Wednesday, November 2, 2011

To Brave the Storm

Star Trek: Enterprise - The Romulan War: To Brave the Storm by Michael A. Martin
Published October 2011
Read: October 31st, 2011

Previous book (Enterprise): The Romulan War: Beneath the Raptor's Wing
Next book (Enterprise): Rise of the Federation: A Choice of Futures

Spoilers ahead for To Brave the Storm, previous novels in the Romulan War story arc, and Star Trek: Enterprise!

From the back cover:
The Coalition of Planets has shattered, with Vulcan, Andor, and Tellar abrogating the treaty.  Their pledge to come to the mutual defense of any power that is attacked has been shunted aside.  Horrified by how easily the Romulans can seize control of their advanced starships, turning them into weapons, Andor and Tellar have joined Vulcan on the sidelines.  Humanity is now the only thing that stands between the Romulan Star Empire and total domination of the galaxy. 
To drive humans from the stars, the Romulans employ ruthless and murderous tactics ... and even dare to strike on the Vulcan homeworld with the hopes of demoralizing their Vulcan brethren.  Heartened by their victories, the Romulans carry their all-out war assault closer to the heart of humanity - Earth.
But the tattered remains of Starfleet stand unwavering, with the resolution that never again would an enemy strike ever reach Earth.  On the front lines of the Earth - Romulan War is the United Earth flagship, the Starship Enterprise.  Her captain, Jonathan Archer, has seen his vessel of exploration become a battleship.  Once hailed for his work bringing the Coalition of Planets into existence, Archer is now a pariah.  Undaunted, the captain keeps fighting, searching for allies and determined to do his duty: to save Earth and forge a new federation of planets.

About the Novel:

Continuing from the events of the previous novel, To Brave the Storm chronicles the struggle of Earth against the expansionist Romulan Star Empire.  The Vulcans and Earth's other allies in the fledgling Coalition of Planets continue to sit out the war, fearing that the Romulans' ship-capturing technology leaves them too vulnerable.  Trip Tucker continues his behind-the-lines espionage, and Romulan Admiral Valdore continues his efforts to bring humanity to its knees.

My Thoughts:

Originally, Michael A. Martin was to pen a trilogy of Romulan War novels, beginning with Beneath the Raptor's Wing, continuing into a novel entitled In Shariel's Jaws, and finally culminating in To Brave the Storm.  However, with the editorial shake-up at Pocket Books, it seems that this original trilogy was shortened to the duology we got.  This is very unfortunate, as it seems to have hurt the final product a great deal.  Don't get me wrong, I very much enjoyed reading To Brave the Storm.  Although this doesn't seem to be the consensus over at the Trekbbs forums, I enjoy Mr. Martin's writing a great deal.  Admittedly, his best work was when he was paired with Andy Mangels, but even solo, I enjoy his stories.

To Brave the Storm suffers in a number of ways, however.  Probably because it was shortened from the original story, it seems very rushed, and the narrative jumps YEARS in between chapters.  The prior novel, Beneath the Raptor's Wing, was a great deal longer and covered only one year in the war.  To Brave the Storm, meanwhile, covers the remainder of the war and the founding of the United Federation of Planets, a total of five years.

Because of the rushed feeling of the book, many character moments feel rushed.  While I didn't like the way Travis Mayweather's character turned against Archer so thoroughly in the previous novel, I felt that the reversal of that attitude in this book happened much too quickly without much explanation.  Similarly, many of the major actions in the war are glossed over, jumping from the build-up to the aftermath without time to appreciate what has happened.  For example, the cities of Madrid and Tunis are nuked by the Romulans in the course of the novel, events which should have a huge impact on the reader.  However, because it all happens so fast, there is barely any time to reflect on the scope of these incidents, and the reader is already off to the next event with barely a thought.

Final Thoughts:

I seemed to enjoy this novel more than most, but I still very much found it lacking due to the rushed nature of the narrative.  I really wish that we had gotten our trilogy, and while I enjoy Michael A. Martin's writing, the story suffered horribly from the editorial decisions.  I also really worry that this spells the end of the Enterprise novel line, which is unfortunate as there is still a rich history to cover and many gaps to fill.  Perhaps a resurgence of some sort of "Lost Era" line would be in order?

Also, as a side note, fans of Stargate: Atlantis should look for a small homage/easter egg at the end of the novel.

Final rating for To Brave the Storm: 6/10.  I really wish there were more to read!

More about To Brave the Storm:

Also by Michael A. Martin:

My next read:

The next novel I will be reviewing is Kevin Dilmore and Dayton Ward's Vanguard: What Judgments Come.  I look forward to writing again soon!

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