One day, while thinking out loud on Facebook, I expressed my intention to read Star Trek: Section 31: Disavowed by David Mack. It wasn’t long before David came on with a reply to my post with a recommendation that before I read Disavowed, that I should read the books of Star Trek: The Fall series, which I had already done (and have reviewed on this blog) as well as Rise Like Lions. He said that the background from those previous novels would be helpful in understand some of the elements in Disavowed. So, without further question, I ordered and downloaded Rise immediately and began reading; after all, if an author makes a recommendation like that, who am I to dispute him?
So the events in Rise take place in the Mirror Universe. I am usually very apprehensive when reading stories that take place in that medium, mostly because I didn’t care for the Mirror Universe in the shows. For those who are not familiar with that alternate reality, pretty much everyone there is an opposite of what they are in our universe. So if you are a good guy here, you are a bad guy over there. The very first appearance of this alternate universe was in the original series episode “Mirror, Mirror” in which Kirk, McCoy, Scotty, and Uhura wind up on an Enterprise that is far different than the one they are used to. It is a good episode and I would recommend seeing it. The Mirror Universe did not appear again until Deep Space Nine. I have never been all that big a fan of those episodes, mostly because they often seemed silly and a little over-the-top for me.
Anyway, back to the point of this post.
Rise Like lions takes place completely in the Mirror Universe. I am not sure from where the story picks up, but I have watched all of the Deep Space Nine episodes to know that Humans are considered to be the trash of the Alpha Quadrant. The Klingons and Cardassians, along with the Bajorans, who form the Alliance, have become the dominant power who go about conquering and subjecting Humans and Vulcans to slavery. While the Terran Rebellion is working hard to take their fight for freedom to their oppressors, the fight does not go well, and the Alliance looks about to crush what is left of the rebellion.
Just as it looks like the situation is hopeless, things change, as they tend to do in political situation when major powers vie for domination. First, the Bajorans decide that they need to leave the Alliance, then forces cause the Cardassians to begin fighting amongst themselves and with the Klingons. Then we are introduced to a new faction called Memory Omega that has the ability to travel vast distances and build very powerful ships, but what is needed to bring everything together is a leader. While Miles O’Brien has done a good job of holding the rebels together, he is not the leader that can really take the fight to the Alliance and bring freedom to the Terrans.
Memory Omega chooses a man that they believe can lead the rebels to a final victory, even if their man, Jean-Luc Picard doesn’t believe it. Add to that, Mac Calhoun of the Excalibur who has allied himself with the Romulans, and in the background, the forces of the Taurus Pact, which includes the Breen, Gorn, Tholians, and the Ferengi and you get the formula for one hell of a great story.
I enjoyed this story and there was not a single page of waste in it. David manages to take a massive number of factions, characters, and situations and brings them into sharp focus so clearly, that there is no doubt about what is taking place and at what time. As I read, i was thinking how neat it was that each chapter was a snapshot of the action, every chapter was a small story in itself that, when put together, became a large puzzle with each of the pieces falling into place by themselves.
As each character is introduced, or reintroduced, they are different from their counterparts in the Primary Universe, but they are also the same. So while the story is full of discovery, it also has a nice comfort zone because we can recognize the characters as people we have come to know.
One of the best parts of reading Rise for me was seeing people from so many different incarnations of Trek. I was grabbed from the first line where David brings in Calhoun from Peter David’s New Frontier series of books! But that is only the beginning. The Vulcans play a pivotal role in the plot, as do many, many characters from all of the television series, along with some new characters. David also does an awesome job taking some of the most maligned characters in Star Trek and making them characters that the reader can admire and respect.
Rise is also an emotional roller coaster ride that goes through the full spectrum. We get people that we love turning out to be horrible, and some that are hated are elevated. Some rise above themselves, while others fall, and some die. But it all adds up to one of the most interesting stories I have read. It is about endings, but it is also about beginnings; the seeds have been planted at the end of the novel for another Mirror Universe story that should prove to be just as amazing as this, perhaps even more so.
My highest recommendations for Rise Like Lions. Get a copy and prepare to be astounded!
Well, there it is…