This week, the Library Computer reviews "Lost Souls" the final installment in the three part Destiny trilogy by David Mack, picking up the story with the Federation on its knees.
REVIEW: STAR TREK DESTINY III – LOST SOULS
(Please Note: This review contains mild spoilers concerning the Destiny trilogy, and major spoilers concerning previous post-Nemesis novels.)
David Mack obviously knows how to keep a secret. He managed, after all, to keep one of the central cores of the Destiny trilogy under wraps for two complete novels. In fact, there was a lot that he was able to keep hidden from view (while often hiding such things in plain sight). But with the opening of "Lost Souls", the tenor of the trilogy changes in one felled swoop. Secrets be damned, it’s time to bring the story to a resolution, and resolve it Mack does.
On the verge of an impending disaster throughout the Federation (and several other locales), Jean-Luc Picard, William Riker, and Ezri Dax lead their crews to hell and back in a last ditch effort to save the Federation. Joined by Erika Hernandez, once Captain of the starship Columbia, the crews of the Enterprise, Titan, and Aventine join together in what, on the surface, might appear to be just another Borg-based shoot-`em-up. Yet, on every page, Mack manages to instill vitality and resolve into the storytelling, virtues that keep the readers interest alive and, in the end, serve to bring the entire story to its epic conclusion.
While "Lost Souls" is, in my opinion, the weakest book of the trilogy, it can hardly be faulted for that. At some point, the story surrounding the critical element that threads the entire series together had to make an appearance, but its early revelation in "Lost Souls" was a bit of a let-down, mainly because it was too plainly obvious when it reared its (interesting) head. Instead of springing it for dramatic effect all at once, Mack builds up to the major revelation of the trilogy, but the payoff becomes entirely obvious when its first revealed. While it isn’t the story choice I would have made, it allows us to follow from a different perspective a major shift in the history of the universe with knowing eyes. The concept behind this momentous moment is rooted in irony, and it feeds the desire of the reader to assimilate the rest of the story and mull it over.
That being said, the brutal humanity of the story – written in the sheer desperation of so many individuals throughout "Lost Souls" is a refreshingly honest take on the disaster epic, one that goes beyond the stereotypical "The End is Nigh" bit and truly paints a picture of a multi-species civilization facing its impending eradication.
The Borg are, of course, the Borg of late in the relaunch novels; a group that can be summed up, basically, with the phrase, "We are the Borg. Screw you." Again, going into the trilogy we knew that there was no way to avoid this… but Mack finally puts some reason behind the fury that drives the Borg, and actually serves to make their entirely over-stayed welcome in the Star Trek universe feel like it had a genuine, honest to goodness purpose. (For this reader, at least, it paints the Borg in an entirely new and much more acceptable light.)
Federation president Nanietta Bacco’s presence in the trilogy stands out as a high point, with Mack following her and her advisors in the most trying moments of Federation history, yet, at the same time, managing to sculpt, in words, the image of a determined, caring leader who has more than a modicum of dignity and respect. Bacco’s interludes throughout "Lost Souls" were a definite treat, and provided moments to catch one’s breath while the rest of the story seemed to be flying by at warp speed.
If I have a major complaint, it is that "Lost Souls" could (and perhaps should) have been two books. Some vital scenes felt rushed. Major battles ended abruptly, serious moral issues that could have been chapters in and of themselves felt glossed over at times. At some of its weakest moments, "Lost Souls" felt like the dialogue in a teleplay: providing the words, but not fully setting the stage. At others, it conjured to mind the ‘sweeping epic’ (ala Cast Away) that eschewed verbage for setting. Neither extreme did full justice to these portions of "Lost Souls", but, fortunately, those moments are few and far between.
Captain Picard’s mood, once again, is a sight to behold, and if any one character felt ‘off’ in this outing, it was certainly him. He is understandably distressed, angered, and fearful about what is occurring all about him, but this simply did not feel like the Jean-Luc Picard that so many had went into battle with. While the book’s climactic moments attempt to explain this and connect it to his past, the effort feels like too-little-too-late to save the perception of Picard in this installment (and, frankly, in the last book). That being said, Picard makes a major transformation by the end of the trilogy, one that appears to be primed for future storytelling.
"Lost Souls" concludes the Destiny trilogy with a startling transformation of the Star Trek universe, one that will set forth a new world for our heroes to explore. I, for one, am looking forward to those stories… and am thankful that David Mack has, once and for all, helped us to turn back to strange new worlds, to new life and new civilizations… where fans of Trek lit can again boldly go where none have gone before.
"Star Trek: Destiny: Lost Souls"
is available now at Amazon
CONCLUDING THOUGHTS ON THE DESTINY TRILOGY
Destiny was put in the right hands, and Mack has helped to steer a positive future for the 24th Century Trek franchise. Each successive story puts the pieces into place to shake up the landscape in a way that appears to offer a positive foundation for what shall come in the months and years ahead. As I said in my review of "Gods of Night", if there ever was to be a revived film franchise set in the 24th century, the Destiny trilogy should make up the opening flicks in such a series.
More info on Star Trek Destiny
Mere Mortal excerpt (Chapter 1)
Lost Souls excerpt (Chapter 1)
Synopses for all three