Book Review: Star Trek: Enterprise: The Romulan War: To Brave the Storm | TrekMovie.com
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Book Review: Star Trek: Enterprise: The Romulan War: To Brave the Storm November 30, 2011

by Robert Lyons , Filed under: Books,ENT,Review , trackback

With Earth essentially left to its own devices, the Romulans begin, bit by bit, to set the stage for the end of the human race in Michael A. Martin’s second and final installment of The Romulan War mini-series. The TrekMovie review below.

 

REVIEW: Star Trek: Enterprise: The Romulan War: To Brave the Storm
by Michael A. Martin
Mass-market Paperback – 352 pages
PocketBooks – October 2011 – $7.99

As death and destruction work their way ever closer to the core of the Coalition of Planets, Captain Jonathan Archer is in the midst of an offensive to make nice to just about anyone he can. All of his actions have an ulterior motive, but try telling that to the crew of the NX-01 Enterprise, who are still miffed about being essentially taken out of the war on account of the Romulan tele-control systems that have wreaked havoc throughout the early days of the war.

As months, and ultimately years pass by, the leadership of Vulcan remains on the sidelines; Administrator T’Pau steadfastly refusing to get involved in the conflict between the Humans and the Romulans. (Well, mostly steadfastly, depending on your point of view.) It certainly isn’t for a lack of trying on the part of many voices, but the only certainty remains Earth’s essential isolation by the interstellar community.

Of course, none of this keeps [SPOILER ALERT] the very much alive Trip Tucker down, as his Romulan persona is drawn into full overdrive as he attempts to investigate what has become of the suspected bomber who destroyed Surak’s katra in the preceding tale, “Beneath the Raptor’s Wing”. In his hunt he comes face to face with Admiral Valdore, the powerful Romulan fleet leader who is desperate to win the war against Earth with a superior, unstoppable new weapon – a starship capable of achieving warp seven.

“To Brave the Storm” packs in coverage of a significant period of time, and, as a result, the novel suffers in every conceivable way. While the ‘voices’ of most of the familiar cast and crew of the Enterprise are fairly spot-on, the story’s huge gaps make its epic scope to be of little effect. Months of events are covered in pithy paragraphs as new chapters begin, and very little depth is presented even in the then-current portions of the story. The climactic battle of the Earth/Romulan War feels, essentially, over before it begins, and there is virtually no suspense, creativity, or even novelty to the story.

What began with a great deal of promise, and as an era of Star Trek history that many fans (especially book fans) would have been ready to devour fell flat as the pacing and intensity that marked “Beneath the Raptor’s Wing” dissolved from page one. In part, this appears to be the result of compressing what was originally intended to be two books into a single volume, but it goes deeper than that. Nothing really compels you to turn the pages. “Meh,” was a word that I found uttering frequently when marking my place after finishing a chapter.

Sadly, “To Brave the Storm” fails to live up to its grandiose name. At best, the story and its execution amounts to braving a mild breeze on a retention pond in a rubber raft… and, unfortunately, that’s being generous.

The story could have been so much more… it needed at least double (for my money, triple) the page-count, and it really needed a champion to shepherd the original, expansive vision of the Romulan War to the forefront. Lacking such an approach, “To Brave the Storm” rolls out as one of the most dissapointing Star Trek novels in quite some time… and given my absolute disdain for Peter David’s “Before Dishonor”, it takes a lot to get me to say that!  

 "Star Trek: Enterprise: The Romulan War: To Brave The Storm," is available in bookstores now and can be ordered at Amazon.com.

And if you need to catch up, the first book in the series "Star Trek: Enterprise: The Romulan War: Beneath the Raptor’s Wing" is also available at Amazon.

 

More new and upcoming Star Trek novels

Other recent Star Trek fiction releases include  "Star Trek Vanguard: What Judgments Come" by Dayton Ward and Kevin Dilmore (see TrekMovie review) and the ebook"Star Trek: Typhon Pact: The Struggle Within," by Christopher L. Bennett (TrekMovie review coming soon).

 

And just out this week (look for TrekMovie review soon) is "Star Trek Mirror Universe: Rise Like Lions," by David Mack. And finishing out 2011 will be Greg Cox’s TOS novel "Star Trek: The Rings of Time" which is due at the end of December.

Comments

1. Orb of the Emissary - November 30, 2011

“second and final installment of The Romulan War mini-series.”?? I thought this was going to at least be a 3-book series :-(
Still looking forward to it!

2. Space - November 30, 2011

Sweet! I love Enterprise!

3. Cap'n Calhoun - November 30, 2011

@Orb of the Emissary
I believe it was intended to be, but was later cut down to two (although the author wanted three).

4. Cap'n Calhoun - November 30, 2011

Not completely sure if I’m remembering correctly in my above post, but here’s what he said in an interview with startrek.com:

Will there be a third Romulan War book? This is it for the moment, but you should never say “never.”

