Back in December of 2012, I blogged about a series of books from Peter David set in a New Frontier. I began reading that series during the summer while off from school and could not stop reading them once I started. Later I was saddened to learn that the last book I read (Blind Man’s Bluff) was most likely to be the last of the series as Mr. David’s contract for the series had been fulfilled and he had received no word from the publisher that he could continue the saga. Earlier this year, I learned that there would be three more novels in the series and I immediately added them to my pre-order list on Amazon. The books arrived on my Kindle and I finally got around to reading the first one, and it is great, just as I expected it would be. Mr. David, as his readers all know, can tell one hell of a story.
When last we saw Mac Calhoun, captain of the USS Excalibur, his home planet Xenex was being attacked by the Brethren, a faction that were being used as footsoldiers by a race known as the D’myurj. Their mission was to wipe out all life on Xenex and Mac received word that they may have done just that.
The Returned, Part 1, begins about three months after the events of Blind Man’s Bluff. Mac is on Xenex searching for any survivors and not having any success. It would appear that he is the last of his people. His wife, Admiral Shelby arrives looking for him and tries to bring him back, but Mac tricks her and he goes off on a one man mission to exact vengeance against the D’myurj. Mac soon arrives on a planet where he intends to use the Guardian of Forever to go back in time and prevent the events that destroyed his people from happening. Thanks to his former navigator, Mark McHenry, Mac realizes that he could do far more harm than good by going back in time and decides to take a different tack.
Mac returns to the Excalibur and takes back his command from his first officer, Burgoyne 172. The crew is happy to see him back in the center seat and pledge to follow him no matter what the future holds. It is Mac’s intention to go to a wormhole located in Thallonian space that will take him to a “pocket” universe where the D’myurj are.
Meanwhile, Admiral Jellico tells Mac that he is not to be seen entering Thalloian space. With the help of a cloaking device, Mac is able to follow Jellico’s orders, but somehow, the Thallonians do find the Excalibur and demand that Mac hand over Robin Lefler and her child to them. Lefler decides the issue for herself and with the help of McHenry, transports herself onto the Thallonian ship and is taken to meet the new ruler of the New Thalon, a being who is determined to solidify his power base by eliminating anyone that might pose a threat, including Lefler and her infant son. But how was the Excallibur discovered? There is another force at work with the Thallonians that knows Mac and the Excallibur well enough to pose a clear and present danger to the ship.
With few choices, and realizing that McHenry will not let anything happen to Lefler, Mac decides to take his ship into the pocket universe, but there he learns that there is another even more powerful race that poses a threat to the D’myurj. Are they allies or another foe?
In this latest installment, the first of three parts, Mr. David once again demonstrates that he is one of the masters of not only telling great Trek stories, but he is also a master at making his characters jump off of the page and come alive. Mac Calhoun is a character that I have enjoyed in his other books, and recently as a character in the Mirror Universe. He is very much alive in my mind, along with the other characters he has introduced in the New Frontier series. This book focuses mostly on Mac, but many of the others are also there. One bonus is that he also develops characters that we are familiar with from the television series. Two of those are both from TNG lore, one being Edward Jellico from the sixth season two-part episode, Chain of Command when he took command of the Enterprise-D for a brief time while Picard was on a special operations mission, and the other being Elizabeth Shelby from the season three two-part episode Best of Both Worlds where she became first officer for Riker while Picard was under the influence of the Borg. Thanks to the author of The Returned, both of these characters have been given personalities that are extensions of their canon counterparts on the series. Neither of these characters in the series (in my opinion) were very likable. In this book, they do retain their on-screen personalities, but are also given human faces. Really, their characters are very well developed through the entire New Frontier series of books.
Retuned, Part 1 is not a stand alone book. I think it is essential to go back and read at least some of the New Frontier books to get the background needed to understand the events that are taking place. The author does provide some of the background that will help with understanding, but to get the full flavor, the previous volumes are better.
This story ends with a pretty good cliffhanger of an ending and I am looking forward to reading the next of this three part story.
Speaking of that, while I was looking at other reviews, I noticed that was some animosity toward the author and/or the publisher that they chose to release this as three smaller novels as opposed to one larger volume. As those who have read all three parts know, one was released in July, the second in August, and the third in September. Personally, I do not have a problem with this and feel that whomever made the decision to release it in three parts is completely free to do as they wish. I kind of like the idea that I can read other material in between parts and anticipate what will come next. It isn’t as though either the publisher or author is going to make any more money as the price for the book is $2.99 and is the same for the following two parts. It should also be noted that this is an E-Book series exclusively.
Well, there it is…