Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Rise Like Lions

Star Trek: Mirror Universe - Rise Like Lions by David Mack
Published December 2011
Read: December 5th, 2011

Previous book (Mirror Universe): The Sorrows of Empire
Spoilers ahead for Rise Like Lions and The Sorrows of Empire!

From the back cover:

Miles 'Smiley' O'Brien struggles to hold together his weary band of freedom fighters in their war against the overwhelming might of the Klingon-Cardassian Alliance.  Every day pushes the rebels on Terok Nor one step closer to defeat, but with nowhere left to run, the time has come to make their last stand.
Light-years away, Mac Calhoun and his Romulan allies harass Klingon forces with devious hit-and-run attacks.  But Calhoun has a grander ambition: he intends to merge his fleet with the Terran Rebellion and lead it to victory--or die trying.
Meanwhile, a bitter feud threatens to shatter the Alliance from within.  The old rivalry between the Klingons and the Cardassians erupts into open warfare as each vies for the upper hand in their partnership.
Manipulating events from its hidden redoubts, Memory Omega--the secret operation initiated by Spock a century earlier--sees its plans come to fruition sooner than expected.  But striking early means risking everything--and if the revolution fails, Spock's vision for the future will be lost forever.

About the Novel:

In the mirror universe, Spock's secret plan, "Memory Omega," begins to take shape.  Because of incursions from "our own" universe (in the Deep Space Nine episodes "Crossover," "Through the Looking Glass," "Shattered Mirror," "Resurrection," and "The Emperor's New Cloak," along with many other stories in the form of Star Trek prose), the timetable for the implementation of Spock's plan is moved up.  The Terran Rebellion, being a viable revolutionary group with a fair chance of succeeding, is the focus of Memory Omega's efforts.  Their recruits, sprinkled throughout the quadrant, work to undermine the Klingon/Cardassian Alliance and support the Rebellion.  With sleeper agents in the form of the Vulcan servants in the homes of Cardassians and Klingons, Memory Omega operatives are perfectly placed to cause as much damage as possible when the time comes.

Through it all, a Romulan fleet commanded by Mac Calhoun (the mirror counterpart of the enterprising captain of Peter David's New Frontier series) seeks to join forces with the Rebellion.  Together, and with Memory Omega's help, they hope to finally overthrow the Alliance and usher in a new age of peace for their corner of the galaxy.

My Thoughts:

After reading The Sorrows of Empire and hearing the news that David Mack was writing the conclusion to the Memory Omega storyline, I was extremely excited.  Too excited, I worried.  Oftentimes, when I get really worked-up and eager for a new book, the results are disappointing.  Not so with Rise Like Lions.  This book lived up to nearly every expectation admirably!

I found myself genuinely caring about
characters in the Mirror Universe,
such as Ezri Tigan and her wife, Leeta.
The Mirror Universe is a concept that has not always been treated well in Trek lore.  While visits there were fun and exciting, they were never really taken all that seriously.  Over-the-top characters, grandiose pontifications of mustache-twirling villains, and no real impact on the day-to-day lives of the characters in OUR universe made them easy to overlook.  What I feel that David Mack has accomplished is the legitimization of the mirror universe.  With both The Sorrows of Empire and Rise Like Lions, I found myself genuinely caring for the characters and truly invested in the outcome of their stories.  In particular, the characters of Miles 'Smiley' O'Brien and Jean-Luc Picard were very well written.  Ezri and Calhoun also come across as real, sympathetic people whom readers will be invested in.

I did find that I missed out on a bit of the story, not being familiar with all of the stories that have taken place in the mirror universe.  If all you have read is David Mack's The Sorrows of Empire, you may find yourself in a bit of a need of catching up.  I'm still a little unclear about how Neelix and Kes found themselves embroiled in the affairs of the Rebellion and Memory Omega, but I suspect the answer is in one of the short stories I neglected to read.  Even so, I found the story very enjoyable and easy to follow, even without all of the dots connected.

Duras -- hated in our reality,
hero in the mirror universe.
I love the concept of the mirror universe because it allows the writers to take our preconceptions and turn them on their heads.  For example, the role that Kes plays in Rise Like Lions involves her character taking an especially dark turn.  Inversely, Duras (of the Next Generation episodes "Sins of the Father" and "Reunion") comes across as a hero, and we find ourselves in the strange position of rooting for one of the most hated characters from Worf's past (in our universe, at any rate).

As is usual with a David Mack story, the body count is extremely high!  Without going into too much detail, there are many, MANY casualties on the way to the resolution of this story arc.  Also, this particular mirror universe story continues the tradition of Ferengi death that started in Deep Space Nine's crossover episodes.  In a big way.

I felt that the entire story was wrapped up very well, and of course it being an alternate reality frees up the author to take more liberties than in a typical Trek story, making it just that much more fun.  The stakes felt real, and the resolution was eminently satisfying.  David Mack even finds a way of dropping hints that the ending may not be, in fact, the end!  There is certainly more room for further adventures in the mirror universe.

Final Thoughts:

I highly recommend this story, but only if you have already read (at the very least) The Sorrows of Empire.  An amazing follow-up and possible conclusion to the story of the Mirror Universe.

Final rating: 9.5/10.

More about Rise Like Lions:

Also by David Mack:

My next read:

Right now, I'm waiting on my copy of William Shatner's The Return.  In the meantime, I'm reading book three of Diane Duane Rihannsu mini-series, Swordhunt.  Review coming soon.  In the meantime, as always, LLAP!

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