If you had a third book in which to tell the same story you’re telling in two books, what arcs and threads might you have gone into in more depth?

Martin: I would have like to show more of the developing relationship between Hoshi Sato and MACO Major Takashi Kimura, since she’s destined to marry him and at some point with him retire to Tarsus IV, according to the biographical files Mike Sussman created for “In a Mirror Darkly.” As part of a deepening of the Trip-and-T’Pol relationship, I also would also have liked to take a closer look at the Vulcan take on religion, since it’s established canon that even modern-day Vulcans maintain a tradition of venerating certain ancient gods. It seems to me that to a people as committed to pure reason as the Vulcans, worship probably isn’t a subjective thing, or purely a matter of faith. I would have liked to reveal that Vulcan’s gods are at least as objectively “real” as Bajor’s Prophets. If I’d had a third Romulan War book—ideally a middle volume between BtRW and TBtS—I probably would have tried to work in a plot thread in which T’Pol suffered an injury that left her near death, forcing Trip and Koss to team up to storm Vulcan’s equivalent of the gates of hell in order to force Shariel, Vulcan’s god of death, to relinquish his gradually increasing hold over T’Pol’s katra. Imagine the classical Greek myth of Persephone with a dusting of Faust and Dante’s Inferno thrown in. Or Trip and Koss’s Bogus Journey. Or I might have settled for just blowing up thirty-three percent more planets and spaceships than I did in the other two books.

http://www.startrek.com/article/michael-a-martin-on-the-romulan-war-and-more-part-1

5. sos1 - November 30, 2011

Is that Typhon Pact novella going to see the printed page at all? <_<

6. Torchwood68 - November 30, 2011

I’m sure the powers that be wanted to be finished with “Enterprise” This way they can at least say they finished up the series and didn’t leave a permanent cliff hanager

7. bill hiro - November 30, 2011

That’s: a: lot: of: colons:

8. Rush Limborg - November 30, 2011

It would seem, then, that Mike desperately needs Andy back on the team. Together, they’re a powerhouse. Alone…Mike leaves a LOT to be desired….

9. Red Dead Ryan - November 30, 2011

I thought the point of the new universe was to create new stories, not redress old ones!

How about something new and original for once!

10. Red Dead Ryan - November 30, 2011

D’oh, wrong thread!

11. beerwriter - December 1, 2011

I read this on an airplane over the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday. Disappointing is a good if mild word to use for this book; it would have been a lot better if, as written above, the original plan for a trilogy had been carried out.

12. Damian - December 1, 2011

I have this book, but have not had a chance to read it yet (Trying to finish up “Preserver” by Shatner first). I thought Beneath the Raptor’s Wing was a great read and I’m sad to see this one apparently is lacking. It seems Pocketbooks wanted to be done with Enterprise, so they forced a quick ending to the War. What should have happened is they should have had a 4 book series, one for each year of the war, and released in quicker succession (maybe spread out over the period of a year). You can’t have one Romulan War book, then wait 2 years to release the second one. That was far too long, and interest had waned obviously.

I thought the build up to the war and the first war book were great. It didn’t take me long to read them at all. It’s a shame we finally get to the war and Pocketbooks decides to cut it short. Shame on them.

13. Sebastian S. - December 1, 2011

Loved the first book; I’ve waited a LONG time for this one.
Can’t wait to get my mits on a copy. ;-)

14. Orb of the Emissary - December 1, 2011

@Cap’n Calhoun- Thanks for the info! SO I wasn’t tripping when I thought it was going to be a 3-book series… thank the Prophets!

15. Royal Canadian Institute for the Mentally Insane - December 1, 2011

I tried a couple of times to read the first one in the Romulan War series; to be honest, I found it dull. I had read the relaunch novels (including “The Good That Men Do” and “Kobayashi Maru”) and was enjoying them and very much looking forward to the Romulan War novels. It just kind of fell flat.

16. Praetor Tal - December 1, 2011

I think the book’s failing is that it really is two books’ worth of material cramming into one volume, and necessarily a lot of detail is omitted. The omissions become a bit more obvious in the second half of the book, as though the editors told the author mid-composition that he wouldn’t have a third book in which to wrap things up. All that said, however, I thought it was a good book anyway, and I was constrained at points to put it down and go to bed like a good boy.

17. Devlin - December 1, 2011

It’s a good book, but the author rushed a little too much through the plot. The authors could easily do 2 maybe 3 books of it, if they’d had included proper side stories. ‘Beneath the Raptor’s Wing’ is way better.

18. Lt. Bailey - December 1, 2011

Put together, these are great books that I read, it was nice to revisit these characters from ENT that I miss.

What really would have been fantastic is to have this as a 5th season of ENT for the whole year as the Xindi Arc was done. Ever since the TOS episode Balance of Terror, I ahve wanted to see something done about this Earth-Romulan War.

