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Library Computer: Review of Star Trek Enterprise: The Romulan War: Beneath The Raptor’s Wing

Next week Simon & Schuster releases its big trade paperback "Star Trek Enterprise: The Romulan War: Beneath the Raptor’s Wing." This book should be of interest to both fans of Enterprise, as well as those who want to learn more about a conflict we first heard about during The Original Series. Today we have an an early review which is extensive, befitting this extra-long trade paperback.  


 

Book Review: Star Trek: Enterprise – The Romulan War: Beneath the Raptor’s Wing
by Michael A. Martin
Pocket Books Trade Paperback – 464 pages
 

[Be advised that this review includes minor spoilers for this and other Enterprise books.]

The Earth/Romulan War. In the minds of Star Trek fans, the words conjure images of sleek battleships decorated with menacing birds of prey. A desperate war for the survival of Humanity, fought over vast distances of interstellar space. Atomic holocaust delivered mercilessly by an unseen enemy from the stars. For more than 40 years now, Trek fans have been left to flesh out those images, and the stories behind them, in their own imaginations. Then Star Trek: Enterprise arrived on the airwaves – a franchise prequel set just a few scant years prior to the conflict. Suddenly, we had context for the era and the events – a fleshed out pre-history in the form of fully realized starships, technology and characters. But for better or worse, Enterprise’s broadcast run was cut short before the Earth/Romulan War could be addressed by the show’s writers. So while the seeds for the conflict were planted during the series’ fourth and final season, the task of chronicling the war itself has fallen to Pocket Books. That effort officially begins now.

Written solo by author Michael A. Martin, who co-penned the two previous installments in Pocket’s Enterprise “re-launch” with Andy Mangels, “The Romulan War: Beneath the Raptor’s Wing” opens just moments after the cliffhanger ending of the previous installment, “Kobayashi Maru,” (see TrekMovie review) and the official declaration of war against the Romulans by the fledgling Coalition of Planets. Over the course of its weighty, 464 pages, Raptor’s Wing unveils the story of the conflict’s first full year, from mid-2155 to mid-2156.

Now, I should probably admit up front that I’m in the minority of Trek fans that actually liked Enterprise, particularly over its last two seasons, and very much warmed its characters. As such, I also enjoyed both previous Enterprise re-launch books, so I’ve been quite looking forward to "Raptor’s Wing," albeit with a degree of apprehension given the enormity of its charge. But on the whole, having now read it front to back a couple of times, I’m pleased to say that the book is a lot better than I was expecting. And I mostly wasn’t disappointed.

The real joy of reading "Raptor’s Wing" for most Trek fans will be in the discovery of its sheer scope and detail. Martin has crafted a surprisingly believable story here – one of vast astro-political scale. As with the previous books, "Raptor’s Wing" splits its focus between various parallel plotlines, including Trip Tucker’s shifting undercover activities and the continued efforts of Archer, T’Pol and the crew of the NX-01 to manage both Coalition wartime politics and the actual fighting of the conflict. This time, however, the cast of characters has been greatly expanded. You see, the story also follows Starfleet’s Admiralty and technical leadership, as they struggle to marshal an effective fighting force and find a way to counteract the Romulan’s telepresence weapon. (In a clever touch, their solution will in part explain why the technology of Kirk’s era a century later looks the way it does.) Martin also focuses upon the various Coalition Council members as they attempt to unify the war efforts of their respective worlds. And for the first time, we get a real look at the crews of other Starfleet ships, including not just Enterprise and Columbia, but those of the newly completed NX-class starships Atlantis, Discovery and Challenger, as well as the more numerous – but less capable – Daedalus-class ships.

On the other side of the war, we get a deeper look at Romulan internal politics, as Admiral Valdore attempts to press his attack against the Humans as aggressively as possible in the face of faltering leadership. We later follow similar developments on Vulcan, as Administrator T’Pau struggles to hold her fragile new reformist government together, while protect her people’s return to logic and peace from contamination by the conflict. And in a very deft nod to current real-life events, we even track intrepid reporter Gannet Brooks (who first appeared in the Enterprise episodes "Demons" and "Terra Prime") as she turns war correspondent and embarks on a front-lines tour of Human settlements across Coalition space – a tour that not only reveals the tension, fear and destruction of the war itself, but also fleshes out the sheer scale of Human expansion into the cosmos, from the Mars colonies and Jupiter Station, on to Alpha Centauri, Archernar II, Berengaria VII and beyond. We even briefly see the MACOs engage in ground combat with Romulan forces.

