriguing and interesting, and even if I couldn't find any other merits to this book (I can) I'm still recommending it to everyone I know just for the last chapter. Buy it at your peril because it'll cost you the money to get the next in the series, just to find out what happens.