With its publication nearly four years ago I had assumed that the ‘Star Trek Enterprise: The Romulan War’ would run for several books, outlining one of the most formational aspects of humanity’s history – at least in the Star Trek universe. However, much to my surprise, the entire war seems to have been done and dealt with in a two-book series written by Michael A. Martin.
Subsequently, ‘Beneath the Raptor’s Wing’ – the first book in this duology – could have gone one of two ways: be half the size or four times as long. The middle ground it found makes only for a frustrating read.
I spent a few moments prior to writing my own review reading comments posted on the book’s Amazon page. They all agreed with one another, commenting that the book was far too long and full of superfluous characters and words. While I can’t agree wholesale with their views, their meaning is taken.
Beneath the Raptor’s Wing is a mishmash of perspectives and characters, all vying for attention across a one-year period that is hard to keep track of despite the dates referenced at the beginning of most chapters. Taking the place of recounting the (apparently) seven-month-long journey back to Earth are a torrent of characters whose sole purpose is unknown to me. Neither well written or particularly well-fleshed out, these characters served no real purpose other than to fill pages while the Enterprise flew home.
This book could have been a series of three, if well-planned and –paced out to properly examine a fledgling society venturing out into space suddenly cast into the fiery depths of intergalactic war. There are characters aplenty who could have explicitly given voice to the opposing viewpoints hurriedly hinted at in this book, and more who could have taken the viewpoint down into space battles, ground battles, and political battles.
The ingredients for an interesting and captivating story are all here – and given that we have no other method to partake of this particular part of Star Trek-lore we must simply be satisfied with what we have been given – but the ingredients were tossed together pell-mell with the expectation that they would make a story on their own.
There are aspects to this story that are worth reading. As mentioned, we have no other place to learn about this part of humanity’s exploration of space, and so I must recommend this book for that reason alone, as it is an interesting period of (fictional) history. The relationship between Trip and T’Pol continues to prove worthwhile, though again Martin reveals a fundamental inability to write a Vulcan – relying on lazy tricks to make do. And the growth of characters like Hoshi Sato and the exploration of characters like Soval are also worth the price of admission (as long as you’re paying RRP). However characters like Travis Mayweather are horribly mishandled (with very little explanation as to why other than “because the author said so”) and others like Malcom Reed are simply relegated to background dressing.
I paint a poor picture of this book, highlighting the negative aspects and paying very little attention to the positives: this is partly unavoidable and partly unfair, so my rating should hopefully dismiss some of the rancour evident above. I’m enjoying being able to read further into the Star Trek Enterprise era, I just wish it had been handled better by a more competent author.
Review by Joshua S Hill
5/10 from 1 reviews
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