Note: Peter David’s latest New Frontier entry was published as three e-book novellas.
There were several books I was anticipating reading this summer. But I’ll have to admit that few of them packed quite the same level of “can’t wait to read it” -itis that Peter David’s return to the final frontier did.
It’s been four years since our last visit to the universe of New Frontier and the crew of the starship Excalibur. And in my mind, that’s about three years too long a wait — especially given that David left us on a pretty interesting cliffhanger.
Luckily David’s return to the series proves as much a triumph as I was hoping it would be. The first installment picks up three months after the last one ended and finds Calhoun living a hermit’s existence on his destroyed homeworld and plotting his next move. David catches the reader up quickly on what’s happening — not only with Calhoun but everyone else in the New Frontier universe before setting various new plot threads into motion.
As always with David’s Trek entries, the strengths are solid characters and a sense of humor. David takes his stories seriously but he takes the time to find the humor in the characters, universe and situations. The game of who’s fooling who into “tricking” Calhoun to take on a dangerous mission to the pocket universe is superbly done and feels absolutely like pure David.
As I sat down to start reading part one, I told myself I should take my time, savor it and relish every last second of the book. And then I found myself on the final page with David leaving us hanging for the next part and thankful it was only going to be a month’s wait for the next installment.
Middle installments of a trilogy can suffer a bit from treading water. We had the rising action of part one and we get to see it all hit the fan in part three, leaving little room for any significant development or plot advancement in part two.
This is not the case with Peter David’s second installment for The Returned.
David gives us enough action, suspense and character development to fill three other Star Trek novels. Exploring the pocket universe where the race that destroyed his world came from, Calhoun finds an even bigger threat waiting. But is he so consumed by a desire for vengeance that he’ll overlook this and put not only his ship but the entire Federation at risk?
Meanwhile, Mark Henry, Robin Lefler and Cwansi are back on New Thallon and dealing with the politics of that world and Cwansi’s role as the next in line to rule the world. Oh yeah and Mark is dealing with people finding out he has god-like powers and can heal people.
One of the best things in the Trek publishing world, New Frontier proves as delightful and page-turning as it always has. David’s freedom to explore his own pocket of the final frontier gives him the freedom to take chances and pay them off — something he does admirably here.
And just when you think it can’t get any better, David pulls off one hell of a cliffhanger that left me eager for the next installment.
If you haven’t read the series, this is not a good jumping in point. Part one might be better. But honestly, do yourself a favor and start from book one. It’s really worth your time.
In the interest of full disclosure, I received a digital ARC of this book from NetGalley.
I can’t tell you the number of times I was thanking the good folks over at NetGalley and Pocket Books for giving me a digital ARC of this e-novella.
Picking up where the second part left off (and with a cliffhanger that had me absolutely flummoxed), the third and final installment in “The Returned” is everything I hoped it would be and then some. I can only hope lots and lots of people buy this and that Pocket will give us more of the New Frontier. And I hope that if we get more that David will have time in his schedule so we won’t have to wait four years for the next installment.
The revelation of who is really behind the Awesome on New Thallon ended part two and had me hooked for part three. But there was also the growing threat to the Federation and Calhoun’s own increasingly questionable choices. I’m happy to report (hopefully without too many spoilers) that David pays off every single thread in the final installment. And thankfully, while one threat is wrapped up, there are still new things put into play that leave me wanting more and wanting it as soon as possible.
With his typical compulsively readable style and superb character work, David once again affirms why he’s one of the best writers in the business — tie-in novel or otherwise. These books put a big grin on my face and made me recall what it is I love about Star Trek — the entire franchise and not only the New Frontier.
This three part series is easily one of the best things I’ve read this summer.
Now, Pocket Books, I beg you — please give us more.
In the interest of full disclosure, I received a digital ARC of this e-novella from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.