Sunday, April 1, 2012

April 2012: "Storming Heaven"

Vanguard is under siege. Surrounded by enemies, Admiral Nogura sends the scout ship Sagittarius to find an ancient weapon that might be the Federation’s only hope of stopping the alien threat known as the Shedai... Qo’noS is wracked by scandal. Councillor Gorkon fights to expose a Romulan plot to corrupt members of the Klingon High Council, only to learn the hard way that crusaders have few allies, and even fewer friends... Tholia teeters on the brink of madness. To prevent Starfleet from wielding the Shedai’s power as its own, the Tholians deploy an armada with one mission: Kill the Shedai—by destroying Vanguard.


by David Mack
Mass Market paperback – 368  pages
Pocket Books – April 2012 – $7.99

The entire Taurus Reach is in upheaval as Starbase Vanguard prepares for the fight of its existence. The Shedai remain a threat, the Tholians are on the brink, and political games between the Klingons and the Romulans conspire to ensure that Admiral Heihachiro Nogura and his crew have few restful nights as the conclusion to the Vanguard saga plows forward.

As “Storming Heaven” unfolds, author David Mack ensures that – true to form – the pedal isn’t drawn back from the accelerator for any appreciable length of time. Unlike many wrap-up books, the author presents an ambitious story within the pages of the final Vanguard book.

Following a near-disastrous attempt to communicate with the Shedai Wanderer at the conclusion of the previous novel, “What Judgments Come”, it has become clear that the Federation needs to hunt down some kind of defense against the ancient super-race. Hoping that the remains of the former Tkon Empire will provide such assistance, Admiral Nogura sends the starship Sagittarius to explore a series of coordinates obtained from the Orions by ex-Starfleeter Diego Reyes. While unique discoveries await the scout vessel’s crew, a Tholian task force is also interested in the same set of coordinates, but for very different reasons. Ultimately the Tholians and the Federation stand at the brink of war, as the Shedai look on and prepare…

Throughout “Storming Heaven”, Mack ensures that we get a chance to say goodbye to all of the central players in the Vanguard story. The vast majority of these farewells are eminently satisfying, with the lone exception of T’Prynn, whose arc resolution falls flat. Still recovering from the decades of internal turmoil experienced by carrying the katra of her intended, Sten, Commander Spock of the Enterprise makes a brief appearance to offer his assistance. Having Spock appear necessitated what feels like a useless visit by the Enterprise, which, for a few pages, manages to distract a bit from the overall story – but no real harm is done, and things move forward at a savage pace. While T’Prynn’s resolution is elegant, it feels extremely unimpressive when compared to the vast majority of character conclusions found within this final Vanguard outing.
Equally engaging, while many endings are being shown on the Federation side, is the beginnings of the rise of Gorkon within Klingon circles of power. One begins to sense, in some chapters, that the foundations are being laid for a new series of books detailing Gorkon’s rise to power… though, to be sure, nothing has been announced concerning such a project. Either way, Mack’s gives a fulfilling main course in the conclusion of the series run, and either a tasty dessert or a simple tease of what could come from the Klingon/Romulan storyline.

While not the best book in the series (that title has to go to the 2007 entry in the saga, “Reap the Whirlwind”), “Storming Heaven” brings Star Trek: Vanguard to a fitting conclusion… one worthy of the ambitious nature of the story, and of the setting.

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