Star Trek: Prey by John Jackson Miller (Book Review)

The period from 2016-2017 has been a banner year for the Star Trek franchise. A new Kelvin-verse (aka Abramsverse) movie, a new Star Trek show, new comics, and even two new book trilogies that celebrated fifty years of the franchise. The first of the latter, the Legacies trilogy that charted some of the adventures of Commander Una of Starfleet, was an enjoyable series that went to some of the roots of the franchise and delivered a great outing for one of the best female characters of the franchise. The trilogy wasn’t as great as I’d hoped, but it was a good read nonetheless, especially if one wanted to “get back” into the swing of things as I did.

Which is where John Jackson Miller’s Prey trilogy comes in. Written as a bridge between the movie The Search For Spock and the second TV seriesThe Next Generation while bringing it all into the modern era, it is a grand adventure of that typifies the franchise, a grand tale spanning dozens of characters across many different eras and ships as they all come together for a greater whole. It was a blast to read this one, an excellent political thriller and military adventure that you don’t get to read often enough in the franchise.

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Desperate Hours by David Mack (Book Review)

Star Trek: Discovery was one of the most hyped new television shows of last year. Following on such legends such as Star Trek: The Original Series, or Star Trek: The Next Generation to name a few, the show promised a great deal in a kinda-sorta-familiar era of just a decade prior to the first events of the Star Trek: The Original Series. However, for me the show failed to live up to its hype, primarily because the protagonist was uninspiring and the scripts more so. Plus the writers seemed intent on changing around too many things and the entire show is a big visual and narrative dissonance from what we know of the Federation of the times.

Desperate Hours by Star Trek stalwart David Mack attempts to fill in some gaps left in the viewer’s understanding of who the show’s protagonist Michael Burnham is. She is a brand-new character for the show, and in this novel David attempts to show who she is and why she does what she does on the show, among other things. For me, the novel proved to be an even more disappointing experience than the show, as it seemed to rely too much on internal conflict and… disagreements among Starfleet officers. It just failed to deliver on its own promise.

Note: Some medium spoilers about Star Trek: Discovery are mentioned here.

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Lorgar: Bearer of The Word by Gav Thorpe (Book Review)

One of the most important differences between the M41 and M31 eras is the existence of the Primarchs, genetically-engineered unique super-beings who are destined to lead one of the twenty Astartes Legions. Of them all, the most tragic story is that of Lorgar Aurelian, who was punished for his faith and found comfort in outlawed religions. He eventually became the greatest instrument of the Chaos Gods as their plans to bring destruction and ruination to the nascent Imperium of Man were fulfilled through him and his legion, the Word Bearers. We’ve seen much of Lorgar since the end of the Great Crusade and onwards to the Heresy, but we know precious little of the Golden One before he joined his Legion.

Gav Thorpe’s Lorgar: Bearer of the Word takes us back to an uncertain era on the lost world of Colchis when Lorgar first meets with his eventual mentor and confidant Kor Phaeron, and a cosmic scheme hundreds of years if not thousands progresses into an important stage. Gav captures well the gravitas of that historic meeting and what follows after makes for a very gripping read. We do get some scenes of “present-day” Lorgar, but the bulk is all about his early years on Colchis and the events and circumstances that made him who he eventually became.

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Resurrection by John French (Book Review)

The Imperial Inquisition is not a faction that can be understood in simple terms. These agents of the Imperium have a broad remit and their ultimate governing authority is none but the Emperor himself. As such, given their wide areas of expertise and interest and personal biases and what not, they are a disparate group of individuals who surround themselves with varying amounts of temporal power. Yet, we’ve seen some remarkable characters over the years, such as Dan Abnett’s Eisenhorn and Ravenor, or Sandy Mitchell’s Amberly Vail, or Rob Sanders’ Czevak, or Chris Wraight’s Crowl, among others. They are fascinating characters and I always look forward to reading more about them.

With John French’s Resurrection however, I was left disappointed. Ostensibly the novel is about Inquisitor Covenant as he leads his D&D-style party to uncover a cabal of Chaos-serving Inquisitors within the Caradryad Sector, but we got to see so little of the man himself, and the story was often tedious and overrun with dozens of viewpoints that it become a tiring read. I didn’t have too many expectations of the novel as I wasn’t particularly aware of Covenant’s existence within the lore, nor had I kept up with all the recent changes within the setting, so Resurrection proved to be a rough adjustment.

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Deathfire by Nick Kyme (Book Review)

The Horus Heresy series, ever since its inception more than a decade ago, has redefined much of what we knew about that era of Imperial history. We have learned some incredible secrets and seen some amazing events take place. Not the least of this is the truth behind the fate of the Shattered Legions and their Primarchs. The Iron Hands, Salamanders and the Raven Guard have been relative absentees in the old lore from the time of the Dropsite Massacre onwards and learning more about them has certainly been a highlight. None more so than the fate of the Salamanders’ Primarch, Vulkan.

We learned previously that Vulkan did not perish during the Dropsite Massacre but instead that he was taken prisoner by his brother Konrad Curze and mercilessly tortured without respite. He eventually he found his way to Ultramar and to his brother Guilliman, albeit as a corpse. Nick Kyme’s Deathfire charts the story of how a band of Salamanders arrive on Macragge to claim their father’s body and return him to Mount Deathfire on their homeworld of Nocturne. Their trials and tribulations to bring this about are at the core of the story here and make for a stirring read, although the pacing can be arduous at times and the prose dense.

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The Emperor’s Legion by Chris Wraight (Book Review)

Over the last several months, we’ve seen some major changes in the lore for Warhammer 40,000 as Games Workshop and Black Library moved the clock forward to move the setting from the death-knell of the the M41 millennium and beyond into M42. It hasn’t been without its challenges but in that progression we’ve seen some really great stories such as Guy Haley’s Dark Imperium and The Devastation of Baal, and Gav Thorpe’s Ghost Warrior, not to mention a host of assorted short stories and novellas. It has been an exciting time for Warhammer 40,000 lore and I’ve been enjoying the ride through all the ups and downs.

The Emperor’s Legion by Chris Wraight is another home-run novel in the new reality of the end of the “ten minutes to midnight” theme of M41 that has been a hallmark of the setting since its inception. Whereas with the other novels we’ve seen what has been happening out and about in the Imperium at large, and even beyond it, with Chris’ new entry we see what’s been happening on the Throneworld itself. We see what the Adeptus Custodes have been up to in the years of their isolation on Terra, and how the they react to the massive events of the new millennium. Filled with some incredible characters and great action scenes and emotional touches, The Emperor’s Legion is one of the best new releases of Black Library in 2017.

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Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky (Book Review)

Going by his Shadows of the Apt novels, Adrian Tchaikovsky is one of my favourite SFF writers by far. Empire In Black and Gold and Dragonfly Falling are very enjoyable novels that focus on something very different for a fantasy series, sentient insect-human cross-breeds as a dominant species and their wars against each other. Having gotten that foothold into Adrian’s work, and getting back on the reading train a few months ago, I was excited to try a different track with his Children of Time novel, which won the Arthur C. Clarke Award last year. Much acclaim has been showered on the author and novel alike, and now having read it for myself, I am very much inclined to agree. As with his Shadows of the Apt series, Children of Time tackles a very different sort of space opera that does indeed hearken back to some of Arthur C. Clarke’s best work and presents it as something truly wondrous and intriguing.

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