There are quite literally dozens of references and connections in these pages to other parts of Trek canon (including the films, TV series, other novels and even the old FASA role playing game – no kidding), as well as cameos by the likes of Shran, Sopek and other faces familiar to Enterprise fans. And all of this is thoroughly interesting, ingeniously plotted and planned, and surprisingly entertaining.

But I mentioned earlier being only mostly satisfied with this book. That’s because as good as the larger war story may be in "Raptor’s Wing," the personal stories of the Enterprise crew themselves are given somewhat shorter shrift… or at least tend to pale against the tapestry of larger events. Having read and enjoyed Martin’s previous Enterprise novels with Andy Mangels, "The Good That Men Do" and "Kobayashi Maru," I’m starting to suspect the way the pair tended to write was to split up the scenes between them, with Martin focusing on the larger political stories and Trek canon ties, and Mangels concentrating more on the character’s personal moments and interactions. For whatever reason, Mangels is absent from this effort and I think it’s no coincidence that the character moments here are a bit wanting. What’s missing in this story is any real sense of emotional heft – the little personal moments, bits of humor, the internal monologues that help the reader feel invested in what the characters are going through. Those moments were powerful and memorable in the two previous books, but here they tend to read rather flat and lacking in nuance. Such scenes are particularly important in a war story, to contrast the peril and illustrate why the war is worth fighting in the first place. For example, what would the film Braveheart be, without the tender moments between Wallace and Murron, or the friendly teasing of his comrades in arms right before battle against an overwhelming enemy force? What’s worse, when it comes to the key Enterprise characters, there doesn’t seem to be as much emotional continuity with the previous novels as fans of those novels might hope or expect.

A couple other minor quibbles: The true loyalties and intentions of the (Is-he-Vulcan-or-Romulan?) double agent Sopek continue to be frustratingly difficult to pin down, and there are little logical and story-plotting conveniences some might find hard to buy, like the fact that the MACOs never manage to see the face of a Romulan because when one falls in battle their comrades vaporize the body before the enemy arrives. I was able to let most of the little things slide, but your own mileage may vary.

Bottom Line
Despite my issues with the way characters are written here, I still found "Raptor’s Wing" to be an engrossing and rewarding read. Those of you who really loved Star Trek: Enterprise (and the previous re-launch novels) might be a little disappointed in the characters too, but the rest of the book will make you think wistfully about what might have been had the series lasted seven full seasons. But the overall war story is so credibly imagined that even those of you who are less appreciative of Enterprise (preferring the various other Trek series instead) should find it an interesting read. While it’s not "War and Peace," the overall war arc of "Star Trek: Enterprise – The Romulan War: Beneath the Raptor’s Wing" is well-conceived, fascinating… and a surprisingly enjoyable read.

————————

The official release date for "Star Trek Enterprise: The Romulan War: Beneath the Raptor’s Wing" is October 20th. You can pre-order it from Amazon


[pre-order "Romulan War" from Amazon]

What’s next?
It’s worth noting that unofficial Trek canon describes the Earth/Romulan War as a four-year conflict, and this book only covers the first year. That should, in theory, mean that at least two or three more novels of this size will be required to tell the complete story. Although there was no Romulan War book on the 2010 schedule, former Pocket Book’s editor Margaret Clark had outlined a fairly elaborate history for the conflict, and the follow-up book to "Raptor’s Wing" was expected for 2011.  However, as previously reported, Clark is no longer with S&S by (Margaret, if you’re reading this, I wish you well. You and Marco are greatly missed.), so the future of the Enterprise books and Romulan War is unknown, but hopefully Pocket continues the series. I hope Martin stays with the series, but focuses a bit more on the characters… or (better yet) teams up with Mangels again for the next installment.

