Date: 30 May 2013 18:43 Title: Chapter 30
The ending of the second book of your Chronicles trilogy! Having read it I think it can be summarized as follows; higher highs and lower lows.
The chapters and scenes concerning the Romulans were great, Hank's captivity and escape and that final battle were great and if not awesome! I felt that nearly every character if this story developed, everyone from T'Kel, Nick, Bethany, Tony, Leo, Karrie, Chris, Mark, Madison and Paul. There seemed to be a rather striking balance as you cycled through every main character.
The weakest links were definitely Daren and Charles. Though they tended to be featured in nearly always The Wreck I thought each conversation was a bit of a rehash from the previous one; Charles drinks and becomes overly optimistic and Daren always worries about his child, as for Quincy... What did Quincy contribute to this story??? I think the only section which grabbed my attention was the D-story concerning one of Charle's ancestors. That gave the ending a little wondrous and perhaps even mystical quality to it. Was there -- when there seemed to be no hope for the Pearl -- a force from the supernatural to give them some hope or nudge the situation a little tiny bit in their favour? Now that is some good story-telling which defines the best books out there: Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter and so forth. That was a clever addition on your part which adds to the hopeful feel at the end (well not exactly at the end, really near the end more like!)
As for the higher highs: Karrie performing two successful beam-outs under difficult circumstances, the destruction of the Del'Vreer ship, introducing Worf, that scene between Barash and the Protector, and Hank finally returning to the Pearl. Those were ---- yeah! moments. Moments which surpassed your first Chronicles book.
But now come the lower lows. I feel there are two main points of contention: 1. the logic of the Del'Vreer, and 2. characterization and some of our main character's interactions and exposition.
Firstly, the bigger issue here, is the first point. Why do I get the sense that the Del'Vreer are sort of giving the Alpha Quadrant a chance to fight back? Why were Hank, Odon and K'rull, plus thirty others allowed to escape on the Hayes? Why did that Del'Vreer vessel attack Sela's fleet and thus destroy any chance of Sela's rebellion working? And thus allowing for a successful coup or a Romulan civil war, and depriving the Federation and Klingons of an ally to fight against the Del'Vreer?
That McCain fellow said his race were just going to let the Alpha Quadrant tare itself apart (with a little assistance from the Del'Vreer) and then the Del'Vreer were going to swoop in. Why have the Del'Vreer changed their plan so suddenly and thus made it a bit more harder for themselves to capture the Alpha Quadrant? It doesn't make any sense and for all of the Del'Vreer's games (take for instance Maria torturing and humiliating Hank) are they really that confident that they are going to give the Federation, Klingons and Romulans a chance to defend themselves?
The ending perhaps gives a clue to the Del'Vreer's power though I have a feeling it could be something else entirely. But I have learnt one thing the Del'Vreer are masters at bluffing and the fact they have gone to all this length to try and force the Alpha Quadrant to destroy itself, suggests to me that the Del'Vreer expect some serious resistance. And the longer this resistance endures the higher the chances of their enemies capturing some of their (Del'Vreer) technology and using it against the Del'Vreer. So why are the Del'Vreer taking such unnecessary risks? Hopefully the third book can provide a good answer to this otherwise the logic behind this book is going to be all muddled.
There were other mysteries like what captain Rachel Garrett found out about the Del'Vreer and possibly Barash's people, though I think that is a diversion from the main plot. Unless it factors into a way of Starfleet finding weapons to defeat the Del'Vreer, or at least halt this aggressive race's advance.
Secondly was the characterization. Half the time when things felt off, I think it was just unfortunate exposition and perhaps a few errors on your part, so with a little tweaking it would come off a lot more better. The other half of these characterization errors stemmed from something much deeper; you seemed to have misread the situation with respect to the present circumstances and the backstory of our main characters. Take Chris and Mark, for half of this story those two came off as bickering brothers and sometimes they argued in their shift in front of people or even in front of other senior staff! This goes beyond unprofessional this just would not happen. I can accept them arguing if they were alone or had some privacy on duty, but to give such a bad display in front of others... That just didn't feel right or realistic; which is an aspect you are really trying to pull off here.
In previous reviews I brought up one or two other issues concerning characterization but I won't go into them here.
Some of the characters you introduced felt pushed to the sidelines. For instance the Pearl's new first officer (Leonerd somebody was it) often seemed like an additional, an afterthought, which was perhaps the biggest clue that Hank was coming back to the Pearl. If Hank was never coming back you would have undoubtedly giving more exposition and character development to our new first officer!