19. Christopher Roberts - December 1, 2011

Got this on its way to me now. Sad to think this might be it for ENT novels for the foreseeable future.

20. Marshal - December 2, 2011

I have read a LOT of Trek books. This (along with Beneath the Raptors Wing) are amongst the worst books (never mind Trek books) ever written. Honestly, save your money, I’ve read fan fiction that is more entertaining and credible than this.

The Earth/Romulan war is one of the most fascinating parts of Trek history, mainly because it has never been seen on screen. Martin reduces it to long, drawn out incredibly boring, repetitive sludge. Imagine a bowl of burnt, overcooked porridge. That pretty much sums up this book.

The pacing is awful. One of the most interesting wars in Trek is written more like a Wikipedia article/journal than a space adventure story of excitement, suspense and desperation such as (Balance of Terror). The space battles have no creativity at all. It would seem that in the future China, India, Russia, etc will be just fine with Starfleet naming all its ships after Western figures/history. The references to Mars….sorry I mean ‘Cosmic Canada’ in the first book were truly cringe-worthy, and Martin doesn’t disappoint in showing us his ignorance and narrow-mindless in this book. I’m sure Gene Roddenberry would be over the moon with Martin’s borderline offensiveness when depicting humanity of the future.

The review had it spot on with the word ‘Meh’, I found myself thinking the same thing when turning the pages of this plop. The only reason I finished this book, is because once I start reading one, I have to finish no matter how bad it is.

Believe me I couldn’t wait for this one to be over. If you read this book, consider the Earth-Romulan War officially ruined for you.

21. Joshua J. Slone - December 3, 2011

I usually don’t think about the publishing business behind books, but when I noticed how many years this book covered I could hear the publisher saying “We don’t want to print more Enterprise books. You better wrap this thing up now or never.”

Still, even though it definitely comes across as rushed, at least it gives us a more satisfying ending than the one we got the _last_ time Enterprise was cancelled.

22. MrRegular - December 3, 2011

Too bad…The Romulan War is a gold mine of stories waiting to be told by good writers & sounds like this one “phoned it in”.

23. Joshua J. Slone - December 3, 2011

Regarding the “Months of events are covered in pithy paragraphs” nature, I don’t blame Michael Martin too much. He was basically stuck between two choices: Have a lot of important occurrences and be unable to cover everything properly, or shrink down the scale of the war itself. From a fictional historical point of view, I’m glad such an important event didn’t get dinkified. It does try to bring together a lot of what little we knew of pre-TOS times before Enterprise and make it fit in with Enterprise as it left off. Why didn’t NX-style ships remain popular? How did sub-light vessels and nuclear weapons play a role? How can the Vulcan nature of Romulans have remained unknown? Why was it considered an Earth-Romulan War if Earth was gaining important alliances? Things like that.

24. Christopher Roberts - December 6, 2011

My copy finally arrived today. Although I’m a bit behind, I haven’t started reading Beneath the Raptor’s Wings yet!

25. The Professor - December 14, 2011

Meh is indeed correct. Loved ALL the Enterprise books, even Rosetta. Liked where BTRW was going with the story. So clear that they shouldn’t have compressed it from a trilogy to a duology. There are months that are just completely skipped over as the galaxy is up to who knows what. Really felt rushed and poorly planned. I expected SO much more. 2/5 stars.

26. The Professor - December 14, 2011

I second post #20.

27. The Professor - December 14, 2011

#23, what’s more important: connecting the dots to make the “canon” make sense or writting an actual engaging story?

28. Tomswift2002 - December 18, 2011

Unfortunately this year we’ve had a couple of clunkers for the books ranging from “Indistinguishable From Magic” (which was clearly two books shoved into one), to “Brave The Storm”. But I think that it might be the number of different editors that were working on the books, from Margaret Clark and Marco Palmieri originally getting the books started, too Jamie Costas and all the other editors that S&S has put on the line during it’s reorganizing. With different editors coming in at different stages, there was no stable editorial work done on the books, unlike Robert Greenberger and John Ordover’s time in the 90′s and the smooth transition to Marco Palmieri and Margaret Clark in the early 2000′s.

29. Weerd1 - December 26, 2011

This is quite obviously Simon and Schuster just trying to finish it off without allowing the author to really explore. In the end, Martin fulfills their contract and if they tell him finish it in one book, he must.

I would hope they would explore ebooks to fill in the gaps.

30. Matthew M - December 28, 2011

Never read the first one. I wanted to but the cover of the book was so off putting I just couldn’t spend money on it. At least the second one has an interesting attractive cover! Upon reading that in the first book a Romulan destroyed Surak’s Katra – just don’t believe it – not in MY Vulcan universe!

that’s what I hate about all of these novels, they make up stupid scenarios, create dumb characters and do things that make no sense and serve no purpose like destroying Surak’s Katra – NOT IN MY VULCAN UNIVERSE! – I said that already, well, you get my point.

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