Sunday, June 16, 2019

Taking Wing

Star Trek: Titan
Taking Wing by Michael A. Martin and Andy Mangels
Published April 2005
Read March 26th 2019

Previous book (Post-Nemesis Continuity): The Next Generation: Death in Winter

Next book (Titan): The Red King
Next book (Post-Nemesis Continuity): Articles of the Federation

Mass-market paperback: | |
E-book (Kindle): | |

Spoilers ahead for Taking Wing

From the back cover:
After almost a decade of strife against foes such as the Borg, the Cardassians, the Klingons, and the Dominion, the United Federation of Planets is at the dawn of a new era. Starfleet is renewing its mission of peaceful exploration, diplomacy, and the expansion of knowledge. Among the starships spearheading that endeavor is the U.S.S. Titan, commanded by Captain William T. Riker and manned by the most biologically varied and culturally diverse crew in Starfleet history.

But their mission does not begin according to plan.

In the wake of Star Trek Nemesis, Praetor Shinzon, slayer of the Romulan Senate, is dead. The power vacuum created by his demise has put the Romulan Star Empire, longtime adversary of the Federation, at the brink of civil war. Competing factions now vie for control of their fragmenting civilization, and if the empire should fall, that entire area of the galaxy may destabilize.

To restore order to the region, Titan 's long-anticipated mission of exploration is delayed as Starfleet assigns Riker to set up power-sharing talks among the Romulan factions. But even as the first tentative steps are taken toward building a new Romulus, the remnants of the Tal Shiar, the dreaded Romulan intelligence service, are regrouping behind the scenes for a power play of their own. With no other help available, Riker and the Titan crew become the last hope to prevent the quadrant from falling into chaos.

My thoughts:

When Star Trek Nemesis first hit theatres, I remember thinking that it would be very cool to be able to follow Riker to the Titan and learn about his adventures as the new captain of that vessel. We didn't have to wait too long as Simon & Schuster picked up that particular ball and ran with it, introducing the Star Trek: Titan novel series in April of 2005. It was clear that the idea for the series as a whole was as a re-invigoration of Starfleet's primary mission to "boldly go where no one has gone before," with the Titan leading a new mission of discovery. However, there was one small detail to contend with: as Riker told Picard at the end of Nemesis, Titan's first mission would be go to Romulus to help pick up the pieces after Shinzon's coup and attempted attack on the Federation.

This novel marks the beginning of the voyages of the Starship Titan under the command of Captain William T. Riker.

I didn't pick up the series right away, instead first reading it in 2009. I remember being very interested in a new "strange new worlds" series, with an increased focus on exploration. The initial foray into Romulan politics didn't interest me very much, and I kind of saw it as something I had to get through in order to get to the good stuff.

Fast forward ten years, and my attitude has completely changed. Reading Taking Wing this time around, I found myself fascinated with the Romulan political situation and the various players involved. I think part of the reason for the changed attitude comes from having already read the rest of the Titan series. Whereas the first time around, I was endlessly fascinated with the diverse crew and learning their stories and always wanting to get back to that part of the novel, this time I was already familiar with this crew and the diversity of Titan, allowing me to focus more on the story and really get into it.

Titan arrives at Romulus to take part in power-sharing talks between a number of factions vying for control of the Romulan Empire, including the self-proclaimed Praetor Tal'Aura, the Tal Shiar, Spock's reunification movement, the Remans, the military, and other aspects of the Romulan government. As one would imagine, backroom plots and intrigue abound as each group maneuvers to gain power in the Empire.

The Romulan military, represented by commanders Donatra and Suran, has a stake in power-sharing talks on Romulus.

As I mentioned above, I found the Romulan political story to be quite intriguing. Characters such as Commander Donatra (whom we first met in Nemesis) are more complex that it would appear at first blush; when you think you have someone's motives and plans figured out, they often surprise you by going in a completely different direction.

An interesting addition to the story is Commander Tuvok, who was caught on Romulus while carrying out an undercover mission to make contact with Ambassador Spock's reunification movement. This character has a long history with Admiral Akaar, who is also aboard the Titan for the mission, adding some interesting unanswered questions about their backstory.

Commander Tuvok finds himself aboard the Titan after being rescued from a failed undercover mission on Romulus.

The final resolution to the Romulan power-sharing plot was unexpected and an interesting turn of events as Riker engineers a situation in which all sides agree to the Klingons acting as an intermediary and admitting the Remans as a protectorate of the Klingon Empire, while still residing within the Romulan sphere of influence. It is a solution that is unorthodox to say the least, and it will be interesting to see how it affects events moving forward, especially given what we know will happen to the Empire in the books to come. No spoilers on that point here, however; you'll just have to keep reading the books if you want to know more!

The end of the novel features a surprising cliffhanger in which the bulk of the Romulan fleet has disappeared into the "Great Bloom," the anomaly that resulted from the destruction of Shinzon's warbird in the Bassen Rift (Star Trek Nemesis). Commander Donatra enlists Riker's aid in trying to determine what has happened to the ships, and of course both the Titan and Donatra's warbird, the Valdore, are pulled into the anomaly only to reappear heaven knows where... TO BE CONTINUED!

Final thoughts:

While I enjoyed Taking Wing the first time around years ago, I found myself enjoying it even more this time. The Romulan political story was fascinating, and I discovered much more to like about it reading it now. I also really love the crew of the Titan, and find the diverse species to be interesting and compelling to learn more about. I'm looking forward at making my way through the Titan series again as well as the other books that make up the post-Nemesis continuity!

More about Taking Wing:

Also by Michael A. Martin & Andy Mangels:

My next read:

Next up: the landmark novel Articles of the Federation by Keith R.A. DeCandido!

1 comment:

  1. Great review of a very good Trek novel. I like exploring politics and new relationships as much as new planets. It can be a bit confusing though getting to know so many new species and characters in one book. The Titan series is one of my favorite Trek series.