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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Still reeling from the disappointment, 16 Jan. 2013
This review is from: Star Trek: Enterprise: The Romulan War: To Brave the Storm (Star Trek: Enterprise series Book 14) (Kindle Edition)
I think it's only fair I give warning that this review will contain spoilers, as I feel it's the only way to give a proper review of this book. Please do not read any further if you do not wish to learn anything which cannot be unlearned.

Well... what can I say about this book except "what went wrong?!" I've had a few days since finishing the book to mull over the experience, and while I came out of it more positive originally, I am now feeling less favourable towards the whole thing.

To Brave the Storm pales in comparison to Beneath the Raptor's Wing in just about every sense, bar one - the crew of Enterprise do get a lot more time in the limelight. Unfortunately, this is not a good a thing as you might imagine.

While I did see complaints about the main characters' spotlight time being minimal in part I, their presence in part II is actually fairly inconsequential. Beyond learning that the characters are older and have mostly received promotions, absolutely nothing new is learned about any of them.

Reed, Hoshi and Mayweather are relegated to an almost peripheral role as they were in the TV series. Indeed, Mayweather's return to Enterprise, and any kind of conflict between him and his replacement are totally glossed over. A main member of the original crew swallows his pride and matures beyond his prejudices for Archer's perceived mistake regarding the Kobayashi Maru and returns to his original ship all in the blink of an eye, with no fanfare, just a sentence to explain his presence away. And as for Ensign Leydon - the helmsperson he is replacing - you have to remember she's served on Enterprise almost as long as Mayweather at this point, but clearly she hasn't earned the same respect from Archer!

While we're talking about Mayweather - his bizarre lack of interaction with Gannet Brooks throughout had me wondering if she was indeed the same character he was involved with in Demons/Terra Prime. Further to that, absolutely no mention of Gannet working for Starfleet Intelligence is made during any of her appearances as far as I recall. Surely a wartime correspondent who spent over a year on the front lines would be a valuable asset for Starfleet Intelligence, no?

Phlox barely even figures at all after the earliest chapters, and nothing is learned about him in the aftermath of the war.

A very disappointing aspect of this story for me is the scope of the book is nowhere near as large as part I. The entire book focuses on the four primary plot threads - Enterprise, Admiral Valdore, T'Pau and Trip. Very little is done to expand on the politics and relationships that contributed to the rich story and feeling of community in the first book. The Tellarites and Andorians are mostly absent after they pull the forces back from the front line, and despite a rather odd non-sequitur involving Shran's wife and child, hardly anything more is mentioned about anyone outside of the main four parties. The bickering and internal politics between the general public, Starfleet, MACO, the United Earth Government, the Coalition Compact and the Earth News Service are also amongst the list of casualties in this book.

Also, the timeframe of this story takes massive jumps to get from 2156 to 2161. This leads it to be a very hollow experience when compared to Beneath the Raptor's Wing. The time jumps, in addition to the dropping of the bigger picture makes me feel like a lot of threads that were given significant focus in the first part (such as Tobin Dax, Columbia, the search for ECS Horizon, etc), were ultimately pointless in the grand scheme of things.

These jumps also have the negative effect of no one scene having any particular emotional impact - for instance we learn at one point that Captain Ramirez of Intrepid is killed. This is someone we met in the series, and while we didn't know much about him, it was someone that we actually saw. Any emotional impact is wiped away when the next scenes are taking place a year later. Everyone else has moved on, so should the reader. In fact, this gives the whole book the feeling of not so much a continuing narrative, as a dramatised encyclopaedia, picking out the major points of the war.

I'm not sure if this is due to the time jumps - but there's a rather obvious and jarring command from Archer at one point to "raise shields". Up to that point, I don't recall any talk of shields being developed or installed on any vessels. In fact, the only tech advancement we see during this story is the Daedalus-class vessels being upgraded to be Warp Five capable.

Some of the plot points are contrived, even for sci-fi, such as Trip falling into the lap of Terix, who just so happens to be on a rendezvous with Valdore, who just so happens to have a Tal Shiar operative on hand, who just so happens to be an undercover Vulcan...

Also in this category - it's not mentioned until after Valdore picks up Trip and T'Luadh that the Tal Shiar operative actually knows Trip's real identity. Which begs the question - did Trip really have years' worth of the drug to keep his blood green on him (time dilation notwithstanding)?

Everything is inevitably building up towards the Battle of Cheron - the deciding battle of the war. Of course we know Starfleet will prevail, just like we know it will lead to the Federation being formed. And if you've read Last Full Measure - we know from the prologue that Trip survives the whole thing anyway. As Enterprise itself was a prequel, we know where it's all going, but that never stopped the series from delivering tense drama, such as Azati Prime, Damage and Terra Prime. As the old saying goes, "the journey is just as important as the destination". Unfortunately, this book does not live up to that.

The battle itself was no more epic, no more exciting than any of the other battles described in either part of the story. Unfortunately, action scenes do not seem to be Mr Martin's forté, and the battle scenes that do have any degree of detail are rather flat. In fact, more often than not, you're taken away from the main scene of the action, follow some secondary character and then dropped back into the battle once all the damage has been done. Something TNG didn't get right until about the third season was "show, don't tell" - this book is the literary equivalent of that failing. Indeed, an action writer's finesse such as David Mack's is sorely missed throughout this book (as anyone who has read his Corps of Engineers or Vanguard efforts will testify).

Another prime example of this would be when we discover the Romulans broke the last line of defense and managed to nuke two major cities on Earth. On a positive note, we had seen these shock kamikaze tactics used to emotional and climactic effect on at least two previous occasions - but this is Earth we're talking about - there's a vested interest from the reader. Because it's EARTH. It's who we're SUPPOSED to root for! Instead, it's something we only see the aftermath of, and at best it's a couple of sentences describing Archer's guilt and grief.

The deciding battle itself is won - barely - and rather than come to terms with the hell of war, mourn fallen comrades and pick up the pieces, we're thrown straight into the next section. The war is over, the Romulans have declared peace (to bide their time most likely), the Federation Charter is being signed, Archer has moved on and Enterprise has been mothballed... As a reader, I was left wondering what I'd just read - the entire series had essentially just ended in one chapter, without an adequate conclusion, just a "there it is, accept it". No characters looking forward to being explorers rather than soldiers, no celebrations from ANY of the people we met along the way... just a final bit of Romulan Machiavellian hijinks to wrap things up.

The story then unsatisfactorily finishes by jumping 25 years into the future and catches up with a couple of the key players and a less than subtle wrap-up of what became of Trip, T'Pol and their future. Apart from a fleeting reference to Hoshi living on Tarsus IV (which a DS9 episode mentions suffered a major massacre during the post-war period) and Archer being involved in politics, absolutely nothing else is learned. And then it just ends.

Considering readers had followed the relaunch since Last Full Measure - probably to mostly undo the dreadful series finale - what we're served up is essentially These Are The Voyages II. Overall, this jaded the whole experience for me as it did not have a satisfying conclusion.

The only thing I really learned? Archer never liked the title Commodore.

I do believe there is a new chapter in the series being penned by Christopher L Bennett, called Rise of the Federation, scheduled for release later in 2013 - hopefully this will set Enterprise back on the right track and make a move back to stories that are as much about the characters as they are about filling in the blanks (barely) in Trek history.
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 17 Dec 2013 00:39:18 GMT
arsenal says:
What Rise of the federation ? like rise of the guardians, the dark Knight Rises, rise of the planet of the apes ? Really ? OMG !!!!! JJ has ruined star trek now they are having a punch at it ? Why ? Can't they think anything original ?
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