 

More post-finale Star Trek Enterprise books
Although not required for you to read The Romulan War, the book does pick up on story threads from the previous two books set after the finale of Star Trek Enterprise: "The Good That Men Do" from 2007 (see TrekMovie review) and "Kobayashi Maru" from 2008 (see TrekMovie review).

 

 

Bill Hunt is the Editor of TheDigitalBits.com, the finest site for all your digital media needs.
 

Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Enc
October 15, 2009 12:53 am

you want a comment?
ill give you a comment

put the show back on the air.

fred
October 15, 2009 12:57 am

i liked enterprise and wished it had lasted seven or so season the books sound like they are worth reading next time im off i will look out for them

Commander Crooner
October 15, 2009 2:00 am

If only on the small screen…

I will, nonetheless, read this book, as I’ve read Kobayashi Maru and the Deadalus pair. You know, if it hadn’t been for the damn movie this year, I’m not sure I would have read the 10 Star Trek books I’ve read this year…so far…

Tom W
October 15, 2009 3:22 am

Bring back Enterprise.

A TV movie, a miniseries, anything. Just something, it deserves a proper conclusion.

LCDR Arch
October 15, 2009 3:50 am

It is too bd we did not get a season 5. Season 4 was some of the best seasons of all of trek. Except of course the worst series finale in the history of trek.

But I really liked the 3 episode story arcs. It made for several short movies.

I am looking forward to checking out this book, I hope it is simular to Red Storm Rising for the Romulan War.

T
October 15, 2009 3:55 am

I agree, Enterprise needs to come back on screen. It still can support both verses, the old and new canon verses. I miss Archer and crew there were so many exciting stories to tell and I´d really like to see em again.

Dr_beckett
October 15, 2009 4:54 am

I don’t know why Paramount\CBS\Whoever are so averse to Star Trek TV movies or straight to DVD movies… fans have been clamoring for these for years. Shows like Alien Nation, B5, Stargate SG-1 have all enjoyed various degrees of success with this type of venture…

Enterprise deserves a proper sendoff, a series of DVD movies would be perfect. But they had better do it soon before the cast gets too old or loses interest altogether

Samuel James
October 15, 2009 6:18 am

Man, seeing Enterprise on the screen again would be nothing short of Astronomical. I would even love to hear that controversial theme again!

Too bad we all know it’ll never happen

Bob
October 15, 2009 6:33 am

Enterprise sucked. Canon out the window. May B&B choke on the series.

Bob
October 15, 2009 6:35 am

TOS plainly stated that Romulans had not been seen in 100 years. Now here comes Enterprise throwing that away. B&B rot in hell.

Craig
October 15, 2009 6:49 am

If you read the books Section 31 is involved with Romulans. I think Trek fans needed to be a littlemore open minded about Canon with Enterprise. I wasn’t at first but the new movie changed my mind about Enterprise/

October 15, 2009 6:51 am

#10 Bob: …Enterprise takes place 110 years before TOS. There is absolutely no canonical contradiction here, and, indeed, we saw both the series and now the books bending over backwards to respect “Balance of Terror.” So are you dumb or daft? Or are you getting at something and simply failing to express it in functional English sentences?

Loved ENT, incidentally, and The Good That Men Do was the last Trek book I really enjoyed. I also love long books, so this sounds like a great buy to me.

I, too, would love to see a Direct-to-DVD movie. It probably won’t happen because D2D movies aren’t perceived as classy, and — if nothing else — Paramount has always at least *acted* as if it thinks Star Trek is a very classy show. But if it did happen, just as a bone thrown to us poor ENT fans, that would be beyond excellent.

Craig
October 15, 2009 6:52 am

Sorry I should have said Section 31 is not working with the Romulans but Section 31 is involved in the Enterprise relaunch books.

October 15, 2009 6:57 am

Been looking forward to this. Really hope this series of books has a chance to continue.

Bob- Have a cookie. You seem tense.

Imrahil
October 15, 2009 7:38 am

I skipped the review to stay spoiler-free, just reading the sum-up. I’m currently working through the first of the relaunch novels and quite like it; the characterization is dead-on, really.

I think it’s a real shame that Palmieri and Clark were both let go (they both get name-dropped as Starfleet Admirals in “The Good That Men Do,” by the bye), and they’ll be sorely missed.

