The end of Star Trek New Frontier: The Returned Part 1 (released July 2015) found our intrepid heroes from the USS Excalibur on a mission to an uncharted ‘Pocket Universe’ to rescue Federation captives from a ruthless warlord race named the D’myurj, and the Excalibur’s own Captain Mackenzie Calhoun out for vengeance against them for the genocide of an entire race; the Xenexians.
The Returned Part 2 opens with the crew confronted by the Dayan, another equally dangerous race with a vendetta against the D’myurj and offering assistance with the Captain’s mission of revenge.
In meeting this new race have the crew opened up a whole set of problems for themselves or could the old saying be true; ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend?’
Meanwhile Mark McHenry, Robin Lefler & her infant son Cwansi are trying to stay alive and navigate the political climate of New Thallon. It’s through this storyline that we learn about the Thallon of old’s political history, their religious beliefs & the story of how the Cwan family came to power through a mysterious deity named ‘The Awesome’.
Simply put, The Returned Part 2 had me on the edge of my seat and improved over its predecessor in every way possible. Where The Returned Part 1 had to allocate a lot of time into setting up the story and where all the various characters were after a long hiatus, The Returned Part 2 jumps straight into the story and from the very first page I couldn’t put it down. It’s a fantastically well written sci-fi story with some of my favourite Star Trek characters on screen or page.
In seventeen years since New Frontier’s inception this is the most in depth look we’ve had yet in seeing how Thallon existed before it was destroyed and I was more than grateful for it. The Thallon chapters have a very ‘Game of Thrones‘ feel to them filled with amazing powers, political intrigue and family betrayals.
The theme of the book appears to be ‘who do you trust?’ with Calhoun desperately wanting to trust the Dayan but not quite being able to and Lefler & McHenry attempting to navigate life on New Thallon by playing the public system.
Peter David (PAD) certainly outdid himself with the plot moving at a fantastically brisk pace full of twists, turns and last minute surprises.
The Dayan themselves were, for me, the most successful new Star Trek species introduced in a long while with a truly unique look (think an articulate Prince Goro from Mortal Kombat). Intelligent, cunning and frighteningly ruthless the Dayan are more than a match for Captain Calhoun and his crew and I can’t wait to see how this match of wills will unfold in the final part of the trilogy.
New readers that have heard great things and want to jump aboard may find themselves lost with threads being pulled from the entirety of New Frontier’s history but David’s writing is so good and so expressive I’m sure you’ll find yourself getting absorbed into the story.
The action scenes are as epic as they come with the crew faced with foes so formidable, with even the Brikar Lieutenant Zak Kebron being as tested as we’ve ever seen him. There is also a small amount of gore that really shows just how out of their depth the crew are.
As always PAD’s character development is on point with major moments for Calhoun, McHenry and Lefler all having major moments that should propel there characters forward. There are a few characters missing such as Morgan Primus & Elizabeth Shelby (I missed her banter with Calhoun) but a lot of potentially brilliant new characters are introduced such as the formidable Dayan leader Nyos & the Excalibur’s new Chief Medical Officer Kathleen Lochley (who has an appalling sense of timing!).
The writing style is classic Peter David with a brisk pace, plenty of character development and a generous helping of his trademark humour. David’s knowledge of Star Trek lore is as vast as it is impressive and is always put to impressive use in his Star Trek work.
One minor note: the covers for these new New Frontier stories don’t seem to be on par with the rest of the Star Trek universe books recent covers, a minor note I know but after seeing the fantastic covers for the last few Deep Space Nine novels, especially the covers to Star Trek: Seekers, I can’t help but feel New Frontier was short changed in the cover department, after all this was New Frontier’s big return and the cover is the first thing new readers would see.
Star Trek New Frontier the Returned Part 2 is a brilliantly written tour de force of spectacular sci-fi, intense action and eerie paranoia with a last page that I guarantee will have you as eagerly awaiting the final part in the trilogy (available for download September 7th 2015) as I am.
Highly recommended and remember guys, never judge a book by its cover!