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A satisfying conclusion to the series
on 13 February 2014
This is the last book in The Fall mini-series and it has a lot to live up to. Book 4 (The Poisoned Chalice) in particular was a blinder and this was always going to struggle to match it, however it doesn’t do badly. Dayton Ward sometimes has a tendency to reiterate a lot of the earlier stories, which is unnecessary if, like me, you’ve just read them all virtually back to back. If you’ve come to this book as a standalone novel however, you will probably need that amount of backstory in order to make much sense of what’s going on. Overall, it’s not a criticism as some will benefit, others will not.
This time the main character is Dr Crusher, who heads up a small team looking into an archaeological dig on a world once populated by Bajorans during the Cardassian occupation years earlier. There is evidence that suggests that the new Federation President elect may not be all he says he is and Crusher must locate it before others destroy it. Unfortunately this requires the reader to travel back in time on several occasions and you do have to concentrate just to be clear whether you are in the past or present, as some of the same names occur in both timeframes. One benefit of this however is that we finally get a bit more backstory on the President elect, which has been in short supply elsewhere in the series. Indeed it could be argued that he has been a bit underwritten previously, appearing from nowhere and suddenly about to take on the most powerful job in the Federation. There has always been that hint of menace, and doubt about his motivations, but it is only in this story that we find out the full story. I won’t spoil it here though.
Aside from Dr Crusher, Picard and Riker also appear periodically throughout the book and it is a satisfying conclusion that it requires their combined efforts to finally ‘do what’s right’ and contribute to putting the Federation back on course. As other reviewers have commented, some recent Trek novels have tended to steer a dark path, which felt at odds with Gene Roddenberry’s original more optimistic vision of the future. Certainly there will always be the “bad guys” that have to be dealt with, and the occasional maverick on ‘our’ side, but the Federation’s core values should be undoubted and hopefully, after this mini-series they will be returned to where they should be.
Overall a good read, only slightly marred by jumps in the narrative and a certain amount of repetition in places. A must read for anyone that's read the earlier novels and ok as a standalone book in it's own right.