An original novel set in the universe of Star Trek: Voyager from New York Times bestselling author Kirsten Beyer—and the sequel to Atonement and Acts of Contrition!
The Full Circle Fleet has resumed its unprecedented explorations of the Delta Quadrant and former Borg space. Commander Liam O’Donnell of the U.S.S. Demeter makes a promising first contact with the Nihydron—humanoid aliens that are collectors of history. They rarely interact with the species they study but have created a massive database of numerous races, inhabited planets, and the current geopolitical landscape of a large swath of the quadrant. When an exchange of data is proposed via a formal meeting, the Nihydron representatives are visibly shaken when Admiral Kathryn Janeway greets them. For almost a century, two local species—the Rilnar and the Zahl—have fought for control of the nearby planet Sormana, with both sides claiming it as their ancestral homeworld. The shocking part is that for the last several years, the Rilnar have been steadily gaining ground, thanks to the tactics of their current commanding officer: a human woman, who appears to be none other than Kathryn Janeway herself…
Opinion: Time travel and the multiverse. This sort of thing can give you a headache if you think about it too much. Fortunately I enjoy it. This book involves three of the species from the episode A Year of Hell. For those of you not familiar with the episode, Voyager encountered a species called the Krenim. A Krenim scientist have created a Weldon that was capable of erasing objects, people, civilizations from time. The scientist was trying to make his people the most powerful species in the sector. But by erasing species (enemies) it had some unintended side effects namely his wife and Provence was wiped out. This scientist had created temporal shields for his ship so they would not experience the effect of the changes being made. They spent a couple of hundred years trying to undo the damage before Voyager stumbled onto them. Voyager was a wild card that threw the temporal calculations off. So naturally he tried to destroy Voyager. It was a rough year for the drew, but in the end Janeway destroyed that ship erasing it from the timeline and thereby resetting everything.
Once the timeline was restored, the Krenim didn’t tamper with the timeline as much. But there was two particular species that they were hell bent on annihilating- the Zahl and Rilnar. This book explores why the Krenim wanted to destroy these species.
As far as the other Janeway, well if you’ve read Star Trek Voyager: the Eternal Tide, then you know that every Janeway in the multiverse died on the exact same day. This othe Janeway died but then was revived. Very interesting as to why this occurred. Let’s just say our favorite letter of the alphabet is back.
We catch up with Tom and B’lanna who have had a son Michael Owen. The book explores more the aftermath of the effects on Nancy Conlon after her brutal alien takeover in Atonement ( I need to post this review).
It’s kill or be killed in the space penitentiary that houses the galaxy’s worst criminals, where convicts face off in gladiatorial combat while an underworld gambling empire reaps the profits of the illicit blood sport. But the newest contender in this savage arena, as demonic to behold as he is deadly to challenge, is fighting for more than just survival. His do-or-die mission, for the dark masters he serves, is to capture the ultimate weapon: an object that will enable the Sith to conquer the galaxy.
Sith lords Darth Plagueis and Darth Sidious are determined to possess the prize. And one of the power-hungry duo has his own treacherous plans for it. But first, their fearsome apprentice must take on a bloodthirsty prison warden, a cannibal gang, cutthroat crime lord Jabba the Hutt, and an unspeakable alien horror. No one else could brave such a gauntlet of death and live. But no one else is the dreaded dark-side disciple known as Darth Maul.
Bluestocking’s Opinion: This book did something that I never thought was possible. It humanized Darth Maul. I recall that in one of the other Star WArs books, Count Dooku referred to Maul as an “animal.” For the most part that is correct, but Maul showed surprising compassion (though I doubt he’d call it that) on two separate occasions. This book also showed a vulnerability to Maul. He lived for his Master’s praise. It bothered him when or if he didn’t do something to meet his master’s expectation. That also surprised me. Reading some of the other Star Wars books and seeing the movie, he always seemed to have a swagger about him; there was no doubt that he would complete his mission.
There were two story lines that I would like continued: 1. whether or not he takes the boy he rescued as an Apprentice and 2. whether Vosa becomes a potential love interest. Wow!! Darth Maul in love, now that’s a scary thought.
Like others of Joe Schreiber’s works there was the out of control monster- Wolf Worm. Mr. Schreiber’s books seem to have a common element. It seems to be a group of people locked in a small space who are pitted against each other. There’s always some all consuming power roaming the area.
