Library Computer: Review of Star Trek Vanguard: Precipice

This week the Library Computer returns to the Taurus Reach to tie up loose ends and open the door for new discoveries as David Mack return’s to Starbase 47, in his new novel “Star Trek Vanguard: Precipice”, coming soon to bookstores.




REVIEW: Star Trek: Vanguard – Precipice
written by David Mack
Mass-market Paperback, 352 pages

NOTE: Contains spoilers

If Dayton Ward’s “Open Secrets” left you with more questions than answers about the future of the Vanguard storyline, David Mack is back to his baby to fill in the blanks and bring one phase of the tale to an end while, at the same time, paving the way for new adventures yet to come.

With Admiral Nogura now in command of Starbase 47 (i.e., Vanguard) and Commodore Reyes presumed dead, the story has taken on a new dimension as “Precipice” follows and resolves several storylines that have woven throughout the first four novels of the series. The events of the novel take place over a period of roughly one year, and the flow of the book makes it an enjoyable and well-paced read.

In “Precipice”, T’Prynn’s recovery and ‘restoration’ are fully explored, as is Tim Pennington’s relationship with her, which makes for interesting development on the part of both characters as they work together to contribute to the security of Project Vanguard through less than orthodox means. T’Prynn and Pennington’s interactions throughout the story help to form a much more complex view of each of their personas – especially T’Prynn’s, as she is now a very different person than she was before being purged of Sten’s katra in “Open Secrets”. While her directness hasn’t changed, other elements of her life have, and Pennington becomes an excellent ear through which to discern the nuances of a new T’Prynn.

In the meantime, Bridy Mac and Cervantes Quinn – both working for Starfleet Intelligence – discover a culture that survived a planetary disaster of their own making whose planet holds a coveted Shedai conduit. The only problem is that the Klingons know about the conduit as well, which leads Cervantes Quinn into the unlikely position of leading the charge in a game of guerrilla warfare between the planet’s inhabitants and their Klingon invaders. While Bridy Mac’s arc throughout “Precipice” is a bit bland, Quinn’s is spectacular, carving out for the reader a much deeper perspective on his past, and giving him motivation for his involvement with the Intelligence service.

In a bit of a surprise appearance, at least to me, Gorkon himself plays a pivotal role in attempting to persuade the chancellor of the High Council to seek a peaceful resolution to the conflict with the Federation. In quite possibly the most interesting chapters of the book, we begin to get a feel for the Gorkon who positioned himself for the Chancellorship later in his life, and find an appreciation for his unique cunning in the face of an Empire rooted in its martial ways.

In many ways, Mack’s tale feels like the conclusion of the ‘first season’ of the story, which makes “Precipice” an aptly titled book. A major part of the journey is concluded. Resolution (mostly) is found for the major players in the narrative, but the closing chapters serve to set the stage for the next slope, where the Vanguard tale will once again pick up a new inertia.

Part of that inertia is found in the return of the Orion trader, Ganz, who was previously booted from the station by Admiral Nogura. Now he has returned with three bargaining chips that are impossible to turn away. At the same time, Ambassador Jetanian’s journey through “Precipice” seems to be sewing the seeds of what we will later come to know as the Planet of Galactic Peace. While both of these inertia points take up relatively few pages compared with the other storylines, both have a potential to pay off in huge and unexpected dividends as the series moves forward.

There are other surprises to be found between the covers of “Precipice”, all of them worth your time. Mack’s visit to the Taurus Reach definitely satisfies a momentary thirst, but will invoke a new hunger in the hearts of Vanguard fans who want to see more. Here’s hoping that the ‘more’ will be on its way very, very soon!


The official release date for Star Trek: Vanguard: Precipice is November 24th. Here is the cover (in high res).

Click image to enlarge cover

Also from 2009 – Vanguard Open Secrets
As noted, this is the second Vanguard book from 2009. In April Pocket released "Star Trek: Vanguard: Open Secrets" by Dayton Ward. Check the TrekMovie review for more.

That book is available at Amazon now.

Coming Up Next: Star Trek Mirror Universe: The Sorrows of Empire
In December Pocket Books wraps up 2009 with another novel by David Mack. In "Star Trek Mirror Universe: The Sorrows of Empire" Mack extends his novella tale of Mirror Spock and the Terran Empire following Captain Kirk’s suggestion that "in every revolution, there is one man with a vision.” Look for our review in about a month.


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Love the Vanguard artwork! Are the stories as good?

Interesting review. I might check it out.

If I’m not much mistaken, the artwork’s by Doug Drexler.

