The Returned-Part 2 picks up at nearly the moment that Part 1 ends. There are three main story plots involved; first is the story of Mac Calhoun in command of the USS Excalibur entering a pocket universe in pursuit of the D’myurj, a self righteous race who believes that it is their mission to destroy all life. Unfortunately for them, they chose to destroy Xenex, Calhoun’s home world and he is determined to exact revenge on the D’myruj, and if anyone can single-handedly do that, it is Calhoun. Upon entering the pocket universe, the crew of the Excalibur encounter a derelict D’myruj ship and learn that all hands on board, save one, have been killed. It is a gruesome scene. It isn’t long before another ship arrives on the scene belonging to a race of people called the Dayan. Under the command of Nyos, who explains that they are also out for the destruction of the D’myurj, proposes an alliance. The D’myurj home world is apparently protected by a series of defense satellites that the Dayan are unable to penetrate. Since the Excalibur is equipped with a cloaking device, it is thought that Calhoun might be able to take out the satellites and allow Nyos to do the rest. However, Calhoun’s mission is not only to visit revenge on the D’myurj, but also to rescue a small group of Starfleet personnel that have been captured. The uneasy alliance teeters on the edge and all is not as it appears to be in this plot that has a few twists and turns.
The second story line is the plight of Robin Lefler and her son Cwansi who have been taken to New Thallon by Mark McHenry, a man with some special powers, off of which was to teleport Lefler and Cwansi off the Excalibur and onto New Thallon to keep them safe. The current ruler of New Thallon, Shintar Han is determined to keep power and makes attempts to kill Lefler and Cwansi because Cwansi’s father was Ci Cwan, the late ruler of the Thallonian people thus making Cwansi the rightful ruler. McHenry intervenes and does a great job of protecting Lefler and the baby. Meanwhile, it is discovered that McHenry has powers to heal certain ailments and he is kept quite busy as hundreds appeal to him for help. Shintar Han appeals to the Thallonian god known as the Awesome to intervene and secure his rule. The Awesome has actually been intervening in the Thallonian political scene on numerous occasions, some of which are chronicled in the third story line.
In that story line, it is explained how the Cwan family has been aided in taking and holding power throughout the history of Thallon, a planet that was destroyed in an earlier book. The Awesome goes by many names and the big reveal of who he actually is is a surprise, because he is someone that we who are Trek fans, know all too well as Q.
I did enjoy this story continuation but found the main plot somewhat predictable and would have found it quite slow if it had been any longer than it was at 161 pages. I knew that the crew of the USS Excalibur would encounter another race and that they would ally with them, and that the new race they encountered would have some hidden agenda that would set the two factions at odds. I am also thinking that the third and final part of the series will be just as predictable and that, as always, Calhoun and the crew of the Excalibur will be triumphant at the end. Along with that, I also felt that it was predictable that Lefler, who seems to be quite promiscuous at times, would wind up in bed with McHenry, however I am interested to see where this healing ability that he has is going to go. I am thinking that it will most likely result in some sort of showdown between him and Q.
For me, the best parts of this segment of the story is the history of the Thallonian people and the secession on power of Ci Cwan’s family. While well written for a subplot, I would liked to know more about the rulers, one of which seemed to be benevolent while the next was apparently despotic.
Actually, thought the entire book was a little abrupt and left me wanting more, which I suppose would be the point of a middle book in a three part series.
There are a few other points that I should like to point out such as I am having a little trouble seeing this as a Star Trek story. The behavior of some of the characters is a little off the mark for my personal taste. For instance, Captain Calhoun seems hell bent on committing genocide in an almost obsessive act of revenge, and his crew is more than willing to follow him no matter what he does. In the story, he gets a half-hearted talk from his first officer about the morals of the mission that has been decided on, as far as he is concerned, unilaterally and without the backing of Starfleet Command. Admiral Jellico and Calhoun’s own wife, also an admiral, even backhandedly are in supporting his actions while leaving the door open for plausible deniability. Calhoun, who has always been a hero in the past by using his wits and intelligence to resolve situations, has now become a villain. What’s more, even if he is acting out of a sense of revenge for the genocide against his people, then should it not be determined that he is emotionally compromised and thus temporarily relieved of duty?
I also reviewed The Returned-Part 1 and raved about it. I found it a good solid exposition, however Part 2 also read a little like continued exhibition. Despite the few plot holes I pointed out and the feeling of abruptness I felt as I read, this is a good story and I looked forward to reading Part 3 very soon.
Well, there it is…