Era: The Original Series, Season 3
Series: Vanguard (#7)
Publisher: Pocket Books
Genre: Space Opera
Publication Date: 2011
The Taurus Reach has one final chance for peace. As Klingons, Federation, and Romulans meet for diplomatic talks, Starbase 47 finds itself at risk of starting a diplomatic incident. But tragic accidents aside, it seems not everyone is as eager for peace as they claim . . .
Back in full novel form, the Vanguard series hurtles towards its conclusion with What Judgments Come, which serves as something of a calm before the inevitable storm that is the eight and final volume in the series. As the penultimate book in the series, What Judgments Come has its work cut out for it. There are a lot of dangling plot threads to be pulled together before the big finale, and the book spends most of its time wrapping up personal arcs for the Vanguard crew and smaller side-plots. There’s a palpable sense that the end is nigh, and at times this does feel less like a novel in its own right than it does the first half of something larger.
In particular, What Judgments Come concludes the story of the Orion Syndicate’s involvement in the Taurus Reach. I’ve never paid that much attention to the Orions as a part of Star Trek, but that has changed in the past year for two simple reasons. Osyrra and D’Vana Tendi. The new wave of Star Trek shows has kindled a great interest in a species that have been in Trek since the very beginning, but rarely used to any real effect. Here in Vanguard, the Orions have been very much a side player compared to the Klingons and the Tholians, but what glimpses we do get have been very interesting. Diego Reyes’ exile on board an Orion ship provides plenty of drama, and also delivers much of the action in this book. The affairs there raise classic Trek questions of responsibility, morality, and duty. In particular the question of where one’s authority ends. is it with your people, or with political borders? great stuff, and it’s all brought to a satisfying conclusion.
The larger story is, unfortunately, not quite as interesting. The political talks between Romulans, Klingons, and Federation aren’t quite robbed of impact by a reader’s knowledge of Star Trek in general, but what should be tense political dealing instead feel like wheel-spinning while the action happens elsewhere. There aren’t that many chapters dealing with this side of the story, and I’m honestly not sure of that’s a good thing or not. I’ve no interest in reading more of something I don’t enjoy, but perhaps more depth would have raised my levels of excitement with these particular developments. As it is, these fairly major developments feel like a sideshow while the real story waits to be set free.
In the end, What Judgments Come does what it needs to. The stage is set, all the players are in place, and now we just wait for the show to begin its final act.