Yes, I’m back looking at these covers, but they just make me think how cool it would be to have a new Star Trek series from the TOS prime universe with effects that look as good as these covers. Hell… even base it on Vanguard stories. I’m sure I’m not alone.

Yes the stories and writing have been very good. One of the novels,(the second one?), dragged a little bit but overall they are all worth reading.

Why is there NCC 1701 on the Warp Nacelle?

For those of us who aren’t up-to-date on these spin-off series, it would be nice to have a quick summary within these reviews – something simple, such as saying that this is book # 4 or # 7 of a series, as is done for the comic reviews.

Notwithstanding that – appreciate the fact that there are so many reviews on this site, well-written at that. Thanks!

#4. While my preference would stillbe to revisit the post Nemesis era, I have to say the idea of a Vanguard series is equally appealing. Vanguard, to date, has given us some of the most compelling Trek tales of recent years.

The Vanguard series has been the only Trek series that I’ve read in a while. The story arcs have been well written, refreshing and enjoyable. Looking forward to this one.

#1 – They most assuredly are. “Vanguard” has become my favorite Trek series.

#4 – You’re definitely not alone. :)

Trek novels are the most under-rated books in the history of mankind. :-) I found them most enjoyable as a youngster and they continue to be intriguing today. I would much rather read them than “thrillers” by Tom Clancy, for example.

thank you, you are very good blog

I adore the Vanguard series (and I’m a TOS junkie). It’s just so well-written, and the attention to Trek canon (gasp!) is great.

Thanks for another great review Father Lyons!

I’m looking forward to this latest installment of the Vanguard Saga. I just finished Open Secrets last week. This is indeed a great series and David Mack’s writing is superb!

Without naming anyone, could you tell us if there are any characters from the previous books who make a surprise appearance? Thanks!

15 – If you are referring to previous Vanguard books, yes and no, depending on your perspective. (How’s that for the ultimate, I don’t want to spoil it for you, evasive answer?)

#16 Father Lyons

Yes, that was what I was referring to. (the previous Vanguard books) I appreciate your not spoiling anything. And your evasive answer was masterfully done sir!!

I’ve got my copy ordered and I eagerly await to see how it plays out. I have a particular character from a couple of books back that I believe will reappear. Either way the suspense is great!!

A Vanguard series would be really, really awesome.

I love these books.

Who would play Reyes? Fun with imaginary casting anyone?

That’s a great question #20!

I hate to say it, but I would imagine someone like Ricardo Montalban would fit Reyes description. Reyes is tall and has a commanding presence. I can’t think of anyone more fitting. There’s not a lot of actors today comparable to Montalban that I can think of.

20 and 21 – As stale of a suggestion as it is, I could easily see Edward James Olmos playing Reyes.

That’s a great recommendation Father Lyons! EJO is a perfect fit. I guess I just didn’t think of him since I identify him so closely with Adama!!

I’ve said a couple of times now that I think the whole Vanguard story would make a great story for the next movie. It just needs to be condensed a bit and feature the Enterprise more prominently.

‘Harbinger’ puts him as lanky, with a receding and graying brush cut. I was thinking maybe a more aged Benjaman Bratt. Could he have the presence though? I dunno.

Montalban would be awesome, though.

EJO would just be Adama in a Starfleet uniform to me, I think. Awesome though he is…

I dont have a perfect fit, yet. I wonder if the writers do?

I loved these book also, but Precipice is a bit dry. An interesting character like the Chelon ambassador spends his time throughout the novel having a basic picnic with a Klingon delegate on Nimbus III. The whole story is them waiting for the Romulan ambassador to show. Then you have Captain Desai, another interesting character basically used to talk about an internal investigation of the station; T’Prynn and Pennington to do a lot of floating in around and talking; Quinn, whose character does a complete 180 degree turn from what we have seen of him before, but also does a lot of talking to the new natives; Reyes, a Tholian, and Gorkon do a lot of talking about trying to convince a Klingon peace is the way; and Admiral Nogura, Carol Marcus, and Ming thrown in for minor parts. Frankly, there was too much talking! The previous books had much more action, and maybe this one was so mundane because it had to round things out, but it kind of felt hurriedly dashed together.

When I initially commented I clicked the “Notify me when new comments are added” checkbox and now each time a comment is added I get several emails with the same comment. Is there any way you can remove me from that service? Appreciate it!

Howdy just wanted to give you a quick heads up. The words in your post seem to be running off the screen in Safari. I’m not sure if this is a formatting issue or something to do with internet browser compatibility but I thought I’d post to let you know. The design and style look great though! Hope you get the problem solved soon. Kudos