Finally there are some other notable things in this story. The descriptive was pretty good and it left me with very vivid images in my mind about Gallos and even Hank's prison, so that definitely added to the atmosphere. Secondly I really really liked the additional of Worf and though he had a few parts, the parts did he have contributed so much to the story. Plus you did his dialogue justice and he is one very hard canon character to write, but you more or less captured Worf's mannerisms pretty well! Lastly The Wreck is a great name for a lounge and I feel it could become more iconic in both the third Chronicles book and other ones which may, or may not, follow! But you've definitely created a new Ten Forward!
Would I say the second book is better than the first? It's hard to tell, they seem more or less even right now. But their readability ultimately comes down to the third book which I will be starting on, so if the third book explains everything, any niggling doubts I had about the first and second book's logic (concerning the Del'Vreer) will be vanquished.
So all in all, right now, I would give Star Trek Chronicles: Old Foes, New Allies five stars out of five, considering how this book was just as enjoyable to read (overall mind you) as your first major Chronicles book.
Date: 30 May 2013 17:43 Title: Chapter 28
Why the Del'Vreer ship is attacking Sela's forces is a mystery to me. I mean the Del'Vreer want a Romulan civil war and all the Alpha Quadrant powers at each other's throats. So why are the Del'Vreer attacking now and changing their plans?
Apart from that things are coming together rather nicely, and I sense that the Pearl and Hank are going to be reunited very soon.
Date: 30 May 2013 17:31 Title: Chapter 27
An interesting account about this angel, as someone who believes in the metaphysical this could be one of those stories with an element of truth to it.
And T'Kel is considering wiping away the memories of her unborn child? That's pretty extreme and could threaten her mental health far more than her grief -- for her dead baby -- ever would.
Date: 30 May 2013 16:55 Title: Chapter 24
Looks like Karrie's transporter demons are now going to be a thing of the past! I even raised my fists in triumph when she pulled it off! I was expecting something to go wrong but it was a happy ending! Well a temporary one at least...
Date: 30 May 2013 16:41 Title: Chapter 23
Finally! This nameless foe has a name! The Del'Vreer. Is that pronounced Del' Vree-er? Or something?
Finally I think the Protector was lying to Winsor, there is nothing of Rachel left and the Protector lured Winsor over here so that he could finally meet Barash!
Date: 30 May 2013 16:16 Title: Chapter 21
I bet come the end of this trilogy those two (Madison and Chris) will share a kiss! I know how this goes and I love it! Chris has made his move and Madison is receptive. She goes away she thinks about it, she comes to some kind of resolution about Chris and we get the same scene but reversed and then... Magic! Though it would have been cool if those two had kissed in the Jeffrey's tube!
Oh yes and Winsor's hunch proved to be correct... (as you can see I'm clearly daydreaming about what could have gone down in that Jeffrey's tube!)
Date: 30 May 2013 16:01 Title: Chapter 20
So Hank is rooted in reality but he is in the wrong time! I was not expecting that! Okay you have really stepped up the twists and turns here but it's going to take some serious imagination to tie everything all together in one cohesive and satisfying narrative!
Date: 30 May 2013 15:48 Title: Chapter 19
You know there is something which doesn't quite gel with some of your main characters. For instance with nearly every conversation between Chris and Mark, those two are almost bickering and Chris is acting rather child-like so it doesn't make sense this forced rivalry your imposing upon the two. Also some of the senior staff seem way to enthusiastic about beaming down to Gallos, it's almost like they've forgotten what happened when they arrived at New Haven, and Gallos seems considerably more dangerous. You would think the senior staff would be more weary, especially Tony who is outwardly acting like nothing happened.
I just get the feeling that your characterizations are a little off here and it is best exampled by Nick's exposition, he feels somewhat excited about the prospect of war!?! Say what now! I know you are more familiar with these characters, but I still say that is the wrong emotional response from Nick about regarding this incoming war.
But I do like Gallos and it being a graveyard of a planet. Though no hazard suits for the away team?
And as for this Romulan secret... I'm looking to what exactly it is and I have a feeling it's going to be revealed in this book.
Date: 30 May 2013 10:27 Title: Chapter 18
"So many cultures and people had been harmed because of their religious beliefs."
Yikes! I was not at all offended by this, but if you do happen to be religious...
The sooner Starfleet medical finds a way to unmask these aliens the better! And it makes sense Jennings suspicions about Cain, so perhaps this alien race are not quite as powerful as they make out to be? Perhaps their power lies with infiltration...
