Monday, July 2, 2012

July 2012: "Raise The Dawn"

The second (and final) part of David R. George III’s new Typhon Pact duology is due to hits the bookstore shelves this week. We've already blazed through our copy, and we have some thoughts to share. Check out our review of “Raise the Dawn” below.

by David R. George III
Mass Market paperback – 400  pages
Pocket Books – July 2012 – $7.99

Be Warned: This review contains some spoilers from the June 2012 novel “Plagues of Night”.
Benjamin Sisko is stripped of his senses, the détente with which Praetor Kammemor has engaged the Khitomer Accord signatories appears headed right out the window, and the cinders of battle still cool across the Bajoran sector. This is the opening that greets you as you enter into David R. George’s second Typhon Pact novel of the year, “Raise the Dawn”.

This month’s story traces a winding road for the crew of Deep Space Nine, Federation leadership, and for several key players in the DS9 saga. At the same time, plenty of time is spent among Romulan leadership and in some unsavory Cardassian backwaters… all of which leads to some extremely significant alterations to the post-Nemesis environment.

“Raise the Dawn” is a highly ambitious novel. Within the covers, George weaves a tapestry that, if listed might sound overwhelming… but the tapestry works. More than working, it shines.

In Romulan space, the Praetor find herself trapped in a fight to determine how thoroughly her government has been compromised, drawing herself into a major, though delightfully understated, confrontation with Sela, Tomalak, and the Tal Shiar. Kammemor, a ‘new kind’ of praetor for the Empire, shows her unorthodox side while remaining quite comfortable with the Machiavellian nature of Romulan politics. Unafraid to employ subterfuge when necessary, and consistently putting the best foot of Romulus forward, she comes across as the real game-changer in relations between at least Romulus and the Federation (if not the wider Khitomer Accord powers). This thawing comes at a curious time, since the new timeline created in 2009’s feature film gives us only a few years remaining until the destruction of Romulus. George’s expansion of Kammemor’s leadership style and aims already begin to tug one into wondering what Romulus might become, and leave the reader lamenting for what surely must happen.

In the meantime, a quite cadre Typhon Pact scientists, engineers, and warriors form an alliance, bringing to bear their own unique way to reach level the playing field between the two great powers… one that is both as ingenious in its conceptualization as it is dangerous in its potential ramification. To be absolutely certain, this technology is going to change the Star Trek universe significantly in one very important aspect… at least, for the foreseeable future. One can only wonder who will bear the brunt of that particular cost.

Federation President Nan Bacco has significant face-time in “Raise the Dawn”, all of it very well executed; but even the president isn’t the star of the show.

No, the real hinge point of “Raise the Dawn” is the Bajoran Wormhole, and its effects on Ben Sisko, Kasidy Yates, Elias Vaughn, Kira Nerys, and even Odo. While the unfolding of the Wormhole’s vector in this story has a much broader and, ultimately, more significant geopolitical import, George crafts a deeply engaging experience that brings a gratifying and meaningful resolution to many open questions in the current continuity of the post-Nemesis story line.

In my review of "Plagues of Night" I wrote: “In the case of Vaughn’s story line, a simple death seems anticlimactic, and I can’t help but feel that something odd needs to take place… should take place… before his character is finally retired from the pages of Trek lit. On the flip side, Sisko’s story is crying out for a very human resolution. Oddity wouldn’t serve his familial relationship well – though, given his years of experiences with the Prophets, one would have to wonder if an ‘orb experience’ would be ‘mundane’ enough to close out this chapter of his life.” I am immensely gratified to say that I was pleased and even touched with the elegance of the resolution, and the fact that both ultimately left me extremely satisfied with George’s resolution of these ongoing threads in Trek Lit.

To be sure, there is also a measure of bittersweetness. Kira has been my favorite Deep Space Nine character since the beginning of the TV series, and her amazing arc in this month’s novel was superbly written, emotionally gripping, and completely unexpected. At the same time, neither will Odo, who now is left pondering the future in a way that was equally unexpected as one opened the pages of “Raise the Dawn”.

In two months, George has managed to turn the literary Trek universe on end, upset more than a few apple carts, and – after a bit of a slow start – rapidly accelerate the current novel continuity into overdrive in a way that makes me want to quote Simon Pegg’s Scotty…. “It’s exciting!”


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