Saturday, June 13, 2015

Armageddon's Arrow

Star Trek: The Next Generation
Armageddon's Arrow by Dayton Ward
Release date: May 26th 2015
Read June 10th 2015

Previous book (The Next Generation): Takedown

Next book (The Next Generation): Prey, Book 1: Hell's Heart

Spoilers ahead for Armageddon's Arrow!

From the back cover:
It is a new age of exploration, and the U.S.S. Enterprise is dispatched to “the Odyssean Pass,” a region charted only by unmanned probes and believed to contain numerous inhabited worlds. Approaching a star system with two such planets, Captain Jean-Luc Picard and his crew find a massive alien vessel, drifting in interstellar space for decades. Sensors detect life aboard the derelict—aliens held in suspended animation. 
Thought to be an immense sleeper ship, the vessel actually is a weapon capable of destroying entire worlds . . . the final gambit in a war that has raged for generations across the nearby system. Now caught in the middle of this conflict, Captain Picard attempts to mediate, as both sides want this doomsday weapon . . . which was sent from the future with the sole purpose of ending the interplanetary war before it even began! 

My thoughts:

Star Trek fiction set in the 24th century has become inundated with stories of espionage and political intrigue. Armageddon's Arrow marks a sea change in the culture and priorities of Starfleet and the Federation as the Enterprise is sent to an uncharted region of space on a mission of exploration. While I do enjoy the political stories of Typhon Pact and The Fall, it was nice to be able to return to the "strange new worlds" format of yesteryear. In many ways, Armageddon's Arrow feels like an old-school novel of the "numbered" days, but with the new crew of the post-Nemesis era.

Captain Picard gets some great character development in Armageddon's Arrow.

With a smaller scope than those earlier novels that deal with the politics of the Federation and the Alpha Quadrant, Armageddon's Arrow is able to be a tighter, more character-driven story. I truly enjoyed the character work that Dayton Ward was able to do, from the evolution of Captain Picard into a more mellow family man to the further exploration of the lower-ranked characters, such as T'Ryssa Chen and Taurik. Worf also gets some great moments as we see a more thoughtful and seasoned version of his character. He has grown far beyond the quick-tempered Klingon of years past.

I also enjoyed Ward's use of time travel as a plot device in a way that is a little more unique than we usually get in Star Trek. Rather than visiting an historical event centered around Earth or dealing with universe-destroying paradoxes, we see a localized event in which an alien race seeks to change its own history through a temporal intervention. Species all over the galaxy performing temporal incursions in order to change history must be the stuff of Dulmer and Lucsly's nightmares!

The plot twists and turns in Armageddon's Arrow were exciting and unpredictable. While I did figure out the origin of the titular ship (along with every other obsessive Trek fan who read this novel, I'm sure), the story itself was an exciting series of twists and turns. Every time I thought I had figured out where the story was going, Ward surprised me by going in a completely different direction. I loved the uncertainty of the story right up until the end. This was an exciting and compelling novel that had me enjoying it from the first page to the last.

What did Taurik See?!?

The good news is that Dayton Ward himself is poised to write another TNG novel, and he has stated that he has plans to follow-up on this particular plot point. In fact, in the podcast episode Literary Treks 107, he revealed to me and Matthew Rushing that he has four or five possibilities in mind for where to take the story. One thing we can rest assured about is that whatever Ward has come up with, if Armageddon's Arrow is any indication, it's going to be good!

Also, if the next installment of Christopher L. Bennett's Department of Temporal Investigations isn't titled Section 1701, I will be sorely disappointed.

Taurik, seen here in his TNG days, is about to become the bane of the Department of Temporal Investigations.

Final thoughts:

2015 has so far been an excellent year for Star Trek fiction, and Armageddon's Arrow is no exception. Dayton Ward is in top form here, and I love the direction he has taken the TNG crew in. He has said that he is going to be working on another novel for the Enterprise-E crew, and I can't wait to see where he goes next with Picard and company.

Further resources:

Also by Dayton Ward:

My next read:

If all goes well, I will begin my push to get the Deep Space Nine relaunch novels re-read before the release of the next DS9 novel! Next week, look for my review of David Mack's Warpath!

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