When I learned that Peter David was releasing three new novels in his New Frontier series of novels, I was very excited and eager to read. After reading the previous eighteen books in the series, I found I wanted more. Now, after reading the third of this latest series, I find myself wondering if the series has finally played itself out even though part three is very open ended and begging for a continuation of the saga that features Captain Mac Calhoun and the crew of the USS Excalibuir.
Part three starts where part 2 leaves off; the Excalibur has entered a pocket universe where the D’Myurj have their home world and Calhoun is determined to make them pay for the destruction of his home world and for the genocide committed against his people. Calhoun has a second objective which is to rescue a group of Starfleet personnel that were captured by the D’Myurj that includes Admiral Alynna Nechayev. Calhoun is cautiously optimistic when a seemingly friendly race known as the Dayan ask for his help in the destruction of the D’Myurj Homeworld.
After the destruction of the D’Myurj, Calhoun soon learns that the Dayan are also on another mission to destroy all life, no matter where it exists.
In the meantime, back on New Thallon, the current despotic ruler, Shintar Han is on a mission to make sure that his rule is not usurped by Robin Lefler and her child, Cwanzi. She is being protected by Mark McHenry, a former Starfleet officer turned demigod. Han is not alone as he has recruited the Thallonian deity who turns out to be none other than Q, who goes about his usual creation of chaos and playing one against another for whatever reason.
While all of this death and destruction along with Q’s constant game-playing is taking place, Lefler sleeps with her protector; Soleta, the Vulcan/Romulan hybrid, enters Pon Far, and seduces Calhoun; Q kidnaps Lefler’s child and returns him as a grown-up liaison to the Q Continuum, who also saves the day by killing the entire Dayan race. And to top everything off, Soleta turns up pregnant as a result of her rape of Calhoun.
I have enjoyed past installments of the New Frontier stories, but this latest trilogy has left me somewhat cold. It isn’t the story itself that is disappointing to me, although there are elements that, in my mind, are not what I would expect from a Star Trek story. As far as Story is concerned, this entire trilogy, with the possible exception of Part 1, reads more like a draft of a completed story than a finished work, at least as far as what I have come to expect from Peter David.
In the first novel, Admirals Jellico and Shelby plot to send Calhoun off to the pocket universe to rescue the officers captured by the D’Myurj. They are sure that Calhoun can complete the job, but they fail to realize that he is severely emotionally compromised and the objective that he will actually pursue, the destruction of the D’Myurj, is not within the normal operations of Starfleet. Calhoun has become a loose cannon and should be reined in until he regains his perspective before he resumes command of a star ship. Calhoun’s officers are more than willing to follow him into whatever situation he deems appropriate, including genocide, with only mild protestations from his first officer.
After the rescue of the officers from the D’Myurj Homeworld, there is no mention of them. There is an admiral on board the Excalibur, and in the past, Nechayev has never had a problem with asserting her command position to make sure that the interests of Starfleet are enforced. There is not a single mention of her or the other officers that are rescued, which seemed to be a main plot point earlier in the series.
Mac Calhoun tells Soleta that he will have to tell his wife, Admiral Shelby about the illicit activity between them because they have no secrets from each other, yet that same Admiral Shelby who has no secrets from her husband, along with Admiral Jellico, manipulated her husband into going on a mission that would be normally frowned upon, to say the least, by the Federation.
I could go on with numerous other plot holes, but that isn’t the main reason I am disappointed. What I missed in this story, and in the trilogy in general, is the depth of the characters that I have become used to in the author’s previous stories. In the past, Calhoun has been a complex character who is able to think on his feet and solve problems cleverly. The Calhoun in this story is a very shallow person, a mere shadow of his former self who has become single minded and quite one-dimensional. The supporting characters as well have become equally less interesting than in the past and seem to have been treated as pawns on a chessboard. Had I not read the New Frontier series from the beginning, I probably wouldn’t have finished this latest installment.
I am sorry to say that it is perhaps time to let this be the end of the adventures of the Excalibur and her crew unless the quality of the characters can be restored. In the past, while the stories may have been good, if not a little far fetched, the members of Calhoun’s crew would leap off of the page and became ones that I deeply cared about.
Well, there it is…