Friday, May 31, 2019

Old Wounds

Star Trek: Voyager
Spirit Walk, Book One
Old Wounds by Christie Golden
Published November 2004
Read March 5th 2019

Previous book (Voyager): The Farther Shore
Next book (Voyager): Spirit Walk, Book Two: Enemy of My Enemy

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E-book (Kindle): | |

Spoilers ahead for Old Wounds

From the back cover:
Captain Chakotay is ready to prove himself as the new commanding officer of the Starship Voyager -- but skeptics back at Starfleet Command are watching him closely for any sign that he will revert to his renegade Maquis ways. His first mission as captain, to transport a group of displaced colonists back to their home planet of Loran II, seems easy enough: make sure the planet is safe for colonization, unload the settlers, and head back to Earth. He even has an extra reason to enjoy the trip -- his sister, Sekaya, has joined the mission as a spiritual advisor to the gentle, peace-loving colonists.

But when the crew arrives at Loran II, they discover a mysterious storm, an ominously deserted settlement -- and a hidden threat from Chakotay's past that could destroy them all. Will Chakotay's first mission as captain of Voyager also be his last?

My thoughts:

Following on from Homecoming and The Farther Shore, this novel represents a new beginning for Voyager: Chakotay is now her commanding officer, and the ship is about to begin her mission as just another "ship of the line" in the Alpha Quadrant, a stark contrast to her days on the far side of galaxy. Aboard Voyager is a mix of old-guard crew who remained on the ship following her return to Federation space, as well as new crew members who have since joined the ship. This dynamic was quite interesting, as there is a certain amount of tension between the two groups. The old-guard resent the new crew members who didn't experience the hardships of their voyage through the Delta Quadrant, while the new arrivals resent the Voyager crew members who didn't experience the horrors of the Dominion War. This sets up an interesting parallel to the early days of Voyager when tensions were high among the Starfleet crew and the Maquis crew inherited from Chakotay's ship.

Captain Chakotay takes over command of the U.S.S. Voyager and sets out on his first mission: to make contact with a former Maquis colony and reunite the people who left.

Old Wounds is a difficult novel to review for a number of reasons. First, it's the first part of a two-part story, meaning that we don't get the payoff in this novel. The setup is interesting, but without that second part, it's hard to know how it will all turn out. Secondly, and I hate to say this, but... not much really happens in this novel. We get a lot of setup as far as Chakotay taking command of Voyager and setting out on his first mission, reuniting with his sister who serves as a spiritual adviser on the mission, and backstory for the assignment, but plot-wise, nothing really happens before halfway through the novel.

Also frustrating was the fact that the plot itself was difficult to get into. This is not a long book, but I found myself taking quite awhile to read it because I wasn't entirely motivated to keep reading. While I do like some of the character explorations as well as the quiet moments that various characters share, the fact that the plot doesn't kick into gear until well past the halfway point was very frustrating.

This is not to say that there wasn't anything I liked in the novel. As I mentioned above, I liked the establishment of tensions between the members of Voyager's crew. Chakotay adapting to his new role is interesting as well, as is Torres and Paris's investigation into their daughter's role as the Kuvah'magh in the library at the Klingon monastery on Boreth. However, the enjoyment of this part of the story is limited because of how little time the novel spends on it. The major revelation of this part of the novel is that the text that they study says that the "Kuvah'magh" is a "Voyager." An interesting revelation, to be sure, but the novel takes forever to get there with little else as a part of this story.

Paris and Torres have what could have been a very interesting subplot if the book didn't spend so little time on it.

The characters are easily the best part of the novel, including Voyager's new counselor, a Huanni named Astall who was a fascinating addition to the crew. Another favorite of mine, brought along from the previous novels, is Voyager's new medical officer, Dr. Jarem Kaz, a joined Trill whose former host was a member of the Maquis. Counselor Astall assists the doctor in facing his past, brought back to the surface due to Voyager's mission to make contact with a Federation colony in the former Cardassian demilitarized zone with which all contact has been lost. Aboard Voyager are members of the colony who left, and their backstory gets explored somewhat as well. Chakotay's sister, Sekaya, serves as a spiritual adviser to the colonists, who don't know whether they will find their loved ones alive or dead when Voyager reaches the colony. As I mentioned above, it's an interesting setup, but with far too little payoff or plot advancement in this first novel.

Final thoughts:

Although I found myself frustrated with the slow pace of the novel and how everything plot-wise piles up at the very end, I still enjoyed this new look at Voyager. However, there simply isn't enough here to make this a novel that stands up well on its own. Far too much setup with not enough payoff is sort of to be expected for part one of two, but when there is so little plot that nothing really "happens" until past the halfway point, it gets very frustrating to try to get into the story. Hopefully the payoff in book two will be worth it!

More about Old Wounds:

Also by Christie Golden:

My next read:

My next review is for book three of the New Earth miniseries: Rough Trails by L.A. Graf.

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