Star Trek: Typhon Pact: Plagues of Night
David R George III
In the wake of the final Borg invasion, which destroyed entire worlds, cost the lives of sixty-three billion people, and struck a crippling blow to Starfleet, six nations adversarial to the United Federation of Planets—the Romulan Star Empire, the Breen Confederacy, the Tholian Assembly, the Gorn Hegemony, the Tzenkethi Coalition, and the Holy Order of the Kinshaya— joined ranks to form the Typhon Pact. For almost three years, the Federation and the Klingon Empire, allied under the Khitomer Accords, have contended with the nascent coalition on a predominantly cold-war footing. But as Starfleet rebuilds itself, factions within the Typhon Pact grow restive, concerned about their own inability to develop a quantum slipstream drive to match that of the Federation. Will leaders such as UFP President Bacco and RSE Praetor Kamemor bring about a lasting peace across the Alpha and Beta Quadrants, or will the cold war between the two alliances deepen, and perhaps even lead to an all-out shooting war?
Simply put, this is one of the best written Star Trek books I have read in a VERY long time.
Star Trek books have long been reasonably good. After the TV series Star Trek: Deep Space Nine wrapped up, the books saw an interesting evolution. The DS9 storyline was carried forward in the novels, past the end of the series, and suddenly took on a deep literary tone to them. They no longer became “episodes in novel-form,” rather, they continued the literary-style epic of the television series into the medium of prose. The DS9 books immediately became my most favourite line of Star Trek novels and, if I recall correctly, received a lot of positive reviews and good sales.
The other series attempted to achieve a similar literary feel to them, but, for me anyway, they never really had the strength that DS9 did — and I think that has to do with the quality of the series they are based on — DS9 has always been very epic and literary, a very good fit for novels. The other series were rather episodic and were best suited to the screen.
A few years back, after a shuffle of editors at the publishers of Star Trek books, the DS9 storylines got put on a back burner. I don’t know if it was due to the editor shuffle, or if the storylines just wrapped up around the same time. Since then, there has been lack of literary-level Trek books. And there was also a distinct lack of Deep Space Nine stories (though certain characters would pop up here and there in other novels).
When they Typhon Pact storyline came along, which sees a coalition among various United Federation of Planets enemy nations form as a sort of counter-Federation, Deep Space Nine elements were suddenly reintroduced into the metanarrative in interesting ways. Still, though, there were no DS9-heavy stories that recaptured the feel and scope of the previous novels.
The start of the Typhon Pact series was a bit weak, if I can speak honestly. They had interesting plots, but weren’t carried off super strongly and I had some trouble caring about how they fit into the larger story.
Then came Plagues of Night.
The first third or so of this book is a recap of the previous four novels (and one ebook, I think, which I haven’t read). Reviews on GoodReads have said this is a low point for the novel, but I thought it was fascinating. It took all those threads introduced separately and tied them together into a comprehensive whole. It also made me care about those novels I thought were lacklustre. As this plays out, we see the disparate threads winding together as a new plot unfolds, one that is so expansive and epic that it cannot be contained to just this one novel. Indeed, this is the first of a two-part story.
David R George III manages to pull of an extremely complicated task with considerable strength, something that would have utterly failed in the hands of a less-skilled writer. The plot here, though it centres on Deep Space Nine and the wormhole, is really larger than that — it encompasses Romulus, the Typhon Pact, much of the Federation, the Gamma Quadrant, and the Dominion, among other things. This could have easily read as a disjointed narrative that is all over the place, but George ties everything together.
The dialogue is strong, the tension is deeply felt, and the narrative is exceptional.
The only hiccup I can see is that the true deep enjoyment of this book relies on having read the DS9 and Typhon Pact novels leading up to this, and having watched the DS9 TV series. There are many references and characters and elements pulled from there that add an immense sense of intricacy and captivation. To the reader who doesn’t know all of those things, it is still an enjoyable read, but some of the elements might seem a bit off. (Like, who is Laas? Why was the Romulan Star Empire split in two? What’s this sci-fi writer Benny Russell stuff about? The Andorians left the Federation? and so on…)
I really cannot speak highly enough of this book. David R George III took everything that made DS9 (the books and shows) so different and so exceptional, and intricately wove them together in an engaging and captivating narrative. My enjoyment of Star Trek books had been dipping somewhat of late, but this book easily reaffirmed and revitalized my love of all things Trek.