My question is–who is now in charge of Star Trek? Is there a helmsman at the tiller at all, or is the property just folded into “fiction”? Because that would, I think, be a mistake.

Demode
October 15, 2009 8:12 am

DVD movies are a must for this!

Consider this: You make a few DVD movies (say, “3” two hour long movies based on the Romulan war). You sell them first on DVD as movies, and then sell them back into syndication on TV as “6” two-part episodes. That gives you more episodes to air on TV, essentially giving veiwers a “5th” season of Star Trek Enterprise. There is certainly money to be made on something like this.

Imrahil
October 15, 2009 8:36 am

Assuming there’s anything left of the sets. Didn’t the whole thing get broken up and sold off?

Agentm31
October 15, 2009 8:37 am

#16 You are making a lot of sense

The Middleman
October 15, 2009 8:45 am

From my perspective, out of the 5 Trek TV series, Enterprise had the most potential and the best cast. Unfortunately, the writing fell short. Despite that, Enterprise and its characters remains my favorite of the Star Trek series. The Romulan War story has to be told, on television and it should be told through the eyes of the NX-01 crew. Unfortunately, right now, the books are all we have.

Ben
October 15, 2009 9:38 am

can’t wait for the book and the next ones…

I would love to see some sort of miniseries/direct to dvd show which covers the NX-01 Crew, Shran and the Romulan War

October 15, 2009 9:42 am

The whole concept of Enterprise was to address the early years of prefed. History. 2 aaeasons were blown on this goldon opportunity to do this and the series ended. I’m gratified these novels are doing what should hacce done in the first place. I still would like to have utilized. Enterprise to explore the war and many other TOS. Often mentioned history, which gdasonated me. As others do movie on the Romulan. Condlict!

TV's Frank
October 15, 2009 9:50 am

I really liked Enterprise and the two previous books. Can’t wait for this one.

October 15, 2009 10:01 am

Ps the talk of canon vs enterprise. As mentioned there was no canon. But ent clearly presented a much needed esyabliseg canon was clearly needed. TOA started it and ent. Should hcr followed through to fill the canon vacum. My 1st thought when ent hit the air. I hope they do the romulan war and uss archon the uss horizon &the Essex fr TNG somany points of history to be canon.

October 15, 2009 10:35 am

A well made audio drama version of this could be truly awesome.

CarlG
October 15, 2009 11:16 am

@24: Oh, hell yes! Someone get Big Finish on the line to do this, pretty please?

Regardless, this sounds pretty epic. I’m sold!

By the way, do the Enterprise crew ever find out that Trip survived?

October 15, 2009 11:19 am

“Now, I should probably admit up front that I’m in the minority of Trek fans that actually liked Enterprise”

I liked it. And the more I watch it in re-runs the more I like it. Sure it strayed from stuff but nothing that irked me like the recent movie.

Syd Hughes
October 15, 2009 11:44 am

I never bothered to watch Enterprise when it was on the air, but I’m a massive fan now. Fantastic show, with some admittedly weak episodes, but what show doesn’t have those?

I’d love to see an ENT miniseries or direct-to-DVD movie about the Romulan War. It’d even tie into STXI!

Simon
October 15, 2009 12:04 pm

#17 – Some of the crew on the show have blogged (with photos) most of the props were auctioned off and the sets were destroyed. They’d have to start from scratch.

October 15, 2009 12:12 pm

Bob, warning for trolling

noirgwio
October 15, 2009 12:19 pm

Love ENT, am so chomping at the bit for this one!

October 15, 2009 12:23 pm

#26 Andy

That’s an interesting point. Enterprise seemed to get zero love from fans before the new movie came out and now I notice more and more fans, myself included, looking back fondly on it and wishing for more.

You blow up Vulcan and all of a sudden Scott Bakula and T’Pol don’t look so bad, do they?

Jcore
October 15, 2009 12:35 pm

I dont get why those of us who liked Enterprise are in the minority. The show only lasted four seasons. Most of the Trek shows didnt get good until season four. Its also kinda funny how Enterprise gets the last laugh, it is the only show to survive the new movie! I so cant wait for this book!