Han Solo, Leia Organa Solo, and Luke Skywalker return in an all-new Star Wars adventure, which will challenge them in ways they never expected—and forever alter their understanding of life and the Force.
When Han and Leia Solo arrive at Lando Calrissian’s Outer Rim mining operation to help him thwart a hostile takeover, their aim is just to even up the odds and lay down the law. Then monstrous aliens arrive with a message, and mere threats escalate into violent sabotage with mass fatalities. When the dust settles, what began as corporate warfare becomes a battle with much higher stakes—and far deadlier consequences.
Now Han, Leia, and Luke team up once again in a quest to defeat a dangerous adversary bent on galaxy-wide domination. Only this time, the Empire is not the enemy. It is a pair of ruthless geniuses with a lethal ally and a lifelong vendetta against Han Solo. And when the murderous duo gets the drop on Han, he finds himself outgunned in the fight of his life. To save him, and the galaxy, Luke and Leia must brave a gauntlet of treachery, terrorism, and the untold power of an enigmatic artifact capable of bending space, time, and even the Force itself into an apocalyptic nightmare.
Bluestocking’s Learned Opinion: I feel really bad because I haven’t reviewed the last Star Wars books that have come out. The Crucible sets the stage for the next story arc in the Star Wars universe. I can tell from this book that it is going to be a major change. Luke, Leia, and Han Solo have been fixtures in the Star Wars universe. Finally they are passing the torch on to the next generation. It’s about time too! I mean, this book takes place 45 years after Star Wars: A New Hope. In that book, Luke and Leia were 18 which means they are about 63 now. They cannot handle all the adventures that are being thrown their way. Not to mention, they can’t recover from injuries the way that they used to. Vestara Khai is back. I’m sure in the end she will renounce her Sith ways and marry Ben Skywalker, but I’m sure that the writers will drag it out quite a bit. Tahiri is also back. Jaina Solo became a Jedi Master in the last book. I’m hoping we see motherhood in her future.This whole Force Monolith thing is going to be interesting. It appears that there is more than one. The monolith has the ability to give Force abilities to non-Force sensitive people. This of course spells trouble.
1: a vessel of a very refractory material (as porcelain) used for melting and calcining a substance that requires a high degree of heat
2: a severe test
3: a place or situation in which concentrated forces interact to cause or influence change or development
I think the title of this book was particularly apt because all three definitions of the word crucible applied in this book. I think Luke, Leia, and Han faced their greatest test and realized that they had to change. Physically, they could not go back. The Force had forever changed all three of them. I saw an interesting tie between this story and Star Wars Dawn of the Jedi: Into the Void. In the Dawn of the Jedi, the series is really getting into the beginnings of the Light/Dark side of the Force. The thing is Light/Dark isn’t necessarily good/evil. Nature has creative forces and destructive forces, but the destructive forces (for example a wild fire) aren’t necessarily evil. In fact some destructive forces are necessary to pave the way for new life. Luke realizes that at a certain point. It is all about balance.
Anyway, I’m eager to see where the new story arc goes.
Spoiler Filled Synopsis: This book takes place immediately following Precipice. As you know, Diego Reyes, the Commodore of the station, was court-martialed. for allowing Tim Pennington to publish a report about what was really going on in the Taurus Reach. Reyes was supposed to be sent to a penal colony with the Federation, but ended up being captured by the Klingons and then finally was with the Orions- specifically he was being housed on the Orion ship that was docked to Vanguard station. Starfleet couldn’t do anything about it. So in order to extract Reyes, the Orions would have actually had to harm him.
Anyway, as you know the character Bridy Mac was killed in Declassified. She and Quinn went to a planet where the Shedai Apostate existed. The Apostate told them that the TKon empire had developed some devices that could capture the Shedai. Bridy sacrificed her life to keep this knowledge from falling into the hand of the Kingons. Quinn is still mourning. T’Prynn decides to use Reyes as a spy. The Orions had a device that could imprison the Shedai, and Starfleet wanted to know where they obtained the device. Reyes agreed to be the spy to get the information. T’Prynn does manage to extract Reyes. They discover the world where the Orions found the devices and dispatch a ship to obtain more.
