The Vanguard series continues its saga with book four, Open Secrets by Dayton Ward. This book covers a lot of time over the first season of the original series from a few weeks after 'The Corbomite Manoeuvre' through to the ending of 'Errand Of Mercy' and references 'Balance Of Terror', 'Courtmartial' and 'Arena' as well. Carrying on days after the dramatic end of Reap The Whirlwind, Commodore Reyes now faces a court-martial for letting Tim Pennington release the information on the Shedai and the incident of Gamma Tauri IV to the news networks. Reyes is removed from command and Commander Cooper is placed in charge until a replacement can be found. The Klingons continue to push into the reach but after the incident at Jinoteur they are prepared for war with anyone who gets in their way. Commodore Reyes' replacement is none other than Admiral Heihachiro Nogura (Starfleet's 'old man' himself) who shakes up the status quo within moments of his arrival. His first week on the job goes from bad to worse when Klingon attacks in the area escalate and a Tholian renegade demands sanctuary on the station. Doctor M'Benga and Tim Pennington take T'Prynn back to Vulcan in an effort to heal her before her mind collapses in on itself forever. Lt. Xiong also has help on the meta-genome project in the form of a young scientist called Carol Marcus. Between them and the Tholian they determine that they must return to Erilon, site of the first Shedai attack, and with the Tholian's assistance, hope to reactivate the Shedai conduit there. While Reyes finds himself dealing with Rana and his court-martial, Nogura has to try to diffuse tensions in the area, prevent the return of the Shedai and try to stop an interstellar war. This book has a lot going for it but compared to the previous Vanguard novels it lacks something. The problem may be that the book covers such a large span of time whereas the first trilogy didn't and there isn't any direct references to the passage of time until the author just drops in an event from a first season show. This can make it feel a little disjointed in places. A stardate or two might have solved that problem. However, this does not detract from the story too much and we get an interesting development on nearly all fronts of the Vanguard story arcs. Ward does a great job of splitting the action between the various plots and as time goes by the need to read the next chapter becomes more and more irresistable. The court-martial is excellent and the introduction of characters like the Tellarite prosecutor Captain Sereb add spice to the whole event. The whole segment with T'Prynn is also well handled and it also gives us a little more insight into her character, her childhood and her family. Jetanien gets a little arc to himself that I'm sure will develop in the coming novels and the possibility of a diplomatic conference between the Federation, the Klingons and the Romulans seems like a possibility. Fans will get a kick out of the site he chooses too. Nogura is a great introduction to this saga and his opening scenes with characters we already know is priceless, especially with Ganz. The introduction of Carol Marcus is also well done and it's obvious where she gets the idea for certain future projects from. The book rattles along at quite a speed and leads up to events that tie in simultaneously with the final moments of 'Errand Of Mercy' and the last chapter is an eye opener. Setting things up for book five nicely, Open Secrets is a welcome addition to one of the best Trek novel sagas in years.
“Open Secrets” by Dayton Ward is the 4th novel in the Star Trek Vanguard series which continues the various plotlines kicked off in the previous novels. A prime focus of the narrative in this book is the investigation and trial of the station’s commander, Commodore Reyes who was arrested at the end of the previous book for allowing classified information to be published by a reporter. In addition, the reader gets to the follow the further deterioration of relations with the Klingon and Tholian Empires, the ongoing search for information on the Shedai technology and the fallout of T’Prynn’s mental breakdown which results in her return to Vulcan.
This book is another enjoyable chapter in the Vanguard series although it didn’t wow me as much as its predecessor, “Reap The Whirlwind”. The storyline developments were interesting and the characters continue to entertain me but there were just no real surprises or twists involved. Everything pretty much progressed as you would expect and there were no elements there that really struck me as being gripping or memorable.
One of the real issues I had with the novel however is in regards to the pacing which at times reduced my reading progress to a slow slog. I think the basic problem was that the novel is overly wordy at times to the point of distraction. Ward is basically using 20 words when 10 would have sufficed and for some reason the editing process has failed to rectify this. It is a shame as some competent editing could have dealt rather easily with this issue to ensure the pacing was better.
A nice element to the story is in regards to Ward’s ability to link various events into the wider Star Trek universe. I enjoyed seeing both the tie in to the Original Series in regards to the peace between the Klingons and Federation that was imposed by the Organians and the inclusion of Carol Marcus’ involvement with Shedai technology that hints at the future Genesis project seen in Star Trek II. Sometimes I think these links to the wider universe can be rather brutally shoehorned into a novel but with “Open Secrets” it all felt rather natural and subtle which I did appreciate.
Overall, this is a novel which competently continues the plots started in the previous Vanguard novels but doesn’t really provide any genuinely memorable or exciting parts. For fans of the series there is more than enough here to provide some entertainment but when you hold it up against the previous novel it seems rather lacking
I absolutely love this Vanguard series, I've been hooked since the first book and every subsequent installment has just kept me wanting more and more! If you haven't already read the previuos books in teh series, I would definately recommend that you do so and in fact I'm quite envious as you've got a pile of great books to indulge yourself! The thing is that it is an ongoing storyline and it is quite difficult to pick up the story without having read the previous books. There is a short summary of the story so far at the front of the book and in the previous book in the series, "Reap the Whirlwind", a very comprehensive glossary which I looked at from time to time. But this is a great series, like watching a series on telly and I'm just wanting the next installment NOW! Every installment is a fantastic romp in the 23rd century Trek universe with one or two familiar names but mostly a whole new cast of characters. Enjoy!