Spockish
October 15, 2009 12:59 pm

What puzzles me is why people hate Enterprise, is was a show meant to be closer to reality than all the other shows. To those that hate to comprehend the concept of science or technology. find your time machines and go back to the 50’s. Since the moon landing technology no longer is magic and the people want to know how things work. So Sci-Fi is turning more realistic and less fantasy.

As for Enterprise getting re-born as a show, I’d love it even if it was a Direct to DVD production. I remember two weeks ago while browsing the many Star Trek sites on the Web one of the sites reported that some fan based movie maker is working on doing Enterprise and the Romulan Wars. But this rumor was not official news and could have been a fan wish statement.

Then came my questions of how much of the TV production actors are included. It would be great if the movie production was 100% the original crew but that it’s self may be a fantasy.

How ever things happen please put serious plans into your efforts, many Star Trek fans will love it. As you know in these harsh times money may be hard to find, at least in amounts bigger than penny’s.

October 15, 2009 1:24 pm

Hey guys – I hope you enjoyed the review, and I can’t to hear what all of YOU think about it when you’re done. It’s a big piece of meat to bite into, so I think you’ll enjoy it. My complaints about some of the character writing aside, it’s a rewarding read, and it’s pretty fascinating to see the events of the Rom War sketched out with the Enterprise crew, characters and settings. I hope you enjoy it.

Enc
October 15, 2009 1:37 pm

31
LOL

i prefer season 4

any one have a link or copy of .. what was it a letter to fans from B&B cant remember who. re fan reaction about good vs bad ep. if it was good i get credit cause im the boss and nothing happens without my say so and if you didint like it dont blame me it was a group effort.

17, 28

too bad. didnt JW keep his firefly set?

26

i can accept the movies middle portions IF the ends were fix’d. the Kelvin etc didnt look pre-tos. spock prime didnt correct neros interference. But thet didnt and the verse now apparently stays the way it is. Vulcan blown up and spocks mom dead etc. it all just pisses me off.

12

tos = 2266
ent = 2151
dif = 115 yrs

or

tos = 2266 (bot)
ent = 2152 (season2 minefield)
dif = 114 yrs

or

tos = 2266 (bot)
ent = 2164 (season 4)
dif = 112 yrs

Geoffers
October 15, 2009 1:37 pm

9, 10… Do grow up..

Mr. Delicious
October 15, 2009 1:42 pm

As a big fan of TOS I lost interest in Enterprise in the first season because it seemed to be more of a prequel to TNG than Kirk’s era — at least until the final season (which I actually did see). The show was great in concept — but just didn’t completely deliver when it came to scripts, performance, or being a true prequel.

I recently saw a number of episodes back to back – most of them from season 4….and Bakula’s tense, awkward, emotionally heavy-handed performance of Archer is just painful to watch. It felt like watching Capt. Cameron in Generations…only ten times worse…and without James T. Kirk to come to the rescue.

Kudos to Manny Coto for at least trying to make it fit in with TOS. Too bad there wasn’t more of it early on.

Third Remata'Klan
October 15, 2009 2:03 pm

I miss Enterprise.

Looking forward to this novel.

Brain
October 15, 2009 2:35 pm

Are you kidding me (figuratively-speaking)?

THIS is the storyline that should have developed during the run of ENTERPRISE. It fit right into the time period, and it would have been a heck of a lot more interesting to see a man who has never commanded a starship before try to feel his way through it… and end up making a big mistake, one that (perhaps) causes the creation of the Prime Directive. And one that starts the Romulan War. The fall of Jonathan Archer.

And on top of that these guys come up with the story-of-the-century (so-to-speak) AFTER the run of the show. Sheesh.

And on top of that a story idea _I_ came up with/hoped for anticipating the premiere of ENTERPRISE.

Maybe STAR TREK belongs only in the movies…

Enc
October 15, 2009 3:02 pm

39

i prefer both tv and movie
but no tele-film or direct video

Lt. Bailey
October 15, 2009 4:04 pm

ENT does need to come back on TV or better yet , DVD series. These books are fantastice and fill the void left by the end of the 4th season. While it would benefit the actors for jobs, the fans get the biggest benefit of all…more Star Trek. ENT was a great show, nothing wrong with it at all if you accept it for what it is. I am not that canon-istic that it was a bad show. You have so much to have in a show like this, the limits are endless. Just because it is not in TOS does not mean it did not or could not have happened in ENT. Besides, it means more air time for T’Pol and I am Ok with that… and Hoshi, too.