Meanwhile, some of the crew attempt to communicate with the Shedai Wanderer who had been imprisoned in one of the devices. The reader discovers that the Wanderer is imprisoned with the Progenitor. The attempt at communication disrupted the device to the point that the Wanderer was able to escape.
This entire story is told flash back style by Reyes. Starfleet gave him a new identity and banished him from the Federation. Tim Pennington tracked him down. The last book is called Storming Heaven, and it is told from Pennington’s point of view about the last days of the station.
Bluestocking’s Learned Opinion: This is definitely not one of my favorite series. There is a lot of set up in this series. I am imagining that some of these events will play a bigger part in books to come. I enjoyed learning more about the Tkon Empire. There was a 3 story arc featuring this empire. In that arc, Q takes Picard on a tour of his life to show him why he tests humanity. Q meets another non-corporeal entity who appears to be Shedai. From what was revealed by the Apostate, the Shedai caused the Tkon sun to go nova. In that arc, that non-corporeal entity destroyed the Tkon sun. The Tkon were very advance. They had built a huge transporter device to replace their sun with a new star. I will be interested in seeing the last book. Capturing the Shedai just does not seem like a very good idea at all.
This is the third book in the Time to Be Born series. Over 200 years ago, the Dokaalan sent a probe into outer space. Their world was doomed. They were calling out to anyone who could help them. The Vulcan’s found the message first. After examining the probe, they determined that the incidence had happened in the past and that the world had already been destroyed. At that point, Earth was still dealing with the Xindi. Not to mention, it didn’t have any long range ships like that.
Fresh from the Rashanar fiasco, the Enterprise is assigned to investigate this mystery. They discover a remainder of the Dokaalan people struggling to survive on an asteroid. This book starts off more leisurely. They gave a lot of background on the people. It’s done primarily through the journal of character Hjatyn.
Anyway, the Enterprise steps in when one of the reactor cores of the mining facilities. The crew offer technology that will help the Dokaalan speed up their terraforming project. During the crews visit with this race, it becomes readily apparent that something is not right. While Crusher is treating the Dokaalan injured when the react blew, they started showing systemic failure in their bodies. Even though their injuries were healed, they were slowly dying. In addition some of the Dokaalan, especially those on the ruling counsel, don’t trust the crew. Finally, it seems that someone is trying to sabotage the Dokaalan’s mining facility, not to mention deactivate Data. The plot thickens even more when LaForge and Taurik discover that some of the Dokaalan have first generation phaser pistols from the Federation. It seems that at least some of the Dokaalan have outside contacts. When the book ends, there are several terrorist strikes on the asteroids, and hundreds are dead or dying. So the crew must discover what is going on in this system.
This story takes place soon after Return of the Jedi but prior to Han and Leia getting married. The death of the Emperor and Darth Vader has only served to fracture the the Empire. There are splinters that still need to be stamped out by the New Republic. The most dangerous of the factions is lead by Lord Shadowspawn who appears to have been on of the Emperor’s lieutenants. He and his shadowtroopers operate out of Mindor, a planet. Shadowspawn has made this particular planetary system hazardous by laying gravity mines as well as gravity interdictors. What this means is that any New Republic ships can only get so close before they are pulled out of hypespace.
Skywalker plus a good sized portion of the New Republic fleet go to Mindor. These shadow pirates overwhelm them. In fact Luke is forced to crash land his capital ship on the planet. It appears that Lord Shadowspawn’s design is to have Luke be crowned the new emperor. So he manipulates Luke into his lair. But of course, LUke doesn’t want to be the new emperor. So Luke and Shadowspawn fight. Luke senses that Shadowspawn’s intent is that Luke kill so of course Luke doesn’t oblige. He defeats the man and discovers through the Force that the man under the Shadowspawn headdress isn’t realy Shadowspawn- just a puppet being controlled by someone else. Of course the real brains of this operation incapacitates Luke. The real Shadowspawn had been in the Outerrim. It turns out that he belonged to some sort of philosophical group that believes that the Force is Dark. Since all things die, the end goal is destruction of everything. Shadowspawn believes that the reason the Emperor failed because he stopped destroying and tried ruling. Lord Shadowspawn has also mastered many Sith alchemy techiques. Strangely enough though, he does not seem to have force abilities like telekenisis.
