This review will serve as an assessment of this book and of the trilogy it completes. I provided the basic setup for this story in my review for the first book, and I did my best to keep it as spoiler free as possible for both of the previous books. This being a newer novel, I’ll continue along those lines.
Of the plot itself, the key note is that the various factions and the alliances between them are shifting as the balance of power disrupts politics as usual. The Federation, still reeling from the blows to its reputation garnered in the previous books, continues to push ahead. With the aid of Captain Erzi Dax and Commander Tuvok, Captain Picard begins to peel back the layers of the mystery behind the Unsung. Meanwhile, Korgh makes his grand play against the whole of the Klingon High Council, pulling his allies together in a grand web that stretches back a century.
At the heart of this novel, and of the trilogy as a whole, are themes of honor and personal evolution. Dealing with the fallout of everything the Unsung represent — and with those exiled Klingons themselves — Commander Worf finds himself behind enemy lines as a prisoner… and as a potential moral compass for generations of Klingons who have never known the concept of honor apart from the knowledge that it was denied them before they were even born. It’s powerful stuff, the sort of thing that (in the grandest of Star Trek traditions) reflects back on our own humanity and the societies we’ve built in ways that are indirect, but no less thought provoking.
More than any of that, one of the things that I’ve always held true is that at it’s very best, Star Trek can be light escapist fare or as socially heavy as you want to make it, or even both at the same time. I’ve also contended that Trek works better in a literary format, especially when the writer at the helm knows how it works, why it works, and how it differentiates itself from other story settings. The trilogy is part of the 50th Anniversary celebration of all things Star Trek. What that means is that in addition to getting all of the above points I’ve made, a writer also has to play homage to the full depth and breadth of five decades of Star Trek on screen and in print while telling a story that’s worthy of that legacy. John Jackson Miller continues to impress as both a font of Wiki-level knowledge and as a superior writer who can tap into the heart of what all of the fan nods and winks actually mean. Even more impressive, he offers enough lifelines for those readers who maybe don’t have all of this stuff easily memorized without talking down to those who do. In the spirit of Trek, it’s quite literally all-inclusive. Nothing in this series is fluff. Every Easter egg has a purpose and a rabbit to follow. Where there is gravitas to be had, Miller brings it to bear. New characters are given weight and moments to shine. Classic characters remind you how and why they’ve become old and very dear friends to their audience. Story points converge to take the top of the reader’s head clean off. The result is an intricately woven tapestry of awesome.
This is the kind of story that makes me proud to be an old school Trekkie. The legacy has been well and truly honored here.