Pocket Books, out now
There are many enjoyable elements about David R George III’s continuation of the Typhon Pact saga, in particular the way in which he puts many of the events of the four preceding novels into a geopolitical context, and in this respect he’s following in the footsteps of Keith DeCandido’s Articles of the Federation. The stories of Ben Sisko and Spock continue from his previous Typhon Pact novel; the former’s reactions make more sense than they did before while Spock is starting to be moved into position for his 2009 movie appearance.
However with so many threads running through the first volume, there are numerous recaps of who knew what when – and when this is added to George’s always wordy style it makes for a book that at times feels as if it’s getting bogged down in detail rather than telling its own story. It doesn’t help that there seems to be conscious efforts to bolster the word count: a computer, for instance, doesn’t just say something, we have to be told that it’s the computer station resounding in its usual feminine tone. We also get some odd breaks in dialogue for people to reflect on unconnected matters, say how well their subordinate Is doing. That’s fine for Data who has the capacity to multitask at an insane level, but Picard has other things on his mind at the time that he wanders off on this sort of reverie.
That produces a real problem with pacing. Reading the first half of Plagues of Night I couldn’t help but feel that the material was being stretched far further than it should have been – a feeling that was confirmed when the second novel was far better-paced, with none of the speedbumps of the first book. I can understand why it was felt necessary to end the story at the particular point chosen, particularly given how the duology ends, but if that was the case then the first book should have been shorter, since it only accounts for about a third of the two volumes’ plot.
Verdict: George goes for an epic scale in this duology which comes off some of the time (much more in the second than the first book) and its failings are more at an editorial level – as with Michael Martin’s first Romulan War novel, much tighter control should have been exercised to bring the undoubted high points of this story to the fore. 6/10 and 8/10 respectively.