Anyway, Leia, who is in the middle of negotiations, senses that Luke is in trouble, so Han and Chewie rush to his aid. Leia leaves the negotiations to Lando to help. When Lando finds out, he quickly settles the negotiations and joins the group as well. Anyway, Shadowspawn realizes after Luke escapes that he didn’t plan very well. But not to worry, he discovers that Luke has a twin who is on the planet so he goes after Leia. But he isn’t able to control her either. It seems Shadowspawn created this lattice that binds itself to a person’s nervous system. He intended to transfer his consciousness to Luke and then Leia and take over the galaxy himself. Luke is able to defeat Shadowspawn once and for all, the planet implodes, and all the good guys get away.
This story is different from the rest in the series. It read like a drama. In the beginning of the story Luke asks an investigator to gather evidence against him. See in all the destruction over 50,000 died. Luke feels responsible. In addition, everyone and their moms is cashing in on Luke and Han’s fame by making movies and adventure stories about them. Some details went awry- like the fact that Darth Vader killed the Emperor because he was jealous that Luke was going to take his spot; and that Luke killed Vader in revenge. The man who investigates Luke, instead of coming back with a serious report writes the novel Luke Skywalker and the Shadows of Mindor. So it’s a story within a story. How does this fit into the Star Wars universe? I don’t know. Maybe some of that Sith alchemy will make its way into the galaxy and cause more problem. All of the Star Wars tales are related, so this one will be too. This story was just ok for me. It was light and breezy, and it partially quenched my Star Wars thirst till Star Wars Coruscant Nights III Pattern of Force came out on January 27, 2009.
So now it is time to turn to Star Trek. Many of you are probably familiar with Capt. Picard who was played by Patrick Steward. So we’ll start with some tales from early in his captaining career. Picard became the youngest captain in Starfleet- even younger than James T. Kirk. He received a battle field promotion from an Admiral who retired soon after. Most other captains and one Admiral McAteer resented it. In McAteer’s case, he decided to make and idiot of Picard to have a reason to remove his captaincy.
So the crew of the Stargazer (or the crew around which the story revolves) are Picard, Gilead Ben Zoma (first officer), Phil Greyhorse (doctor), Chief Weapons Officer Vigo, Idun Asmund (helm), Pug Joseph (security), Phigus Simenon (engineering), and Gerda Asmund (navigation).
So Admiral McAteer holds a sector wide meeting to bring all the Captain’s up to speed on how he plans to run the sector. He decides to deal with an ongoing problem in the sector- the pirate White Wolf. The White Wolf had been raiding Starfleet ships and eluding them in the Beta Barritus system. The Beta Barritus star system is unique in that the primary star was classified Lazarus meaning that the start had burned up all of its energy source. Rather than die, the star had managed to resurrect itself. This sort of star reeks havoc on sensors. This time the White Wolf raided a cargo ship carrying exotic and endangered flora headed for research at Starfleet Medical. McAteer decided that the White Wolf needed to be taken care of and the supplies recovered. He decided that Picard was the man because as a young captain he would have a “new” approach.
Well Picard does go after the White Wolf. He used extraordinarily inventive means to overcome the technical difficulties that region of space caused. He had almost made it to the White Wolfs lair when he ran into Denton Greenbriar, the most decorated captain in the fleet. What was more surprising was that Greenbriar was on the side of the White Wolf!!!!
spoiler alert!! spoiler alert!! spoiler alert!!
As it turned out, the White Wolf wasn’t really a pirate but a exobiologist named Emil Carridine. Carridine was mapping new worlds when he found one that was ridiculously rich in latinum. The planet had a pre-sentient species that would have been destroyed in any attempt at mining had been made. Because the world was pre-space flight, the Federation’s Prime Directive would prevent them from doing anything. So he took matters into his own hands and became a pirate. Greenbriar caught him first; but once he realized what the man was doing, he became his ally. Carridine gave the supplies to Picard, and Picard let him go. As you can imagine the rest of the captains in the sector were floored by the fact that Picard recovered the supplies.
Yup this this a great story. I didn’t guess that the White Wolf had help though. But here we see Picards burgeoning talents as a good commander and a diplomat. Of course, you know McAteer isn’t going to take Picard’s victory sitting down. This will be the first of many attempts on his part. Anyway, this is a nice bed time read- well if you read as fast as I do!!!!