Dayton Ward was tapped to wrap up The Fall series of Star Trek novels that were released this past year. His task was to take all of the loose ends that were presented in the previous four books and bring them together to form a complete picture. He did so quite expertly, as those of us who enjoy Trek novels have come to expect from Dayton. He does not disappoint.
Up to this point in the series, the Federation has fallen into some times where corruption is being discovered at the highest levels of government. The president of the Federation, Nan Bacco has been assassinated, a member race of the Typhon Pact is suspected at first, but it is later discovered that a Cardassian faction called the True Way was actually guilty of the deed in order to disrupt improving relations between Cardassia and the Federation. Captain Riker of the USS Titan is promoted to Admiral and charged by Admiral Akaar to get answers on what is happening at the highest levels of the Federation government. Dr. Julian Bashier took it upon himself to find a cure for a disease that was threatening to make the Andorian race extinct; for that, he may have to face charges of treason. Andor rejoins the Federation. Riker turns to one of the only people he can trust to aid him in his endeavor, Captain Jean-Luc Picard.
Deceptions abound in Peaceable Kingdoms. While DS-9 is without a medical officer, Dr. Crusher is sent there to take over until a replacement for Bashier is found, however She actually goes on her own secret mission to discover the identity of remains of a living person. Riker and Akaar are trying to find Presiden Pro Tem Ishan’s aid to learn about his complicity in Bacco’s death. Some Federation officials believe that they should be taking a harder line in dealings with other races and factions. And all leads to a discovery that someone is not who they appear to be while on a power-grabbing quest to hold the highest office of the Federation.
Peaceable Kingdoms is a typically (at least in my experience) fast paced fun ride in the Trek universe from Dayton. He leaves no stone unturned as he guides the reader through all the deception that takes place in the entire series. While one might suspect they know the answers as they read, there are surprises to be found. The story is solid and satisfying while at the same time leaving the doors open to future questions that hopefully will be answered for those of us that enjoy reading the continuing story of the characters we have come to know, and the new ones that are introduced as time goes on.
For me as a reader, one of Dayton’s strongest gifts in writing for the characters is his ability to capture the essence of the characters personalities so that one can actually hear the voices in the dialog and in their thoughts. He never disappoints.
On The Fall Series In General
If you have not already read the series, you should read them in order to avoid spoilers. The series includes the following books:
Revelationand Dust by David R. George III
The Crimson Shadow by Una McCormack
A Ceremony of Losses by David Mack
ThePoisoned Chalice by James Swallow
Peaceable Kingdoms by Dayton Ward
All-in-all, a fine series that together tell a great story of political maneuvering and corruption at the highest levels of Federation government.
I do have one minor nitpicky complaint though. In the first book, there was a thread that never seemed to be picked up that perhaps might appear in a future novel. In Revelation and Dust, there was a long subplot that involved Kira Nerys who had become a Vedek and entered the Wormhole and was being given visions of Bajoran history. That thread never was really picked up in the rest of the series and as a DS-9 fan I would be interested to know where that was heading. Just a thought.
I have always been curious about the creative process and found myself even more curious about the creative process when it comes to writing in a collaborative situation such as it take place in a series of books that are penned by numerous authors, as it is in the fall. Every now and then, Dayton Ward opens his blog, The Fog Of Ward, up to questions from the public. A few days ago he did and I took advantage of the opportunity to ask about writing a complete story with others. I asked:
"Having just completed The Fall series, I find that I am curious about the group writing process. How close are the collaborations? Do you ever find that someone has written you into a corner that is difficult to write your way out of? Is there a master plan of what direction a series is to take? Do you ever thanks heat for maybe not going in a direction that a previous writer might have wanted you to take?”
When it comes to collaborations, there’s always going to be varying degrees of “give and take,” and what sounded good at the outset when the “master plan” was laid down might not end up working so well once it’s time to execute the story (or a given part of a larger story). If everybody is working toward the same goal, the story and telling it in the best possible way is the primary goal. Opinions will differ on the details from time to time, but the key there is to not take such things personally, regardless of which side you’re on for any given “differences.”
Just my $.02.”
I should mention that after I contacted Dayton asking for permission to post this on this blog, he pointed out that his answer was about collaborative writing in general and should not be taken as any specific reference to the writing of The Fall.
Well, there it is…