Thursday, November 05, 2009

The Romulan War: Beneath the Raptor's Wing

I don't really have a lot to say about this book, because I don't really care much at all about Enterprise or the Romulan War. And, unfortunately, this book didn't change my opinion on either one.

I expect people who like Enterprise will have a much more positive response to the book. It's big and sweeping, with a large cast of characters, and a chain of events spread out over several months. It continues all the storylines from its predecessor, dealing with the fallout of the Kobayashi Maru situation and the beginning of the war with the Romulans.

The thing is, the book feels like it was assembled from a number of pieces that had to be fit together carefully -- ongoing elements from the Enterprise novels as well as bits and pieces of information about this era from episodes of Enterprise and the original Star Trek -- and as a result, it feels paradoxically like there's a lot going on but not much really happening. (It's the same way I felt after reading Forged in Fire and The Red King -- damn, that was a long book, but nothing much happened.) It's also so plot-driven that the characters suffer. The Voyager novel Full Circle had a similar job to do, fitting a lot of puzzle pieces together, but it did so with some powerful character-based storytelling. There was something to hang onto beyond watching the movement of the cogs and gears.

Beneath the Raptor's Wing also feels a bit unbalanced. Some new characters who have a lot to do early on suddenly disappear for hundreds of pages, only to make brief appearances later on; other new characters appear only for a page or two, to add their mosaic tiles to the big picture. Characters make odd choices without much in the way of rationale to make everything fit the few contradictory bits of information we have from canon. I blame the writers of Enterprise, the TV series, for this; the way they used the Romulans on the show makes it hard for anyone to expand on the story and still stay consistent with the few essential bits of backstory from "Balance of Terror."

I still don't buy Trip as an undercover agent at all. I don't buy his decision to stay on Vulcan near the end of the book. I don't like the way the plot seems to require certain characters to be stupid at key points, or to fail to ask obvious questions.

I'll read the next book (hoping all the while that this is no more than a duology), should it be published. I'm not looking forward to it, though.


At 12:22 AM, Blogger Whirling Mahakala said...

I was hoping "Raptor's Wings" would be an improvement upon the previous two Enterprise novels. Seems like I'd be disappointed.

At 7:14 AM, Blogger Steve said...

Reviewing's a subjective thing, so the fact that I wasn't blown away doesn't mean you won't be -- but if you didn't like the previous books much, I'm not sure this one would change your mind.

At 5:28 PM, Anonymous Donnie said...


I came to enjoy Enterprise during season 4 after having bailed after episode 6 or so in season 1. I went back and purchased seasons 1, 2, and 3 after reading Last Full Measure. I decided I liked it enough to read the first few post-series' finale books and wanted to get the history that I'd missed out on.

I've come to appreciate the series although most of the episodes from the first two seasons are uninspiring and plodding.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Good That Men Do and Kobayashi Maru; however, it's taken me almost two weeks since I finished Under The Raptor's Wing to compose my thoughts about it in relation to your review.

I'm more careful than I used to be when critiquing a novel. I'm writing my own and have learned a lot in the process, so I have a healthy, and growing, respect for those who complete a work that is then published.

I liked the book, and I found it "difficult" to read. I agree with two of your points without reservation. I was intrigued at first with Trip's undercover assignment. By this latest novel, I found myself relieved that the assignment would end. Or would it? My recollection of the epilogue of Last Full Measure was of a Trip whose life's story had to remain secret. What was once somewhat believable is no longer. As each of Trip's attempts to resurrect himself were thwarted, my frustration grew and the feeling that remained was of how contrived this subplot has become.

I also felt the lack of emotional connection to the novel as a whole. I enjoyed its expanse, but I didn't feel as emotionally connected to the charcters as I did in the previous entries of the series or as I do now reading Synthesis. And your contrast with Full Circle was spot on: that book made me love Voyager for the first time ever.

The other thing I noticed was the long sentences with dashes inside of which was another long sentence or two or more. I found myself often having to return to the part of the sentence before the first dash to recall what had been written. This was instructive: I tend to write with dashes, too, and have gone back to review the instances I write with this construction. Oftentimes in Under The Raptor's Wing, I played around with the stuff inside the dashes, and it seemed like it would have been just fine, and easier to read, had the dashes been eliminated and the information inside them been re-written as another sentence. The information didn't seem to me to have to be placed where it did.

