Top critical review
Out of place and badly paced (contains spoliers)
on 29 September 2013
'Silent Weapons' is the 2nd book in David Mack's new 'Next Generation' trilogy... okay, that's not strictly true. This does not feel like a trilogy to me, not in the way that 'Destiny' did. These books, yes they have the common thread linking them together of Data's resurrection and his desire to restore Lal (his android daughter from Next Gen's 3rd season), but the stories feel almost totally stand alone. This is especially so with this book, which feels like it would have been better placed as part of the 'Typhon Pact' series.
So, plot in a nutshell; Data is looking for a scientist who can restore his daughter, while the Enterprise crew are off doing... Enterprisey things, I guess. The crew get involved in the search for a missing starship, then get a distress call from Data, they head off to help him, find out that the Federation president is negotiating with the Gorn (part of the Typhon Pact), that the Breen (Typhon Pact again) are up to no good and then Picard saves the day. (Very basic, but there we go)
Now, I didn't dislike this book per se. My big problem with it is that it just seems to plod on slowly for about 75% of the time, but doesn't seem to accomplish anything. Pacing has been a big problem with this trilogy so far. Book 1 did too much in too small an amount of time to get to the 'climax' that was so obviously going to happen, this book takes forever to actually get anywhere and then when it does arrive it throws everything at you all at once. Another issue I have is the road that Mack takes Data down. I don't mind him trying to restore his daughter, that feels like a natural next step for Data to take. But I don't buy into the idea of him not resuming his duties on the Enterprise. This would have been better, as it would have given the opportunity for some character work with Data and Worf about their status on the ship. Remember, Worf is Picard's current first officer after Riker's promotion; a position that was originally to be filled by Data. Putting Data back in the uniform could have given a chance for a little bit of character conflict between the two (FYI, I think Worf makes a much better XO than Data would have). Instead, we get some rubbish between Picard and Crusher when she gets snippy cos he put her and their son before his duties as a Starfleet officer. I see the point that Mack was going for, but this just feels forced; like conflict for the sake of conflict.
Now, I realise I said that I DIDN'T dislike this book per se... so I guess I'd better say something positive about it. 1) I like the return of the Breen. I loved these guys when they were bought in towards the end of 'Deep Space Nine' as new allies of the Dominion and have enjoyed what has been done with them in the 'Typhon Pact' novels (which basically had free-reign with them as DS9 left it pretty vague about their culture) and this book continues on from there well. The Breen now are what the Romulans used to be in the Trek-universe. 2) I LOVED Picard playing the hard-ass at the end of the book against the Breen. I think David Mack really got the essence of Jean-Luc Picard down here and I could so imagine Patrick Stewart playing the hell out of this scene, which leads me to 3) Once again, Mack has got the characterisation of the established crew down to a tee (barring my issues with Data as already mentioned)
As the 2nd book of a trilogy, this book does fail to deliver. In Part 2 of a trilogy, I want escalation and rising tension. I want to see the story progressed from the beginning and I want to be left fired up for the concluding part. 'Silent Weapons' doesn't do that for me. Again, it isn't a bad book; it doesn't really work in the context of this trilogy. It really is a 'Typhon Pact' story as it does more to progress that arc than it does the trilogy to which it belongs. In trilogy terms; we aren't dealing with 'The Empire Strikes Back' so much as we are with 'Attack of the Clones'. It just remains to be seen whether David Mack can salvage it with the final instalment.