Chris Dawson
October 15, 2009 4:16 pm

I liked all of Enterprise and I have enjoyed the post-season4 books tremendously.

I agree with those above that Enterpriose should be brought back and it has been with these books.

Can’t wait to read this new one. I hope to see more . . .

Between these and the IDW comics “Crew” series, we get to see some of the events that happened before TOS and I, for one, have enjoyed every bitof it.

October 15, 2009 4:23 pm
Bill’s (from the Digital Bits) review sounds really promising. I pre-ordered this a few weeks back. I think we’re a month behind the US here in Britain, with the release date. So I’m going to have to try and dodge those spoilers suddenly everywhere real fast… Looks like pretty much everything I ever wanted to be covered, actually will be… The Enterprise and its crew given a prominent role in the Romulan War (unlike that proposed Star Trek: The Beginning movie script from Erik Jendresen, which consigned the NX-01 to a holiday on Risa. WTF! The only good part seems to have been a cameo from Shran.) Also fleshing out other perspectives too (Earth Starfleet, Romulans, Vulcans, Andorians) away from the front line. Not surprising that relationships onboard the ship aren’t deeply explored with so much to get stuck into. I can’t wait to read how the MACOs are involved and at this point, I’ll probably be accepting of whatever explaination the author comes up with to address certain well known thorny issues… such as it going down in history that neither side or ally saw each other. I’m sure there are good reasons why certain events would be kept out of official records. I’ve been a strong supporter of some kind of ENT continuation for years, ever since the Feb 2, 2005 cancellation announcement. Coming up with the ill fated Direct-to-DVD campaign, which comprised an online petition (more than 21,000 signatures to date), fan initative to write into both… Read more »
October 15, 2009 4:26 pm

#33 you did indact see a fan made Ent. Movie on the romulan war it is on trekkiecentral.com they are finishing the sets. And the it is NX 01 with Capt. Styles. Mentioned on TOS balance of terror. Enjoy!

StarFuryG7
October 15, 2009 4:36 pm

“Enterprise” had serious problems. It paid little to no attention to what was established in the original series while its creators had the audacity to proclaim it a prequel series no less. Meanwhile, they couldn’t get things as basic as to what did and didn’t happen in early Romulan encounters right, and when Starfleet actually encounters a cloaking device for the first time, which occurred on Kirk’s Enterprise obviously. The series showed marked improvement in its fourth and last season, thanks in large part to the fact that longtime Trek devotees were brought in to write episodes finally and clean up some of the mess its creative duo didn’t care about establishing, but it was too late. What was done was done.
I actually liked “Enterprise” more than I did “Voyager,” but I’ll never forgive it for those disgraceful, disrespectful transgressions that were easily avoidable if only the show’s creators actually gave a little bit of a damn, which they obviously didn’t.

Bob
October 15, 2009 4:52 pm

#36 does your labotomy scars still show or does the drooling give you ?
away?

October 15, 2009 6:01 pm

Just a head’s up… I just picked up a copy of the book at a Barnes and Noble in Orange County, CA a few minutes ago. They were just getting ready to put it on the shelf – just came in this morning. So it’s out there. Happy hunting!

October 15, 2009 6:02 pm

BTW, final page count is 452 pages.

October 15, 2009 8:24 pm

46- Bob, seriously- why so tense? There are aspects of Trek we all love and all hate. No reason to be jerk about it. It’s why I stopped talking about Voyager. People enjoy it- just because I didn’t is no reason to bag on them. Some of us enjoyed Enterprise. If you didn’t, I’m sorry. How did the new film grab you? Maybe you should stick to those subjects.

Or have a cookie.

October 15, 2009 9:05 pm

Bob, my friend, take it easy. How come you’re so snarky? If Enterprise is such a downer for you, why don’t you just ignore it? No point in capping on folks having a discussion.

That cookie sounds good to me, Weerd1.

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