I think the book was a success for its multiple perspectives and points-of-view. I think I would have been happier with two mass market books rather than the trade.


At 12:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm currently reading "The Good that Men Do" and although I'm relieved that Trip is alive and well, I couldn't buy him as a covert agent as well. Don't you need SOME kind of training to be covert agent somehow? Malcolm would've been a better fit, engineering expert or not.

Still, I did enjoy the novel and hope to enjoy Kobayashi Maru and the Romulan War next ... I do miss the series and the characters. It died too soon and too early - just when it hit its stride.

At 12:11 AM, Anonymous Imaginarylands said...

I'm currently reading "The Good that Men Do" and although I'm relieved that Trip is alive and well, I couldn't buy him as a covert agent as well. Don't you need SOME kind of training to be covert agent somehow? Malcolm would've been a better fit, engineering expert or not.

Still, I did enjoy the novel and hope to enjoy Kobayashi Maru and the Romulan War next ... I do miss the series and the characters. It died too soon and too early - just when it hit its stride.

At 3:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The war finally begins and the coalition is ill equipt to deal with the romulans vicious tactics.
The vulcans having under gone a reformation in season 4 have with withdrawn thier forces from the front in order to maintain thier pacifist nature.The remaining ships are still just as vunerable to the telecapture device.
The romulans seem mostly concerned with taking out earth colonies
and find a way to bypass the long range warp signature detectors deployed in coalition space.Nuclear attacks on andoria and altair are narrowly averted by starfleet and beringeria and several other earth planets are overwhelmed.
On a personel level archer is still reeling from the bad press he has recieved since abandoning the kobayshi maru to its fate.
Mayweather still grieving the loss of his families' ship finds himself unable to stay on the enterprise under captain archer . He gets a new assignment along with several other members of the crew.
Hoshi also requests a transfer stating she a translator not a combat officer and will be more use training new starfleet officers.
Archer pleads with her to stay and she acquiesces out of loyalty to her C.O.

The bad press continues as the people of earth begin to doubt starfleet's abilty to defend them ,several additional attacks are not countered by star fleet at all.

Shran rejoins the imperial guard as a general (now desperate for experienced combat officers) but his relationship with his wife suffers .He refuses to open his mind to his telepathic wife attempting to shield her from the horrors of war.

Trip attempts to sabotage a new romulan warp seven project that involves reverse engineering a tele-captured vulcan cruiser.
he is captured but is inexplicably released with mind melded false memories of a succesful mission implanted.

Admiral Valdore meanwhile must contend with fighting the coalition
and dealing withthe increasingly senile preator of the star empire.
He orders the admiral to be more agressive with his campaign ,a strategy resulting in the death of many romulans in failed attack on andoria.To futher his problems the preator also orders him to launch a fresh offensive against a old enemy of the empire which results in more massive losses for his military.Valdore is aproached by a senitor who suggests "taking care" of the problem directly.Valdore refuses citing he is loyal until death.But then his family is "invited" to stay at a secure location by the preators men until valdore defeats the star empire's enemies.

Starfleet realises there running out of ships and thier NX class vessels are taking too long to build.They instead retro fit old moth balled deadalus class vessels with modern weapons and warp drive and begin build a new class of starship based on the deadalus design ,which will be smaller and 3 times faster to build.

after a year of crushing defeats and near misses Commodore Archer leads star fleet to retake starbase one and other earth colonies now being used as romulan bases.The humans are successful and retake the planets (the romulans fighting to the last)thier new counter intrusion software means the romulan telecapture device is useless against them.

Before Starfleet can celebrate ,the romulans anexe a world even deeper in united earth space.
The war has now come to earth's doorstep

Over all very good book well written
heart wrenching in places.
the only bad point would be the trip plot line (previously the central focus of the books)is sidlined and the plot devices used to constantly keep him from reclaiming his life are becoming increasing unbelivable.

well worth buying
next time lets have more shran
and less gannet brooks


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