Date: 30 May 2013 10:16 Title: Chapter 17
So that's what happened to Maxwell! I'm starting to believe what Hank is seeing is real, plus you seem to be converging the many loose threads of the first story towards one direction.
So: a crazy Klingon, a disillusioned Romulan, a burnt-out Starfleet captain, and thirty of forty traumatized crew members of the Hayes. What could possibly go wrong for Hank?
Date: 30 May 2013 09:58 Title: Chapter 15
Alright! Hank has escaped! Though I fear it could be one of his visions, and now Maria (that vile sadistic wrench who had tortured Hank in the waking world) is now messing with his dreams!
Also you making some use of Leo to, and he's now becoming more than just an afterthought in the first Chronicles book!
Also I'm at the halfway point, and right now I'm feeling the same way about this book as I did with the last one at the same point. The first half was good but I get a feeling the second half is going to be even better.
I do get the feeling though that focusing on the main characters you gave very few scenes to (from the first Chronicles book) and Tony, Leo, Paul and Karrie had some decent scenes. Though I think out of all the characters, T'Kel's backstory was the most moving.
As for Hank... Wow, he has gone through hell and at every level he was suffering. Whether that be the torture sessions with Maria or Hekon, the drugs they gave to him which gave him first those disturbing visions, and then visions where he is now dating Maria. I love how you give that sense of how nothing could be real and all of it could be a mere projection of Hank's head, even perhaps his escape. If you do that then I think Hank is in eternal damnation until the aliens terminate him.
However as all-powerful as these aliens seem, there does seem to be some hope. For starters that data dump into Starfleet's databanks suggests the Federation has an ally (against this foe) somewhere in the Alpha Quadrant or beyond. Also I like how you have added more mystery to the Enterprise C's disappearance and Rachel Garrett. So if you can pull it off and you do have a great explanation for what she knows, then it could add whole new meaning to the TNG episode 'Yesterday's Enterprise'.
Finally it seems like you've balanced out your main characters more, so that now each one of them appears to be getting a roughly equal amount of scenes for character development. I have a feeling that could pay off in the second half when our Starfleet convey to Romulus confronts Sela.
Date: 30 May 2013 09:41 Title: Chapter 14
Poor Winsor, no wonder he such a cranky old loner if he keeps on dwelling about Rachel Garrett. Finally is Riker's full name; Richard Thomas Riker? Or was that Riker reference related to Barash having a conversation with Riker in the past? And thus it is not Thomas Riker commanding this ship? A little confused here!
Date: 30 May 2013 01:00 Title: Chapter 12
God! I have just realised something! The Enterprise C rendered assistance to a Klingon colony which was under attack by Romulans, but what if they weren't Romulans? What if they were those aliens? I mean in Yesterday's Enterprise we saw the consequences of what happened had the Enterprise-C not intervened. Perhaps that's why these aliens have got in for the Pearl? Because it resembles the Enterprise-C?
Wow! Quite the story between T'Kel and Paul! As for Madison and Chris... If that is love then it is seriously messed up love!
And already you seem to be pairing off our main characters. Chris/Madison, Mark/Karrie, and Hank/Bethany. I'm not sure if that is a little soon, but Chris/Madison and Hank/Bethany feel plausible and not forced. As for Mark/Karrie... I'm not so sure...
Date: 30 May 2013 00:46 Title: Chapter 11
WORF!!! Hell yeah! Hell yeah!
Stuff Nick, you should have made Worf captain of the Pearl! Worf would have picked up everyones morale! But oh well!
Good job with Worf because his stoic manner and oneliners are difficult to write, and out of all the canon main characters, Worf is a tough character to do any justice to...
Date: 30 May 2013 00:30 Title: Chapter 10
Poor Hank, now he can't even find peace in his sleep!
Looks like all the loyalty Hank instilled in the crew is starting to backfire a bit for Nick. I mean no matter how much Nick tries to emulate Hank's command style, he can't because he is not Hank so maybe Paul has a point...
Date: 30 May 2013 00:11 Title: Chapter 8
It's funny but Karrie was one of the Pearl's senior staff members who came onboard with the most amount of baggage, and yet she is probably coping the best and his the most realistic expectations regarding the captain.
Another cool thing is how you're making the main characters interact and form some new connections, I particularly like the Tony/Mark friendship and also you gave Karrie a scene to! So it seems in this story you're focusing a bit more on characters who felt like more of an afterthought in your first Chronicles book.
Also The Wreck seems like a very appropriate name for the lounge as does the composition of its sign! Though I never realised that Risian club lights could make clothes see-through!!! I mean how is that possible!?!