In many ways it is a typical scenario for the series and not only
because I have read it in the previous book, "The Chosen": Sheppard and
his team visit a world in which there is a privileged, arrogant and
partly decadent upper class and the majority of the population are very
poor, oppressed "commoners".
Of course that is a very rough description and there are infinite
possibilities how to make this scenario distinctive, interesting and
sometimes even surprising. James Swallow described both sides very well.
I expected bad things from Halcyon`s ruling class but the author
succeeded in surprising me a few times. Although I had a feeling from
early on that the ruler`s daughter is one of the few good exceptions of
What makes this book interesting is the twist that the Wraith are the
hunted and enslaved. Contrary to "The Chosen", a book that "dehumanized"
them even so much by calling them "it", "Halcyon" is more sophisticated.
I actually felt torn. I was touched by the brutality the Wraith also
showed in this book but also felt revulsion at the brutal treatment they
had received. Fortunately the more recent Stargate Atlantis started to
show a more three dimensional portrayal of the Wraith and I am sure,
there is a lot we still don`t know about them. Can I really blame Wraith
who are badly starved and driven insane by the device, who have been
enslaved and used as weapons when they turn at their former masters when
they get the chance? Scar, their leader, was actually a very interesting
character, a villain but also a victim at the same time. This book is
not just a simple black and white story and I liked that very much.
Step by step, like Sheppard and his team, I learned more about what is
going on until the big secret was discovered. The author definitely
succeeded in surprising me and what happened on the Wraith ship was a
I didn`t expect a happy end for the people of Halcyon. It is nice that I
was wrong but the end felt too positive to me. The ruler evolved from a
ruthless ruler to a broken weakling to a man who suddenly discovers some
goodness in his heart, the error of his ways and a determination to die
doing some good. It was a bit too much out of a cliché book for my taste
and I actually cringed. That his daughter wasn`t such a bad person is
nothing I have a problem with but that she is willing to suddenly
embrace the poor underclass, introduce democracy and get rid of the
decadent, cruel wars between the nobles - again, that is nice but I am
not so sure if that is realistic. At least the author mentioned that
there are no guarantees about Halcyon`s future and that includes the
question if the Wraith will come back or not.
A big strength of this book are the characterizations of Sheppard and
his team. There is not much I can say about Sheppard and McKay: They are
definitely how I remember them from the series and I could see again why
I enjoy these characters so much.
I enjoyed the parts with Teyla and Ronon too, but this book offered some
surprises to me, this time definitely positive ones. Teyla has been
shown to be a sensitive, gentle woman but also a skilled fighter when
she has to be. These skills Teyla has shown so far wasn`t much more than
her stick fencing and using a gun. "Halcyon" shows Teyla`s gentle and
diplomatic side but for the first time also a ferocity, a ruthlessness
that surprised me. I found it very interesting and I also think, it
makes her character more three dimensional.
I am a big fan of the episode "Sateda" but I already liked the
introduction of Ronon. "Halcyon" takes place shortly after "Runner",
that means at a time when he just joined. I was surprised that the bond
between him and the rest of the team was already so strong. I enjoyed
that aspect a lot but had to wonder sometimes. After a while I decided
to just stop wondering and enjoy the interaction of these characters.
This book showed me again that Ronon is definitely much more interesting
than Ford ever was.
All in all, it is an entertaining read and I am very much looking
forward to the next book.