Monday, June 20, 2016

Live By the Code

Star Trek: Enterprise
Rise of the Federation
Live By the Code by Christopher L. Bennett
Release date: March 29th 2016
Read April 6th 2016

Previous book (Enterprise): Rise of the Federation: Uncertain Logic

Next book (Enterprise): Rise of the Federation: Patterns of Interference

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

Spoilers ahead for Live By the Code!

Publisher's description:
The “fifth season” saga of the Star Trek: Enterprise TV series continues with this action-packed original novel!

Admiral Jonathan Archer has barely settled in as Starfleet Chief of Staff when new crises demand his attention. The Starfleet task force commanded by Captain Malcolm Reed continues its fight against the deadly Ware technology, but one of the task force ships is captured, its Andorian crew imprisoned by an interstellar Partnership that depends on the Ware for its prosperity. Worse, the Partnership has allied with a renegade Klingon faction, providing it with Ware drone fleets to mount an insurrection against the Klingon Empire. Archer sends Captain T’Pol and Endeavour to assist Reed in his efforts to free the captured officers. But he must also keep his eye on the Klingon border, for factions within the Empire blame Starfleet for provoking the Ware threat and seek to take revenge. Even the skill and dedication of the captains under Archer’s command may not be enough to prevent the outbreak of the Federation’s first war!

My thoughts:

Ever since the Rise of the Federation series started back in 2013 with A Choice of Futures, I have been a fan. Christopher L. Bennett has managed to craft an expansive story from the many threads left unexplored from the early days of the Federation. The first three novels have allowed us a glimpse into this fascinating period of Trek history and the stories have not failed to entertain. Live By the Code is no exception.

The novel, like its predecessors, juggles a myriad of storylines, and I feel like a lesser author would not have been able to keep it all straight and coherent like Bennett is able. We have a lot going on here: Reed and the Pioneer are joined by T'Pol and the crew of the Endeavour in their attempts to defeat the Ware, Klingon internal politics come to bear against the young Federation, and Archer and Phlox deal with racist attitudes on Denobula and Antara.

Live By the Code does something that I really wish the series Enterprise had done more of. In this book, we see the fallout of a cavalier attitude towards exploration and interference in extraterrestrial cultures. In an attempt to liberate planets from the influence of the Ware, the officers of Starfleet must come to terms with the fact that they may have left these worlds in worse shape than when they found them. Bennett is unafraid to confront this idea head-on, while with a few exceptions, the television series tended to shy away from the idea that humanity might cause some mayhem out among the stars. However, in order for the Prime Directive to evolve into what we see in later series, there must be some inciting events that lead to its adoption.

Racial tensions between the Denobulans and the Antarans play a critical role in Live By the Code.

I also really enjoyed the story surrounding Phlox's daughter's marriage to an Antaran. The Antarans have had a very troubled history with the Denobulans, as outlined in the Enterprise episode "The Breach." The marriage ignites tensions in a Denobulan hate group, of which Phlox's son Mettus has become a member. This storyline feels very relevant to a lot of what is happening in the world today. Prejudices and racism are things that must always be fought against, and this idea is very much in keeping with the principles for which Star Trek has traditionally stood.

Final thoughts:

With Live By the Code, it is clear that Christopher L. Bennett has his eye on the big picture. Not only is he continuing the stories of the individual characters we know and love from Enterprise, he is revealing the origins of many things that will shape the future of the Federation in the centuries to follow. I very much look forward to what he has in mind for the next Rise of the Federation adventure.

More about Live By the Code:

Also by Christopher L. Bennett:

Next time on Trek Lit Reviews:

Playing a bit of catch up here! Next review is for Dayton Ward's latest, The Original Series: Elusive Salvation, a sequel to his excellent novel From History's Shadow. Coming soon!

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