Friday, June 7, 2019

Enemy of My Enemy

Star Trek: Voyager
Spirit Walk, Book Two
Enemy of My Enemy by Christie Golden
Published December 2004
Read March 18th 2019

Previous book (Voyager): Spirit Walk, Book One: Old Wounds
Next book (Voyager): String Theory, Book One: Cohesion

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

Spoilers ahead for Enemy of My Enemy

From the back cover:
Captain Chakotay and his sister, Sekaya, are being held captive beneath the surface of Loran II by a Changeling--an outcast Founder masquerading as Chakotay's second-in-command, Andrew Ellis. To Chakotay's horror, the Changeling gives the two prisoners over to the infamous Cardassian scientist Crell Moset, who plans to use Chakotays's Sky Spirit-enhanced DNA to create a super species that will bring him the fame and acceptance he craves. 
Leaving Chakotay and Sekaya to their fate, the Changeling assumes Chakotay's image and infiltrates the Starship Voyager, putting the entire crew at risk. Dr. Jarem Kaz and Lieutenant Harry Kim, increasingly suspicious of their captain's odd behavior, turn to Admiral Janeway and Lieutenant Commander Tom Paris for help. As Paris races to save Voyager from catastrophe, the real Chakotay must undertake a "Spirit Walk" that could set him and his sister free--or lead to their ultimate destruction....

My thoughts:

In the previous novel, Old Wounds, we discover at the very end that Chakotay's first officer, Andrew Ellis, is actually a Changeling, the shapeshifter leaders of the Dominion. In fact, Ellis has been a Changeling for a number of years, having been replaced prior to the Dominion War. On the surface of Loran II, the Changeling has captured Chakotay and his sister, Sekaya, turning them over to Crell Moset, the Cardassian war criminal who performed horrific experiments on Bajorans during the Cardassian occupation of Bajor.

If nothing else, Enemy of My Enemy makes up for the lack of plot in Old Wounds by leaps and bounds. My biggest complaint about that novel is that nothing really happens; in this novel, a ton of plot is crammed in, making this story very heavy on the back end when you consider both books as one tale. However, much of it strained credibility and left me feeling ambivalent.

First of all, the main villain: a Changeling who was judged by the rest of the Founders and had his shape-changing ability taken away, much like Odo at the end of DS9's fourth season. He has gotten back a limited amount of his ability thanks to the research and experimentation of Crell Moset, who is aiding him in creating his own private army of Jem'Hadar-like creatures to be the soldiers in a new Dominion. He believes himself to be more intelligent than everyone around him, when in fact he has several glaring blind-spots that cause him to eventually fail in his plan. While I like seeing things from his perspective (which reveals him to be inept and fairly psychotic), I found it frustrating that he was portrayed as so incompetent. I don't know if this was the author's intention, but he really does come across as a bumbling idiot by the end of the novel.

The most interesting aspect of the story for me was Dr. Jarem Kaz, once again. The emergent personality of his previous host, Gradak, keeps vying for attention given the suffering that he and his fellow Maquis suffered at the hands of Moset. At the climax of the novel, Kaz allows Gradak to take complete control and gives him his moment of vengeance. However, things take an unexpected turn when Gradak doesn't kill Moset. Instead, he confronts the war criminal and makes him feel to the depths of his core the ruthlessness and brutality of what he has done. It was a supremely satisfying conclusion to that part of the story.

Dr. Crell Moset confronts the horrors of his past thanks to Gradak, previous host of the Kaz symbiont.

As for the rest of the novel, however, I found myself disappointed. While I had held out some hope that the Native spirituality aspect would be better than it was in the Voyager television series, that doesn't turn out to be the case. The reason for capturing Chakotay and his sister is due to the fact that they have "Sky Spirit DNA" (Chakotay more so because he got an infusion of it in the Voyager episode "Tattoo"). I have to admit that this is a storyline that I wish would just go away. In that episode, it is revealed that Native North American groups thrived thanks to the intervention of the "Sky Spirits," aliens from the Delta Quadrant who elevated Native North American humans and caused them to flourish. While I'm sure this wasn't the intention of the writers, it comes across as a "white savior" story as the Sky Spirit aliens are, of course, played by white people. Similarly, in this novel, Chakotay is oddly unable to make a decision about using his "Sky Spirit" power until Wesley Crusher shows up and tells him it's okay. No, really. That happens.

The subplot that I was most interested in gets very little attention in this novel as well. With Tom Paris having been called into service by Admiral Janeway, B'Elanna Torres is left on Boreth to continue her research into her daughter's role as the Kuvah'magh, prophesied savior of the Klingon people. While I was hoping for more movement on this plot in this novel, instead it's only very briefly touched on. At one point, two menacing-looking Klingons enter the library that Torres is studying in. Towards the end of the novel, she gets a handwritten note telling her that "the Kuvah'magh is in danger." That is the entirety of the advancement in this plot. Similarly, one of the other aspects I enjoyed in the previous novel isn't even touched on in this one. I rather liked the conflict that was brewing between the old-guard Voyager crew and the new arrivals. However, this aspect of the story wasn't even referenced in this second part. I do understand that both this and the Kuvah'magh story are setup for later novels, but I was frustrated that my favorite aspects of the story got very little attention.

Final thoughts:

Overall, an unfortunate disappointment. The conclusion to the novel was, in my opinion, confused and jumbled with some troubling aspects that have bothered me ever since their introduction in the Voyager television series. I find the contrast between these novels and the later Voyager "relaunch" stories by Kirsten Beyer to be staggering. While I'm sorry that Christie Golden's run in the Voyager series wasn't more successful, I'm happy that Beyer's books were able to take the premise and do new and interesting things with it. Full Circle is one of my favorite Trek novels, and luckily the story of Voyager doesn't end with this novel.

More about Enemy of My Enemy:

Also by Christie Golden:

My next read:

My next review is a video review of Discovery: The Way to the Stars by one of my favorite Trek authors, Una McCormack!

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